Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Holy Apostles (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

 

 By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

From the divine apostles flowed rivers of living water across the whole world. Others came and drank their fill of this living water, while others did not. The apostles walked among people like gods, working miracles, healing all sicknesses and every infirmity, preaching repentance and forgiveness of sins. Some received them rejoicing, while others rejected them, angrily and mockingly. Those who accepted them also experienced communion with the Holy Spirit and the action of the Holy Spirit in them. And so the holy nation grew, and God’s Church spread and became established in the world. The seed grew and bore fruit. Thus was the house of truth, the cornerstone of which is our Lord Jesus Christ, sanctified by the All-Holy Spirit, spread to the four corners of the world, and its rooftop rose to the greatest heights of heaven.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul as Pillars of the Church (St. John Chrysostom)


 By St. John Chrysostom

Where the Cherubim sing the glory, where the Seraphim are flying, there shall we see Paul, with Peter, and as a chief and leader of the choir of the Saints, and shall enjoy his generous love. For if when here he loved men so, that when he had the choice of departing and being with Christ, he chose to be here, much more will he there display a warmer affection.

I love Rome even for this, although indeed one has other grounds for praising it, both for its greatness, and its antiquity, and its beauty, and its populousness, and for its power, and its wealth, and for its successes in war. But I let all this pass, and esteem it blessed on this account, that both in his lifetime he wrote to them, and loved them so, and talked with them while he was with us, and brought his life to a close there.

Homily for the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)


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

(Delivered in 1988)

We thank the Holy God who found us worthy to celebrate today the memory of the holy, glorious and all-praised foremost Apostles Peter and Paul, the two great pillars of the Church of God.

The more one approaches in the Church these holy Apostles of Christ, two most bright figures, the more one is in awe and wonder. Their work as human beings is inexplicable. Only a great love for God and for the incarnate Christ justifies their sacrifices and hardships and the sufferings they gladly suffered, and finally the death they faced.

Homily on the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)    

Pray to God for us, the Holy and Foremost of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as we zealously hasten to you, quick helpers and intercessors for our souls.

We all have the custom on the day of our name day to mainly pray to the Saint whose name we bear: the one named with the name of the Apostle Peter prays to him, with the name of Saint Nicholas prays to Saint Nicholas. Why such a custom? Because this Saint, whose name we bear, is our special helper, our special intercessor. After all, the spiritual fathers give the name of a famous Saint so that this Saint would especially help us, would pray especially for us, would be our Guardian Angel in life. That is why we call them our Angel, and their day is called the day of our Angel.

Monday, June 28, 2021

The Beloved "Daughter" of Eldress Galaktia: An Interview With Ririka Chronakis (Part 2 of 2)


 
Did she personally do something for you with a therapeutic effect?

Continuously! Let me tell you two incidents. When she became bedridden, I had an acute problem in my right shoulder. A bone spur appeared, which hurt the flesh all around and I had unbearable pains and internal bleeding.

I was punctured twice to get the blood out, my arm was immobilized; I was taking medication but nothing. I was disappointed. She could no longer hear and understand. But she understood in another way.

One morning she called for me and said: "Here, take the wooden cross I am wearing and put it on you. Do not wear it until the evil is out of your hand. Then you will give it to me again."

I was in awe that she understood my problem and put the cross on. I was immediately relieved. In a week I had nothing.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Homily for the Sunday of All Saints (Elder Philotheos Zervakos)


By Elder Philotheos Zervakos

(Delivered in the Church of All Saints in Paros in 1965)

Today our Holy Church celebrates the memory of all the Saints, those who were born and sanctified from the creation of the world, and those who will be sanctified until the end of the ages. This feast is the greatest of all feasts (besides the Despotic ones), because not only one Saint celebrates, nor ten nor a hundred nor a thousand nor two thousand or a hundred thousand, but millions.

All the millions of Saints today celebrate, and on this feast is also the feast of the Queen of Heaven, the All-Holy Mother of God, all the Angelic Orders, all the Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the Hieromartyrs, the Confessors and all the Saints. And therefore every believer today celebrates their feast, because all faithful Christians have the names of Saints.

The Lord, always for the benefit of His creatures, dispensed His benefits and chose from the human race His Saints, whom He astonished by miracles and signs and made them, together with His Mother, mediators, protectors, guardians and shelters of the people, of Christians.

Reflection for the Sunday of All Saints (St. Theophan the Recluse)


 By St. Theophan the Recluse

The Holy Church commemorates Saints every day. But because there have been God-pleasers who struggled in obscurity and were not revealed to the Holy Church, the Church has set a day on which we praise all those who have pleased God throughout the ages, that they all might be glorified by the Church. The Church instituted this commemoration immediately after the descent of the Holy Spirit, because all saints have been made and are being made saints by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Holy Spirit brings repentance and the forgiveness of sins; it leads one into battle with the passions and lusts, and crowns this labor with purity and passionlessness. And thus a new creature appears, fit for a new heaven and new earth. Let us be zealous to follow the Saints of God. Today’s Gospel reading teaches us how to do this: it demands fearless confession of faith in the Lord, particular love toward Him, raising the cross of self-denial, and heartfelt renunciation of everything. Let us make a beginning according to these instructions. 


Homily for the Sunday of All Saints - The Varied Lives of the Saints


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

A Jewish lawyer once asked Jesus Christ: “Master! What should I do to inherit eternal life?"

The question seems to be the simplest, but the answer, listeners, is not easy. Indeed, how are we to be saved, how are we to inherit eternal life? What should we do for this, how should we behave for this? The examples of the saints, of course, could best help us in this case, but these examples are so numerous and varied that you do not know which one to follow: one lived this way, the other differently; one did this, the other did something completely different. One escaped into the desert, the other in the midst of the city noise; one in the temple, the other on the battlefield; one spent days and nights in fasting, the other drank and ate; one took everyone to him, and the other did not let anyone in. In a word, the lives of the saints is varied, and often one is opposite to the other.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Sunday of All Saints and the Purpose of Orthodoxy


“What is the purpose of Orthodoxy? It is clear from the calendar of feasts. We have Easter and we have Pentecost. Baptism in water takes place at Easter. Baptism in the Holy Spirit takes place at Pentecost… And what is the outcome? The Sunday of All Saints. In other words, that all Orthodox Christians may be numbered among the saints.”
 
- Fr. John Romanides 


How the Orthodox Christians of Goma Faced the Recent Volcanic Eruption of Mount Nyirangongo

 
Fr. Chariton with some of his parishioners in Goma.

We watched horrifying images of the Nyirangongo volcano erupting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, causing tragic devastation and the death of many people (the first eruption on 22 May 2021 killed over 30). Ten kilometers from the volcano, in the city of Goma, which suffered the most damage, is the parish of Saint Nektarios. The Orthodox priest Father Chariton Ilunga Musungayi, pastor of the church and Patriarchal Commissioner of North and South Kivu, did not leave the place of his pastoral ministry in order to support the needy, the elderly and those who could not move. We talked to him and he described the devastation with the dead, the wounded and those who lost their homes from the lava of the volcano, but also the consolation that he and his parishioners felt from the timely help of the Panagia, after the prayers that stopped the lava preventing it from causing more damage. Father Chariton describes the situation:

Things as you know them from both television and the media are terrible. We heard on Saturday night, at 5:30 in the afternoon, that the sky was red. I went out to look, I saw that the sky was red and I told my colleagues to come and see what was happening and they told me that the volcano was erupting. I went out on the street, everyone was running around, on foot or in cars, others with their animals. At that time, our faithful call us that they are leaving the city and they suggested that we leave quickly because the lava was approaching. But I had decided to stay.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Two Chapels Dedicated to the Newly-Canonized Saints Kallinikos of Edessa and Sophrony of Essex in Nafpaktos


In honor of the one year anniversary of the canonization of his Elder, Saint Kallinikos of Edessa, which took place on 23 June 2020, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos celebrated a Divine Liturgy, preached a sermon, did an artoklasia and blessed a festal kollyva on Tuesday 23 June 2021. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the first chapel dedicated to Saint Kallinikos, which is in the Church of Saint Paraskevi in Nafpaktos. The consecration of this chapel took place the day before, on the Monday of the Holy Spirit. Metropolitan Hierotheos expressed how he was deeply moved to consecrate this chapel as a Bishop to his late Elder, whom he greatly revered and wrote books about.

Metropolitan Hierotheos further explained how the two Holy Altars in the two niches on the north side and the south side of the Church of Saint Pareskevi will both be chapels. The one is the already consecrated Chapel of Saint Kallinikos of Edessa and the other will be consecrated next month and will be dedicated to Saint Sophrony of Essex, another holy Elder whom Metropolitan Hierotheos had many conversations with and authored books about.

The Chapel of the Holy Trinity on the Highest Summit of the Island of Chios


In Northern Chios, Mount Pelinnaios, which has the highest peak on the island at 1,297 meters, dominates the view while around it are many scenic villages. It is at this height where the climber arrives at the Chapel of the Holy Trinity.

The Chapel of the Holy Trinity replaced the sanctuary of Zeus Pelinnaios, who in ancient times was the patron deity of Chios and worshiped on this mountain.

The Divine Eros of Saint Eros and his Six Brothers

 

In the West, Saint Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of love, a day on which couples everywhere celebrate the love they share for one another. It is so popular that despite the fact that Saint Valentine is not officially among the saints of the Orthodox Church, since he was martyred in Rome and only honored as a local saint there without spreading eastward, still he is acknowledged even by Orthodox, especially in Greece, as the patron saint of love. Unbeknownst to the majority of Orthodox in Greece, however, they already long had a patron saint of love, though he was mostly only known locally in Crete until the 1990's when he became more well known with the rise of Saint Valentine, and his name is Saint Hyacinth, or Saint Yakinthos, and his feast day is July 3rd. Yet there is really no good reason, based on the lives of these two saints, for them to be patron saints of love for loving couples. However, in the Orthodox Church there is one saint whose name alone would justify him being the patron saint of love, but he is almost completely unknown.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

"The Honorable Forerunner Saved Me!": A Miracle of Saint John the Baptist in the DR Congo

Prodromos with Fr. Chariton

 By Fr. Chariton Musungai,
the Hierarchical Commissioner of the First Diocese of Goma

One of our first Christians here in Goma (DR Congo) was Prodromos Mukandirwa Kibira, a father of seven. He is always present at all the services of the church and our good fellow-worker.

On Wednesday, February 24, the day of the feast of the Honorable Forerunner, the First and Second Finding of his Honorable Head, a friend asked him to visit a sick person together. Before leaving his house, he took and put in his pocket an icon of the Honorable Forerunner. He had heard, when he was still a catechumen, that it is good to always have a Cross, an Icon or even the New Testament on us for protection.

To get to their destination quickly, they took a taxi. Taxis here are two-wheelers. In front is the driver and behind him the passengers. As they were leaving, a terrible car accident happened to them. They crashed with another motorcycle, as a result of which the driver and the friend of Prodromos were killed on the spot.

The Cave Where Saint Elizabeth Hid With Saint John the Baptist and the Tomb of Saint Elizabeth


When the Lord Jesus had been born and Herod began to slaughter the children of Bethlehem, he sent men to find and kill the son of Zechariah – for Herod had heard all that had happened to Zechariah, and how John has been born. Upon seeing the soldiers coming, Elizabeth took John into her arms – he was a year and a half old at that time – fled from the house with him, and ran to a rocky and desolate place. When she saw the soldiers following her, she cried out to the mountain: “O Mountain of God, receive a mother with her child!” and the rock opened and hid the mother and child. Then Herod, enraged that the child John had not been slain, ordered Zechariah be slain before the altar. The blood of Zacharias was spilled on the marble and dried solid as stone, and remained as a witness as Herod’s evil deed. In the place where Elizabeth hid with John a cave opened, water flowed out of it, and a fruit-bearing palm grew, all by the power of God. Forty days after the death of Zechariah, the blessed Elizabeth died. The child John remained in the wilderness, fed by an angel and protected by God’s providence, until the day he appeared at the Jordan.

Birth of Saint John the Baptist: Epistle and Gospel Reading

 
Nativity of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

June 245

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Luke 1:24-25, 57-68, 76, 80

English

At that time, Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias conceived, and for five months hid herself, saying, "Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men." Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zacharias after his father, but his mother said, "Not so; he shall be called John." And they said to her, "None of your kindred is called by this name." And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." And they all marveled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways." And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

History of the Oldest Monastic Settlement of Meteora, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit


Just above the village of Kastraki rises the very high rock known as Agio Pneuma (Holy Spirit). It takes its name from a small church dedicated to the Holy Spirit, carved around 950 in a cave at the top of the rock of the same name by an ascetic named Barnabas. Barnabas is one of the first anchorites of Meteora for whom we have written sources. It was here that the oldest monastic settlement of Meteora was established, but is no longer in operation today as a monastery.

The long-shaped caves on the north side of this same rock, as seen from the side of the main road where scaffolding is still visible inside, indicate the spot served as a place of punishment where the monks of Meteora were sent to repent under great austerity. This is known as the Prison of the Panagia.

Every year for the celebration of the Holy Spirit on the day after Pentecost the inhabitants of the village together, young and old with the priest, go up an accessible path to the church on the rock to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Kissos of Rethymno, Crete


Perched on the southwestern foothills of Mount Kentros with its 100 springs, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit is one of those religious monuments that you cannot visit only once.

A short distance from the settlement of Kissos, in the former province of Agios Vasilios, it dominates at an imposing altitude of 640 meters and when you pass through its gate you feel that you are in heaven on earth, due to its well-kept gardens and the beautiful image it presents. However, it is not only its external image that makes its space special but also its history that was bright and luminous.

The lawyer and scholar Michalis M. Papadakis wrote: "The Monastery of the Holy Spirit was famous all the years of Turkish slavery because it was the bright refuge of Greek Christian education and learning, the national home, which kept the flame of the faith alive.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A Remote Church in Crete Dedicated to the Holy Spirit Dating Back to the Venetian Occupation (1590)


The Church of the Holy Spirit, at the entrance of the valley of Avgo, opposite the impressive gorge of Mesona, was during the Venetian occupation a katholikon of a small Orthodox monastery.

It dates back to 1590, as stated by the inscription, now covered by lime, above the door of its only entrance.

It was built at a time when there was an impressive increase in the number of monasteries in Crete due to the milder attitude of the Venetians towards the Orthodox population. Foreseeing ahead of time the attack of the Ottomans, they wanted to have the Orthodox Cretans close and so they made brave concessions towards them.

The church is one-room with a peculiar coverage, not from an arch that is common in churches, but from a gabled roof. Inside, no evidence of frescoes can be found. It is as simple as most churches we find in remote places, far from settlements.

An Introduction to "On the Holy Spirit" by Saint Ambrose of Milan


Introduction
 
The three books on the Holy Spirit are, as St. Ambrose says himself, a sequel to those on the Faith, and the two treatises together have been sometimes quoted as if one, with the title, De Trinitate. But we see from Gratian's letter to St. Ambrose, and from the reply, that each treatise is separate, and the De Spiritu Sancto was written some years later, a.d. 381.

In the first book St. Ambrose commences by allegorizing the history of Gideon and the fleece, seeing in the drying of the fleece and the moistening of the threshing-floor a type of the Holy Spirit leaving the Jews and being poured out on the Gentiles. Passing to his more immediate subject, he proves that the Holy Spirit is above the whole Creation and is truly God, alleging as a special argument that the sin against the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven, here or hereafter. He shows how the Holy Spirit is in Scripture called the Spirit of God; that He spoke by the prophets and apostles; that He sanctifies men, and is typified by the mystical ointment spoken of in Scripture. Next, St. Ambrose treats of His oneness with the other two Persons of the Holy Trinity, and shows that His mission in no way detracts from this oneness, but that there is in all the Divine Persons a perfect unity of peace, love, and other virtues.

A Summary of "On the Holy Spirit" by Saint Basil the Great

 

St. Basil the Great, the famous 4th century Cappadocian father, best known for developing and perfecting the trinitarian theology of St. Athanasius the Great (c. 295-373), composed On the Holy Spirit in 375.

Reason for Basil’s Treatise

The immediate occasion for this treatise was the accusation that the doxology St. Basil used in public worship, “glory be to the Father with the Son together with the Holy Spirit” was an innovation. His opponents preferred, “glory be to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit“, which was a traditional formula.

Since prayer and theology are inseparable (lex orandi lex est credendi), a debate over proper worship necessarily involved a debate about correct theology.

The Argument from Basil’s Opponents

The second doxology was supposedly superior in that it expressed more precisely what these contenders saw as the distinct levels of glory appropriate to the three persons of the Holy Trinity.

Their apparent contention was that any mention of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as different facilitates the argument that they are different in nature (variation of language = variation of nature).

The preposition from is best used concerning God the Father, through concerning God the Son, and in concerning God the Holy Spirit.

These prepositions indicate distinctions in essence and thus should not be used interchangeably. From supposedly indicates the cause of all things, through indicates instrumentality, whereas in indicates the time and place for such action.

Basil’s Defense

St. Basil answered the pneumatomachoi, or “Spirit fighters,” who denied the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, in several ways.

First, he critiques them for using pagan philosophy in their strict adherence to prepositions for the different persons in the Trinity. St. Basil thus accused his opponents of polluting the clear and simple doctrine of the Holy Spirit with their love of pagan philosophical distinctions.

Second, St. Basil affirmed that the Church knew and used BOTH formulas, each having its own proper context in worship and prayer, each with their unique emphasis. These doxologies are therefore complimentary rather than contradictory.

- With the Holy Spirit = expresses best the communion of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son in essence and in all the relations and activities of the Holy Trinity.

- In the Holy Spirit = emphasizes the relationship between the Holy Spirit and us, namely in the magnitude of blessings we receive from the Holy Spirit.

Third, St. Basil uses both unwritten and written Tradition of the Church Fathers to affirm this truth.

- Unwritten traditions mentioned – signing the Cross, words uttered in invocation over bread & wine, blessing of baptismal water, triple immersion at baptism.

"How then can I be an innovator and creator of new terms, when I adduce as originators and champions of the word whole nations, cities, custom going back beyond the memory of man, men who were pillars of the church and conspicuous for all knowledge and spiritual power?" ~ St. Basil

Fourth and most importantly, St. Basil uses the authority of Holy Scripture to demonstrate that the Holy Spirit was called Lord and thus ranked no less than the Father and the Son. Since he is debating Christians, Scripture becomes Basil’s most powerful defense tool.

- First, their own doxology is NOT found in Scripture.

- Second, from the magnitude and glory of the Holy Spirit’s works in our illumination, sanctification and salvation, and in creation as well, he demonstrated the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Works attributed only properly to God can only be performed by God. Since such were the works of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit must be divine.

- Third, Holy Scripture does not abide by these restrictions. Scripture varies its expressions as occasion requires. Holy Scripture and Christians rightly bind the Master of all with all appropriate prepositions.
    
- Fourth, due to the logical equivalence of and with, the baptismal commandment of the Lord does not differ in meaning from St. Basil’s formula, “glory be to the Father with the Son together with the Holy Spirit.” Basil talks about the necessity of baptism for salvation and how perilous it is for the Spirit to be separated from the Father and the Son in the baptismal formula.

Conclusion

Although St. Basil never utters the words, “the Holy Spirit is God” (because Scripture and written Tradition did not say this either), the divinity of the Holy Spirit remains the indisputable logical conclusion of this work.

“In demonstrating the divinity of the Holy Spirit, St. Basil’s treatise, On the Holy Spirit, lays the foundations of Eastern Orthodox trinitarian theology both conceptually and terminologically. Although refined and clarified by the Cappadocian Fathers who survived him, St. Basil’s work laid the foundations of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381. This alone justifies the study of this work since it is fundamental to Orthodox trinitarian theology. Yet its value transcends being a theological source. St. Basil uses and discusses here the sources and methods of Eastern Orthodox theology. His masterful use of Holy Writ, the worship traditions of the Church, the writings of the Church Fathers, of logic, and of precise theological language make this treatise an example of how Orthodox theology is done. On the Holy Spirit is therefore a work which every Orthodox Christian should both read and reread.” ~ Fr. Brian Ephrem Fitzgerald, Ph.D.

Source 
 
 

The Gift of Tongues is Repeated in the Lives of the Saints Till This Day (Metr. Athanasios of Limassol)


Metropolitan Athanasios of Limmasol made the following comments in a talk he gave:
 
We are talking about the gift of tongues, about this gift that the Holy Apostles had on the day of Pentecost. When the Apostle Peter spoke in Hebrew and the people each heard their own language beneath it. To be precise, the Apostle did not speak Arabic, Greek, Hebrew and so on but spoke in his own language and the others heard the language they knew.

It had an automatic translation, that is, from the Holy Spirit!

Monday, June 21, 2021

A Cave Church Dedicated to the Holy Spirit and Its Miraculous Holy Water in Crete


By Eleni Vasilaki

Just outside the settlement of Armeni in Sitia, rooted in the cliffs, is the Cave Church of the Holy Spirit with holy water dripping from its roof.

In fact you will see two caves shaped like churches, the first is dedicated to the Holy Spirit and the second to the Holy Trinity. However, only the first one liturgizes and is ensconced while the second one was made as a vow of a believer but it was never consecrated and has not been liturgized.

The inhabitants of Armeni and the neighboring villages especially honor this chapel and have something to say about the miracles that took place with its holy water. Furthermore, on the day that the Holy Spirit celebrates, local farmers offer a large amount of milk that is boiled on the spot and given to the faithful.

The Fruits of Pentecost in the Life of the Believer (St. Innocent of Alaska)


By St. Innocent, Bishop of Alaska

While walking the path of Christ, you should not rely only on yourself. If Jesus Christ, our Great Benefactor, had not given us help every step of the way, no one could have reached salvation. Even the Apostles, when left to themselves, were unable to follow Jesus and faintheartedly dispersed. But when on Pentecost they received help from above, they joyfully followed His path, and then neither dangers nor difficulties nor death itself could discourage them.

What is this help given by Jesus Christ to Christians? This help is the Grace of the Holy Spirit. God’s grace surrounds us, and with it the Lord draws us to Himself. All who wish can receive this help and become filled with it.

The Holy Spirit, being God, equal to the Father and the Son, is the source of life and strength. He gives to believers wisdom, inner peace and inspiration, not according to their merits but for Jesus Christ’s sake. How the Holy Spirit helps us, what are His gifts, and how one should attract His Grace will now be explained in accordance with the Holy Scriptures.

Homily Two on the Day of Pentecost (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

"When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13).

There are many Christians who do not have a proper correct understanding of the most important and necessary Christian truths; and there are even those who do not understand anything at all, who are Christians only by name, and by their thoughts and feelings they are no better than pagans. It is a painful, sad thing to see these truly unfortunate people. If they do not taste the joys in this life, they will not enjoy the joys in the life to come. It is painful, sad to see them, because it is especially painful, sad that it is so difficult to teach them anything, there is almost no possibility! Indeed, how to teach them, how to enlighten them? They do not listen to others, and if they do, they do not understand anything; they themselves either do not know how to read, or do not like to read. And when should they read, when should they listen, how should they understand? Some of them from morning till night are busy with all worldly affairs and everyday cares, others spend day and night in vain pleasures and in sinful deeds, they have no time to change their minds at all, to learn something divine. What? Are these Christians really going to perish in the darkness of delusion and ignorance?

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Church of Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki


Just as Constantinople is adorned with the unique work of art dedicated to the Wisdom of God, so Thessaloniki has its own "Hagia Sophia". It is a representative example of the Byzantine churches of the city, revealing its deep theology. And indeed Thessaloniki is the city that respectfully maintains its churches. It keeps all its churches in operation. Thus, the Church of "the Wisdom of God", which is located in the center of its marketplace, stands loftily inviting passers-by to rest mentally in its peace. Although it is a monument of the Byzantine period and in fact of the first centuries and it could have been deserted, the deep faith of the Christian does not leave it. It always gives her the value and grandeur she deserves. It is very characteristic that of all the cathedrals dedicated to the Wisdom of God, only the church of Thessaloniki is in operation.

Homily on the Feast of Pentecost (Metr. Augoustinos Kantiotes)

 

By Metropolitan Augoustinos Kantiotes of Florina

(Delivered on the Monday of the Holy Spirit, 1961)

By the mercy of God, my beloved, we have reached the end of the feasts of Pentecostarion. The first feast is the Resurrection of the Lord, which is the greatest in the Orthodox Church. And in this way we differ from the West, which celebrates Christmas with more grandeur. The Orthodox of the East, as the Queen of Feasts have Pascha. For forty days we hear “Christ is risen”. After the Resurrection is the Ascension of the Lord, which we celebrated ten days ago. What meaning do these feasts have? With the Resurrection: Christ lives and reigns. With the Ascension: “Let us lift up our hearts.”
 

Homily on Pentecost (St. Gregory the Dialogist)


Homily 30

June 3, 591

Pronounced before the people
in the Basilica of Blessed Peter the apostle in Rome,
on the day of Pentecost

By St. Gregory the Dialogist

At that time, Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and we will make him our dwelling place. He who does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you have heard is not of me, but of the Father who sent me. I have told you these things as long as I live with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and he will remind you all that I have said to you. I leave you peace, I give you my peace. I do not give it to you as the world gives it. Let not your heart be troubled; that he is not afraid. You have heard that I said to you, I am going away, and I am coming to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than me. And now I told you these things before they arrived, so that when they came, you would believe. I will not talk much more with you, for here comes the prince of this world, and he has nothing in me [which belongs to him]. But it is so that the world knows that I love the Father, and that I act according to the command that the Father has given me."

"The Holy Spirit Desires to Enter our Souls" (St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva)


Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva said:

"And now, the Holy Spirit desires to enter our souls, like then [Pentecost], but He honors our freedom, He does not want to violate it.

He waits for us to open the door on our own, and then He enters our soul, and He will transfigure it.

When He comes to dwell within us, the whole region of our soul is Christ, and then all problems, all delusions, all worries flee.

Then sin also flees."
 
 

Homily One on the Day of Pentecost (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

Now, listeners, we will all kneel together in prayer. What are we going to pray for? We will pray that the Holy Spirit will come upon us.

But do you, listeners, really want this? Do you want the Holy Spirit to illumine your mind, purify your heart, direct your will to goodness by His inspiration? Do you wish that from now on you do not think in your own way, but think in the way that the Holy Spirit will inspire you; not to desire what you like, but to desire what He will prompt you to; not to do what your passions lead you to, but to do what He will command you? If you pray so, then your pray will be fulfilled; the Holy Spirit will descend on you, will work in your soul. The whole Church will pray for His outpouring on you; God is ready to listen to each of you - the sooner we do so He will hear when we all pray to Him together. Do not be afraid of your unworthiness: the Holy Spirit will renew you. Do not be afraid of your weakness: the Holy Spirit will strengthen you. Do not be afraid of anything, just pray sincerely, with all your soul, that the Holy Spirit would come upon you - and He will certainly come down.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Beloved "Daughter" of Eldress Galaktia: An Interview With Ririka Chronakis (Part 1 of 2)


The well-known to all visitors of Eldress Galaktia, Mrs. Ririka Koumantakis-Chronakis, has been the "child" of the Eldress since she was born. They had a unique lifelong relationship. It is not possible to talk about the Eldress and not spontaneously go to the kind and noble lady Ririka. When we came from Cyprus, she welcomed us warmly.

Mrs. Ririka, thank you for agreeing to speak with us.

It is my pleasure, children. May you be well. Thank you also for the love of the Cypriots for the Eldress. There was hardly a day that visitors did not come from Cyprus.

She especially loved you and welcomed you. She called you "my suffering children" because you went through wars, refugees, persecutions. May you be well that you remember her.

Homily on the Myrrhbearers and the Mission of Women in the World (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea

In the last three and a half years of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He preached the gospel of righteousness and performed innumerable miracles, the holy apostles and the myrrhbearing women were always with Him.

The apostles He chose were more than the myrrhbearers. Only the apostles were sent by the Lord to preach the gospel. Only the apostles were given the power to cast out demons and heal the sick. The myrrhbearers, although the Lord did not love them less than the apostles, did not receive such gifts from Him.

We need to think about the reasons why our Lord Jesus Christ had a different attitude toward men and a different attitude toward women, these two sexes of the human race. The first thing to think about is whether or not women with their weaker powers could bear the burden of the apostolic work, persecution, and the suffering suffered by the apostles of Christ. There are many testimonies on this subject both in Holy Scripture and in the lives of the apostles.

What the Holy Father John Kalaides Taught His Spiritual Children About Commemorating the Dead


By Miltiades Tsesmetzis, teacher

Great was the importance that the Holy Father John Kalaides (1925-2009) gave to the struggle we must wage on behalf of the reposed.

He told us that we must give their names to the priests to be read by them, and by doing this we help their souls.

He would say that offering kolyva on their behalf was the best thing we could do and that souls find rest by these, especially on the Saturday of Souls.

He would say that even Saint Raphael asked certain people to make kolyva on his behalf for his feast.

"Be Like the Cicada of the Night" (St. Jerome)


"Be like the cicada of the night. Wash your bed and water your couch nightly with tears. Keep vigil and be like the sparrow alone upon the housetop."

"Esto cicada noctium. Lava per singulas noctes lectum tuum, in lacrimis stratum tuum riga. Vigila et fiere sicut passer in solitudine."

- Letter of St. Jerome to Eustochium 
on the life asceticism and virginity (383-384)
 
 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Saint Leontios, Bishop of Neapolis (+ 668)

St. Leontios of Neapolis (Feast Day - June 18)

Saint Leontios was born around 590 in the Cypriot city of Neapolis, which today is called Limassol. At some point he became the Bishop of Neapolis.

We do not know much about his life, and what we do know is of little certainty, but he is primarily known for what he wrote.

He wrote the Life of John the Merciful, which was commissioned by Archbishop Arkadios of Constantia. Some believe that Leontios knew Saint John the Merciful (+ 619) personally and had met him in his younger years in Alexandria. Whether this is true or not, we know that he gathered the details of his life when he went on a pilgrimage to Alexandria to venerate the relics of Saints Cyrus and John.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Holy New Hieromartyr Parthenios Pagkostas of Patmos (+ 1629)

St. Parthenios of Patmos (Feast Day - June 17)

Verses

You were called, Parthenios, to confess Christ,
Courageously you contested, boast of Patmos.


Saint Parthenios, who was known as Panagiotis Pagkostas in the world, came from a noble family on the island of Patmos, and was a ship captain by trade. Commercial reasons often forced him to travel to various ports in Europe, even to those in the distant Netherlands. At some point he no longer desired worldly pursuits and decided to devote his life fully to Christ by becoming a monk at the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian in Patmos.

In the year 1606 Parthenios signed as Abbot of the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian a letter he sent to the governor of the Venetian Republic of Crete. In 1607, the year of the foundation of the Monastery of Zoodochos Pege, he is still the Abbot of the Monastery. This is confirmed by the wall plaque which is the founding inscription on the lintel of the main entrance of the katholikon of Zoodochos Pege: "Parthenios the Hieromonk and Abbot of Patmos...."

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

1955 Encyclical of Saint Luke of Crimea (To Encourage Priests To Always Preach the Gospel Even Though They May Not Be Theologically Educated)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea
 
(1955 Encyclical) 

To Encourage Priests To Always Preach the Gospel 
Even Though They May Not Be Theologically Educated
 
If the priest seeks for the grace of God, if the mind and heart of the priest are filled with the words of God, then his mouth will speak from the heart.

The Holy Spirit who dwells in the heart of the priest, He will preach through the humble mouth of the priest…

There are so many subjects for sermons in Holy Scripture that one can easily find them if one reads them. But few read them…

Remember, brethren, also Saint Seraphim of Sarov, who read the whole of the New Testament every week.

But some do have a hard time preaching… What about them?

When Metropolitans Neophytos of Morphou and Athanasios of Limassol Visited Eldress Galaktia


In a 2017 sermon, Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou spoke the following words about Eldress Galaktia, without naming her, recalling a visit he made to see her in Crete together with Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol.

I know a holy woman in Crete, an old woman, a nun, a great saint. When she reposes it will be understood. Even the people of Crete have not come to recognize her value.

I was with the Metropolitan of Limassol, and I told him: "I know this holy woman, let's go see her." We went.

She described our character, our health issues, our problems, our Metropolises, and even said something about each of our futures. It was amazingly accurate.

Saint Dodo of Gareji (+ 623)


A companion of Saint David of Gareji, Saint Dodo was born around 532 and belonged to the royal family Andronikashvili. He was tonsured a monk while still a youth, and was endowed with every virtue.

An admirer of poverty and solitude, he labored as a hermit at Ninotsminda in Kakheti.

Having heard about the miracles of David of Gareji, Saint Dodo set off for the Gareji Wilderness to witness them himself. The venerable fathers greeted one another warmly and began laboring there together.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Last Words of Eldress Galaktia


By Father Antonios Fraggakis,
Preacher of the Holy Metropolis of Gortyna

She told us on 25 March 2021:

(These words were heard by five people and I immediately communicated them to Metropolitans who respect and love her.)

"I'm leaving. I wanted to stay in order to first fulfill a certain wish of mine, but I can do it from there. I said to the Great Master: 'Please take me now! I don't want honors on my wretchedness.'"

I asked her:

"What did He say?"

"We shall see it."

Saint Photios the Great Against the Augustinian Doctrine of Original Sin

 
 
Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 350-428) wrote a book titled Against the Defenders of Original Sin which Saint Photios the Great read and reviewed in his Bibliotheca (177). It is often said that Theodore was the only eastern bishop who not only spoke about but also against Original Sin as formulated in the West, but with this review we see that Saint Photios does as well.  The chief defender of the doctrine of Original Sin, according to Theodore, was someone named "Aram", which scholars today mostly agree refers to Saint Jerome. However, Saint Jerome defended the doctrine of Original Sin primarily as a reaction to the extremes of Pelagianism, following in the footsteps of Saint Augustine. In actual fact, it was Saint Augustine who formulated the doctrine of Original Sin, also as a reaction to the extremes of Pelagianism, which is why Fr. George Florovsky writes of this book, "Theodore wrote against St. Augustine’s doctrine of original sin." Saint Photios was clearly unaware of both Saint Augustine's and Saint Jerome's defense of this doctrine, which he views as an obvious heresy foreign to the teachings of the Church and an extreme reaction against Pelagianism. Seeing that he praises Saint Augustine elsewhere in his writings, one wonders what he would have said about him if he knew that it was he who formulated this heresy. For pointing out the errors of these anonymous defenders of Original Sin, which were primarily Saint Augustine and Saint Jerome, Theodore of Mopsuestia is praised by Saint Photios, however Theodore also takes a wrong turn at points and falls into Nestorianism and Origenism and Pelagianism, which Saint Photios also discerned and condemned. Further, Theodore clearly embellished some points about Jerome in particular to make him look worse and supplement his argument. Unfortunately, everything we know of Theodore of Mopsuestia's book Against the Defenders of Original Sin comes from this review of Saint Photios and some fragments that alone have come down to us. Below is the excerpt of Saint Photios's review dealing with this book against Original Sin, to show how he condemned without hesitation this "new" false doctrine as something foreign to the Church.

Homily on Saint Jerome (Metr. Sotirios of Pisidia)


By Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia

On June 15th the Church remembers St. Jerome, a commemoration highlighting the bond between East and West that existed before the Great Schism (1054).  He was born in the Roman province of Dalmatia (which includes today’s city of Grahovo Polje, Slovenia) in the year 347.  His parents were wealthy Christians, who sent their son to Rome for an education under the best teachers.  He studied Latin and Greek Literature, as well as Philosophy and Rhetoric.  After that, the Saint studied Theology in Trier (the Celtic city of Trevorum, which is on the border between France and Germany), Aquileia (the ancient Roman city on the gulf of the Adriatic Sea) and in Antioch of Syria.  In Constantinople, he studied under St. Gregory the Theologian (329-390) and in Alexandria under Didymus the Blind (c. 313-398).  From this valuable experience came a thorough education and fluency in five languages, which prompted Pope Damasus (366-384) of Rome to invite St. Jerome to become his personal secretary and advisor in 382.  Despite such a high position, St. Jerome felt called to the Holy Land. After a long time in the Nitrian Desert (in northwestern Egypt, between Alexandria and Cairo), engaged in spiritual exercises in the midst of great holy ascetics, he made Bethlehem his permanent home in 386. While there he founded two monasteries, one for men (where he was the Abbot), and one for women. He was the spiritual father for both communities, and in addition to their monastic obligations, they engaged in studying and writing.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Homily on the Sunday of the 318 Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered May 25, 1947)

On the Sunday before the great day of Pentecost, the Holy Church celebrates the memory of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod.

We need to know what an Ecumenical Synod is and what the significance of the First Ecumenical Synod was.

The holy apostles told the bishops to hold an Ecclesiastical Synod, that is, a conference of bishops, who together had to decide on the affairs of the Church. It was decided that such Synods should be convened frequently, twice a year. This is how it was done, and such local Synods were convened to resolve not very important issues.

On the Sunday of the 318 Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod (St. Neophytos the Recluse)


 Catechesis 15

On the Holy Fathers of the Synod of Nicaea and
On the Orthodox Faith Which They Dogmatized and
That Right Faith is Needed as Well as Right Life


By St. Neophytos the Recluse

Today is a feast between two bright and saving feasts [the Ascension and Pentecost]. Today, between two great festivals that reach to heaven, the multi-luminous stars make their appearance. Today, between the two chariots whose path leads to heaven, three hundred and eighteen charioteers have appeared, not of course to direct these two steered chariots, but to direct those who do not believe and have mounted the chariots, to lead them towards faith, since the one chariot lifted from earth towards the heavenly arches with the flesh-bearing God the Word from the earth to the bosom of the Father, while the other chariot is the "the other Comforter" (Jn. 14:16) instead of Christ who ascended, which He sent down from heaven "like the blowing of a violent wind" (Acts 2:2), that the words of Christ may be fulfilled when He said "It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (Jn. 16:7-8).

Sunday, June 13, 2021

The First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (Fr. George Florovsky)

 

By Fr. George Florovsky 

The city of Nicaea was selected as the city to host the First Ecumenical Council. Constantinople was to be officially inaugurated only in 330 and hence at the time of the convening of the Council of Nicaea the imperial residence was in Nicomedia, very close to Nicaea. Nicaea — its name comes from the Greek for "victory" — was easily accessible by sea and land from all parts of the empire. The imperial letter convening the council is no longer extant. Eusebius informs us that the emperor sent letters of invitation to the bishops of all countries and instructed them to come quickly — σπευδειν άπανταχόθεν τους επισκόπους γπάμμασι τιμητικοίς πpoκaλoυμevoς. All expenses were to be paid from the imperial treasury. The number of bishops present has come down to us as 318 — so states Athanasius, Socrates, and Theodoret. An element of mystical symbolism became attached to this number of 318, some seeing in the Greek abbreviation a reference to the cross and a reference to the "holy name of Jesus." St. Ambrose in his De fide (i, 18) connected the number of 318 with the number of servants of Abraham in Genesis 14:14. The number differs in other accounts. For example, Eusebius gives the number as two-hundred and fifty — πεντηκοντα και διακοσίων αριθμόν. But Eusebius does not include the number of priests and deacons. Arabic accounts from a later period give the number of more than two-thousand bishops. The extant Latin lists of signatures contain no more than two-hundred and twenty-four bishops. There appears to be no reason why the number of 318 is not in fact accurate. If one includes the number of priests, deacons, and others, then the number may have reached two thousand.
 

Reflection for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod (St. Theophan the Recluse)


 
By St. Theophan the Recluse

Arius began to deny the divinity of the Son of God and His oneness in essence with God the Father. The entire Church rose up against him; all believers, from all ends of the earth, unanimously confessed that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Only-Begotten Son of God, true God of true God; begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father. One would think that this unanimity was purely coincidental, but this faith was then tried by fire when the authorities and powerful of this world began to side with the Arians. Neither fire, nor sword, nor persecution could extinguish this faith, and it was immediately found everywhere among everyone, as soon as the pressure from external powers ceased. This means that it makes up the heart of the Church and the essence of her confession. Glory be to the Lord, Who preserves this faith within us! For, as long as it exists, we are still Christians, though we may not live as such. If it ceases to exist, Christianity will end.
 
 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

How Saint Onouphrios Became the Patron Saint of Munich

 
 
According to historical sources (Anton Mayer, Münchner Sonntagsblatt, 1863), the founder of the city of Munich, Heinrich der Löwe, Duke of Bavaria, traveled to Jerusalem in 1172 where he visited a monastery containing the relics of Saint Onouphrios. When the monks told him about the life and holiness of the great hermit of the desert, the Duke begged to be given a portion of his sacred relics. As soon as he received the holy relic, he immediately proclaimed Saint Onouphrios the patron saint of his army for their safe return to Munich. When he arrived in Munich, he proclaimed Saint Onouphrios the patron saint of Munich and placed his relic in a special reliquary in the chapel of Munich Palace.

In the year 1416 Heinrich Primat, a native of Munich, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. For a safe return to Munich he vowed to donate a large iconographic representation of Saint Onouphrios to the main gate of the wall that led to the center of Munich. He made his vow by placing a large statue of Saint Onouphrios next to the gate, in front of his house, in the central square of Munich, which was also the commercial center of Bavaria.

Saint Onouphrios Saves a Child Who Had Fallen Down a Cliff


Mr. Anastasios Soukoulis from Corinth told us the following:

I was a small child, in the early grades of Elementary School, and one day I stayed at home with my grandfather. My parents lived on our estates, far from the village, since it was summer and they were harvesting.

When I woke up in the morning, my grandfather had left to carry the bundles from the fields with the animals, and he had locked the door of our house. Since I had no other way out of the house I tried to get out through the window without thinking that there was a cliff below.

Friday, June 11, 2021

How the Meryem of a Troubled Turk in Chios Became a Source of Great Veneration in Ierapetra, Crete


In 1821 Turkish troops were ordered to suppress the Revolution in Greece by any means. Among the hunted were two Greeks from Reisdere, a coastal village in Asia Minor not far from Smyrna (Izmir). They were seeking to escape Chios at the time, which had been hell on earth for the Greeks there, with a large amount of them slaughtered and the island burning with a consuming fire from one end to the other. After this, with men hard to find, despairing women wept and lamented as they too were slaughtered, abused, dragged through the streets and sold into slavery.

In such an atmosphere, the two Greeks from Reisdere took every precaution to not be noticed by a Turk and find a means by which they could cross the sea and get back home. Suddenly, a certain Turk approached them, guided somehow by the Mother of God, holding in his hands an icon of the Virgin Mary. With trembling hands he extended the icon to them and begged them to take it, saying:

"Take this Meryem." (Meryem is the Turkish pronunciation of Mariam or Mary.)

The Life and Trials of Saint Luke of Crimea

 
By Archimandrite Ephraim, Abbot of Vatopaidi Monastery

(Beroea, 6 June, 2016)

Most people, even Christians, are frustrated, discouraged and wearied by the sorrows of life, which are unavoidable: ‘We must suffer many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God’.[1] We shouldn’t see the sorrows of this life through the prism of transitory reasoning, but through that of eternity. This is when life acquires meaning and the meaning of sorrow in our lives is revealed to us: in the end they form the way of the Cross which we must follow in order to reach salvation and sanctification.

Saint Luke, Archbishop of Crimea and a doctor, is one of the saints who really did experience the way of the Cross and, with this experience and the gift of divine Grace which he had in abundance, he talked, taught, and was an example to all the faithful, with the sorrows and persecutions he endured without complaint.

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