Thursday, April 22, 2021

Interview Regarding the 200th Anniversary of the Greek Revolution with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos (2 of 2)

...continud from part one.

Α.B.: With what you are saying, Your Eminence, you reminded me of the Naval Battle of Gerontas - and I bring this up because you speak of the Orthodox ethos of the Greek slaves - and I remembered that on the 29th of August in 1824 the Naval Battle took place, and the Greeks with Andreas Miaoulis as the navy captain defeated the Turkish and Egyptian fleets, and when the battle was over and everyone was all smoked from the gunpowder, Miaoulis gave the crew bread and olives because it was a day when a strict fast is observed, it was the feast of Saint John, and despite the fact that they could have eaten anything different that day, they instead observed the fast of the Church.

H.E.: Yes, we see this in all the leaders of the Revolution, who had this ethos. And above all, of course, we see this in Makriyannis. When one reads Makriyannis' Memoirs, one sees the whole tradition they had. And what I want to say is that this was the tradition with which the Romans grew up, it is the Romaiik tradition, the Philokalic tradition, the Hesychast tradition.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Week Before Holy Week and our Journey Towards Jerusalem

In Greece the Sixth Week of Great Lent, which is the week before Holy Week, is known as "deaf week" (κουφή) or "silent week" (βουβή). It is the final leg of our journey towards Jerusalem with Christ and His disciples, where we will participate in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. It is a difficult path in difficult times, an uphill path which we walk while bearing a cross on our shoulders. Holy Week is a time of increased prayer, increased fasting, and a period of renewal and reconciliation and forgiveness.

The Fragrant Paschal Egg of Saint Iakovos Tsalikes

Saint Iakovos Tsalikes (+ 1991) narrated the following story from his childhood:

When it was Great Lent we fasted strictly. Despite all the hard work, we waited for the Annunciation and Palm Sunday to come, so we could eat some fried salted cod, which seemed tasty to us like brittle, or a few fresh sardines, the only fish that was available to our village from the sea and then only rarely. My mother, in order to test me if I was fasting with my heart, sometimes said to me during lent:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt and Its Theological Messages (1 of 5)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Many people in our time, from various circumstances of a volatile life, are tormented by situations of guilt, which inevitably lead to existential pain, depression and despair.

The Church, however, comforts people, because it shows them ways to escape from frustration, which is the devil's greatest weapon in order to dismantle people, and it shows them the truth that they have enormous abilities to transform with the energies of divine Grace. It can be that from the worst state of being that they can attain to deification, to become, that is, according to Grace what God is by nature.

The Church, however, is not content only with the teaching of deification, but also presents examples, in which it shows how a person in the most miserable condition can experience blessed deification.

One of these examples is Saint Mary of Egypt, whose memory the Church determined to be celebrated, besides on the day of her repose on April 1st, also on the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent to encourage everyone on their journey towards deification and sanctification.

Interview Regarding the 200th Anniversary of the Greek Revolution with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos (1 of 2)

The following is a recorded interview with the journalist of the Radio Station of the Church of Greece, Adamantia Bourtzinou, conducted on January 21, 2021, with His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou, regarding the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence of 1821.

Adamantia Bourtzinou: We have the special pleasure and honor to have on our telephone line His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou Mr. Hierotheos. Good day, Your Eminence. Your blessing.

His Eminence: Good morning. Hope you are well and a good morning to all our listeners.

Α.B.: Thank you very much for being with us today and we will have the opportunity to discuss the first event that took place in the Holy Metropolis of Nafpaktos for the 200 years since the Greek Revolution of 1821. This year the Holy Synod has organized celebrations in all the Metropolises and you have already begun.

The Mystical Journey of the Christian, Through the Desert, Towards the Resurrection and Pentecost (3 of 5)

4. "The Imagination and the Ascetic Struggle Against Its Various Aspects"

The ascetic in his struggle for the purity of his inner world and its preservation is called to struggle against the imagination, which is an energy of the soul; however, when it operates in a paradoxical way and accepts influences from the outside world and from the devil it distorts the inner state of the ascetic.

"The world of the human will and imagination is the world of mirages. It is common to man and the fallen angels, and imagination is, therefore, often a conductor of demonic energy."

Thus, through imagination, demons work and distort the inner state of man.

The ascetic struggles against all forms of the imagination that distract him from God. There are especially four forms of the imagination.

Watch the Documentary "Athos, the World's Brightest Peak" Now for Free for a Limited Time

Because the 18th San Francisco Greek Film Festival is going on right now, they are offering the 60-minute 2020 documentary by Argyris Liapis titled Athos, the World's Brightest Peak for free to stream online. It is in Greek with English subtitles. As of today, you only have five days to begin to watch it, and from the moment you begin to watch it, you have ten days to finish it. Here is a description of the documentary:

Three monks from Mount Athos, the largest monastic center of Orthodox Christianity, share their thoughts about faith, Monasticism, their decision to become monks, their lives in Mount Athos and the monastic community. The camera travels through the peninsula of Agion Oros, reaches pristine places and the summit of Mount Athos, recording snapshots from monks' every day lives and also images that are unknown even to regular visitors of the Holy Mountain.

(Not Available Outside the United States)

Monday, April 19, 2021

After More Than Six Months, An Icon of the Virgin Mary Continues to "Weep" in a Suburb of Athens


Since September 8, 2020 in the Church of Saint Demetrios in Nea Elvetia of Vyronas, a suburb of Athens, an icon of the Virgin Mary continues to weep till this day. It has been confirmed to be authentic by the local Metropolis. The number of miracles increases daily. 

The following letter has been issued regarding upcoming scheduling:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us respond to her graceful call, let her tears soothe our pain, cool our afflicted souls, extinguish our murderous passions, erase our pains, the wounds of our souls and our sorrows and finally let us be left in her grace to taste her unstoppable gifts for our salvation. For those who intend to respond to her consolation call, the Holy Temple can be visited from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm daily, while the Holy Paraklesis in front of the Holy Icon is performed at 11:00 am. During the rosy and sweetest period of the Pentecostarion, ie from 05/03/2021 to 06/19/2021, a Divine Liturgy will be performed daily in our Holy Temple. Those who wish, can give names for commemoration For Health and For Repose.

You can follow services on Facebook ( .

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent - The Cup (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"The cup that I drink you shall drink." (Mk. 10:39)

The two disciples asked Christ for glory by human standards, having in mind that His Kingdom is physical. But Christ, correcting their erroneous belief, indicates the real and eternal glory that enters through the "cup", which is the Passion and the Cross. He Himself was glorified through the Cross and His disciples will be glorified through the cross. We will try to analyze this truth, that is, the "cup" is the glory of the Church.

Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent: On the Fear of God (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea

On the fifth Sunday of Great Lent, our Holy Church honors the memory of Saint Mary of Egypt. Her truly wonderful life is known to you because every year on this day it is narrated in the churches. But I will describe her again in a few words to remember the unusual and unique life of this Saint.

She was a very beautiful woman, living in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, and she spent her life in prodigality. One day while walking on the beach she saw a boat with many Christians that was ready to sail to Jerusalem for the feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross. The thought came to her to go for a trip to Jerusalem as well.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent - Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt (Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos)


By Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

On this day we honor the memory of our Venerable Mother Mary of Egypt, who is celebrated on the 1st of April. As the Horologion says: "It was also established for today, as we approach the end of Holy Lent, to arouse the idle and sinful towards repentance, having as an example the celebrated Saint." From this same book we record the following about this holy woman.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Saint Makarios of Corinth as a Model for our Lives

St. Makarios of Corinth (Feast Day - April 17)

 By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Makarios lived in the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries (1731-1805). He was born in Trikala, Corinth, came from the famous Notaras family, and his parents were named George and Anastasia. His baptismal name was Michael. He was first educated in the Monastery of the Panagia, in his own homeland, by the teacher Eustathios who was from Kefallonia. He loved prayer and the hesychast life, and for this he went to the Holy Monastery of Mega Spelaion to become a monk, but his father had him return home. After his teacher reposed, he occupied himself with the work of a teacher successfully for some time. He was loved by the Corinthians for his learning, and especially for his ethos and the modesty of his life. For this reason, after the death of the Archbishop of Corinth, he was proposed to the Ecumenical Patriarch Samuel to be his successor. As Archbishop of Corinth he was devoted to the rational flock entrusted to him by Christ through the Church.

The Wondrous Meeting Between Two Saints Who Were Related: St. Makarios of Corinth and St. Gerasimos of Kefallonia

Loukas Notaras (1402–1453) was a Roman statesman who served as the last Grand Duke (commander-in-chief of the Roman navy) and the last Chief Minister of the Roman Empire, under emperors John VIII Palaiologos and Constantine XI Palaiologos. After the fall of Constantinople, a portion of the Notaras and Palaiologos family had settled in Trikala of Corinth. Saint Gerasimos Notaras of Kefallonia was born in 1570 in Trikala of Corinth. His father was a descendent of Loukas Notaras and his mother a descendent of Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos. Saint Makarios Notaras was born in Trikala of Corinth in 1731. Thus both Saint Gerasimos Notaras and Saint Makarios Notaras were related, but born about 160 years apart.

Saint Zosimas of Solovki (+ 1478)

St. Zosimas of Solovki (Feast Day - April 17)

Saint Zosimas, the Abbot of Solovki Monastery and great luminary of the Russian North, was the founder of cenobitic monasticism on Solovki Island. He was born in the Novgorod diocese, in the village of Tolvui near Lake Onega. From his early years he was raised in piety, and after the death of his parents Gabriel and Barbara, he gave away his possessions and received the monastic tonsure.

In search of a solitary place, he journeyed to the shores of the White Sea, and at the mouth of the Suma he met Saint Herman (July 30), who told him of a desolate sea island, where he had spent six years with Saint Sabbatius (September 27).

Synaxarion of Saint Makarios Notaras the Archbishop of Corinth


On the 17th of this month [April], we commemorate Saint Makarios Notaras, Archbishop of Corinth.


Offspring of Corinth you are the brightest of Hierarchs,
An intercessor, joy and great aid to all the faithful.
Who is this, who was twice called and showed divine signs?
Splendid Makarios Notaras the most splendid orpyx.
In the middle of April he went to God, having breathed his last.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Elder Savvas Lappas and the Celestial Light of the Theotokos

Hermitage of the Honorable Cross in Kalymnos
Monk Nikephoros Lappas (1903-1992), who was later named Savvas, had been a disciple of Saint Savvas of Kalymnos and then Saint Amphilochios Makris, and for the last 32 years of his life lived alone in asceticism in the Hermitage of the Honorable Cross towards the western part of the island of Kalymnos, to the left of the coast of Kantouni.

Father Pavlos Nikitaras (1912-1999) reported that on one moonless night he had gone out with Father Nikephoros for fishing in the bay of Kouvari.

When at 11 o'clock in the evening they pulled out the nets and had to gather the fish, Fr. Pavlos asked Elder Nikephoros a question:

The Power of Saying the Salutations to the Mother of God

Many years ago there was a pious family that lived in a rural area. Because they were not very well educated, they used to pray aloud in the house with the Archangelic Salutation (Hail Mary Full of Grace), and this very Salutation was heard by the youngest son of the family from his childhood, who kept repeating it, whether he was in the house or playing out in the field.

One day when he was a little older, he went to play with the other children near the river that passed by their village.

Careless as he was he slipped and fell into the river.

On Noetic Prayer (St. Amphilochios Makris)

St. Amphilochios Makris taught the following about noetic prayer:

When you cultivate the prayer, you are not disturbed by the winds of temptation. Its power is weakened, it can do nothing to you. Let prayer be for you a wall, a shield and armor. We must have patience and prayer. The end of my life draws near. I plead with you all to live a holy life, to walk along holy paths in order to help the Church and our Greece. May your hearts become censers, from where your prayer will ascend to the throne of God.

When I sit on the high rock of prayer, no matter how many waves may come they will do nothing to me, but when they find me somewhere low they cover me. Noetic prayer assimilates, connects, sanctifies. When the soul is ignited with the fire of prayer everything that is dry is burned up and disappears. Noetic prayer is the basis of perfection. The first stage of spiritual ascent is noetic prayer. At the beginning of prayer you feel joy, then sweetness and then finally tears are produced like a fruit. This is because you now feel the presence of Jesus. When you cultivate the prayer you will not tire, you will not be disturbed, you will not be sleepy during services, because your body will be as if it were a garment. What you wear does not become sad, does not become cold, nor does it tire. No matter how many hours I stand I will not get tired.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Holy Martyr Suchias and his Sixteen Companions in Georgia

 By Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze

The Holy Martyr Suchias (Sukia) and his Sixteen Companions in Georgia were illustrious dignitaries who served at the court of the Albanian (Hagbanite) ruler (i.e. “Caucasian Albania” on the present day territory of Azerbaizhan).

Escorting the Albanian ruler’s daughter Satenika, wife of the Armenian emperor Artaxar (88-123), Saint Suchias and his sixteen companions arrived in Artashat, the ancient capital of Armenia (the city was later destroyed by the Romans in the year 163).

Saint Ephraim the Great of Atsquri

By Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze

Saint Ephraim the Great of Atsquri—one of the most important figures in the Georgian Church of the 8th and 9th centuries—was a disciple and companion of Saint Grigol of Khandzta.

On his way from Klarjeti in southern Georgia to Abkhazeti in the northwest, Saint Grigol met the young Ephraim and immediately perceived in him a like-minded companion and the future wonderworker and bishop of Atsquri.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Holy Hiero-Confessor Alexander Orlov (+ 1941)

St. Alexander Orlov (Feast Day - April 14); photo taken in 1933

Alexander Vasilyevich Orlov was born in 1878 in the village of Makkoveevo (now the village Syntul) of the Kasimov district in the Ryazan province to the family of teacher Vasily Orlov. Soon after the birth of his son, Vasily Evdokimovich Orlov was ordained Deacon at the Holy Protection Church in the village of Makkoveevo. After graduating from a parish school and a theological school, Alexander from 1905 began to serve as a chanter in the Protection Church in his native village. After being married he was ordained a Deacon to this church in 1919.

Saint Abundius the Sacristan (+ 564)

St. Abundius the Sacristan (Feast Day - April 14)

We are informed about Saint Abundius from the Dialogues (Bk. 3, Ch. 25) of Saint Gregory the Great, where after mentioning a miracle of a certain Theodore who was the sacristan of the Church of Saint Peter in Rome, he goes on to mention another miraculous incident of another sacristan of the same church named Abundius. He writes:     

"Not very many years ago, as old men say, there was another keeper of the same church, called Abundius, a man of great humility, who served God so faithfully, that the Holy Apostle Peter did by miracle declare what opinion he had of his virtue.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Saint Arsenios, Archbishop of Elassonos and Archbishop of Suzdal and Tarus (+ 1625)

St. Arsenios of Elassonos (Feast Day - April 13)

Saint Arsenios was born in Evrytania of Thessaly, specifically in the village of Kalogriana of Karditsa, in the year 1548, and was baptized with the name Apostolos. His father was a priest named Theodore and his mother was named Christodouli, who was the sister of Metropolitan Neophytos of Larissa and the niece of Saint Bessarion of Larissa. He had four older brothers - Joasaph (Bishop of Stagon), Mark (Bishop of Demetriada), as well as Athanasios and Pachomios (both hieromonks).

The father of Apostolos died in 1560, and his upbringing fell on the shoulders of his elder brother Joasaph, who gave the young Apostolos his initial education. His writings, language skills and tenure as a teacher show that he was very educated, though we have no details about this.

Holy Venerable Martyr Christopher the Sabbaite

St. Christopher the Sabbaite (Feast Day - April 13); Icon depicts the slaughter of the Holy Fathers of the Lavra of Saint Savvas

Saint Stephen the Melodist, the nephew of Saint John of Damascus, was the eye-witness who recorded the slaughter of the Holy Fathers of the Great Lavra of Saint Savvas in the seventh century, whom we commemorate on March 20th. In his narration Saint Stephen also informs us of a Venerable Martyr named Christopher, whom he says had converted a few years earlier to the pious faith of Christ, "from a Persian and fruitless wild olive tree, he was grafted and became a fruitful olive tree." Having been baptized and received the monastic schema at the Lavra of Saint Savvas, Christopher was slandered by the chief councillor of the Saracens, and three days before Holy and Great Friday, on April 14th, he was killed by a sword.

Translation of the Sacred Relics of the Holy New Martyr George of Cyprus

Translation of the Relics of St. George of Cyprus (Feast Day - April 13)

The Holy New Martyr George was originally from Cyprus and later moved to work in Ptolemais in Palestine, which today is known as Acre. There he was martyred as a Christian by the Turks in 1752 by being shot and stabbed multiple times. The Christians of that city then buried his relic with honors, and for three nights a pillar of light shined over his grave. To commemorate this miracle, the Christians of Ptolemais would gather every Friday night at his grave for decades and offer prayers, candles and incense, and many miracles were reported to have taken place, according to his biography by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite. His feast day was established for April 23rd.

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Mystical Journey of the Christian, Through the Desert, Towards the Resurrection and Pentecost (2 of 5)


2. "On the Development of Intrusive Thoughts"

Intrusive thoughts [logismoi] are the initial suggestions that develop into a sin and passion, which is why an ascetic gives great importance in not developing intrusive thoughts.

"The first stage [of intrusive thoughts] is when some spiritual influence approaches from without, which may, to begin with, be quite vague and shapeless. The initial stage in formation is the appearance in the field of man's inner vision of an image - and as this does not depend on one's will, it is not regarded as a sin. Images in some cases appear to take on visible form, while others are mostly products of the mind, but more often it is a combination of the two. As visible images also generate some thought or other, ascetics label all images 'intrusive thoughts' [logismoi].

Fourth Sunday of Great Lent - Orthodoxy and Monasticism (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting." (Mk. 9:29)

When asked by the disciples why they could not get the demon out of the young man who was being tormented "from childhood", the Lord answered that this kind, which according to Saint Gregory Palamas "was the terrible demon of licentiousness", cannot with any other means come out of man, except through prayer and fasting. And because for the one possessed by a demon it is difficult to pray and fast, those who want to heal the demon possessed must do so.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Saint John Climacus and the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

 By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery on Mount Athos

(Delivered in 2008)

Saint John Climacus, whom our Church especially honors today, is a precious gift of God to our Church, because he left us a valuable legacy, the Ladder, with which he teaches us two great things.

First, progress in the spiritual life must be made like a science, not without a plan, not impromptu, not without consistency, but with care and effort to strive to shake off the passions and become acquainted with the virtues.

And secondly, in this struggle one cannot reach perfection from one moment to the next, but one must gradually ascend the virtues, pursue them, desire them, pray for them until one reaches the highest virtue, which is love.

Fourth Sunday of Great Lent - Sunday of Saint John Climacus (Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos)

By Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

On this day we celebrate the memory of Saint John, the author of the Ladder.

Regarding him the Horologion says:

"He was born in Palestine around 523. From an early age he was given over to asceticism. He was made abbot of the Monastery at Mount Sinai. Thirty discourses were authored by him regarding the virtues; upon acquiring each virtue one progresses from praxis to theoria, with man ascending each step to heavenly heights, which is why this book is called Ladder of the virtues. He died in 603 at the age of eighty."

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Holy Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople Resource Page

Synaxarion of the Holy New Hieromartyr Gregory V the Patriarch of Constantinople

On the 10th of this month [April], we commemorate Saint Gregory V the New Hieromartyr, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, who was martyred on this day by hanging, in the year 1821, on behalf of the freedom of pious Panhellenism, during the reign of the Asiatic Sultan Mahmud.


You died by hanging O Patriarch,
However you live eternally in divine Eden.
On the tenth the Patriarch was sacrificed on behalf of the Nation.

The Makeshift Coffin of the Holy Hieromartyr Patriarch Gregory V

In the Church of the Entrance of the Theotokos in Domato of Leivathos in Kefallonia is kept the makeshift coffin which was built inside the ship of the Kefallonian Nicholas Sklavos. In this coffin was placed the relic of Patriarch Gregory V, whose body was retrieved from the waters of the Bosporus on April 14, 1821. 
The Patriarch had just been hanged by the Turks at the entrance to the Patriarchate in Constantinople on April 10, 1821. After his body had been left hanging for three days, three impious Jewish men gave the Turks money and took the body, dragging it throughout the city screaming "This is the King of the Christians", and cast it into the Bosporus. 

The Childhood Home of Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory V


The Holy Ethno-Hieromartyr Patriarch Gregory V, who is commemorated on April 10th in the Orthodox Church, was born in the mountain village of Dimitsana in Arcadia of the Peloponnese in 1746 to a poor family. He was baptized with the name George Angelopoulos. His father was a shepherd named John and his mother's name was Asemina. It was here that young George worked and received a basic education, until he left for Athens in 1765 at the age of 19 to pursue further education.

Today the childhood home of Patriarch Gregory V operates as the Ecclesiastical Museum of Dimitsana. The sign at the entrance reads: "In this house was born Patriarch Gregory V, hanged on April 10, 1821 in Constantinople." The house was restored by the benefactor Panagiotis Angelopoulos (1909-2001) and the museum was created based on the idea and at the urging of Metropolitan Theophilos of Gortynos and Megalopolis in 1992. The building is two-storied, of traditional architecture and is located near the central square of Dimitsana. The floors are connected by an internal stone staircase.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Funeral Oration for Athanasios Sakarellos, A Good Brother

Athanasios Sakarellos, A Good Brother

(Delivered in Thermos on February 27, 2021)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

When we chant the funeral service for an Orthodox Christian, in the beginning we say verses from the 118th Psalm in three stanzas, where the "testimony of God" is spoken of, or the "covenant of God" is spoken of, or the commandments of God are spoken of. All of these have the same meaning. That is, when one reads the 118th Psalm of David, then one sees there that there is a lot of talk about the commandments of God and of course many times the name changes, where somewhere they are called the commandments of God, somewhere they are called the statutes of God, and elsewhere they are called the testimonies of God with the meaning that the commandments of God testify to who God is and what is His will.

The Mystical Journey of the Christian, Through the Desert, Towards the Resurrection and Pentecost (1 of 5)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The period of Great Lent, which we have entered, is a period of intense spiritual life, with fasting, prayer, repentance, temperance and all the means that Orthodoxy has.

This intense spiritual and interior life is preserved by our Church in the Sacred Services that take place at this time and in the troparia which are chanted. When one carefully reads the book of the Triodion and participates experientially in the worship of the Church, one will find that in this way the Church wants to give us a sense of what the purpose of Christianity is and what the content of the Christian life is.

It is characteristic that all the Saints of our Church loved especially this period, which leads to Easter, and the period of Pentecost, because in this period they distinguish the inner breath of our Church.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Theophany During the Cholera Epidemic of 1909 in St. Petersburg

The Holy Hieromartyr Cyril (Smirnov) of Kazan was the Metropolitan of the Eparchy of Kazan in Russia from 1918 to 1922. Designated by Patriarch Tikhon as first locum tenens of the see of the Patriarchate, Metropolitan Cyril fought against Bolshevik control of the Church of Russia during the 1920s and 1930s. On July 7, 1937, Metropolitan Cyril was arrested in Yany-Kurgan and imprisoned in Chimkent on a charge of “participating in a counter-revolutionary underground organization of churchmen” together with Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd. The two hierarchs were condemned by a troika of the South Kazakhstan region on November 19, and were shot together on November 20, 1937 in Lisiy ovrag, near Chimkent. They were buried in Lisiy ovrag. His feast day is November 20th.

The Cholera Epidemic That Struck Athens in 1854

In 1854 cholera struck Athens, brought by English and French soldiers during the Crimean War. Panic gripped the citizens, and those who were wealthy enough fled, but more so the politicians left the city. Most of the members of the Civil Protection Committee swiftly fled and there were only two left. Everything was paralyzed as many police, doctors, nurses, judges and even the prefect left the city to save their own lives, leaving the poor citizens, 1/3 of the population, at the mercy of the deadly cholera epidemic.

Metropolitan Neophytos of Athens prohibited the public from going to church, to prevent the spread of the disease, and one priest even published his weekly sermons and had them distributed so the people would not go to church while at the same time receive spiritual benefit. It was announced that it was not a sin at this time to avoid attending church.

The Cross of Saint Theophano the Empress

In the year 888, Empress Theophano, wife of Emperor Leo VI the Wise, had a monastery built in Halkidiki dedicated to Saint Anastasia the Pharmakolitria. 
To this Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of Saint Anastasia she gave as gifts the sacred Skull and a portion of the right foot of Saint Anastasia, together with a Crucifix that contains a portion of the True Cross, the sceptre of Emperor Leo the VI the Wise, chrysobulls and other valuables. 
Unfortunately, the sceptre, the chrysobulls and other valuables were destroyed when the Turks set fire to the monastery in June of 1821. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Elder Savvas Lappas, a Spiritual Child of St. Savvas of Kalymnos and St. Amphilochios Makris

Elder Savvas Lappas, born in 1903 and baptized with the name Nikephoros, was a spiritual child of Saint Savvas of Kalymnos (1862-1948) on the island of Kalymnos and then a spiritual child of Saint Amphilochios Makris (1888-1970) on the island of Patmos. After living in asceticism on the island of Patmos for about twenty years, in 1960, at the age of 57 he returned to Kalymnos, took the name of his first spiritual father, Savvas, and lived in asceticism in the Hut of the Elevation of the Honorable Cross in Kantouni of Kalymnos until his death in 1992, on the 7th of April, which is the feast of his Elder, Saint Savvas of Kalymnos.

Elder Anthimos the Agiannanites and the First Icon of Saint Savvas of Kalymnos

Left, Elder Anthimos Agiannanites (1913-1996); Right, Saint Savvas of Kalymos (1862-1947)
By Dr. Harlalambos M. Bousias

Saint Savvas of Kalymnos had been an ascetic at the Skete of Saint Anna on the Holy Mountain.

In fact, in the Hut of the Entrance of the Theotokos, where the charismatic Elder Anthimos the Agiannanites resided, is where Saint Savvas learned to be an iconographer.

When Saint Savvas reposed on the island of Kalymnos he appeared to Metropolitan Isidoros of Kalymnos and ordered him to transfer his relic. It was at that time that Elder Anthimos accompanied with four other monks arrived on the island.

Second Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea

Yesterday in Matins we brought out for veneration the honorable Cross of Christ. We all reverently sang the troparion: "We venerate your Cross, Master, and we glorify your Holy Resurrection," and we venerated the honorable Cross of our Lord. The veneration of the honorable Cross of Christ is very important because it testifies to our faith and the warm love we have for the Son of God who saved us from the power of the devil.

But there is another purpose for which in the middle of Great Lent we place for veneration the honorable Cross of Christ. This purpose is understood when we read the word of the Lord which says: "In your patience you will gain your souls" (Luke 21:19). If, according to this word of Christ, patience is so important that it saves man, then one of the most important goals in our lives is to learn patience. And there is no better teacher who could teach us patience than the Cross of our Christ.

Saint Kalliopios as a Model for our Lives

St. Kalliopios (Feast Day - April 7)
By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas
Saint Kalliopios came from Perge of Pamphylia and lived during the reign of Emperor Maximian. His pious mother Theokleia raised him "in the education and instruction of the Lord". When the persecution against the Christians broke out, Kalliopios, who was distinguished for his spiritual courage and fighting spirit, presented himself alone before the ruler Maximus, who was then in Pompeiopolis.

Saint Kalliopios, therefore, boldly confessed his faith before the ruler and he subjected him to horrible tortures. He tied his hands behind his back, stretched his body on a wheel and lit a fire underneath. An Angel of the Lord, however, put out the fire and stopped the wheel. Then, full of wounds, he was taken to prison. His mother asked to visit him and she remained in prison with him. At midnight, while they were praying and chanting, the prison was filled with heavenly light and a voice was heard encouraging the martyr. Finally, because Kalliopios remained steadfast and unshakable in his faith, he was crucified, and thus he became a communicant of Christ's crucifixion. In fact, the day on which he was crucified was Holy and Great Thursday and the dawn of Holy and Great Friday. He was crucified with his head down, which is why the Holy Hymnographer, praising the martyr, exclaims: 

Kalliopios inverted is nailed to the wood,
Glorifying the Word who was nailed upright.
On the seventh Kalliopios found life without end.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

First Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (St. Luke of Simferopol)


 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30)

Great is the embrace of our Lord Jesus Christ. So big we can't imagine. The Lord has in His arms all those who suffer in their lives from sorrows and tribulations. How deep is His heart and how strong is His love if He can calm, comfort and empower all those who toil and are burdened to endure sorrows and not despair when wronged in their lives.

How Catholics Celebrate Easter in Orthodox Majority Greece

In a recent interview, Roman Catholic Archbishop Sevastianos Rossolatos of Athens spoke to about how Catholics celebrate Easter in Greece. In Greece, because the great majority of the population are Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics do not celebrate Easter with the rest of the Catholic world according to the Gregorian calendar reckoning, but according to the reckoning of the Julian calendar with the rest of the local population.

Excerpts from the interview are translated below:

Black Easter of Thrace (April 6, 1914)

Beginnings in 1906

The beginnings of the persecutions of Thracian Hellenism can be found in the area of the North Thrace in 1906, when the Bulgarians with their nationalist rage organized the massacres and persecutions in Anchialos and other cities at the expense of the Greek element that forced many Greeks to flee to Turkish-occupied Eastern and Western Thrace and most in free Greece.

Documentary Trailer: "People of Mount Athos" (Andrei Oprescu)



Monday, April 5, 2021

Third Sunday of Great Lent - Sin and the Cross (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Mk. 8:38)

The Lord wants His disciples to follow Him, lifting up their cross. Christianity is an army of crusaders. The first crusader is Christ and He is followed by those who lift up their cross. With today's homily, however, we will not try to explain what "take up his cross" means. We believe that another opportunity will be given to develope it, because this point is a view that expresses the Orthodox ethos.

Today we want to emphasize the power of the Cross of Christ, which is the glory of the Church and of man, since with His power man lifts his own cross. The Cross of Christ that we especially venerate today is the supernatural and glorious Holy Altar, on which there is the Crucified Lord, Who, as a great High Priest, made the great sacrifice, which was the occasion for the return of all creation to God. Indeed, the Cross is the central point of all creation, the unity of the whole world. We must examine this great truth today, in as little time as possible.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Apostolic Tradition of Venerating the Holy Cross (St. Nektarios of Aegina)

Detail of the Sarcophagus of Domatilla: Symbolic Representation of the Crucifixion and Resurrection (Mid-4th century, Museo Pio Christiano, Rome)

By St. Nektarios of Aegina

Great  was  the  veneration  of  the  Lord's  Life-giving  Cross  by  the  faithful directly from the beginning. The Apostle Paul commends the sign of the Cross to the  faithful  as  the  power  of  God,  declaring: "For  the  message  of  the  Cross  is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the  power  of  God"  (1 Cor.  1:18).  Faithfully  preserving  the  Apostolic  teaching, Christians  revered  the  sign  and  image  of  the Honorable  Cross,  believing  in  its redemptive  and  life-giving  power. The  depiction  and  sign  of  the  Cross  was attested  to,  and  was  for  them  an  unconquerable  weapon  against  the  attacks  of visible  and  invisible  enemies. From  that  time,  and  from  the  first  centuries  of  the Church, particular reverence and honor were rendered to it.

Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Honorable Cross (St. Damaskinos the Studite)

 By St. Damaskinos the Studite, 
Bishop of Liti and Rendini (+ 1577)

This present Sunday of the Holy Cross is a day of preparation, similar to the one that takes place when a nation prepares to welcome back its king who is  returning  victorious  from  war.  Just  as  a  king  who  has vanquished his enemies sends heralds to inform his people and announce to them the joyous news of his victory, prior to returning to his homeland, similarly our Lord Jesus Christ,  the Great King, has sent us the Honorable Cross today as a herald instructing us to prepare to receive Him — because shortly He will come to show us how  He  conquered the  devil through His death and His Holy Resurrection.

The Liturgical Context of the Veneration of the Cross

 By Georgios Zaravelas

On the Third Sunday of Lent, and, indeed, throughout the Fourth week, a time within the reverential climate of the fast which is so beneficial to the soul, the Church displays the Honorable Cross of the Lord, for the support of the faithful. The display of the veneration of the Cross on that day, the mid-point of the fast, was also made for another, practical reason. The commemoration of the finding of the Honorable Cross by Saint Helen is celebrated by the Orthodox Church on 6 March, as is clear from the corresponding date in the Feasts of the Month.

That day, 6 March, almost always falls in Great Lent. Given that the atmosphere of those days is one of mourning, and that, in accordance with canons 49 and 51 of the Synod of Laodicea and 52 of the Penthekte Ecumenical Synod, a full Divine Liturgy is not to be held on weekdays, so the feast cannot be celebrated with fitting splendor. The fathers of the Monastery of Studion, in Constantinople, who re-organized the services of the Triodion in the ninth century, transferred the feast of the Cross to the Third Sunday of Lent, the mid-point of the fast, and established the practice of placing it in the middle of the church for the faithful to venerate.

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Great Lent (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse
"Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34).

It is impossible to follow the Lord as a crossbearer without a cross, and everyone who follows Him, unfailingly goes with a cross. What is this cross? It is all sorts of inconveniences, burdens and sorrows — weighing heavily both internally and externally — along the path of conscientious fulfilment of the commandments of the Lord, in a life according to the spirit of His instructions and demands. Such a cross is so much a part of a Christian that wherever there is a Christian, there is this cross, and where there is no such cross, there is no Christian. Abundant privileges and a life of pleasure do not suit a true Christian. His task is to cleanse and reform himself. He is like a sick person, who needs cauterization, or amputation; how can this be without pain? He wants to tear himself away from the captivity of a strong enemy; but how can this be without struggle and wounds? He must walk counter to all practices surrounding him; but how can he sustain this without inconvenience and constraint? Rejoice as you feel the cross upon yourself, for it is a sign that you are following the Lord on the path of salvation which leads to heaven. Endure a bit. The end is just around the corner, as well as the crowns! 

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