Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Priesthood in the Old and New Testament


 By Grigoris Sachinoglou

The concept of the priesthood exists in the Old Testament, but has a different meaning and character from that which we receive in the New Testament. In the Old Testament period before Moses, every head of the family could offer sacrifices to God, as there are many examples of people making sacrifices, such as Noah after the flood to express his gratitude to God for his salvation (Gen. 8:20), as well as Abraham and his sons. There are also those in leadership positions, such as Melchizedek, who is presented as the King of Salem and a priest of the Most High, who offered a ritual blessing to Abraham (Gen. 14:18-20).

The institution of the priesthood is essentially established in the years of Moses, who defined the tribe of Levi as responsible for the proper observance of the religious duties of the people, while the family of Aaron and his descendants are chosen by God Himself for the performance of priestly liturgical functions. Chapter 16 of the Book of Numbers describes the process by which God chose Aaron as high priest and as leader of the tribe of Levi after his staff blossomed. Therefore, all the priests then came from the descendants of Aaron, thus making the priesthood hereditary and the descendants of Aaron hierarchically superior, since, among other things, he acquired rights to sacrifices and sacrificial meals.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Ninth Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


 
Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Ninth Ecumenical Synod (1351 A.D.)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

When we speak of the Ninth Ecumenical Synod, we mean the Great Synod of 1351, in which Saint Gregory Palamas endorsed the Orthodox teaching on the participation in the uncreated energies of God and sacred hesychasm.

This Synod was convened by the Emperor John Kantakouzenos and it was presided over by the Patriarch Kallistos of Constantinople, a disciple of the hesychast Saint Gregory of Sinai, and many hesychast fathers attended. The Minutes of the Synod also included the decisions of the Synod of 1341 and 1347, which condemned Barlaam and Akindynos and thus the decisions are completely Orthodox.

This Synod is Ecumenical, firstly, because it has all the normal preconditions of an Ecumenical Synod; secondly, because the subject with which it dealt, that the energies of God are uncreated, is a continuation of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod, which it commemorates in the Minutes; and thirdly, because its decisions were included in the "Synodikon of Orthodoxy", together with the decisions of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod, and as we know the "Synodikon of Orthodoxy" is read on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

The Unity of Saint Silouan and Saint Sophrony (3 of 5)


 ...continued from part two.

3. Asceticism and Theoria

This book was first published in Greek from Russian and French in 1996, that is, after the repose of Elder Sophrony. This comes third in the series, because the chapters of the book were written after the letters that constituted the book "Striving for Knowledge of God" and the book "Saint Silouan the Athonite", in France after the return of the Elder to Mount Athos.

The book consists of six texts written in different times, namely "The Basis of Orthodox Asceticism", "The Necessity of the Three Renunciations", "Christian Perfection and Monasticism", "The Unity of the Image of the Holy Trinity", "Discourse on the Transfiguration of the Lord", "Last Words".

Its title "Asceticism and Theoria" is consistent with the entire content of the book, because Saint Sophrony writes about Christian asceticism and theoria, with the meaning of the vision of God and the vision of the uncreated Light.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Interview With Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol on Issues Concerning the Pandemic, Vaccination, His Personal Battle With the Coronavirus, and his Stance on Ukraine


The following interview was conducted by philenews.com with Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol. Having recently suffered with the coronavirus, the interviewer asks him a series of controversial questions regarding this issue, and being one of the Hierarchs of Cyprus who disagreed with how the Archbishop of Cyprus handled the issue of Ukraine, he clarifies his stance.  

You got sick in March 2021 with the coronavirus. How did you experience the adventure?

Thank God, it was an adventure that passed. At the moment I was walking in the unknown, I did not know what would happen because I also have some underlying diseases. I was scared but then I left it in the hands of God. I said my prayer and asked God to do His will.

You were also hospitalized for a few days.

The doctors told me to do that when I was informed that I was infected with the virus. I was told you have to go to the hospital. Their order was imperative because I might not have gone since I was not feeling bad at the time. Fortunately I went early.

Elder Ieronymos of Aegina on the Empirical Prerequisites of an Effective Preacher


 Then the Elder [Ieronymos] turned to his other visitor:

"How are you? How is the spiritual life going?"

"Thank God, Elder, I'm trying. I was recently assigned to preach and I do not know what to do. What do you advise me?"

"Let me tell you. If your life is such that it is in agreement with what you teach and you are an example, then take the assignment. The saints experienced what they wrote and taught. And those who write or speak for the Holy Fathers, must have a similar life. Preaching is good. The hare is not as afraid of the thunder of heaven as the devil is of the preaching of the apostles. However, you should only teach what you yourself do.

Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller: "Reading Is Also a Kind of Prayer"


Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller, fellow ascetic of Saint Joseph the Hesychast, said:

"Reading is also a kind of prayer. Every day we would read one or two chapters from Holy Scripture and then we would read patristic books.

As for Saint Isaac the Syrian, we always held him in our arms. If you do not have another book, Isaac the Syrian is enough; he says it all.

But we also read the Ladder, Abba Dorotheos, the Evergetinos, Saint Makarios, etc., and also the lives of our Saints.

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Unity of Saint Silouan and Saint Sophrony (2 of 5)


 ...continued from part one.

1. Striving for Knowledge of God

This book consists of the letters that Saint Sophrony sent to Father David, later known as Demetrios Balfour, and published in the appendix of the book are excerpts from his letters, as well as letters of Balfour to Saint Sophrony.

Most of the letters of Elder Sophrony to Balfour were written at the Monastery of Saint Panteleimon on the Holy Mountain, when he was a hierodeacon and very close to Saint Silouan, while some of them were written in the wilderness of the Holy Mountain, one in France and two in England.

These letters express the whole fire of repentance and the light of divine vision that occupied him at that time, as well as his close communication with Saint Silouan, since he was seen as a mediator between them.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Cliffside Cave Chapel of Saint John the Theologian in Naxos


Just outside Chora in Naxos, like an eagle's nest hanging from the steep cliffs, there is a small and picturesque chapel. The pale white touch on the gray of the granite rocks, located north of the Monastery of Saint John Chrysostom from the 17th century, is dedicated to Saint John the Theologian, which is also known as Theologaki by the locals, while it has also been associated with Nikos Kazantzakis.

The Return of the Skull of the Apostle Andrew to Patras as a Fruit of the Dialogue With the Roman Catholic Church


In the book by the theologian Aristides Panotis Peacemakers: Paul VI - Athenagoras I (Athens 1971) we read the following very interesting things about the return of the Honorable Head of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called from Rome to Patras on September 26, 1964:

"The story of the return of the head of Saint Andrew began in February 1963 at a meeting of Orthodox and Catholics in Athens. The relevant suggestions are made in Rome, with positive results. The Metropolitan of Patras, Konstantinos, is indicated by the writer the path he must follow. The text is written and sent. The answer is most desirable. In the middle of May, John Willebrans comes to Patras, for secret consultations with Metropolitan Konstantinos, who writes a personal letter to Pope Paul VI. Pope Paul VI responds in the affirmative to the request. But he wants the head to be returned "with a new reliquary worthy of its contents", which he would pay for himself, because the original reliquary, with which Thomas Palaiologos handed it over to Pope Pius II in 1462, had been replaced with a newer one, and the traces of the old one were lost in a Sacristy. Reliquary designs are requested from Athens, of the Orthodox type, but at the same time research is being done to discover the original reliquary. It is discovered. It was in the museum of the homeland of Pope Pius II. It is golden and its scientific examination by eminent archaeologists and Byzantine scholars proves that it is a rare work of art of the pre-iconoclast period (7th century) and thus has great artistic value. After this responsible opinion, the Pope decides to make a double gift to the Metropolis of Patras, the head and the ancient reliquary. They repair it and add only a base of precious stones, "blue" (lapis lazuli) with the inscription "in the spirit of concord and as a sign of great love". In this unique reliquary, with a relevant ceremony, in the presence of the Orthodox Observers, the Pope encloses the sacred relic and seals it and in this manner it is handed over to the Metropolitan of Patras Konstantinos, on 26 September 1964."
 
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 

Homily on the Disciple of Love for the Feast of the Metastasis of Saint John the Theologian


 By Archimandrite Demetrios Politakis,
Preacher of the Sacred Archdiocese of Crete

Today our Church celebrates the memory of Saint John the Evangelist and Theologian, the youngest of the twelve Apostles and the beloved disciple of Jesus.

Today our Church celebrates John whom she duly honors and calls him Apostle, Evangelist, Theologian, Beloved, Virgin, that is, pure in soul and body, nicknames that have as a principle, as a basis, the great virtue of sincere love.

In the tradition of more than twenty centuries, our Church has given him the title of Theologian, which she has given to only three Saints: Saint Gregory the Theologian, Saint Symeon the New Theologian and Saint John the Theologian.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Saint Dositheos the Recluse (+ 1776)

St. Dositheos the Recluse (Feast Day - September 25)

This is the story of how a young girl named Daria, became a serf named Dositheos, who lived for decades as a recluse, and gave the blessing to Saint Seraphim to go to Sarov.

Daria was born in 1721 to the noble Tiapkin family in the province of Riazan. Before she was born, her grandmother entered the Monastery of the Ascension at the Moscow Kremlin and took the name Porphyria. When Daria was two years old she visited her grandmother with her parents, and when her grandmother saw her she insisted Daria remain in the monastery with her to be dedicated to God and the patroness of the monastery, Saint Euphrosyne. The parents reluctantly allowed their child to remain with her grandmother in the monastery. With her grandmother, Daria was educated and learned to love the monastic way of life of asceticism and prayer.

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Unity of Saint Silouan and Saint Sophrony (1 of 5)


 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Saint Silouan the Athonite is celebrated today (September 24), that great empirical theologian of our Church, whose writings I can emphasize are similar to the texts of the Prophets, the Apostles and the Saints, all of whom had empirical knowledge of God, and were formulated with simplicity, which makes them admirable.

We met Saint Silouan from the book written by his fellow-ascetic and his son according to the Spirit, Saint Sophrony, otherwise he would have remained unknown, as many saints have remained unknown through the ages.

Synaxis of Panagia Smyrniotissa in Nemea


This icon was brought by a soldier from Smyrna in 1920 to Nemea in the Peloponnese. A woman, Katsiabouraina, kept it in a hut that looked like a chapel in the yard of her house. Many would go there and pray, and because it had the grace to work miracles, the faithful would bring offerings. The icon would either be brought to those who were sick or when someone sick was about to pass away, and when this took place the icon would become heavier than normal. Eventually it was dedicated to the Church of the Evangelistria in Nemea where it is majestically celebrated together with the Panagia Myrtidiotissa on September 24th every year.
 

Holy New Hieromartyr Haralambos Michailides of Louroujina in Cyprus (+ 1924)

St. Haralambos of Louroujina (Feast Day - September 24)

The difficult living conditions of the years of Ottoman rule contributed to the fact that many Greek residents of Cyprus converted to Islam in order to survive. In many cases this accession was fictitious and the neophyte Muslims, while declaring publicly faith in Muhammad, secretly remained Christians.

Unfortunately, over time the descendants of many of the Islamized were Turkified and lost permanently their Hellenism. However, many Linobambaki Christians, as the Crypto-Christians were called in Cyprus, resembling a fabric that has two sides, one of linen and one of cotton, continued to experience the tragic situations created by their dual religious status, until the first years of British rule, when the free exercise of the religious rights of the inhabitants was allowed and many identified themselves as Christians. Faced with this development, the Turkish minority of the island reacted and sought to assimilate the Linobambaki by establishing schools and building mosques in the Crypto-Christian villages.

The Veneration of the Panagia Myrtidiotissa on the Island of Kythera


Kythera, an island between the Peloponnese and Crete, is famous for its spiritual heritage. There are shrines in sheltered places, small chapels in caves and picturesque churches that reveal the religious tradition of the locals. The relationship of the locals with the Panagia, who has been protecting the island and its inhabitants as a guardian for centuries, also played an important role in this.

The miraculous icon of Panagia Myrtidiotissa is kept in the Monastery of Myrtidia in Kythera, and is the most important treasure of the island.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Eighth Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Eighth Ecumenical Synod (879-880 A.D.)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

The 8th century, beloved brethren, was a difficult century from the perspective of the State and the Church. On the one hand the western part of the Roman Empire began to separate from its eastern part, and on the other one begins to clearly see the alteration of western Christianity.

This was evident at the Eighth Ecumenical Synod, which convened in 879-880 in Constantinople during the reign of Emperor Basil the Macedonian. The President of the Synod was Photios the Great, and the representatives of the Orthodox Pope of Rome John VIII were also present.

This Synod is very important, as it is the last Synod between the Orthodox Church of the East and the Orthodox Church of the West, that is, between New Rome and Old Rome, because afterwards the Christians of the West by succession distanced themselves from the Orthodox Church.

Saint John the Baptist and the Monk Who Sought to Flee from Dionysiou Monastery

The icon of the Honorable Forerunner of the Monastery of Dionysiou (16th century). It is located on the right column of the katholikon of the Monastery.
 
By Monk Lazarus of Dionysiou

On January 13, 1952, while sitting on the balcony outside the pharmacy, I was looking at the dock of the Monastery [Dionysiou Monastery of Mount Athos] where the transport ship that had come from Daphne [the main port of Mount Athos] had stopped.

The newly appointed treasurer Hieromonk Paul, who arrived from Monoxylitis [Metochion of the Monastery of Dionysiou to the west], got out of the boat. Also inside the ship was brother Leontios who was appointed by the Monastery as caretaker, according to the established order, in the recording and delivery of the things of the Metochion, and the former treasurer Dometion, who also returned with his luggage.

The last one, however, I saw him sitting in the boat, while the other brothers had gone out and had already started going up the uphill road to the Monastery. Seeing all this, I wondered what was happening? Why does the former treasurer of Monoxylitis, after he came with his furniture, remain in the boat and does not take out his luggage on the waterfront?

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Seventh Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


 Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Seventh Ecumenical Synod (787 A.D.)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

The Apostle Paul, beloved brethren, once speaking to the Presbyters of the Church of Ephesus, told them that he knew well that after his departure the wild wolves would invade among them, who will show no pity to the flock, and from among the members of the Church people will emerge who will speak perversions to distract the disciples and have them with them (cf. Acts 20:29-30).

This was seen throughout the history and life of the Church, as various heretics appeared, who ended up in non-orthodox teachings and created problems in the Church of Christ.

The devil always fights the Church, hates the person of Christ and wants to alter His teachings. From this perspective one must view heresies.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Sixth Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


 Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Sixth Ecumenical Synod (680-681 A.D.)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

When one reads Church history, beloved brethren, one realizes that there are living spiritual organisms, that is, members of the Church, as were the great Fathers, who lived the mystery of theosis, which means that they participated in various stages of the uncreated purifying, illuminating and divinizing energies of God. At the same time there were other contemplative theologians who tried to theologize in a philosophical way. This created a big problem for the Church.

Also, what one sees is that, unfortunately, politics enters the Church in different ways, which is why some emperors tried to reconcile things, to find some way with a few phrases to unite the Orthodox with the heretics. This was what we might call ecclesiastical and theological diplomacy.

Homily on the Prophet Jonah and on the Repentance of the Ninevites (St. Ephraim the Syrian)

 
By St. Ephraim the Syrian

1. Jonah the Hebrew came up from the sea, and preached in Nineveh to the uncircumcised. The prophet went into the violent city and he threw it into confusion with a fearful voice. The gentile city, upon hearing it, cowered at the proclamation of the son of Amath. Also the sea was altogether shaken because of his voice coming up from the depths. Going down into the sea he shook it up, and when he came out onto dry land he immediately caused a tempest there too.

2. The sea was shaken because of his escape and the earth trembled when he preached. The sea paused at his prayer and the earth stopped at the great compassion of God. In the belly of the great sea monster he was praying. In this way so too did the Ninevites pray in the great city. The prayer pulled Jonah out of the sea monster and the entreaty pulled Nineveh away from ruin.

3. Jonah ran away from the face of God, as the Ninevites did from goodness and righteous. Judgment locked the two of them in prison, as if they were debtors. But the two brought out repentance, in order that they might have redemption from both of their own personal failings - the heavenly judgment and retribution. God commanded the sea monster to guard Jonah while he was off dry land.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Fifth Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Fifth Ecumenical Synod (553 A.D.)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

In the previous sermon, beloved brethren, we saw that the Church, through the Holy Fathers, in order to preserve the truth that Christ is perfect God and perfect man, from heretical theologians who were influenced by philosophy and used terms like essence, nature, hypostasis and person philosophically, with heretical meanings, came to decisions by divine inspiration on these matters with the same terms they used, to which they gave an orthodox meaning.

It is the Church's belief that Christ is perfect God and perfect man, having two natures, divine and human, which are united in one person "inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably". When each nature acted in the person of the Word, it acted in communion with the other nature, without becoming confused, changed, divided, or separated. This is a great mystery.

The Testament of Saint John the Stranger (Ioannes o Xenos)


Saint John the Stranger (Ioannes o Xenos) was a hermit on the island of Crete who founder a number of monastic establishments there. He reposed in 1031 and is commemorated in the Orthodox Church on September 20. Below is his testament that has been handed down to us. The attached source link at the bottom provides more information on this text, the translation and on Saint John in general.
 
I, Ioannes the monk and the hermit, known as xenos, commanded.

1. Being a source of incorruption our God created man at first in incorruption; having seen him, He gave <him the possibility> and He settled <him> at the life-giving place. So, due to the deceit and the advice of the evil-minded serpent, the forefather having not observed the command, was condemned to death. And then, O brethren, there is no man who will live and will not face death. Thus, I too, the lowly monk and known as xenos, having been laid down on a bed by sickness and expecting the finality of death, look, how I have arranged and manifestly set out everything regarding me, and what holy God through his oikonomia (dispensation) revealed to me; and this is how matters regarding me stand. I was born of rich parents <coming> from a village called Siva; and having been conceived by them, I came out of the maternal womb, longing for the solitary life from a young age. Thereafter, from mountain to mountain and in desert places wandering, being maltreated and harassed by the icy cold, I spent considerable time following the command (of God) and being burnt up by the burning heat of the sun and the frost of the winter. And having dwelt and lived together with the wild beasts and animals, I came as far as the mountain of Lithines, which is called Raxos. And in that place, having remained a considerable number of days and having traversed all over the mountain and having found a dense and trackless forest, I found also at that same place a cave, in which when I entered it, I found two monuments, one on the north side and the other on the south. Having gazed at them, I came out of the cave thinking to myself, what are these? And as I walked for a little, a voice came down to me from above calling me by name and commanding me in these words: "Ioannes, Ioannes, Ioannes, these that you saw here, are two monuments of Eutychios and Eutychianos, and in this place you are destined to raise a sacred and holy naos (temple) in their name". And having heard these, I stayed at the place; and having taken a great deal of trouble and given myself with my whole soul, I began to remove from the ground the trees and undergrowth and to clean the aforesaid monuments; and having done these things after many days, I raised a sacred and holy naos of Saints Eutychios and Eutychianos.
 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Homily for the Sunday After the Elevation of the Honorable Cross (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)


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

(Delivered in the Refectory in 1985)

We have heard the word of the Lord again today, my brethren, in the Holy Gospel: "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mk. 8:34). This is the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross. The day before yesterday we had the feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross. And that is why the Church today is talking about the Cross again. The Cross of the Lord, which must become our cross. For if we do not lift up our cross, if we do not partake of the Cross of Christ, what kind of Christians are we? Because a Christian is one who imitates Christ, hence they are a Christian. And he imitates Christ throughout his life, even His crucifixion. And he is crucified with Christ in order to be with Him and to walk "in the newness of life" (Rom. 6:4), as the divine Apostle Paul says.

Galatians 2:20 in Light of the Fathers of the "Philokalia"

 

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

- Paul the Apostle 
(Galatians 2:20)

+ + +

74. He who yokes the practice of the virtues to spiritual knowledge is a skillful farmer, watering the fields of his soul from two pure springs. For the spring of spiritual knowledge raises the immature soul to the contemplation of higher realities; while the spring of ascetic practice mortifies our earthly members: ‘unchastity, uncleanness, passion, evil desire’ (Col. 3:5). Once these are dead, the virtues come into flower and bear the fruits of the Spirit: ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control’ (Gal. 5:22-23). And then this prudent farmer, having ‘crucified the flesh together with the passions and desires’ (Gal. 5:24), will say together with St Paul: ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live ... I live through faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Gal. 2:20). 

- Theodoros the Great Ascetic 
(A Century of Spiritual Texts)

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Fourth Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
   Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Fourth Ecumenical Synod (451 A.D.)


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Last Sunday, beloved brethren, we saw how the Third Ecumenical Synod dealt with the heresy of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, how it condemned him and how it set terms for the faith in the God-man Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos, after an agreement between Saint Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch with the so-called "Ekthesis of Reconciliation" in 433.

However, after the death of these two Patriarchs (Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch) their fanatical disciples raised the issue, in consideration of the fact that both of them had departed from their positions, which they had already supported, and it now created problems in the Church.

These are Eutyches, Dioscorus and other Antiochian theologians. Eutyches taught that the Lord Jesus Christ had two natures before the union, but he confessed one nature after the union. That is, he said that after the union of the two natures, human nature was absorbed by the divine nature. This problem continued, because there was still confusion between nature and person, so that they considered the one person is connected with one nature.

"Orthodox Popes" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

According to the decisions of the First Vatican Council, the Pope is defined as "infallible" when he speaks "ex cathedra", he is then superior to Councils and in fact the Ecumenical Councils, since he decides whether or not the Council decides correctly.

Against this mentality which created many afflictions in Western Christianity, the Reformed Protestants appeared, who not only questioned the infallibility of the Pope, but ended up at the point where everyone is a pope, who can judge everyone else.

Unfortunately, this mentality was also introduced into the Orthodox Church by clergy and theologians, and is expressed as an "Orthodox Papism", when every theologian expresses a papal mentality, when they come to the point of denying the synodal institution of the Church.

14 Attributes of True Faith (St. Nektarios of Aegina)

 
By St. Nektarios of Aegina

True faith has the following attributes:

1) It informs the believer secretly of the truth of his faith.

2) It directs his steps in the path of truth.

3) It fills him with hope that is eternal, undiminishable, pure from every fear and every regret and has in it the fullness of bliss.

4) It fills him with warm and active love for God and his neighbor.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Third Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


  Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Third Ecumenical Synod (431 A.D.)


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

Since the first two Ecumenical Synods were convened, beloved brethrens, and drafted the Symbol of Faith and normally the issues should have ended, but various philosophical theologians raised various theological issues and therefore this Synod took place in Ephesus in 431 AD by decision of Emperor Theodosius the Younger, with Saint Cyril of Alexandria as President of the Synod.

This Synod dealt with the heresy of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who argued that the Panagia should not be called Theotokos, but Christotokos, considering that the term Theotokos, like the phrase "Mother of God", have pagan origins. Therefore he would say that the Virgin Mary gave birth to the human Christ, while God "came forth from", "passed through" or "went through" her, but He was not bron from her as God. Nestorius said that it is wrong to say the Panagia is Theotokos, because she is not a goddess who gave birth to God.

Saint Anastasios the Weaver and the Healing of the Paralyzed Turk in 1918


The following is the testimony of Michael Christodoulos, of a miracle that took place in Cyprus:

"In 1918 I was seven years old. My father, who was the commissioner of the church [of Saint Anastasios the Wonderworker and Weaver, in the now occupied Peristeronopigi, in the province of Famagusta], always took me with him when Saint Anastasios celebrated [on September 17].

On September 16, after dinner, I was with other children outside the old church, among those who had come for the festival. Then they brought in a big cart a paralyzed Turk from Anglisides [a community of the province of Larnaca].

The Turks who accompanied him wanted to put him in the church [to stay overnight and be healed]. We children and some others protested and shouted not to put the Turk in the church.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Second Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


 Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Second Ecumenical Synod (381 A.D.)


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 
 
After the First Ecumenical Synod, of which I spoke briefly last Sunday, beloved brethren, many ecclesiastical events took place, there was great unrest in the Church. Mainly because in the Symbol of Faith, drafted by the First Ecumenical Synod, the word "homoousios" (ὁμοούσιος, "of the same essence") was included, that the Son is "homoousios with the Father". This word "homoousios" was used by the heretics, who had received it from philosophy, and had other meanings. The Fathers, however, used it in the orthodox sense, to explain that the Word has the same essence as the Father.

Thus, after the First Ecumenical Synnod, the Christians were divided into various groups, namely: the Homoousians, who supported the Creed of Nicaea with the term "homoousios"; the Homoiousians, who held that the Son was not of the same essence as the Father, rather the essence was similar; the Anomians, who held that the Son had a dissimilar essence with the Father; the Heteroousians, who said that the Son had a different essence from the Father. Also, there appeared other heretics, who argued that the Holy Spirit is not God, but a creature, the so-called Pneumatomachoi. For this reason, the Second Ecumenical Synod convened in the year 381 in Constantinople to address these issues.

Photos of the Relics of Saint Euphemia from Constantinople

 
 

Life and Passion of Saint Cyprian of Carthage (Pontius of Carthage)

 
By Pontius of Carthage,
Deacon and Biographer of Saint Cyprian of Carthage

1. Although Cyprian, the devout priest and glorious witness of God, composed many writings whereby the memory of his worthy name survives; and although the profuse fertility of his eloquence and of God's grace so expands itself in the exuberance and richness of his discourse, that he will probably never cease to speak even to the end of the world; yet, since to his works and deserts it is justly due that his example should be recorded in writing, I have thought it wall to prepare this brief and compendious narrative. Not that the life of so great a man can be unknown to any even of the heathen nations, but that to our posterity also this incomparable and lofty pattern may be prolonged into immortal remembrance. It would assuredly be hard that, when our fathers have given such honour even to lay-people and catechumens who have obtained martyrdom, for reverence of their very martyrdom, as to record many, or I had nearly said, well near all, of the circumstances of their sufferings, so that they might be brought to our knowledge also who as yet were not born, the passion of such a priest and such a martyr as Cyprian should be passed over, who, independently of his martyrdom, had much to teach, and that what he did while he lived should be hidden from the world. And, indeed, these doings of his were such, and so great, and so admirable, that I am deterred by the contemplation of their greatness, and confess myself incompetent to discourse in a way that shall be worthy of the honour of his deserts, and unable to relate such noble deeds in such a way that they may appear as great as in fact they are, except that the multitude of his glories is itself sufficient for itself, and needs no other heraldry. It enhances my difficulty, that you also are anxious to hear very much, or if it be possible every thing, about him, longing with eager warmth at least to become acquainted with his deeds, although now his living words are silent. And in this behalf, if I should say that the powers of eloquence fail me, I should say too little. For eloquence itself fails of suitable powers fully to satisfy your desire. And thus I am sorely pressed on both sides, since he burdens me with his virtues, and you press me hard with your entreaties.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Miracles of Saint Joseph the New of Partos on His Journey to Timisoara


Saint Joseph the New of Partos lived as a monk at Vatopaidi Monastery on the Holy Mountain for 62 years (1588-1650) when he was elected to be the Metropolitan of Timisoara, which is a city in Romania at that time under Turkish occupation. At 82 years of age, Saint Joseph had already become well known for his virtues and holiness.

Ecumenical Patriarch Parthenios (1644-1646, 1648-1651) ordained him Metropolitan in Constantinople, and from there he left for Timisoara with the permission of the Patriarchate, to whose jurisdiction the Holy Mountain belonged and still belongs today.

On the journey to Timisoara, when he arrived with his carriage to cross the Danube by ferry to Palanka, the horses were frightened and did not want to do the crossing.

Then his deacon Damaskinos, who was with the Saint, took the horses by the bridle and tried to make them cross the Danube. This was in vain, for the horses trembled and foamed at the mouth and the coachman began to curse them.

Then Saint Joseph got out of the carriage and rebuked the caochman for his curse words, then he took the reins from the hands of Damaskinos.

He spoke calmly to the horses, who immediately boarded the ferry and remained calm until they passed to the opposite side. All who were present marveled and knelt before the Saint and kissed his cassock, because they knew that he was chosen by God, since the beasts also submitted to him.

From there they set out to go to Banat, but when they got there it got dark and a windstorm began that darkened the sky so much that they could not see anything.

Then a heavy rain started and the two coachmen lost their way and did not find Banat. Saint Joseph and his entourage slept all the way and when the windstorm stopped and dawned they found themselves in a village.

When they entered the village, a gang of Turkish cavalry came out in front of them and stopped them. The Saint stuck his head out of the carriage and the chief on horseback asked him who the great infidel priest was.

To this question all his entourage were afraid but the Saint answered that he was.

Then Aga Ishmael, as the horseman was called, dismounted from his horse and calmly begged the Saint in the name of Allah and Jesus to return to Banat, because his first female chambermaid had been in labor for three days and an angel appeared to her, who she said that until the carriage with the great priest - who is going to Timisoara - passes in front of the door of the harem, Allah will not give her relief.

The angel foretold this to her, that the Aga would go at dawn to the village of Zama and wait for the Metropolitan, where he found him, and return him to Banat.

Aga Ishmael asked the Saint to come back with him and he would offer as much as he asked for.

Saint Joseph ordered the horsemen to return and told Aga that he was going not for worldly goods, but to fulfill the will of God. Then, the priest Haralambos who was in the escort checked the Metropolitan if it is right what he is going to do, that is, to listen to the request of a pagan and to satisfy his will?

The Saint rebuked him for his words.

The Saint, afterwards, did not say another word but immersed himself in prayer.

When the carriage passed in front of the entrance of the harem, the female chambermaid immediately was able to give birth to a boy. Aga Ishmael ran behind the carriage, stopped it and kissed the right hand of Saint Joseph, weeping like a child.

Before the Saint arrived in Timisoara, he was preceded by fifty Turkish cavalry sent by Pasha Fasli of Timisoara, to accompany him to the city, because he heard about the miracle that the Saint performed in Banat. 


Saint Bessarion I the Sanctified, Metropolitan of Larissa (+ 1500)

St. Bessarion the Sanctified of Larissa (Feast Day - September 15)

On September 15th the Synaxarion lists two Saints for commemoration that bear the same name and title: Metropolitan Bessarion I of Larissa (+1500) and Metropolitan Bessarion II of Larissa (+ 1540). The latter is the most well known of the two. Saint Bessarion I is officially known as Saint Bessarion the Sanctified, and he served as Metropolitan of Larissa from 1490 to 1499. Previously he had been the Bishop of Demetrias, and abandoned his post as Metropolitan of Larissa in 1499 due to old age. Unlike Bessarion II, his existence was not known for centuries, although there is a Patriarchal Sigillum of Dionysios with which Bessarion I was raised to the Metropolitan throne of Larissa in 1490. His existence was confirmed in 1920 when it was discovered that both Saints Bessarion I and II appeared together in a fresco in the Chapel of the Holy Anargyri in Trikala. This fresco in fact depicts seven metropolitans of Larissa, and Bessarion I is given the epithet of "the Former" and Bessarion II is known as "of the Savior". We know nothing else of his life.
 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

September 14, 1943: The German Bombardment of Kerkyra and Kefallonia (Events Which Inspired the Book and Film "Captain Corelli's Mandolin")


One of the worst moments in the history of Kerkyra (Corfu) was the day of the feast of the Holy Cross on September 14, 1943.

Through various sources we made a historical and emotional effort to present the tragic events of that night (13th-14th) but also of the next day.

In early September, Italians and the people of Kerkyra struck a German ship which was going to disembark soldiers in Benitses. There were dozens dead.

The order of the Headquarters of the Italian Forces stated that the Italian soldiers, after the capitulation of Italy with the Allied Forces, must keep Kerkyra and Kefalonia under Italian occupation.

The Axe Head of the Prophet Elisha as a Foreshadowing of the Cross


In 2(4) Kings 6:1-7 we read:

And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.”

So he answered, “Go.”

Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”

And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.”

The Crosswise Blessing of the Patriarch Jacob as a Foreshadowing of the Cross


 
In Genesis 48:8-20 we read:

When Israel [Jacob] saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”

“They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”

Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Saint Ketevan as a Model for our Lives

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Ketevan came from Georgia and lived in the 17th century. Her parents were pious and raised her with the admonitions of the Gospel. In fact, they had given her the Bible for reading. Purity, modesty, prudence and almsgiving adorned her youthful life. When she reached the age of marriage, she married the king of Kakheti, whose name was David. From her marriage she acquired a son, Teimuraz. Her husband David left this vain world early, and his reign was short-lived, having reigned only six months.

As queen Ketevan brought peace among the rulers and restored order between the Church and State, which had been turbulent. She built Holy Temples, Hospitals and took care with much love the widows and the orphans, and in general the poor and the weak. When her son grew up, she handed him the throne and she herself retired to the quiet, which she loved from her youth, and lived in asceticism and prayer. For the salvation of her nation she was driven out of the borders of her country, together with her relatives, and for her faith she endured horrible torments. She was taken to prison where she remained for ten years. She was martyred together with her spiritual father, the priest George, from whom she often received the Holy Mysteries, as did her followers. Her relics became a source of many miracles.

Saint Aristides and His Veneration in Greece

St. Aristides in a fresco from the Church of Panagia Phaneromeni in Aigio
 
 By Aristides G. Theodoropoulos

On September 13, the Orthodox Church honors and celebrates the memory of Saint Aristides, this eminent and eloquent Athenian philosopher and famous martyr of Christ, who became better known in Ecclesiastical History and Patrology by his famous Apology, which is also the oldest surviving apologetic text.

This eminent Christian philosopher, ardent apologist and glorious martyr of the 2nd century AD was born in Athens and studied classical philosophy at the famous Philosophical School of Athens.

Elder Ephraim of Vatopaidi Returns to his Monastery after a Three and a Half Month Battle With the Coronavirus


The return of Elder Ephraim to Vatopaidi Monastery on the Holy Mountain was an event that everyone was looking forward to. The fathers of the Monastery say that it was not accidental that he came exactly one day before the feast of the Monastery for the Holy Zoni of the Panagia. After being tested for the coronavirus in late May and for an absence of about three and a half months at Evangelismos Hospital and Animus Rehabilitation Center, he returned on September 11th healthy to his spiritual children.

The reception was modest and moving. He arrived around 7:30 p.m. at the port of the Monastery where all the Heads of the Monastery were waiting for him, while the whole brotherhood was waiting for him outside the gate of the Monastery, where the fathers, with obvious joy on their faces, lined up to receive his blessing and kiss his hand.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Metropolitan Chrysostomos and the Tragedy of Smyrna in 1922


 By Panagiotis Melikidis

On August 27, 1922, the Kemalist troops, after breaking through the defensive line of the Greek troops in the area of Eskişehir-Afyonkarahisar-Kütahya, invaded the city of Smyrna, where the Greek element was in the majority.

Among the victims of the Turkish atrocity is the Metropolitan of Smyrna and Exarch of all Asia, Chrysostomos Kalaphatis. The martyrdom of the Hierarch is considered the culmination of the atrocities committed by the Turks against the Christian population.

Homily on the Sunday Before the Elevation of the Cross (Metropolitan Augoustinos Kantiotis)


 By Metropolitan Augoustinos (Kantiotis) of Florina

(Delivered in 2010)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:15)

Did you hear, my brethren, today's Gospel? He spoke to us regarding He Who descended and ascended: descended to the deepest depths, to Hades, and ascended to the greatest height, to Heaven. He spoke to us about God. But what is God?

Once, they say, there was a king who was tortured by the thought: “What is God?” He called a great wise man and asked him: “What is God?” The wise man asked for three days to ponder this. He shut himself in and began to study, but after three days, he was in no position to give an answer.

Galatians 6:14 in Light of the Fathers of the "Philokalia"


"But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

- Paul the Apostle (Galatians 6:14)

+ + +

76. A  man  who  through  ascetic  effort  withers  the  flower  of  the  flesh,  and  cuts  off  all  its desires, bears in his mortal flesh the marks of the Lord (cf. Gal. 6:17).  

77. The  hardships  of  the  ascetic  life  end  in  the  repose  of  dispassion,  while  soft  ways  of living breed shameful passions.  

- St Theodoros the Great Ascetic (A Century of Spiritual Texts)

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Expanding Veneration of Saint Theodora of Vasta


The famous 12th century Chapel of Saint Theodora of Vasta in the southern Peloponnese, with its seventeen trees growing on its roof, was a local shrine for hundreds of years, that gradually expanded in popularity since the 1950's, and today is one of the most visited shrines in Greece, with people coming there daily from all over the world. In the past few years especially the veneration of Saint Theodora has been expanding outside of the small village of Vasta. In 2010 I reported how a chapel dedicated to the Saint was built in Nafplio (see here). Now new frescoes and icons are popping up in various churches of Greece bearing the image of the Saint. The ones posted here are some newer examples, some with her signature chapel in Vasta and some without. Like Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, it seems like this is another Saint of old who in our times is in the process of going through an expanded veneration, primarily because of their association with miracles in our times. 

A 12th Century Fresco of Saint Euphrosynos the Cook


This fresco is among the oldest of Saint Euphrosynos the Cook, who is estimated to have lived in the ninth century in Palestine. It dates to 1191 and can be found in the Church of Saint George in Kurbinovo, Macedonia.
 

The Cave of Saint Elias the Cave-Dweller in Calabria


Saint Elias the Cave-Dweller (Sept. 11) lived with the hermit Cosma and his disciple Vitalio in a cave around the year 904. There he attracted a large following, so he decided to move to a larger cave where he could establish a monastery. He died in this place at ninety-six years old, after having lived for seventy-one years as a hermit. 960 is conventionally thought of as the year of his death, since the monastery founded by Elias had the title of “imperial monastery”, which was assigned by the Roman Emperor in Constantinople.

In the territory surrounding Melicuccà, whose name derives from the settlement founded by the inhabitants of the area among the large woods of Bagolari (in Greek "melikokkos"), in the heart of the Piana di Gioia Tauro, stands the ancient complex of hermit caves that hosted the ascetic path of Saint Elias in the early Middle Ages. The site represents some of the most important archaeological evidence from Byzantine Greek times in Southern Italy. Dating back to the 10th century, it preserves the remains of the monastery and of the annexed factories (cellar, mill, millstones, necropolis). In its heyday, the structure hosted over one hundred and fifty monks.

Saint Ioanniki of Svyatogorsk (+ 1882)

St. Ioanniki of Svyatogorsk (Feast Day - September 11)

Hieromonk Ioanniki (in the world Trofim Nikitovich Averkiev) was born in 1823 into a family of peasants in the Livensk district of the Oryol province. The boy was distinguished by his particular intelligence and piety, he loved to be in church, and at the age of 16 he began to ask his parents to bless him to go to a monastery to become a monk. His desire for monasticism was especially intensified after one significant dream, in which he saw a church and monks in robes and hoods, ceremoniously going to a gathering in the middle of the church and singing a divine song - they took him by the hands and led him along, saying: “Go with us, do not be afraid to upset your parents, it is God's will for you to be with us."

Friday, September 10, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The First Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
 Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The First Ecumenical Synod (325 A.D.)


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In this years short sermons for the Sundays of Summer, beloved brethren, I will refer to the Ecumenical Synods of our Church, and especially to the dogmatic issues which our Holy Fathers who comprised of them dealt with these. Orthodox Christians must know our Orthodox faith.

Of course, these issues are big and serious and they cannot be adequately analyzed in short eucharistic sermons, but we will highlight some of the key points of some of the decisions of the Ecumenical Synods that Orthodox Christians must know. This is, in other words, a small study, and those who are interested will be able to interest themselves in gaining more information.

The First Ecumenical Synod was convened in Nicaea of Bithynia, in the year 325 AD, by Constantine the Great. The presidents of the Synod were Eustathios of Antioch and Alexander of Alexandria, and perhaps Saint Kordouis.

The Patristic Basis of Theology (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

It is very significant that Saint Maximus the Confessor at the beginning of his theological struggle spoke about hesychast and neptic issues. He began, that is, with the texts that speak about love and more generally the texts that speak about the healing of man. The second phase of his struggle he was concerned with transmitting the terminology of the Cappadocian Fathers regarding the Trinitarian God in the Person of Christ. And the third phase of his theological struggle he was concerned with the topic about how every nature has its own will, that is, it was against monothelitism in Christ.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Paradise and Hell According to Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian


Saint Basil the Great refers to the fire of the Three Children in the furnace to interpret Psalm 28/29:7, where it says the fire was split or divided in two. It did not burn for those who were in the midst of the furnace, but for those who were outside the furnace the same flames did burn. In a similar way, says Basil, after the Great Judgment the righteous will experience the fire of the presence of the Lord as light and delight, while sinners will experience the fire of the presence of the Lord as burning and punitive.
 

The Blessing of the Panagia by the Priests When She Was a One Year Old


Kaisariani Monastery is located on the north side of Mount Hymettus, near Athens. There we find a fresco depicting a scene from the sixth chapter of the Protoevangelium of James, which describes the blessing of the Panagia when she was a one year old by the Jewish priests, who were invited by Joachim and Anna to their home for a feast. Below is the description of the scene from the Protoevangelium:

And the child grew strong day by day; and when she was six months old, her mother set her on the ground to try whether she could stand, and she walked seven steps and came into her bosom; and she snatched her up, saying: "As the Lord my God lives, you shall not walk on this earth until I bring you into the temple of the Lord."

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