Monday, May 17, 2021

The Challenge of the Enlightenment and the "Kollyvades" Fathers


By Protopresbyter George D. Metallinos

In the 18th century, a new adventurous meeting of the Orthodox East and the West took place, which in its basic points is a repetition of the similar process of the 14th century. The successors of the Hesychasts of the declining Byzantium were the Kollyvades Fathers of Mount Athos, while in the place of the "Latin-Greek" Barlaam the Calabrian, that is, the bearer and exponent of the "European" consciousness, stood the most official representatives of the Greek Enlightenment, mainly clergy and monks as before. This was a new phase of our long-standing national division, of the long-running "spiritual dualism" which permanently devours our national flesh. This spiritual crisis is understood - correctly to a point - as a crisis of national identity. It is important, however, that again Mount Athos, a place more sensitive to issues of tradition, becomes the focus of the new conflict, since it has now been accepted (eg. Demetrios Apostolopoulos) that Mount Athos, in the figures of the Kollyvades, not only influenced, but also directed the struggle of the National Center in those truly crucial historical choices.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sunday of the Myrrhbearers - The Risen One and the Myrrhbearers (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him" (Mk. 16:1).

In today's Gospel reading there is talk about the visit of the Myrrhbearing women "when the Sabbath was past" to the tomb, the encounter with the Angel and the information that "He is risen, He is not here." The encounter of the Myrrhbearers with the Lord is not described here, but we know very well that the Myrrhbearing women not only were found worthy of the angelic apparition and were the first to be informed of the Resurrection of Christ, but also were found worthy to see the Risen Christ. This is an event of great importance and significance. That is why in the person of the Myrrhbearers, female nature and in general all human nature is honored.

Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women - A Woman of Love and Service Is Never Bored or Empty


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

The third week after Holy Pascha is called the Week of the Holy Myrrhbearing Women. How did the Myrrhbearing women deserve such honor and memory that the Holy Church appointed a special week for their remembrance and glorification? Could it be that on the day of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, very early in the morning, they carried fragrant ointment to His tomb in order to anoint His body with it, for which they were called "myrrhbearers"? No. Of course, by this they proved that they loved Jesus Christ, but this was only their last deed, which they did for Him, out of love for Him who had died. No, even before, much earlier and much more they showed their love for Jesus Christ. They were at His burial, they were at His crucifixion, when He was led to Golgotha they followed Him and wept. But most importantly, during all the time Jesus Christ walked through the cities and villages and taught the people, these women were among the first to follow Him and served Him with their own means.

Father Ananias Koustenis Has Died Due to Complications With the Coronavirus

 
 
I almost hate to say what I'm about to write so soon after his repose, because it's going to sound like an "I told you so" comment, but I'm going to say it mainly because if you search the name "Ananias Koustenis" on the internet in English, this is by far the most popular story told about him.

In March 2020 a video began to circulate (which has now been removed by YouTube for violating its rules on spreading unverified information on covid-19, see here) of Father Ananias Koustenis "revealing" to the Orthodox world a "sure protection and cure" for the coronavirus. I can't remember all the details, but apparently an older gentleman from Greece said that Saint Nikephoros the Leper told him through a vision not to be afraid of the new virus (coronavirus), because he would protect and heal all those who have faith and turn to him in prayer.

Friday, May 14, 2021

The "Godlike Personhood" and the "Society of Persons"

 
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In a text signed by "Hagiorite Fathers Living in Cells" and sent to the "Revered Sacred Community of the Holy Mountain of Athos" regarding the pandemic and the vaccine (dated 2/10/21) many and various things are written, for which they wrote the various "observations" of the friend of Mount Athos the Reader-Doctor Stephanos Demetropoulos.

However, I would like to comment on a paragraph which refers to the "mask-muzzle" which "allegedly" protects against the coronavirus the "Godlike personhood of man" and by this "abolishes the society of persons."

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Homily in Thanks to the Lord for the End of the Epidemic of Cholera in Rybinsk in 1848

 
 
By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

The Holy Church confesses You throughout the whole universe.

We had a terrible summer! For almost four months, each of us had to constantly fear not to die from an epidemic disease, because everyone got sick from it: both old and young, weak and strong, and few of those who fell ill did not die. We had a terrible summer! Our city was a hospital, and the Rybinsk pier was a haven for patients from different parts of Russia.

But do you remember, listeners, where we then ran away from fear? Of course you remember - to the church of God. And how calm we were here! Here we were not afraid to die, here we forgot to think that we had a disease in the city, here we looked at the dead calmly, because we looked at them as if they were alive. In the temple of the Living God, everything is alive - both the dead are alive, and the absent are inherent here; here are all those in Christ with us, for whom we pray, whom we remember. And that is why here we were not afraid for ourselves or for others. Here, after all, we are all under the special protection and patronage of Almighty God, because we are in His house.

George Cochrane Describes Easter Among the Greeks of Athens in 1835

Lithograph of King Otto I by George Cochrane. Otto I, Duke of Bavaria, became first King of Greece in 1832, under the London Convention, whereby Greece became a new independent monarchy under the protection of the great powers (United Kingdom, France and Russia).

George Cochrane arrived in Greece in January 1827 together with his uncle, admiral Thomas Cochrane, who was in command of two British steamships destined to reinforce the Greek fleet in the War of Independence. The first part of his two-volume account includes descriptions of the social, political and war situation in Greece in the last year of the war, together with Cochrane's meetings and conversations with Kolokotronis, Mavrokordatos, Tombazis, Kanaris and Kapodistrias, and his visits to Hydra, Poros, Nafplio, Argos and Athens. Cochrane returned to the Greek state twice, in 1834, and in 1835-36, with the project of setting up a steamship line which would connect Piraeus, Marseille, Malta, Naples, Istanbul, Syros, Izmir and Alexandria.

His two-volume book Wanderings in Greece was published in London in 1837. The edition is enriched with lithographs based on the author's drawings. The text remains one of the most interesting in its kind. Without being a profound political analysis, it paints a very precise picture of the public life of several personalities, mainly politicians, and offers penetrating insight into Greek society in the first years of the foundation of the Greek State.

The first volume of Wanderings in Greece ends with Greeks celebrating festively on the night before Great Lent, after which they returned to their homes to eat nothing but bread and olives for the next forty days. In the second volume Cochrane describes his observations of Easter in Athens in 1835. He writes:


The Holy Spring of Saint George in Mammari


The village of Mammari, in the province of Nicosia in Cyprus, is inextricably linked to Saint George. In fact, in the village there are two churches dedicated to the Saint, while at a distance of about 500 meters, to the southeast of the churches, is the Holy Spring of the Saint.

According to local legend, when a great drought passed through the area, Saint George was also riding through on his horse, and having become thirsty, he found no water anywhere. Going up the mountain, the horse tapped its feet on the rocks and immediately there began to gush water. In fact, the footprints of the horse can be seen until today on the rock next to the Holy Spring.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Saint Germanos of Constantinople as a Model for our Lives


By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Germanos was born in Constantinople in 640 AD. His father was the patrician Justinian, a man worthy of mention and famous for his virtue, who during the reign of Emperor Heraclius administered much public authority. His colleagues, but also others who knew him, admired him for his learning and especially for his piety and virtue. However, this caused him to be envied by the grandson of Heraclius, Constantine Pogonatos, who killed him, saying that Justinian thought of revolting against his empire. "For envy does not know where there is profit," and thus the Saint was orphaned at the age of twenty.

Life, Works and Thought of Saint Epiphanios of Cyprus (Fr. George Florovsky)


By Fr. George Florovsky

I. Life.

Epiphanius was born in Palestine around 315. Exactly where he studied is unknown, but from his works it is evident that he was an extremely well-read man. He knew five languages: Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, and some Latin. Epiphanius was an ascetic from his early youth. He was a close friend of Hilarion and visited the monasteries in the Egyptian desert. When he returned home, he founded a monastery near his native town of Eleutheropolis, which he directed for many years. He was a well-known figure far beyond the borders of Palestine, and in 367 he was elected bishop of Constantia (Salamis) in Cyprus. There he became renowned as an ascetic, thaumaturge, and defender of orthodoxy. From 370 he was involved in polemics with the Apollinarians. Epiphanius developed a close friendship with Jerome on the basis of their common interest in ascetic discipline, and through Jerome he became involved in the Origenist controversy in Palestine.
 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Synaxarion of the Holy Venerable Martyrs Olympia and Euphrosyne of Karyes


 By Monk Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis

Synaxarion

On the 11th of this month, we commemorate the Holy Venerable Martyrs Olympia and Euphrosyne of the Sacred Monastery of Karyes in Thermi of Lesvos, who contested in the year 1235.

Verses

Olympia having lived venerably,
Was seen as a Martyr of the Lord at the hands of pirates.
On the eleventh Olympia reposed having suffered and bewailed.


Blessed Olympia was born in Peloponnesos in the year 1200 to pious parents who were from Constantinople. Her father was a priest and her mother was the daughter of a priest, and it is unknown why and when they moved to Peloponnesos. At the age of ten she was orphaned of her parents, having departed life, so she was sent by her relatives to the Monastery of Karyes, which is located in Thermi on the island of Lesvos, where the abbess was her maternal aunt, whose name was Dorothea, and there she completely dedicated herself to God. When she became 19 years old, she was tonsured a nun, in the year 1219, and in her 25th year, the abbess Dorothea having died, she became abbess of this Monastery in the year 1225. After 10 years had passed, on the 11th of May in the year 1235, a swarm of pirates attacked the Monastery, striking like wild wolves, causing the nuns to scatter, plundering and destroying everything. At that time there were 30 monastics living in asceticism there, six of whom were dishonored by the savage barbarians, fleeing in grief to the mountains. However Olympia, as the abbess, stayed behind with a sister who was advanced in age, whose name was Euphrosyne, to withstand the rage of the assaults of the pirates. They suspended Euphrosyne onto a tree, which they set on fire; while they burned the body of blessed Olympia with burning torches. Then taking a fiery iron rod, they passed it right through her ears, and in this manner was her martyric end. Then the pirates, to complete their barbaric mania, took the body of the Martyr, and nailed it to a board of wood, and this is how she was buried, after the barbarians fled, by certain Christians, being unable to remove the nails, cutting the flesh of the blessed one by removing the nails, which numbered 20, the same number that were found with the bones of the Martyr, when her grave was discovered.

The Tomb and Relics of Saint Cyril the Apostle to the Slavs


A chapel on the right side of the nave of the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome is dedicated to Saints Cyril and Methodios. In this chapel rests the only surviving relics of Saint Cyril. The original tomb of the Saint is also in the basilica, with offerings there dedicated by all the Slavic nations, as well as other nations of the world.

At the request of the King of Moravia, the Roman Emperor Michael III in 863 sent the two brothers Cyril and Methodios from Thessaloniki to teach and preach Orthodox Christianity.

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Mystery of the Missing Relics of Saint Cyril VI, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 1821)

 
 
The martyrdom of Ecumenical Patriarch Cyril VI of Constantinople on 18 April 1821 by the Turks, who was hanged in Adrianople and whose body was dumped in the river Evros, is still a topic of discussion in the remote village of Pythio in the eastern part of Didymoteicho, on the Greek-Turkish border.

A few meters from the only cafe of the village where the few residents gather to discuss their lives and the news, there is a narrow alley with the empty tomb of the Patriarch, above which stands a chapel dedicated to his memory that is cared for daily by the residents. In 1993 the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece recognized him as a Saint of the Church, but no one knows where his sacred relics are located.

The Touch of Thomas and the Queen of Ioannina in Post-Byzantine Monumental Art

 
Meteora, skevophylakion of the Monastery of the Transfiguration (after 1382)

Eleni Evangelou's research work: "Women and Icons - The Case of Maria Angelina Doukaina Palaiologina, Queen of Ioannina (ca. 1349/50-1394)", is a special contribution to the chapter on women in the Palaeologian period and post-Byzantine art.

The third chapter of the work is titled: "Maria after Maria: the Touch of Thomas and the Queen of Ioannina in Post-Byzantine Monumental Art".

This chapter examines some post-Byzantine representations of the Touch of Thomas, which include the figure of Maria Palaiologina. These are frescoes dating from the 16th to the 18th century and adorn the churches of Ioannina, Thessaly and Macedonia.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Thomas Sunday - Wrestling With God (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Unless I see ... I will not believe" (Jn. 20:25)

The Apostle Thomas, in order to believe in the Resurrection of Christ, asked to see, because he had not yet received the Holy Spirit and had not acquired an inner sense, which would assure him of the Deity of Christ. He wanted to see and feel in order to gain tangible knowledge of God. But the knowledge of God is not an experience of the senses, but of inner information, inner communion with Christ, which is channeled into the body as well. However, the sacred hymn of this Sunday calls the unbelief of Thomas "good", on the one hand because it was well-intentioned, and on the other hand because it became a cause to prove the Resurrection of Christ.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Amazing Miracle of Marmaketo: An Annual Paschal Miracle in Crete on the Feast of Saint John the Theologian


Every year, on May 8th, the feast day of Saint John the Theologian, crowds of believers from all over Crete arrive at the small village of Marmaketo, at the Lasithi Plateau, to participate in the annual miracle of Marmaketo.

At the Church of Saint John the Theologian, on Great Friday of Holy Week, the process for this miracle which will culminate on May 8th begins. On Great Friday morning, the women of Marmaketo gather some wild orchids, called Paschal Flowers, from the fields. They then meet at the church and decorate the Epitaphion with the wild orchids, along with various other flowers from their gardens.

Reflection for Bright Saturday (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 
By St. Theophan the Recluse 
 
We have two lives, fleshly and spiritual. Our spirit is as though buried in our flesh. Once it begins to extract itself—coming to life by God’s grace—from its intertwining with the flesh and to appear in its spiritual purity, then it will be resurrected, or it will resurrect itself piece by piece. When it wholly tears itself out of this binding, then it comes forth as if from a tomb, in a renewed life. In this manner the spirit becomes separate, alive and active; whereas the tomb of the flesh is separate, dead and inactive, though both are in the same person. This is the mystery of what the apostle says: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (II Cor. 3:17). This is liberty from decay, which surrounds our incorruptible spirit; or from passions, corrupting our nature. This spirit, entering into the freedom of the children of God is like a beautifully colored butterfly, fluttering away from its cocoon. Behold its rainbow coloring: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22). Is it possible for such a beauty of perfection not to arouse in us a desire to emulate it?
 
 

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Great Miracle at the Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring in Paros in July of 1944

Monastery of Longovarda of the Life-Giving Spring in Paros

On May 14, 1944, an English submarine anchored in the bay of Piso Livadi, Paros, and the soldiers were divided into three groups led by the residents of the island Antonios Delenta, Manolis Gryllakis and Nikolaos Stella. They went up to the village of Tsimpidos (Marpissa) and captured seven German soldiers that were sleeping, killed two radio operators who had just managed to send out a telegram about the raid, and injured the commander of the airport Lieutenant Tampe; communication cables were also found cut. In retaliation, the Germans arrested the young Nikolaos Stella from Leukes at the airport the next morning. Having reasonable suspicions against him, they killed him, hanging him on a tree in a high place to be seen by the surrounding villages for intimidation on May 21st.

Reflection for Bright Friday (St. Theophan the Recluse)


By St. Theophan the Recluse
 
There are certain individuals whom the holy fathers praise for their Christian lives, for they rose from the dead before the general resurrection. What is the secret of such a life? They mastered the characteristic features of a life according to the resurrection as they are shown in the word of God, and made them their own inner properties. The future life is devoid of all that is fleshly: there men neither marry, nor are women given in marriage, there they will not eat dead food, and they will receive a spiritual body. Thus, whoever lives estranged from all fleshly things receives in himself, or returns to himself, elements of the future life according to the resurrection. Reach the point that all fleshly things within you die, and you will be resurrected before the future resurrection. The apostle indicates the path to this when he says: "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). And he attests that through this path it is surely possible to attain what is awaited: "He that soweth to the Spirit," he says, "shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6:8).
 
 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Bright Example of the Much-Contested Job (Elder Ephraim of Arizona)


By Elder Ephraim of Arizona

Today our Orthodox Church celebrates the holy and much-contested Job, the righteous Job. Why? Because he contested much, he was in many contests. He received many crowns, he brought many victories. Where? In the sea of life. And we see in his biography, that this Saint, in the time he lived, in those years when there was no Orthodox Church, Christ had not come down, God the Word had not incarnated, the world did not see the life of Christ, no one saw God in the flesh, they did not see His miracles, they saw nothing. And yet, with a simple faith in the Creator, in the Maker, he became the Great Atlas of God. With a simple faith, seeing the creation, the operation of creation, he saw the upper world, the stars, the seasons and everything he saw working perfectly, from time immemorial, without anything created going astray from its creation, not in the slightest. How is it possible, he said, for material things to be made with such science and to function with such scientific precision without a Creator? Reason, conscience, made him submit to unwavering faith. With this awareness, of faith in the Creator, he became a great believer. Establishing his faith on these things and hitting rock bottom, he was confronted by the great Dragon, the deceitful Devil.

Bell-Ringing and Resurrection Joy in Russia


In Russia there is a unique custom that takes place the week after Easter (known as Bright Week or Renewal Week), which explains why some call it Ringing Week. It is the only time of year when every believer is allowed to ring the church bells. All you have to do is ask for the blessing of the priest of the church and you can access the bell tower. As a rule, priests do not deny anyone.

All week, after the services, you can hear the inconsistent ringing of bells. They are the parishioners who organize this peculiar "concert", of happy and melodic sounds. It is mainly children who ring the bells, carrying the joyful message of the Resurrection of the Lord with the sounds of joyful children.

Stories About Saint Sophia the Ascetic of Kleisoura

 

 By Fr. Elias Makos

"Patience ... A lot of patience ... Patience a lot."

"Pride is an ugly thing ... Dirt to dirt ... Pride casts the soul into hell."

Many who met Sophia the ascetic of Kleisoura in Kastoria (1886-1974) - whose memory is celebrated on May 6th, who from her great humility was found worthy of doing miracles and was canonized in 2012, though she was despised by the world - report that she often said these words, which very accurately characterized her inner world.

Her whole life, since she was born in Pontus, was full of trials, having lost her two year old child, and a little later her husband, and being uprooted from her land.

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2021 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Pascha 2021

Pastoral Encyclical

Hierotheos

by the mercy of God Bishop and Metropolitan

of the God-saved Sacred Metropolis of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

To the Clergy, Monks and Laity

of our Sacred Metropolis

Beloved children in the Lord,

Once again, God has found us worthy to celebrate the annual feast of the Resurrection of Christ, with the expectation that this event will mark our internal resurrection from spiritual necrosis, which we experience depending on the activity of the passions and our various tribulations.

After the Cross that each of us bears in various ways, comes the event of Christ's Resurrection to give us joy, hope, faith, certainty of Christ's victory over the problems we have.

Reflection for Bright Thursday (St. Theophan the Recluse)


By St. Theophan the Recluse 
 
Beneficial is the work of those who, using sensible reason, crush the enormous lie mustered against the truth of the Resurrection. Read and arm yourself with this reason; meanwhile, do not be too lazy to allow more and more space for the power of Christ’s Resurrection to enter into you. The more you do this, the more you will breathe the air of the Resurrection, and you will become quite safe from all the darts of the enemy, which are directed against this truth. You ask, what is needed for this? Nothing special: be the way you ought to be according to the vow you made in Holy Baptism, which is our resurrection. You spat on Satan and all his works? So continue to preserve yourself thus in relation to him. Did you unite yourself with Christ? Then abide with Him. The deeds of darkness and light are obvious. Flee from the former and make all diligence with the latter. But do this without any compromises, even the smallest, so that the norm of your life becomes the following: there is no communion of light with darkness, or of Christ with Belial (cf. II Cor. 6:15).
 
 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Prophetic Gift of Eldress Makaria of Nea Makri

 
By Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou

The Holy New Martyr Ephraim the Newly-Appeared was martyred, and he was found by our most venerable mother Makaria, whom God has found me worthy to get to know very well.

She was, to tell you the truth, the first who received me as a Bishop.

I was then twenty years old and wearing pants. She came out of the monastery and said to one of her nuns, Ephraimia:

"Go, my child, three clergy are coming."

The Icon of Saint George That Soared in the Air and Was Bathed in Light


Symela Spyridopoulou, who took great care of the Elder [Saint George Karslides (+ 1959)] from the beginning, narrated the following:

"One day when I was at the monastery I had to go home for a bit to get something.

When I returned I entered the church. There was no one.

As I turned my head, I saw the icon of Saint George the Trophy-Bearer soaring in the air and bathed in light.

Frightened by this, I started screaming.

Easter in a Ward With Covid-19 Patients

 

The following refers to events that took place on Easter in 2020 at the Pathology Clinic of Sotiria Hospital in Athens, written from the perspective of a patient that night.

It's been days now that I'm stuck in a bed, alone and weak. I don't remember when I went to the hospital, I don't remember what day it was or what time. I only remember the horror in my wife's eyes when the test for covid-19 came out positive.

I don't know where I caught it and it doesn't matter so much. I know that my life changed from one moment to the next. Everything that I considered important yesterday until now seems silly and tragically ridiculous.

Bright Wednesday - An Earthly Sign of a Heavenly Citizen

 
By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

Apparently, listeners, you love the divine services, and therefore in these days, especially when it is all performed with opened Royal Doors, they are open to everyone, and you constantly go, every day, to any service, especially to the Liturgy. This is a kind, consoling sign.

Divine services in the church, especially the Liturgy, are the most sacred service; and in Heaven, according to Saint Ambrose, there is no service holier than this. Whoever loves what is holy, their soul is holy, at least capable of being holy, close to holiness. Yes, if you wholeheartedly love the holy divine services, if they please you, it means that your soul is holy, at least you are close to holiness, you can easily become holy. Sinners who have entered into the depths of sin, who have lost their desire and ability to be saints, do not rejoice seeing the divine services: they do not like them, it does not occupy them and does not comfort them, because they only love sinful things, they do not love anything holy and sacred for their soul, like a bright light for the eyes of the sick, it is hard to bear, unpleasant. Yes, in whom there is no love for divine services, such a person is devoted to sin, in that there is not even a spark of holiness in them.

Reflection for Bright Wednesday (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 
By St. Theophan the Recluse 
 
The mind can prove the truth of the Resurrection through reason based on the Scriptures, and a non-believer cannot but admit the power of its arguments, as long as a sense of truth is not yet dead in him. A believer does not need proof, because the Church of God is filled with the light of the Resurrection. Both of these indicators of truth are faithful and convincing. But counter-reasoning can spring up and contradict mind’s reason, and faith can be trampled and shaken by perplexities and doubts, coming from without and arising within. Is there no invincible wall around the truth of the Resurrection? There is. It will occur when the power of the Resurrection, received already at baptism, begins to actively be revealed as it purges the corruption of soul and body, and establishes within them the beginnings of a new life. He who experiences this will walk in the light of the Resurrection, and anyone talking against the truth of the Resurrection will seem to him insane, like a person saying in the daytime that it is night.
 
 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Bright Tuesday - Rejoice in the Lord Always

 
By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

"Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep" (Luke 6:25).

To whom is it, listeners, that Jesus Christ proclaims sorrow? How does He threaten with hunger the satisfied? What kind of laughing does mourning and weeping portend? Is it not us who are now well fed and satisfied with everything? Is it not us who have been rejoicing and rejoice now on this third day [of Pascha]?

Reflection for Bright Tuesday (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 
 
By St. Theophan the Recluse 
 
At that time the Jews attempted to overshadow the light of Christ’s Resurrection with the mist of a lie: "His disciples stole Him" (Matt. 28:13). It was easy to overcome such pettiness, and the truth triumphed. But until now the enemy has not ceased to spread mist before the Sun of the Resurrection, hoping to overshadow it. Let nobody be troubled! What can be expected from the father of lies other than lies? He taught many of his minions to write entire books against the Resurrection. This written mist is also dissipated by books. Do not pick up a bad book, and you will not be mist-enshrouded by it; but if you should accidentally come upon such a book, take up a good book as an antidote, and you will refresh your head and breast. There is another mist that comes from the enemy—in our thoughts. But this can also be immediately dissipated, like smoke in the wind, through sensible Christian discernment. Review all the preceding with discernment and you will see clear as day that it would have been impossible for all of it to happen except through the power of Christ’s Resurrection. This conviction will then be a firm standpoint from which you will easily repel and strike down the enemies of the truth.
 
 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Saint Demetrios and Saint George, the Two Brave Young Lads of Christendom (Photios Kontoglou)


By Photios Kontoglou

Saint Demetrios, together with Saint George, are the two brave young lads of Christendom. They are down here on earth, and the two archangels Michael and Gabriel are in heaven.

In ancient times they were painted without arms, but in later years they were depicted armed with swords and spears and dressed in iron shirts. On one shoulder they have their helmet, on the other their shield, and in the middle are the straps that support the sheath of the sword.

Homily on George the Holy Great Martyr of Christ (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)


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

We thank Saint George, because he showed us what a great thing it is for a man to give himself completely to God and to give Him his own life. And how God accepts this sacrifice, and how the sacrifice of those thus given to God becomes a source of sanctification for the whole world. We also felt today that Great the Martyr of Christ was the officiant of our holy vigil and feast.

The Church praises him, among others, "as a liberator of the captives." And, I think, it is opportune today to ask him to heal us and help us free ourselves from two captivities, which hinder our spiritual path.

Pascha Sunday - New Creation (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (Jn. 1:17)

The energy of the Church is divinely inspired, which determined on Easter Sunday for this Gospel passage to be read, which is full of theological truths. It is the most appropriate passage to be heard today as we sensibly experience the "now all things have been filled with light, heaven and earth and the netherworld." Among the many theological truths that the passage has, we will focus on the phrase "Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" and we will make some remarks with great fear lest they cause the most-luminous atmosphere of the Resurrection of Christ to be tarnished.

Bright Monday - God Exists


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

"No one has seen God at any time" (John 1:18).

This is from the reading of the Gospel for today. No one has ever seen God, and it is impossible for men to see God. Unbelievers ask:

"How does God exist when no one has ever seen Him?"

"But how do you, unbelievers, know that there is no God, when it is impossible to see Him, therefore, it is impossible to know whether He exists or not?" - we believers ask them.

"Why, then, did not God, Whom it is impossible to see, reveal Himself to people in such a way that they could see that He exists?" - the unbelievers ask again.

Reflection for Bright Monday (St. Theophan the Recluse)


By St. Theophan the Recluse 
 
When the angel announced the good tidings of the Lord’s incarnation he said: "Hail, thou that are full of grace!" (Luke 1:28); proclaiming to the shepherds the birth of Christ the Savior he also said: "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy" (Luke 2:10). But proclaiming the Lord’s resurrection to the women, the angel only says: "He is not here, but is risen!" (Luke 24:6). He does not add “rejoice,” for joy would fill their heart on its own, as soon as the assurance came that the Lord was risen indeed. At that time this assurance was tangible: the angel prepared it; the Lord in His appearing completed it. And everyone’s joy was inexhaustibly full! Now our church, houses and streets are clothed in the garments of rejoicing, and everyone is caught up in a general stream of joy. Now turn your thoughts away from the externals, and gathering them in your heart, raise up the truth of the Resurrection, in all of its breadth, depth and height; so that your rejoicing be more than external. Bear out that spirit of joy, like a spring of bright water, gushing from the depths of the earth.
 
 

The Best of April 2021 by the Mystagogy Resource Center (MRC)

  

Below is the monthly review for the month of April 2021 of the ten most popular articles on johnsanidopoulos.com, then all the posts made on the other websites of the Mystagogy Resource Center in order of popularity.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Francois Pouqueville Describes Great Lent, Holy Week and Easter Among the Greeks Under the Ottomans (1798-1801)

 

Francois Pouqueville (1770-1839) was a French diplomat, physician and writer, who traveled with the scientific commission of Napoleon's expedition to Egypt in 1798. In 1813 he published a book called Travels in the Morea, Albania and Other Parts of the Ottoman Empire to Constantinople (1798-1801). This is the account of his subsequent capture by Barbary pirates and captivity under the Pasha of Morea (the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece). He was held for a total of three years, first in Greece (Tripolitza) and later Constantinople. Pouqueville learned Greek, later becoming Napoleon's general consul at the court of Ali Pasha of Ioannina. The Ali Pasha of Ioannina, whose name was Aslan, was known as "the Lion"; he was the Muslim Albanian ruler and Ottoman pasha of northern Greece and Macedonia. Pouqueville's written works helped establish the Philhellenic movement in Europe and contributed to the eventual liberation of Greece.

In chapter 12 of Travels in the Morea, Albania and Other Parts of the Ottoman Empire to Constantinople (1798-1801), Pouqueville gives an interesting short descriptive of how the Greeks of the Morea kept Great Lent, Holy Week and Easter at the close of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries while still under Ottoman rule. He writes:


The Holy Stone - A Fragment of the Stone on Which the Angel Announced the Resurrection to the Myrrhbearers


"And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it." (Matt. 28:2)

In the Rotunda of the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem is the Aedicule or Kouvouklion. The Aedicule or Kouvouklion has two rooms – one holds the Holy Stone (Hagios Lithos), called the Chapel of the Angel, the other is the Holy Tomb of Jesus itself, or the Holy Sepulchre. In the Chapel of the Angel is a fragment of the Holy Stone which sealed the entrance into the Tomb of Christ and on which the Angel sat as he announced the good news of the Resurrection of Christ to the Myrrhbearers. 
 

Pascha Sunday - Rejoicing With the Angels


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869) 
 
"Thy Resurrection, Christ the Savior, the Angels sing in Heaven."

We are not alone in celebrating this day: there is a festival in Heaven too. We are not the only ones who glorify the risen Christ: and the Angels in Heaven sing His Resurrection. "Thy Resurrection, Christ our Savior, the Angels sing in Heaven."

What about the Angels? Jesus Christ did not come down to earth for them, did not suffer for them, did not die for them, and rose again not for them; so why do they sing His Resurrection? Because they are Angels, good creatures, that is why they sing. Evil spirits will not sing now, for them all spiritual joy is intolerable, for them it is torment when others are blissful. Such is the property of the wicked. But that's not the way Angels in Heaven are. They always rejoice when others are rejoicing; whoever receives a blessing from God, they exalt, as if they themselves received this blessing. Thus, the Angels in Heaven are now rejoicing because we are rejoicing, triumphant, because we now have a triumph.

Reflection for the Sunday of the Bright Resurrection of the Lord (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 
By St. Theophan the Recluse 
 
Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha! 
 
The Lord has led us from death to life by means of His Resurrection. 
 
And this Resurrection “the angels hymn in the heavens,” having seen the brightness of the deified human nature in the glory foreordained for it, in the countenance of the Lord and Redeemer. 
 
All Who truly believe in Him and cleave to Him with all their soul are changed into His image by the power of His Resurrection. 
 
 Glory, O Lord, to Thy most glorious Resurrection! 
 
The angels hymn, rejoicing with us and foreseeing the filling of their assembly. 
 
Vouchsafe unto us also with pure hearts, O Lord, to glorify Thee Resurrected; seeing in Thy Resurrection the severing of our consuming decay, the sowing of a most bright new life, and the dawn of future eternal glory, into which Thou hast gone before us by Thy Resurrection for our sake. 
 
The tongues not only of men but also of angels have insufficient strength to express Thine unspeakable mercy toward us, O most gloriously Resurrected Lord!
 
 
 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Great Saturday - Godly Sorrow Precedes Heavenly Joy


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)
 
"Weep not for me, O Mother, beholding in the sepulcher the Son whom thou hast conceived without seed ... for I am delivering Adam and Eve with all their offspring, and on the third day I shall rise again."

And in us, listeners, in our souls, Jesus Christ sometimes seems to die, that is, we sometimes seem to have little faith in Jesus Christ, little hope in Him, little love for Him. Sometimes it even seems to us that it is as if we have no faith in Him at all, there is no hope in Him, there is no love for Him; this is the same as if Jesus Christ is dead in us. And how painful it can be for us then, how hard, excruciating! With all my heart I would like to believe, hope, love and not lament and grieve.

A First Look at the Holy Light (Holy Fire) of Jerusalem 2021


Today in Jerusalem the Holy Light, known in the West as Holy Fire, once again descended into the Tomb of Christ as Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem knelt in prayer within the Holy Sepulchre. This ceremony has taken place just about every year for hundreds of years on Holy Saturday at noon. With 33 candles in each hand he distributed the Holy Light to the many, though fewer that usual, present, as the ceremony unfolded with measures in place due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis; vaccination was required for those who were in attendance this year, whereas last year pilgrims were not allowed to attend at all. Usually, thousands of Orthodox Christians gather at East Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the eve of Orthodox Easter, and fill it to capacity. Following the Holy Light ceremony, the flame is taken by plane to other Orthodox communities in countries such as Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania. Whereas in Greece the Holy Light is usually received with the welcome of a Head of State, this year the reception will be humbled to avoid large gatherings.
 

Reflection for Holy and Great Saturday (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 
 By St. Theophan the Recluse

The Lord sleeps bodily in the tomb; in soul He descended into hades and preached salvation to the souls there. The Old Testament saints were not in heaven, although they abode in the consoling faith that they would be brought there as soon as the Promised One came to earth, having lived by faith in Him. There also the Forerunner foretold of His coming. When the Lord descended, all who believed cleaved to Him and were lifted up by Him into heaven. But even that heaven is only the threshold of the true paradise which will be revealed after the General Resurrection and Judgement. Although all of the new testament saints also are blessed in heaven, they await an even more perfect bliss in the age to come, with a new heaven and new earth (cf. Rev. 21:1), when God will be all in all (cf. I Cor. 15:28).
 
 
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