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Sunday, October 31, 2021

Discourse Two on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (St. John Chrysostom)

 

Discourse Two on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
 
(Delivered in Antioch in the year 389 or 390 on the second day of the month.)
 
By St. John Chrysostom
 
1. I was pleased yesterday to see your right feeling when I entered upon the subject of Lazarus, inasmuch as you approved of the patience of the poor man, and shrank from the cruelty and inhumanity of the rich man. These are no small tokens of a noble mind. For if, though not possessing virtue, we yet praise it, then we may be at all events more able to attain it. In like manner if, though we do not flee from sin, we still blame sin, then we may at all events be able to escape from it. Since, therefore, you received that address with great favor, let me deliver to you those things which still remain.

Reflection on the Fifth Sunday of Luke (St. Theophan the Recluse)


Fifth Sunday of Luke
 
Luke 16:19-31
 
By St. Theophan the Recluse
 
The parable about the rich man and Lazarus shows that those who do not live as they should will suddenly wake up to reality, but they will no longer have the opportunity to correct their state. Their eyes will open and they will clearly see where the truth lies. Remembering that on the earth there are many who are blind as they were, they would like someone to be sent from the dead for the assurance that one must live and understand things only according to the indication of the Lord’s Revelation. But they will be denied even this, because for those who desire to know the truth, Revelation alone is a witness. But for those who do not desire it, and do not love the truth, even the resurrection of the dead will not be convincing. The feelings of the rich man in this parable are probably felt by everyone who departs this life. Consequently, according to the conviction of that world which will be the conviction of us all, the only guidance for us on the path of life is the Lord’s Revelation. But there, for many, this conviction will have come too late—it would have been more useful here, but not everyone had it. We will believe, at least, the testimony of those there, putting ourselves into their state. Those who are in torments do not lie; pitying us they want our eyes to be opened, that we not come to the place of their torment. We cannot say of this subject as we often do of current affairs, “Maybe somehow things will go all right.” No, it will not just go all right somehow. We must be fundamentally certain that we will not find ourselves in the place of the rich man.
 
 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

The Russian Churches on Blood


In the Russian Orthodox tradition, Church on Blood (храм на крови) is a church commemorating the spot of the murder of a member of the royal family. There are four such churches:

1. Church of Saint Demetrios on Blood in Uglich (17th century) - commemorates the murder of Tsarevich Demetrius

2. Church of the Saviour on Blood in St. Petersburg (19th century) - commemorates the murder of Alexander II of Russia

3. Church of All Saints, Yekaterinburg (21st century) - commemorates the murder of Nicholas II of Russia and his family

4. Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Orthodox Church a.k.a. Lubyanka Church on Blood (21st century) - commemorates the Gulag victims. It stands next to the infamous Lubyanka Building on the grounds of the Sretensky Monastery.
 
 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Homily on the Holy Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

Lutherans, Protestants and all other heretics do not honor the Most Holy Virgin Mary. They consider her only a pious woman and certainly do not pray to her. How do we Orthodox Christians see the earthly Mother of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, who served in the great mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God? Are we reprehensible for calling her "more honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim"?  For addressing our fervent prayers to her, who is "the salvation of the Christian race"?

Homily on the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God (St. Dimitri of Rostov)


By St. Dimitri of Rostov
 
During the last, difficult times, when with the increase of our sins our perils have also increased, in fulfillment of the words of the holy apostle Paul: In perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26), when in fulfillment of the words of the Lord Himself, nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places (Matt. 24:7), when we are pressed with invasions by foreign nations, civil wars, and fatal diseases, the Most Holy and Most blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Lord, gives us her protection as our shield, in order to free us from all disasters; in order to protect us from famines, floods, and earthquakes, to save us from wars and diseases, and preserve us unharmed under her protection. A sign of this protection appeared in the royal city of Constantinople during the reign of the pious King Leo the Wise in the glorious church of the Most Holy Theotokos in Blachernae. There during the All-Night Vigil for Sunday, on the first day of the month of October, in the fourth hour of the night, in the presence of many people, St. Andrew the fool for Christ lifted up his eyes and saw the Heavenly Queen, the Protectress of the whole world, the Most Holy Virgin Theotokos, standing in the air and praying, shining with the light of the sun and covering the people with her honorable omophorion. Seeing this, St. Andrew said to his disciple Blessed Ephiphanios:
 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Saint Nestor of Thessaloniki Resource Page

St. Nestor the Martyr (Feast Day - October 27)
 
Verses

In decapitating both Lyaios and the brutal indignity of error,
Nestor is decapitated by the sword.
On the twenty-seventh diligent Nestor was beheaded.
 
 
 
 
The Chapel of Saint Nestor, Patron Saint of Athletes, Next to the Kaftanzoglio Stadium in Thessaloniki
 
 
 
 

Saint Nestor the Martyr


 By Archimandrite Demetrios Kavvadias

The Victorious Martyr of Christ Nestor is known to us from the life of Saint Demetrios. Thessaloniki is the place of origin of Saint Nestor.

The age at which he appears is young, in fact according to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite it was "when the hairs of the beard begin to grow", while Saint Damaskinos the Studite mentions he was "around twenty years old". Dionysios from Fourna says he was "young and without a beard" and Photis Kontoglou says he was "young without a mustache and just beginning to grow a beard". The teacher of the Gospel, Michael Galanos, identifies his form as beautiful: "He therefore bent his blonde and beautiful head and gave his last breathe with the striking of the sword, in order that he may ascend even more beautiful, to be with the ruler of life, the source of immortal beauty." Scholars of his life therefore determine his age and form as directly related to his story, since the hagiography and the iconography around his person coincide.

When Bulgarian Soldiers Tried to Steal the Relics of Saint Demetrius the New of Basarabov from the Cathedral of Bucharest During World War I


Saint Demetrius the New, commemorated on October 27th, was born in the village of Basarabov in northeastern Bulgaria. His relics came to Bucharest in the second half of the 18th century, in the context of the Russian-Turkish War of 1768-1774, brought by Russian general Pyotr Saltykov. According to tradition, the general intended to take the relics to Russia, but at the request of a Romanian, Hagi-Dimitri, the relics were given to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Bucharest. Thus, in the last decades of the 18th century, Saint Demetrius the New of Basarabov became the patron saint of Bucharest.

During World War I, on 17 February 1918, when Bucharest was occupied by the Germans, about 20 Bulgarian soldiers, allies of the Germans, broke down the entrance to the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen and snatched the relic of the patron saint of Bucharest, Saint Demetrius the New of Basarabov, to transport it to their country. They hid it in a car and at night set off for the Danube River. But the Saint, not wanting to leave Romania, caused such confusion in the streets that the thieves could not find a way out, so they found themselves outside the Cathedral again. As soon as it dawned, they managed to find the public exit road, but on their way the car broke down several times and they were arrested by the German occupying forces. Thus the holy relic was returned to its place in the midst of a glorious reception by the Metropolitan himself and thousands of people.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Fr. Ioannis Aleiferis, a Holy Monk of Mount Sinai Known as a Fool for Christ, Has Reposed


 By Ioannis Fourtounas

Fr. Ioannis Aleiferis (+ 10/19/2021), who after a brief illness departed for the heavenly dwelling place, was a Sinaite monk of the God-trodden Monastery of Saint Katherine.

Hailing from the region of Neapolis (Vatika) in Lakonia, Fr. Ioannis joined the monastic brotherhood of Mount Sinai and served as an ecclesiarch for many years.

He was found worthy of the rare gift of foolishness for Christ, which he preserved as the apple of his eye, appearing to people as a supposedly real fool in the world and not for Christ.

Translation of the Relics of the Holy New Martyr George of Ioannina

 

The Holy New Martyr George of Ioannina was hanged to death on January 17, 1838. One hundred and thirty-three years later, on October 26, 1971 his sacred relics were translated to the newly-built Church of the Holy New Martyr George of Ioannina in the city square.

"A deep emotion continues in my heart and fills my soul with awe and sacred fear, because the Most High has reserved for me this great honor, that I should at least search for him and that His unworthy servant should deposit the Sacred Relics from the grave to his household position."

"You have supported me, my children in the Lord, my dear ones, and you have strengthened me in the great dare, which I attempt, of the exhumation of our Patron Saint, through your fervent prayers."

Saint Demetrios and the Bitter Woman


It was around the beginning of the 20th century when in Aitoliko a pious and faithful woman suddenly became a widow. Helpless and sad as she was with her young son Demetrios she tried to move on with their lives. The pain was silent but unbearable.

Her son, Demetrios, however, soon fell ill and flew off to heaven. The blow to the mother was heavy. In such a short time she lost her husband and child.

The second may have been heavier and she could not overcome it. It was God's fault!

She had placed her last hopes and supplications in Him but what she asked of Him did not come true.

Testimony of a Man Who Spoke With Saint Demetrios and Was Healed By Him


I was invited to go to Sesklo, 16 km away from Velestino for a power of attorney contract.

The house was on the edge of the village.

I go in and the hostess tells me she was going to find witnesses.

In the meantime I ask the old woman if she wants to confess and she asks me:

"My child, are you of Christ?"

Saint Demetrios of Thessaloniki: Epistle and Gospel Reading


Holy Great Martyr Demetrios the Myrrhgusher

October 26

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Luke 21:12-19

English

The Lord said to his disciples, "Beware of men who will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives."

Monday, October 25, 2021

Testimony of a Miracle of the Panagia Prousiotissa During the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918


Retired teacher Lambros Moutsos, who once served in the village of Demi of Agrinio, narrates for us the following miracle from October 25, 1918 (one of many such testimonies):

"In 1918 my wife Spyridoula had contracted a severe form of the flu. My friends who are doctors, Selimas and Sakkas, had assured me that my wife was in the last moments of her life. My wife's brother Nikos Panouklias, from Messolonghi, had arrived at my house that morning to see his sister for the last time. Everyone in my house was discussing the funeral. After a few hours, the sacred procession of the Holy Icon of Panagia Prousiotissa passed outside my house. My nearly-departed wife begged us to take her to the window, which we did. As soon as the sick woman saw the Icon and prayed, she fell asleep, but after an hour we noticed in amazement that the wreck of a human began to move, to come to life and after a few days to become completely well. My wife is still alive and in excellent health, thanks to the miracle of Panagia Prousiotissa."
 
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 

Saint Tabitha the Merciful as a Model for our Lives

St. Tabitha the Merciful (Feast Day - October 25)
 
By Protopresbyter George Papavarnavas

Saint Tabitha was from Joppa and lived during Apostolic times. What we know from her life is what the evangelist Luke mentions in the ninth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, where he emphasizes that "she was full of good works and almsgiving". The name Tabitha is Syrian and in Greek it is Dorcas which is interpreted as "gazelle". She was a weaver and made tunics and garments, which she gave to poor people, widows and orphans. And while she was working hard, she suddenly fell ill and died. Her death, of course, caused deep pain, especially to those who experienced her beneficial presence and offering. And while they were all ready for her funeral, the faithful were informed that the Apostle Peter, as part of his apostolic journey for the preaching of the gospel, was in Lydda, which was near Joppa.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Reflection on the Sixth Sunday of Luke (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 
By St. Theophan the Recluse

After the Gadarene man who was possessed with devils was healed, he cleaved to the Lord and desired to be with Him always; then, upon hearing His will, goes and preaches throughout the whole city about the good things he received. The benefactor attracts, His will becomes law for the receiver of the benefaction, and the tongue cannot resist proclaiming what was received from Him. If only we kept in mind all the good things which we have received and are receiving from the Lord, there would not be ungrateful people among us, there would not be transgressors of His holy will, there would not be people who do not love Him more than anything. We are saved through baptism from our forefathers’ sin and all of its perdition; in repentance we are constantly washed from sins, which incessantly cling to us. Through God’s providence we are preserved from misfortunes which often are not visible to us ourselves, and we receive a direction for our life which is safer for us and favorable to our goals; but also all that we possess is from the Lord. That is why we must belong to the Lord with our whole soul, fulfill His will in all things, and glorify His most holy name—especially in our life and deeds, so that we might not fall behind the Gadarene man possessed by devils, who immediately proved himself to be so wise that he became an example worthy of everyone’s imitation.
 
 

Myrrh Flows from the Icon of Saint George Karslides in Karpathos


On October 20, 2021 a video was posted on social media showing an icon of Saint George Karslides gushing myrrh on the Greek island of Karpathos. According to the commentary on the video, this was filmed on the tenth day of the icon gushing forth myrrh, for which six packages of cotton were needed to gather it up.
@ekklisiaonline Μυρο αναβλύζει εικονα του Αγιου Γεωργιου στην Κάρπαθο#εκκλησια #γεωργιος ♬ πρωτότυπος ήχος - Εκκλησία Online
 
 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Homilies on Holiness and the Saints - The Holy Martyrs (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


The Holy Martyrs

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

A category in the great chorus of the saints are the holy martyrs. These are those Christians, clergy and laity, who lived in a period of persecution of the Church and proved to be worthy members of the Church of Christ.

The word "martyr" refers to those people who testify, especially in the courts, because they heard and saw certain events that they are called upon to confirm.

This notion of the martyr is also transferred to ecclesiastical terminology and thus characterizes those who have been in their lives audible-witnesses and eyewitnesses of God, they saw and heard God and then were called to confess to this reality.

Is There A Liturgy of Saint James?

 
By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

At the beginning of our Church there were no priestly service books like the Hieratikon which contained the Divine Liturgy.

The Apostles performed the Mystery on the basis of what they had seen from Christ (Saint Sophronios of Jerusalem, P.G. 87:3982).

They "framed" it with their own personal eucharistic prayers. Peter had his, Andrew his, John his, James his, etc.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Explanations and Clarifications of Ecclesiastical History and the Deontology of the Ukrainian Issue (Part 9)


...continued from part eight.

* Russianism is slowly "gnawing" at the historical course of Orthodoxy, by any means of communication. This is how the obsession with maintaining the "Minister of External Affairs" of the Russian Patriarchate is explained, something that began in the Stalinist period and today is entrenched.

* This is how the propaganda is explained in the Western world and in America, with publications in English that advertise the strange Pan-Slavic idea that Greek-speaking Orthodoxy has long since been extinguished as a language, and that Orthodox spirituality is expressed today by the Slavic language and especially in the Russian world. It is at least one wretched action (which fights against the mystery of the Incarnation and Pentecost and makes useless the last lines of the Creed). In these English-spoken publications of the foreign policy of the Russian side, Alexandros Papaderos gave a reply in English.

Homilies on Holiness and the Saints - The Fathers of the Church (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
The Fathers of the Church

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The successors of the Holy Apostles are the Fathers of the Church, first the Apostolic Fathers who lived immediately after the Apostles, and then the Great Fathers of the Church.

The word "fathers" is also known in everyday life, since it means those who give birth to children and are the head of every family. This word, conveyed in ecclesiastical life, signifies those Clergy who give birth to spiritual children in the life according to Christ and guide them to grow spiritually. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, told them that even if they have many teachers according to Christ, they do not have many fathers, because their father was the one who gave birth to them with his teaching, which was the teaching of Christ: "For though you might have ten thousand teachers in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel”(1 Cor. 4:15).

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Saints Barnabas and Hilarion the Wonderworkers

Sts. Barnabas and Hilarion (Feast Day - October 21)

Unfortunately, we know very little about Saints Barnabas and Hilarion. Leontios Machairas in his Chronicle, as well as Kyprianos in his History rank the Saints among the 300 so-called Alamanni, who went to Cyprus after the Second Crusade and practiced asceticism in various places. However, this opinion, with that given to us both by tradition and by the synaxarion of the Saints, conflicts. There it explicitly mentions that the Saints came from Cappadocia and even lived in the years of the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-456 AD). Both Saints were from noble families and served in the emperor's army, in which they were distinguished for their stature, their bravery and their whole life in general.

The Life of Saint Hilarion the Great (St. Dimitri of Rostov)


 The Twenty-Ninth Day of the Month of October
The Life of Our Venerable Father
Hilarion the Great


By St. Dimitri of Rostov

The venerable Hilarion was born in the village of Tabatha, which is in Palestine near the city of Gaza. Hilarion was like a rose blossoming among thorns, for although his parents were pagans, he emitted the fragrance which is Christ. His father and mother sent him to study in Alexandria, and there he acquired not only the knowledge which the Hellenes seek and which is easily mastered, but spiritual wisdom as well. He believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, received Holy Baptism, and went frequently to church where he gave heed to teaching that served to instruct and to enlighten him. As he exercised himself in the virtues, his heart began to burn with love for God, and he considered how he might serve the Lord.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Explanations and Clarifications of Ecclesiastical History and the Deontology of the Ukrainian Issue (Part 8)

 

...continued from part seven.

* Regarding the deposing and excommunication of Filaret, these double convictions were imposed in excess of all canonical sensitivity. He did not violate matters of faith, but matters of order. Why then did they impose an excommunication? For the same canonical offense that they imposed his deposing, and (because Filaret insisted) they also imposed the excommunication. However, an excommunication is imposed on matters of faith, not on matters of canonical and moral deviance. How then did they impose double penalties for the differentiation of Filaret?

This is somehow aimed at the ecclesiastical fullness of 15,000,000 people who followed Filaret - bishops, clergy, monks and laity. It was done in order to force either him or his ecclesiastical faction to bow their necks, for reasons of pastorally fencing off the rest of the people of Ukraine, and for the exaltation of the splendor of Moscow. We have everywhere an authoritative rationale and practice, as I emphasize again and again. A rationale and practice of new Regulations in the ecclesiastical space, outside and above the Holy Synods of Orthodoxy. And they rest on the compulsorily granted autocephaly and patriarchal value of the 16th century, which they expand at their pleasure in extent and depth. We have something like a new Orthodoxy, as if the inter-patriarchal ancient Apostolic Orthodoxy had disappeared, and they are rebuilding a new structure and rational Orthodoxy. It is similar to a secular political change.

Saint Matrona of Chios Resource Page


Verses

Leaving the world completely non-worldly,
Now bride Matrona you stand before the Bridegroom.
 

The Veneration of Saint Matrona of Chios in the Islands of the Aegean

Icon of St. Matrona with scenes from her life dating to 1933 and located in the church bearing her name in Ano Vathi, Samos.

Saint Matrona of Chios is not only highly venerated on the island of Chios, but she is very popular in many Aegean islands and their inhabitants have a special reverence for her.

Thus, in Samos and Ikaria, the wonderworking Saint is especially honored and praised, since both Aegean islands neighbor Chios and are adorned with a total of ten sacred churches in her honor. The honor and veneration of Saint Matrona of Chios in Samos and Ikaria has a special interest and important historical extensions. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the people of Samos, following the Genoese, who had occupied the island, were forced to flee to Chios due to pirate raids. Thus in 1475 Samos submitted to the Turks and was abandoned for about a hundred years. The re-colonization of Samos took place in 1572 after the privileges granted to the island by Sultan Suleiman, and only a Christian population settled there. At this time the so-called Chiosamians, ie the people who had their origins in Samos but were living in Chios, returned to Samos and brought with them icons of Saint Matrona. In this way, her veneration and honor was established on the island and sacred churches were erected in her name in Ano Vathi, where an old miraculous icon of the Saint is kept, in Neo Karlovasi, where the churches was erected in 1845 and is decorated with a magnificent wooden iconostasis, in Mytilenious, where the reverence of the inhabitants towards the Saint is memorable, in Palaiochori Kampos Vourlioton, where the church is mentioned in a sigil of Patriarch Cyril from the year 1745 and is decorated with remarkable frescoes in folk style, and in Koumeika. Saint Matrona is also honored in Samos with an aisle named after her in the holy churches of Prophet Elias in Marathokampos, Saint Demetrios in Ydrousas and Saint Anna in Chora, while in several churches of the island there are portable icons of her (Saint Nicholas of Ormou Karlovakou, Saint Spyridon in Vatheos, Dormition of the Theotokos in Chora, Dormition of the Theotokos in Mytilenious, Transfiguration of Savior in Pythagoras). But also in Ikaria after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Giustiniani of Genoa and more specifically the family of the Aragians maintained the sovereignty of the island until 1481, paying the Turks a tribute. However, seeing the power of the Turks increasing threateningly, they left Ikaria and took with them the inhabitants of the island, taking refuge in Chios. Returning later to their island, the Ikarians established the veneration of Saint Matrona and built churches in her name in the villages of Perdiki (1887), Oxe, Maratho, Dafni and Vrakades.

The Church of Saint Matrona in Lythri of Asia Minor


The village of Lythri in Asia Minor is located where the ancient Greek city of Erythrai or Eritrea once existed, and today is known as Ildır. It is directly across from Chios, and there a Church to Saint Matrona of Chios existed. It which was built as a three-aisled basilica, probably in the 18th century, and was rebuilt in 1881-1883 after an earthquake, with material from the ancient theater of Erythrai but also from the surrounding Byzantine ruins.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Saints Symeon and Theodore, Founders of the Monastery of Mega Spelaion

 
By Monk Moses the Athonite
 
They were born in Thessaloniki, and were brothers. When they came to Mount Athos, they were discipled under Venerable Euthymios the New. After being ordained priests they were seen as wise teachers of Mount Athos, distinguished for their asceticism.

Withdrawing from Mount Athos they went to venerate in the Holy Land and at God-trodden Mount Sinai. They returned to Mount Athos but left again for Thessaloniki and Thessaly, preaching against the heresy of the iconoclasts. They settled on the mountain near Thermopylae, continuing their inner struggles and after a vision they went to the Great Cave (Mega Spelaion) near Kalavryta in the Peloponnese. There they met with the shepherdess Saint Euphrosyne and after finding the miraculous icon of the Theotokos, they built a monastery.

Saints and Feasts of the Sunday Closest to October 18


Synaxis of All the Holy and 
Wonderworking Unmercenaries

Synaxis of All the Holy and Wonderworking Unmercenaries
 
 
Synaxis of All the Holy Physicians 
 
 
 
 

Why You Should Never Trust A Quote Unless You Can Authenticate It


Long ago I discovered that if I came across a quote, even if someone's name is attached to that quote, you should never trust it unless you find the actual source and context of that quote.

This morning I came across such an example. I read a lovely quote in Greek about a kneeling camel as an image of a person in prayer, and the source for that quote was an Elder Gabriel of Mount Athos. I said to myself that I would like to translate this quote and share it, but I knew I needed to find the source. There are many Elder Gabriels from Mount Athos, so which is it and from where did this quote come from? Now if I didn't ask this question, I wouldn't have discovered the truth.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Homily on the Parable of the Sower (St. John of Kronstadt)

 
Homily on the Parable of the Sower

Fourth Sunday of Luke

By St. John of Kronstadt

Today, beloved, the Gospel parable was read about the sower and the seed, about the unequal quality of the land upon which the seed fell, and about the varying fates of the seed. At the end of the Gospel reading the Lord Himself, at the request of His disciples, explained the parable (Luke 8:5-15).

Pitiful man! Poor man! How many obstacles he has in this most important matter, that of saving his soul! In that he himself treads upon the saving seed of the word of God, which can make him wise unto salvation, treading upon it either intentionally, consciously, and sneeringly, or out of frivolity, neglect, and ignorance; in that the universal malefactor and blighter of the human race, the devil, snatches away the saving word; in that his hardened and obdurate heart does not permit him to be saved; in that thorns – or the various cares, passions, and pleasures of life, along with riches – set before him insurmountable barriers to salvation. Only a few, who with honest and goods hearts and true reason value their salvation as they should, patiently making use of the means for salvation that have been given us, are saved. Many are called, but few are chosen. Astonishing! What is ultimately happening here? Who is to blame for this absurdity, for this voluntary perdition of men? Man himself is to blame, for treading upon – and often learning to tread upon daily – the wondrous, great, and countless gifts of God. The Lord God, Who created him in His image and likeness, in righteousness and holiness, granted him every opportunity, every means and strength, for life and piety. Man, in his laziness and ignorance, his negligence and obstinancy, his unreasonable predilection for the here and now, is like a shadow passing through life, rushing headlong towards perdition while pushing aside the saving hand of God. Who is to blame for this perdition, if not man himself? You will say: it is impossible, or at least difficult, to be saved! But, in fact, countless multitudes of men like you have been saved; they are even now being saved, though not many. “Being saved is difficult!” But do you really want to obtain eternal life – in blessed union with God, the Mother of God, the Angels, and all the Saints – without labor? Without the labor of self-purification, assisted by grace, without the labor of prayer and vigilance, without almsgiving, without meekness, without humility, without abstinence? In the acquisition of earthly goods we do not judge labor to be superfluous, and we often work at this with all our strength; but when it comes to obtaining eternal blessedness, we throw up our hands. It is not as though the matter of salvation were extremely difficult: “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light,” says the Saviour (Matthew 11:30). Yes, with God’s help it gradually becomes easy, though at first it is hampered by the persistent warfare with sin. But is not sin itself a matter of extreme difficulty, since it is unnatural and alien to our divine nature? Is sin not torturous? If we labor in sin, how then can we not labor in righteousness, in saving our soul from sin? There, the end is death; but here, eternal life. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23).

Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Luke (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 
Sunday of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod

Gospel Reading - Luke 8:5-15

By St. Theophan the Recluse

The thorns and thistles which choke the word of Divine truth, in addition to being riches, pleasures and cares of this life, at the current time must also be understood to be various false teachings, spread by scholars who have lost the truth and have been knocked off the path to it. Among us such theories differ much: some publicly and openly go against the truth; others do so by oblique hints that are nevertheless understood by those toward whom they are directed. In essence they act like carbon monoxide poisoning — they enter unnoticeably, and cloud the head, leading to a loss of clear consciousness of everything around. He who gets this carbon monoxide poisoning begins to rave like one who is asleep, for everything already appears to him entirely not as it is, not as it appears to one who is in his right mind. When you meet such a person you see that not only is all truth is suppressed in him, but any feeling for the truth is also stifled, and a lie has penetrated all the components of his mind. How should one be? Do not listen to these ravings or read them; and when they are unwillingly heard or read, throw them out of your head. When they are not thrown out — submit them to reason, and they all will scatter like smoke. 


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Homilies on Holiness and the Saints - The Evangelists (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


The Evangelists
 
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Along with the twelve Disciples, of whom we spoke last Sunday and who constituted the close group of the Disciples of Christ, there were at the same time the seventy Disciples of Christ. Some of them, both the twelve and seventy, are called Evangelists because they wrote the four Gospels. They are the Evangelist Matthew, the Evangelist Mark, the Evangelist Luke and the Evangelist John.

The word Gospel in Greek is Evangelio and consists of two words "ev" and "angelia" and signifies "good news", "good information". The Evangelists, therefore, transmitted in writing the news that the Son and Word of God incarnated, taught, died, was crucified, resurrected, ascended, and will come again to judge people.

Explanations and Clarifications of Ecclesiastical History and the Deontology of the Ukrainian Issue (Part 7)


...continued from part six.

* As is confessed by the Bishops of the Patriarchate of Alexandria (Nikephoros of Kinshasa), the Russians in various African countries are seeking the right of Russian priests to liturgize in the Russian Embassies of Africa. This is a stark demonstration of unbridled hegemonism and expansionism. They achieved the authorization of the Patriarch of Alexandria for a few countries of Africa, something like exarchies, and now they want to expand more, something like a Super-Patriarchate!

It seems that they succeeded in Cyprus, with the authorization of the Church of Cyprus, they spread even into occupied Cyprus, even though they solemnly lie and deny any connection with some Russian missions of clergy to the land of occupied Cyprus. However, they also have a relationship and they promote the action of such groups on Cypriot soil.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Homilies on Holiness and the Saints - The Apostles (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

  
The Apostles
 
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Among the saints are the Apostles of Jesus Christ. These are the twelve disciples of Christ, whom Christ called to the Apostolic office, who after Pentecost ran throughout the world and founded the local Churches. The Apostles include the Apostle Paul, who did not know Christ while He was alive, but knew Him by the Holy Spirit and that is why He is also an Apostle and in fact a Foremost one, together with the Apostle Peter.

The word apostle comes from the verb "send" and denotes one who is sent by someone to fulfill a mission.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Words of Complete Immortality: Saint Symeon the New Theologian (Photios Kontoglou)

Sketch of St. Symeon the New Theologian by Photios Kontoglou
 
By Photios Kontoglou

I would have written today on another subject, which is not religious. But I received many letters and phone calls from readers of "Eleutheria" expressing their strong desire to read more about the Orthodox Fathers and their books, because they find no such spiritual food anywhere. Well, I changed my purpose and I will write about Saint Symeon the New Theologian.

Truly, unaware are those who have not tasted from this immortal fountain, I mean the words of the Holy Fathers, which many consider to be priestly chatter.

The discourses of Saint Symeon the New Theologian are read in Europe today more than any other patristic book, from what has been translated into foreign languages, as I wrote a few days ago. This saint has a certain grace to touch the most elusive and deepest mysteries of religion. It is as if he is pointing it out to you, the blessed one, with his finger, because he was found worthy to live in the inexpressible Light of Christ, being still in the body.

"O My Sanctified Athens" (Elder Eumenios Saridakis)


On October 12th is the Synaxis of All Saints of Athens, so I thought I would share what Elder Eumenios Saridakis spoke when he was being transferred from the Hospital for Infectious Diseases to Evangelismos Hospital for his last hospitalization, and on the way he was blessing Athens. He blessed the streets, Omonia Square, the Agora, the Metropolis, the Parliament, the whole city! He said:

"How beautiful Athens is!

Blessed Athens!

O my sanctified Athens!

O very noisy wilderness of Athens!

Saint Epiktetos the Wonderworker

St. Epiktetos the Wonderworker (Feast Day - October 12)

Saint Epiktetos was one of the 300 Alamanni Saints who came to Cyprus in the 12th century. These were Greeks who lived in Germany and participated in the Second Crusade (1147–1149), yet instead of fighting the Muslims to retake the Holy Land, they went to Jerusalem, venerated the holy places, and went off to live in asceticism in the area of the Jordan. Due to threats from the Muslims and the Catholics, they decided together to leave the Holy Land and go to Cyprus, where they would live separately in asceticism upon their arrival. On their way their ship encountered a storm that nearly was destroyed, but they made it through and landed in Paphos of Cyprus, from which they all bid farewell to each other.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Homilies on Holiness and the Saints - The Prophets (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


 
 The Prophets
 
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

People who unite with God and receive His holy energies are also called Holy [or Saints]. God is holy in the absolute sense, while the people who commune with Him are called holy in a relative sense, because they commune with Him.

Among the saints are the Prophets, who lived in the Old Testament and led the people according the command of God. Such Prophets were Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Elijah, Samuel, Moses, etc.

The word Prophet comes from two words "pro" and "fanai", and denotes the one who predicts and reveals the future, but also teaches at the same time. God reveals His will to the specific Prophet, who said: "Speak Lord, for your servant hears" and then this man conveyed God's will and command to the people, saying: "Thus saith the Lord". "Thus saith the Lord" and "Speak Lord" are what denotes the work of the Prophet. Because the Prophets saw God, the pre-incarnate Word, that is why the people called them, as it appears in the life of the Prophet Samuel, "seers" and "visionaries".

Explanations and Clarifications of Ecclesiastical History and the Deontology of the Ukrainian Issue (Part 6)


 ...continued from part five.

I will now dwell on some other historical facts, in order to give rest, or rather strain, to your frustration.

* The Ukrainian titular patriarch Filaret (who co-ordained Kirill), who was a fellow candidate for Patriarch with the late Patriarch Alexy, was punished two or three times by the religious policies of the Russian Patriarchate, which serves the Russian Federation policies. Regardless of the much-publicized Russian "other", primarily and mainly the dynastic political-religious criteria prevailed.

On the other hand, if such a prominent executive hierarch proved - always against the Russians - to be so prone to an obsession with power, surely this is taken into account in the origin/quality of his ordination, in the origin/quality of his theology, the origin/quality of the beginning of his ecclesiastical rise, the origin/quality of his piety: by the Russian Patriarchate, the Patriarchate that "dominates the clergy" from within and is attempting to fearlessly export its merchandise of religious authoritarian goods in Ukraine and in so many arbitrary autocephalies and autonomies and finally in all of Orthodoxy.  

Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of Optina Monastery

Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of Optina Monastery (Feast Day - October 11)

The Hermitage of Optina (Optina Pustyn) is situated at the edge of deep forests in the district of Kaluga on the right bank of the River Zhizdra, some way from the town of Kozelsk (about eighty miles from Moscow). Throughout the nineteenth century and until the Bolshevik persecution, it was the focal point of a widespread movement of spiritual renewal, inspired by the hesychast tradition brought to Russia by disciples of Saint Paisius Velichkovsky (Nov. 15).

The monastery, well-known since the sixteenth century, had fallen into ruin as a result of the anti-monastic laws of Catherine II. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Metropolitan Platon of Moscow, impressed by the beauty of its location, gave Abbot Abraham of Pechnocha the task of restoring the monastic buildings and of reviving cenobitic life at Optina in the spiritual tradition promoted by Saint Paisius.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Sermon on the Healing of the Son of the Widow from Nain (St. Cyril of Alexandria)


 By St. Cyril of Alexandria
 
(3rd Sunday of Luke)

"And it came to pass the day after, He was going to a city called Nain, and His disciples were going with Him" (Luke 7:11).

But observe how He joins miracle to miracle: and in the former instance, the healing of the centurion's servant, He was present by invitation: but here He draws near without being invited. For no one summoned Him to restore the dead man to life, but He comes to do so of His own accord. And He seems to me to have purposely made this miracle also follow upon the former. For there was nothing improbable in supposing that at some time or other some one might rise up and say, in opposition to the Savior's glory, 'What is the prodigy wrought in the case of the centurion's son? For though he was ailing, he was in no danger of death, even though the Evangelist has so written, shaping his narrative rather with a view to what was pleasant, than to what was true.' To stop therefore the intemperate tongue of such detractors, he says, that Christ met the dead young man, the only son of a widow. It was a pitiable calamity, able to arouse one's lamentation, and make one's tears gush forth; and the woman follows, stupified with her misfortune, and all but fainting, and many with her.

Homily on the Third Sunday of Luke (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow" (Luke 7:12).

Having healed a centurion's servant in absentia in Capernaum, Jesus Christ went from there to a city called Nain. Many of His disciples and a great multitude of people went with Him. When He approached the city gates, they were carrying out the deceased, the mother's only son, and she was a widow, and many people came with her from the city. Seeing her, the Lord took pity on her and said: "Do not weep." And He went up, and He touched the bed; those carrying the bed stopped, and He said: "Young man! I tell you, get up." The dead man got up, sat down and began to speak; and Jesus gave him to his mother.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Reflection on the Third Sunday of Luke (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 
By St. Theophan the Recluse

Third Sunday of Luke

(Luke 7:11-16)

The Lord sees a mother weeping over the death of her son and has compassion on her; another time He was called to a marriage, and rejoiced together with the family. By this He showed that to share ordinary everyday joys and sorrows is not contrary to His spirit. This is what true, reverent Christians do, who live their life in fear of God. However, they distinguish some everyday life routines from others; for much has entered into these routines which cannot be God’s good will. There are customs that come from passions, which arise for their indulgence; others are kept alive by vanity and busyness. He who has the Spirit of Christ, will be able to distinguish the good from the bad: he adheres to the one and rejects the other. He who does this with the fear of God is not alienated by others, though he does not act like them, because he always acts in the spirit of love and compassion toward the infirmities of his brothers. Only a spirit of zeal beyond measure rubs people the wrong way and produces disharmony and division. Such a spirit cannot refrain from teaching and criticizing. But the one with the Spirit of Christ is only concerned with ordering his own and his family’s life in a Christian way; he does not permit himself to interfere in the affairs of others, saying to himself, “Who set me as a judge?” He quietly makes everyone well disposed to himself, and inspires respect for those routines to which he holds. A supervisor makes himself unloved, and evokes disapproval for the good routines to which he holds. Humility in such cases is needed — Christian humility. It is the source of Christian good sense, which knows how to act well in a given situation. 


Explanations and Clarifications of Ecclesiastical History and the Deontology of the Ukrainian Issue (Part 5)


... continued from part four.

[Examples of Some Newer Errors]

* In the vast Russian Federation, in Ukraine, in Moldova, in Belarus, in the Russian parishes of the Diaspora, in every place where an "altar of Russian worship" to God (sic!) is erected, it is mandatory for the name of the Russian Patriarch to be commemorated first and then the local Hierarch! We thus have a demise of Eucharistic theology, of Orthodox liturgical theology, of the unity of the ecclesiological and the Synodical-Hierarchical sacredness of the Church. Even in the mystery of the eucharist of God, the Patriarch of Moscow is projected as a national and world ruler, something like an absolute Pope. With such practices, which are recorded in a customary way in their subconscious, how can our diplomatic friends not be taken by Russian ecclesiology?

Homilies on Holiness and the Saints - The Holy Trinitarian God (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


The Holy Triune God
 
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

This year's short liturgical sermons will address the great issue of Holiness and the Saints we have in our Church. This is because the Church is the place of holiness in which the Grace of God is energized and sanctifies people and creation.

According to Photios the Great, the Greek word for Holy or Saint, Agios, comes from the negation "A" and the word "gi" which means "earth", therefore Agios means "one who is beyond the earth", that is, "one who is above the earth". And of course this primarily refers to God. Others claim that the word Agios comes from the negation "A" and the word "agos" (with smoothe breathing), but because the two "A's" are contracted and made one they create the word Agios which means "one who is free from defilement". However, Saint Nikodemos with the above interpretations also gives us his own opinion, according to which the word Agios comes from the word "agos" (with rough breathing) and signifies "the worthy and the revered and the pure".

Friday, October 8, 2021

Explanations and Clarifications of Ecclesiastical History and the Deontology of the Ukrainian Issue (Part 4)



...continued from part three.

[5th Great Historical Error]

Within the Russian hegemony (politically justified, but ecclesiastically problematic and theologically ill) stands the ecclesiastical question of Ukraine. The Ukrainian issue has many roots, but it is treated by Russia as their own field of action.

The Russians, who have caused so many autocephalies, have for many decades refused to take such a step in Ukraine (albeit anti-canonically). This is because they want besides vast Ukraine also neighboring Moldova and beyond this Abkhazia and Ossetia as an ecclesiastical space of power, because they ultimately serve political plans, the Russian policy of expansion, the Great Russian Idea.

The Hand That Held The Prayer Rope Was Undamaged

 

Recently Fr. Eusebius, who lived in a cell by himself at New Skete of Mount Athos, reposed in the Lord. He had not been seen for 3 or 4 days, so other monks from neighboring cells went to check up on him, and having entered his cell when he didn't answer, they found his dead body.

What astonished them and struck them with amazement, was that although the entire body including his whole left hand was blackened due to sepsis, the right hand that held his prayer rope was completely undamaged. The fathers saw this as a confirmation of the power of the Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me."
 

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