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Monday, January 31, 2022

The Magical Conception of Faith and Religiosity in Orthodoxy

 
By Archimandrite Amphilochios Miltos,
Parish Priest of the Church of the Evangelistria in Nea Ionia

For many years a magical conception of faith and religiosity has been cultivated, in combination with the ever-existing tendency in man towards superstition. Belief is based on unexplained supernatural events that cannot be disputed and is consumed in their acceptance. We have unknowingly taught the faithful that it is enough for them to venerate a miraculous icon, regardless of whether they obey God's commandments. People come and ask us for holy water, holy oil, to read a prayer against the evil eye, or an exorcism prayer to exorcise evil, and we do not often explain to them that these go hand in hand with other things. It seems as if we have not passed on to people the lesson of the second temptation in the Gospel of Matthew: "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." What role does the New Testament play in our pastoral care? How much does the Bible permeate people's religiosity? If we want to be honest with ourselves, magical religiosity is easier for both the believers and us, more profitable for us and more attractive for them.
 
Source: From a lecture titled "Pastoral Care in the Time of the Pandemic". Translation by John Sanidopoulos. 


The Monastery of Christ of the Forest on the Island of Paros


The Monastery of Christ of the Forest is also known as the Monastery of Transfiguration of Christ and the Monastery of Saint Arsenios of Paros. This is a convent constructed at a distance of 6 km from Parikia, close to the Valley of Butterflies. The katholikon of the monastery is dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Christ, while on the northern side of the courtyard, there is a church dedicated to Saint Arsenios (1800-1877), the patron saint of Paros. In fact, the grave and the skull of the Saint are guarded in this monastery because the Saint reposed here on January 31, 1877, since he was the spiritual father of the nuns of this community.

Synaxis of the Panagia the Dakryroousa (Tear-flowing) in Kefallonia


Our Church honors the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos the Dakryroousa (Tear-flowing) on January 31st. The icon of the Panagia the Dakryroousa, also known as Koroniotissa, is kept in the Panagia Koroniotissa Monastery of Lixouri on the island of Kefallonia. On this day the Panagia saved the monastery from the mighty earthquake of 1867.

In January 1867 a deadly earthquake leveled much of Paliki and caused severe damage in Kefallonia.

The official report registers 2642 destroyed houses throughout Kefallonia, 2946 houses with damage and 244 dead. The total damage was estimated at 15 million drachmas, and no neighboring island was damaged.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Saint George Karslides and his Wondrous Meeting With the Three Hierarchs

 By Monk Moses the Athonite

When Saint George Karslides was a young child, he met in a wondrous vision the Three Hierarchs - Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. This is how he described it to his spiritual children many years later:

I was home alone, in my brother's house, after my parents died.

A beggar came that day, I took a plate, I went to the barn, I took some flour and I gave it to him.

Synaxis of the Three Hierarchs: Epistle and Gospel Reading


Synaxis of the Three Hierarchs: 
Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom 

January 30

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode Plagal 4.
Psalm 18:4,1

Their voice has gone out into all the earth.
Verse: The heavens declare the glory of God.

The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 13:7-16

English

Brethren, remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their lives, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

The Epistle of Ignatius of Antioch to the Philadelphians


CHAPTER 0

0:1 Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ which is in Philadelphia, in Asia, to her that hath found mercy and is established in the unity of God, and rejoiceth continually in the suffering of our Lord, and in his resurrection, being fully assured in all mercy, whom I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, who is an eternal and abiding joy, especially if they be in unity with the bishop, and with the presbyters and deacons who are with him, who have been made manifest according to the will of Jesus Christ, whom his own will hath confirmed and settled by his Holy Spirit.

CHAPTER 1

1:1 I have known that your bishop, not of himself nor through men, hath acquired the ministry that belongeth to the common good, nor yet according to vainglory, but by the love of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; at whose modesty I am ashamed; who, though he is silent, hath more power than they who speak vain things; for he is in harmony with the commandments, as the lyre with its strings.

1:2 Wherefore my soul deemeth happy his disposition towards God, knowing that it is virtuous and perfect, even his constancy and gentleness in all the moderation of the living God.

CHAPTER 2

2:1 Being, therefore, children of light and truth, avoid division and evil teachings; but where the shepherd is, there do ye follow as sheep.

2:2 For many wolves, which seem worthy of belief, lead captive by evil pleasure them who were running the godly race. But in your unity they shall find no opportunity.

CHAPTER 3

3:1 Abstain from evil herbage, which Jesus Christ doth not cultivate, because it is not the planting of the Father. Not that I have found division among you, but thorough purity.

3:2 For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ, these are with the bishop; and as many as have repented, and have entered into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall be of God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ.

3:3 Be not deceived, my brethren; if any one followeth a schismatic, he doth not inherit the kingdom of God; if any man walketh in an alien opinion, he agreeth not with the passion of Christ.

CHAPTER 4

4:1 Be diligent, therefore, to use one eucharist, for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup, for union with his blood; one altar, even as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons, who are my fellow-servants, to the end that whatever ye do, ye may do it according unto God.

CHAPTER 5

5:1 My brethren, I am exceedingly poured out in my love for you, and, with joy above measure, I confirm you, yet not I, but Jesus Christ; and though I am in bonds for his sake, I fear the more as being not yet perfected in suffering. But your prayer unto God shall perfect me, to the end that I may attain unto that lot which, in mercy, hath been given unto me, flying for refuge unto the gospel as unto the flesh of Jesus, and unto the Apostles as to the presbyters of the Church;

5:2 and let us love the prophets also; because they were heralds of the gospel, and hoped in him, and waited for him; in whom having also believed, they were saved in the unity of Jesus Christ, being saints holy and worthy of love and admiration, witnessed to by Jesus Christ, and numbered together in the gospel of the common hope.

CHAPTER 6

6:1 But if any man preach unto you Judaism, hearken not unto him; for it is better to hear Christianity from one circumcised, than Judaism from one uncircumcised. But if both speak not concerning Jesus Christ, then are they in my view sepulchres and graves, on which are written only the names of men.

6:2 Avoid, therefore, the evil devices and lyings in wait of the ruler of this world, lest being distressed by his influence, ye become weak in love; but be ye all united with undivided heart.

6:3 I thank my God that I am of a good conscience among you, and that no one is able to boast either secretly or openly that I have been a burden unto any, either in great things or small. I pray that all unto whom I have spoken may not have this thing as a testimony against them.

CHAPTER 7

7:1 For even though some have held that I was a deceiver according to the flesh, yet the Spirit, being of God, is not deceived; for he knoweth from whence he cometh, and whither he goeth, and he searcheth out hidden things. I cried while I was among you, and spake with a loud voice, saying, Give heed unto the bishop, and to the presbyters, and to the deacons.

7:2 But they suspected that I spake these things because I knew beforehand the division of certain of them; but he, for whose name I am in bonds, is witness unto me that I knew not these things through the flesh of man. But the spirit preached, saying these things: Do nothing apart from the bishop; keep your flesh as the temple of God; love unity, avoid divisions; be imitators of Jesus Christ, even as he is of his Father.

CHAPTER 8

8:1 I therefore performed my proper work, as a man perfectly prepared for unity. For where there is division and anger, God dwelleth not. God, therefore, granteth forgiveness unto all who repent, if they repent in accordance with the unity of God, and the council of the bishop. I trust in the grace of Jesus Christ, who shall loose from you every chain;

8:2 and I exhort you to do nothing of contention, but according to the discipline of Christ. Since I have heard certain men say, "Unless I find it in the ancients, I believe it not in the Gospel." And when I said unto them that "It is written," they replied, "That it is set forth aforetime." But my archives are Jesus Christ; his cross and his death, his resurrection, and the faith which is through him, are inviolable archives, through which I desire to be justified by means of your prayers.

CHAPTER 9

9:1 Good, too, are the priests; but better is the High Priest, who is entrusted with the Holy of Holies, who alone is entrusted with the secret things of God: he being the gate of the Father, through which enter Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob, and the prophets, and the apostles, and the Church; all these come into the unity of God.

9:2 But the gospel hath something peculiar; namely, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, his suffering, and the resurrection. For the beloved prophets were heralds for him; but the gospel is the perfecting of incorruption. All things are alike good, if ye believe in love.

CHAPTER 10

10:1 Since, according to your prayer and the mercies which ye have in Christ Jesus, it hath been announced unto me that the Church that is at Antioch, in Syria, is at peace, it is becoming unto you, as unto a Church of God, to elect a deacon to go there as an ambassador of God; so that when ye are together, ye may rejoice with them, and glorify the name.

10:2 Blessed in Jesus Christ is he who shall be deemed worthy of this ministry, and ye shall be glorified. Now, if ye are willing to do this on behalf of the name of God, it is not impossible; even as the Churches that are nearest, some sent bishops, and others presbyters and deacons.

CHAPTER 11

11:1 But concerning Philo, the deacon from Cilicia, a man having a good report, who now also in the word of God serveth me together with Rheus Agathopus, a chosen man, who accompanieth me from Syria, having bid farewell to life, who also bear witness unto you; and I give thanks unto God on your behalf, that ye received them, also as the Lord received you. But may they who dishonoured them be forgiven by the grace of Jesus Christ.

11:2 The love of the brethren in Troas saluteth you; whence also I write unto you by means of Burrhus, who was sent to me jointly by the Ephesians and Smyrnaeans, as a mark of honour. The Lord Jesus Christ on whom they hope shall honour them in flesh and in spirit, in faith, love, and unity. Fare ye well in Jesus Christ, our common hope.

Translated by Charles H. Hoole, 1885. 


Friday, January 28, 2022

Life, Works and Thought of Saint Ephraim the Syrian (Fr. George Florovsky)


By Fr. George Florovsky

I. Life.

It is difficult to separate the truth from the legends which have grown up around Ephraem the Syrian, and only a very few facts are definitely known about his life. He lived approximately between 306 and 373. He was born in Nisibis and his parents were probably Christians, not pagans. He practiced ascetic discipline from his earliest youth, and was very close to Jacob, bishop of Nisibis. He entered the clergy but never rose above the diaconate. However, he played an active role in the life of his native city. In 363 Nisibis was ceded to Persia and Ephraem withdrew to Edessa, where he devoted himself to literary activity and to teaching in what was known as the "Persian School." Apparently it was Ephraem, who had probably taught Biblical studies earlier, who founded the Biblical school in Edessa. Lucian studied in Edessa with a certain Macarius, and Eusebius of Emesa was also a pupil there, but it was Ephraem who first organized the school.

Venerable James the Ascetic

St. James the Ascetic (Feast Day - January 28)

Venerable James became a monk and practiced asceticism for fifteen years in a cave, near the town of Porphyreon.

During his spiritual struggle he subjected himself to all kinds of asceticism and hardship.

Once, a famous man had a demon-possessed daughter, whom he brought to the Saint to heal. Venerable James prayed and immediately the demon left and set the young woman free.

But her father, because he was afraid that the demon would bother his daughter again, left her in the cave with the Saint. He left her younger brother there also to accompany her.

Saint Ephraim the Syrian, the Saint of Repentance and Tears


By Professor Lambros K. Skontzos

Syria was the primordial cradle of Christianity. Besides, the name "Christian" was established there, from the name of Christ (Acts 11:25). Myriads of holy Syrian men and women illuminate our holy Church.

One of them is Saint Ephraim the Syrian, who was distinguished for his ascetic life and his struggles for Orthodoxy.

He is one of the great Fathers of the Church.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Parable of the Plucked Chicken (St. George Karslides)


St. George Karslides said the following parable:
 
One time someone went and confessed to a spiritual father and he gave a penance for him to take a chicken and come and find him.

On the way he would pluck the chicken until he took out all the feathers.

Indeed, this is what he did.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Breaking News: New Book in the Process of Being Translated Titled "The Spiritual Mirror"


Dear Readers:

I am embarking on the translation of a short book of great spiritual benefit, titled "The Spiritual Mirror". The subtitle is "The Heart of Man: Either a Temple of God or a Habitation of Satan". This book does not have Orthodox origins. What we have now is an English edition published in 1812 in Berlin by the "divine" and philanthropist Johannes Gossner (1773-1858), but he merely repurposed an older Catholic German text from the early 18th century. Gossner, a Protestant, became a controversial figure in Russia because of a book he wrote against the Orthodox Church, but this book, "The Spiritual Mirror", passed the censors and was given enough editing to make it beneficial for Orthdox Christians. Eventually it was translated into Greek and published in 1840, where it was especially popular among the monks of Mount Athos, and it was republished several times.

The purpose of this text is to awaken within us a Christian disposition through the cleansing of the heart, and it does this by reflecting on ten symbolic images. I don't want to reveal too much else about this book, but I will be using Gossner's translation, and include the edits made to make this a more Orthodox text. Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite is most well known for taking popular spiritual texts from the West, like "Unseen Warfare", and making them Orthodox, and something similar was done with "The Spiritual Mirror", except we don't know who wrote it, nor do we know who translated it and made it more Orthodox.

This translation will be progressively posted for the public through my website Salvation of Sinners, where many Orthodox texts will be translated and eventually published. You can read the first page at the link below:
Please continue to financially support the work of the Mystagogy Resource Center, where dozens of Orthodox texts like this will be produced and published in the future.

Thank you,

John Sanidopoulos



Venerable Martyr Maria of Gatchina (+ 1932)


By I. M. Andreyev

In the town of Gatchina, some thirty miles from Petrograd, there lived before the revolution the nun Maria, in the world Lydia Alexandrovna Lilyanova. From her youth, before the revolution of 1917, Matushka Maria had been ill with Parkinson's disease after suffering encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). This left her whole body as it were chained and immovable, her face anemic and like a mask. She could speak, but with a half-closed mouth, through her teeth, pronouncing the words slowly and in a monotone. She was a total invalid and in constant need of help and carefully looking after. The slightest touch caused her pain. Usually this disease proceeds with sharp psychological changes (irritability, a tiresome stubbornness in repeating stereotyped questions, an exaggerated egoism, manifestations of senility, etc.), as a result of which such patients often end up in psychiatric hospitals. But Mother Maria not only did not degenerate psychically, but revealed extraordinary features of personality and character not characteristic of such patients: she became extremely meek, humble, submissive, undemanding, concentrated in herself. She became engrossed in constant prayer, bearing her difficult condition without the least murmuring. As if as a reward for this humility and patience, the Lord sent her a gift: the consolation of the sorrowing. Completely strange and unknown people, finding themselves in sorrows, grief, despondency and depression, began to visit her and converse with her. And everyone who came to her left consoled, feeling an illumination of their grief, a pacifying of sorrow, a calming of fears, a taking away of depression and despondency. The news of this extraordinary nun gradually spread far beyond the boundaries of the city of Gatchina.

Saints Xenophon, Maria, John and Arcadius Resource Page

St. Xenophontos and his family (Feast Day - January 26)
 
Verses
 
Though the earth is absent of Xenophontos,
It delights in the graceful banquet of his words.
Xenophon and his wife and children died on the 26th.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Alphabet of Virtues (St. Gregory the Theologian)


By St. Gregory the Theologian
 
Always begin with God and always end with Him.

Beneficial to your life is this: end your day well.

Come to know all the good works of the righteous.

Dreadful it is for one to be hungry, but more terrible is illegal wealth.

Emulation of God is to be learned by a benefactor.

From God ask that you be compassionate, in as much as you also are compassionate.

Governed firmly and restrained must the human flesh be.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Homily on the Healing of the Blind Man of Jericho (St. Luke of Simferopol)


Homily on the Healing of the Blind Man of Jericho

(14th Sunday of Luke)

Luke 18:35-43

Delivered on January 27, 1952

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

In today's Gospel reading, you heard the story of the miraculous healing of a blind man in Jericho by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Did you pay attention to how persistently, how intensely he asked the Lord for healing? He asked, he cried out, he begged, and the apostles of Christ forbade him to shout so as not to disturb the Lord.

And the Lord called him and restored his sight.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Church of Saint Anastasios the Persian on the Panagiotopoulos Estate of Salamis


The Panagiotopoulos estate occupies an area of over 40 acres at the western end of the Bay of Paloukia in Salaminos on the Greek island of Salamis. It was acquired by Panagiotis (Takis) Panagiotopoulos, a wealthy man of Piraeus, who served as Mayor of Piraeus (1925-31). He had two children, the great choreographer Maria Hors (1921-2015) wife of the architect Michael Hors, and the chemist and hero of the National Resistance Anastasios (Tasos) Panagiotopoulos (1923-2015).

Friday, January 21, 2022

Introduction to the Writings of Saint Maximos the Confessor in the 'Philokalia' (St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite)



 Introduction to Saint Maximos the Confessor 
 
By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

(The Philokalia, vol. 2)

Our Holy Father Maximos the Confessor lived during the reign of Constantine Pogonatos, around the year 670, and was, of all, the chief destroyer of the ill-famed Monothelite heresy.

At first he distinguished himself in the royal palaces and was honored with the office of Chief Secretary, then, leaving worldly endeavors behind, he engaged himself in ascetic combat. His mouth approached the fount of wisdom, and drinking incessantly from the fountains of the divine Scriptures which flow with life, he made to gush forth from his belly rivers of divine doctrines and writings which flooded the ends of the universe.  

Maximos Confessor on the Infinity Of Man (Panagiotis Chrestou)


 By Panagiotis Chrestou

I have chosen my subject for this conference, stimulated by my studies on the writings of Gregory Рalamas, which I have edited with the help of a group of my students in Thessaloniki.

Palamas in his attempt to emphasize the difference between knowledge of a thing and participation in it, pretended in one of his treatises that those who praise God through knowledge of his uncreated energies are merely pious, while those who participated in them become without beginning and without end by grace άναρχοι and ατελεύτητοι. He bases his optimistic perspective mainly on Maximos the Confessor, whose thought rules on a high level over his argumentation during the middle period of his literary activity. Gregory Akindynos, against whom that treatise was addressed, of course rejects this aspect and ironically questions how Palamas succeeded in becoming a man without beginning, since all men have a physical beginning. In the sequel he refers to that heresiarch, who was expelled from the Church on the grounds that he merely had said that the human body of Jesus Christ was without beginning and heavenly. He obviously meant Apollinarius.

Anna Comnena on Reading the Works of Saint Maximus the Confessor


In Book 5 of The Alexiad, Princess Anna Comnena (1083-1153) writes about her mother's love of reading the dogmatic texts of Saint Maximus the Confessor, and her desire to understand his writings. She writes:

And here I will tell a little tale, for the laws of oratory allow that. I remember the Empress, my mother, when breakfast was already on the table, carrying a book in her hands and poring over the writings of the didactic Fathers, especially those of the philosopher and martyr Maximus. For she was not so much interested in the physical disputations as in those about the dogmas, because she wished to gain true wisdom. And I was often seized with wonder at her and one day in my wonder I said to her, "How can you spontaneously rise to such sublime heights? for I tremble and dare not listen to such things even with the tips of my ears? For the purely abstract and intellectual character of the man makes one's head swim, as the saying goes." She smiled and said "I know that kind of quite laudable dread; and I myself do not touch these books without a tremor and yet I cannot tear myself away from them. But you wait a little and after you have dipped into other books, you will taste the sweetness of these." The remembrance of these words pricks my heart and I have plunged into an ocean, so to speak, of other tales. 


Thursday, January 20, 2022

Saint Peter the Publican as a Model for our Lives

St. Peter the Tax Collector (Feast Day - January 20)
 
 By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Peter the Publican lived during the reign of Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. He was responsible for collecting taxes in Africa, and in various ways he managed to get rich at the expense of others. He was greedy, hard-hearted and ruthless. Once a poor man visited him and asked for mercy and he expelled him abruptly. The poor man, however, would not leave and stood his ground still begging. Then, full of indignation and anger, Peter snatched a hot loaf of bread, which his servant happened to be carrying from the oven at that moment, and threw it with force, like a stone, at the poor man to injure him. He, however, took it, thanked him and left. After a few days, Peter became seriously ill and felt that he was facing a judgment seat, where he was asked to give a defense for what he had done in his life. He saw a scale and on its left side were gathered wild people with a dark face, where they placed his evil deeds. On the right side of the scale he saw white-clad men with bright faces trying to find something good he had done, to place it on the right side of the scale. They did not find anything, however, except that bread which he threw against the poor man. When Peter saw these things, he was moved with compassion, and came to himself, and as soon as he was healed, he distributed all his belongings to the poor, even the clothes he wore, and he dressed himself in the garments of the poor. After this act he saw Christ in his dream wearing the clothes which he gave to the poor. This led him to even sell himself as a slave and the money he received he gave to the poor.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

All the Churches Should Ring Their Bells on the Feast of Saint Mark of Ephesus


 By Dr. Nikolaos Baldimtsis

In Arta I served as an agricultural doctor for about two years, from 1979 to 1981. There I met spiritual people whose words and especially their lives were for me a teaching of faith.

In Arta I had as a spiritual father the archimandrite and preacher Fr. Iakovos Pachys, who was later chosen by God to be the Metropolitan of Argolis. This ascetic man lived in a simple room of the old boarding school in Arta. When I went and met him, we would sit in the yard under the trees, and in a happy mood he would tell me various incidents of his life and discreetly catechize me on serious matters of the spiritual life, as he experienced them.

The Skull of Saint Makarios Kalogeras of Patmos


The sacred skull of Saint Makarios Kalogeras rests in the Patmiada Ecclesiastical School, which he founded, on the island of Patmos.
 
The Patmiada School is located near the Cave of the Apocalypse in Patmos. The foundation of the Patmiada School, also referred to as the Great General School of the Nation, was the most important event of 18th century Greece. The school was founded by Makarios Kalogeras in 1713, though the initial efforts were made by Metropolitan Gregory.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Interpreting Old Testament Passages That Depict God as "Vengeful"

 
 By Archimandrite Iakovos Kanakis,
Chancelor of the Metropolis of Gortyna and Megalopolis

The study of the Old Testament for someone who does not have significant introductory knowledge of the holy books requires discernment. In other words, you can read the Book of Leviticus and be surprised by the expressions you will read. You are likely to misunderstand what you are going to read precisely because you need a substantial immersive, documented and subtle interpretive approach. So why does it use expressions that present a vengeful God? Or why are expressions used to indicate violence?

One of the Last Living Spiritual Children of Saint George Karslides, Fr. Haralambos Anastasiades, Has Reposed

St. George Karslides with two spiritual children that would one day become priests; Fr. Haralambos is on the right.
 
On the feast of Theophany, 6 January 2022, Protopresbyter Fr. Haralambos Anastasiades departed to the Lord, and his funeral took place the next day in the Church of Saint John in Argyroupoli of Drama.

The late Fr. Haralambos Anastasiades was born in Argyroupoli, Drama. He had Saint George Karslides as a spiritual father from the time he was in high school. When he asked Saint George about what he should become in the future, since he couldn't decide, he recommended to him to become a teacher. This is why he studied at the Zarifio Pedagogical Academy of Alexandroupolis. After some years of service in Primary Education, he no longer felt satisfied as a teacher, so he sought the advice of Saint George again, who planted the seed in his head to become a priest, though he told him to wait till the right time until he was fully ready. Meanwhile Saint George reposed, and he approached another charismatic spiritual father about becoming a priest, who also told him that when he is fully decided then he will be ready. When that priest also reposed, he knew he wanted to be a priest and take over for the priest that had reposed. So after ten years as a teacher, he went and studied at the Higher Priestly Center of Tinos and then joined the ranks of the clergy.

A Miracle of Saints Anthony the Great and Athanasios the Great to a Cancer Patient in Athens


On January 17-18 at the Monastery of Saint Andrew in Kefallonia in 1997, we waited for Fr. Gerasimos Fokas to begin the vigil. He came a little late, but to our great joy he came together with our other great Elder, Fr. Hierotheos Sourvanos. He told us that he was coming straight from the airport and that there were traces of pain and suffering on his face for the people he constantly cared about.

"Do not bring me papers of names for those who seek to be healthy tonight if they merely suffer from a cold. Only for those who are seriously ill, for cancer patients, we will pray."

It is better to hear it from himself. Here are excerpts from the sermon of this blessed man about that blessed night. The excerpt is from a recorded sermon of Fr. Gerasimos during the vigil on January 17/18, 1998 in the Monastery of Saint Andrew.


Monday, January 17, 2022

The Chapel of Saint Anthony the Great in Patsos Gorge of Crete


In the fertile green province of Amari, on the island of Crete, about 18 km from Rethymno, is the impressive Patsos Gorge, otherwise known as Saint Anthony's Gorge.

The beautiful gorge, which is 2 km long, crosses a small river. The wild vegetation of the landscape with the giant plane trees and the small waterfalls captivates the visitor.

It takes 2 hours to cross it all the way back, while inside there are landscaped rest areas and a bird observatory.

The Chapel of Saint Anthony stands out.

Holy Emperor Theodosius the Great (St. Justin Popovich)


St. Theodosios the Great (Feast Day - January 17)

This very pious and glorious emperor ruled from the years 379-395. He was born in Spain. He was famous for his family, and famous for his heroism. He was first the military leader of Emperor Gratian, and then he was appointed emperor in 379.

Constantine the Great forbade the persecution of Christians, Theodosius the Great went one step further: he forbade idol sacrifices in his land. He also took care of the Orthodox faith against heretics. He expelled the Arian archbishop Demophilos from Constantinople and brought into the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople Saint Gregory the Theologian.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sermon for the 12th Sunday of Luke - On the Ten Lepers (Monk Agapios Landos)

 
By Monk Agapios Landos of Crete (1585-1657)

These ten lepers, in the most succinct manner, provide an image of the whole of human nature, which was entirely leprous and rendered useless by sin. It [i.e. human nature] had been justly expelled from the Jerusalem Above, that is Paradise, just as the lepers were exiled from Jerusalem [on earth]. They couldn’t be cured by a Priest, Levite, Prophet or any other person, not even by an Angel, unless the Mighty Counsel of the Most High, the co-eternal Messenger and He who is consubstantial with God, came down from heaven, and humanely became human in order to save us humans. All of us, then, had this leprosy. None of us was free from sin except those whom the all-wise Lord Christ had cleansed.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

A Rare Icon of Christ and John the Baptist Playing at the Jordan River as Children


This icon is attributed to Theodoros Poulakis, from the first half of the 17th century, from the Ionian Islands.

It depicts Christ wearing a luminous white chiton and a circular golden halo, represented in a contrapostal posture, his right hand raised in astonishment, his left hand pointing in negation as if trying to prevent John from looking into the bowl he is holding, the latter wrapped in a blue himation, a golden ring floating above his head, a lamb and a cross appearing between the two boys, a genre scene in the foreground with ducks swimming in the river, a deer watering itself and a bucket hanging from the tree-branch behind, in the immediate background the buildings of a settlement, including a church, amidst a variety of trees, in the far background at the right a domed structure depicted in grisaille, above God the Father portrayed as the Ancient of the Days, emerging from the clouds in blessing, accompanied by three cherubs, the subject rendered realistically, painted mostly with pastel colours, the saturated green tones of the foliage naturally dividing the composition in the celestial and earthly worlds.

Friday, January 14, 2022

A Journalists Harrowing Escape from Bombardment With the Help of Saint Tatiana


By Maria Giachnaki,
Journalist-International Correspondent

It was August 2006, it had already been that all summer I was still covering the Israeli–Lebanese war. In that war I completely changed my philosophy in life. I had lost my associates in the bombing of Tyre in southern Lebanon, at the time I left the hospital to bring a colleague to the shelter and they had stayed inside. I had escaped a second bombing in the village of Cana where 54 children were killed inside the shelter for which I could hardly say a word on the air as I was one of the few journalists in the village that was being ruthlessly bombarded (I do not want to say much).

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Theophany With Saint Iakovos Tsalikes


 By Fr. George Authinou,
Pastor of the Church of Saint Eleutherios in Chalandri

From 1982 I lived in Athens and began to have regular relations with the Monastery and Elder Iakovos.

Before Theophany of 1984 I went on a pilgrimage to the Monastery. The day prior to the eve of Theophany in the Monastery we were among the Elder, Fr. Cyril, Fr. Seraphim, a monk from Laconia who had been tonsured in his 80s, Mr. Lazounis who wrote stories for the books of the readers in elementary school and the illustrator. On the eve of Theophany, it snowed so much that all the roads were closed. So we stayed in the Monastery which was closed to six people to celebrate the Holy Theophany.

The Recently Reposed Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia and Acarnania (+ January 3, 2022)

 
By Ioannis Hatzidigenis, Theologian

Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia and Acarnania did not in any case remind us of being a Bishop of our day as his spiritual endowment was observed as being in the footsteps of the Holy Hierarchs and his ecclesiastical phronema rested in the consciousness of the Orthodox faith.

As a Liturgist of the sacred Altar he had proverbial reverence. I will never forget the testimony of the same Bishop Kosmas of Aetolia, when as a hieromonk he co-liturgized with Saint Iakovos of Evia: "At one point during the Divine Liturgy with Saint Iakovos, the wings of Angels could be heard participating in the dread Mystery! For Saint Iakovos, of course, such experiences were considered a daily phenomenon."

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Deaf Woman Who Could Only Hear During Confession


The following was narrated by Fr. Arsenios Katerelos, in a radio interview with Fr. Joel Konstantaros.

Elder Parthenios, the current abbot of the Monastery of Saint Paul on the Holy Mountain, once confessed a woman who was completely deaf, and only during the time of the Mystery of Confession was her deafness removed from her.

She had heard everything the Elder told her.

Turning Away From God is Something Frightening


Wherever the Light of Christ is, souls become warm! And when the Light of Christ leaves, souls become frosty. This frost can be seen by every person who approaches them and it causes them to tremble. They themselves freeze. Why? Because turning away from God is something frightening. 

- Metropolitan Meletios of Nikopolis

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 
 

Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Canonizes Two Former Ecumenical Patriarchs: Cyril I Loukaris of Crete and Cyril VI of Thrace


On the 11th of January 2022, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to include in its official list of Saints two former Ecumenical Patriarchs, who suffered and died martyrically under the Ottomans and had their bodies cast into the sea.

Saint Cyril I Loukaris of Crete was born in 1572 and was martyred on the 27th of June 1638. The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria on 6 October 2009 had previously canonized him, and he is commemorated on the 27th of June.

Saint Cyril VI of Thrace was born in 1769 and was martyred on the 18th of April 1821. He was recognized as a Saint in 1993 by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece and he is commemorated on the 18th of April, or it is carried to Thomas Sunday depending if it falls during Great Lent or Holy Week.

For further reading, see:

Saint Cyril Loukaris Resource Page

 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

"When I Put Wood In the Fire" (St. Paisios the Athonite)


When I put wood in the fire, I glorify God and say: "Warm up, my God, all those who do not have warmth."

When again I burn my letters that are sent to me - I read them and I burn them, because they have issues and questions and confessions - I say: "May God burn all their shortcomings. May God help them live spiritually and sanctify them."

- St. Paisios the Athonite
 
 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Mystery of Marriage (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


The Mystery of Marriage

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
 
The Church, my beloved brethren, is interested in all the moments of human life and blesses all the actions of man and of course also marriage, through which the family develops and life is perpetuated, but also becomes the vestibule of the Kingdom of God.

Marriage, that is, the communion of a man and a woman which results in the birth of children, was blessed twice by God. The first time was immediately after the creation of Eve. The Old Testament says that God blessed them and said: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth" (Gen. 1:28). Of course, according to the interpretation of the Fathers, God blessed the couple at that time, gave the opportunity for children to come from the couple, but this took place after the fall of the couple. The way people are born today is the fruit and result of the fall. The second time God blesses marriage is during the mystery of marriage. Precisely because the fall of Adam and Eve preceded it, for this reason marriage must pass within the Church and be blessed, because the world outside the Church is the world of the fall and decay. After all, Christ performed His first miracle at the wedding in Cana, where He blessed the water and turned it into wine, and this shows that Christ transforms biological union into a blessed relationship.

Saint Smaragda Onishchenko of Nizhyn (+ 1945)

St. Smaragda of Nizhyn (Feast Day - January 10)

Juliana Avraamovna Onishchenko, later known as Smaragda, was born on January 2, 1858 in the village of Markovtsy, Kozeletsk district, Chernigov province.

Her parents were Abraham and Mary. They came from a Cossack family. The family had seven children. When Juliana was seven years old, her father died of a serious illness, so the family was in a difficult situation. Little Juliana was often ill, her mother did not even have hope that her daughter would survive, so a coffin was already prepared for the girl.

In 1863, at the advice of a local priest, her mother took her to a school for orphan girls at the Vvedensky Monastery in the city of Nizhyn. She had only a coffin for her property. Mother Smaragda recalled her early years:

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Reflection for the Sunday After Theophany (St. Theophan the Recluse)


By St. Theophan the Recluse

Yesterday the Apostle armed the Christian who sets out upon the path of salvation with the whole spiritual armor. Now he shows who the leaders are in this battle procession, and what is the final bright goal of all for our inspiration in times of hardship. The leaders are pastors and teachers, whom the Lord gave to the Church and through whose mouth He Himself utters guiding direction needful for all, as soon as one turns to such leaders with faith and prayerful appeal to the Lord. Those who selflessly walk the Lord’s path know this truth, as do those who lead a struggle with the enemies of salvation without pity for themselves. In their pastors they always find help and are brought to understanding, when, looking from the outside, such help could not be anticipated. For they do not come to men, but to the Lord, who is always prepared to direct and give understanding through such men, to anyone who sincerely and with faith seeks help from Him. The final bright goal is the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ—the stature of a perfect man (Eph. 4:13). We all know what a perfect man is in the usual order of things, and we could hardly find a person who would not wish to attain such perfection. But the meaning of a perfect man in the Lord is something not known to anyone other than those who have entered into that stature. This, however, should not cool one’s fervor for the attainment of such a stature, but on the contrary should kindle it even more; for this lack of knowledge is due to the height of that spiritual perfection which is called a manly stature in a life according to God. The Apostle defined this as the taking on of the fullness of perfections revealed in the Lord and Savior. Anyone can see that there is reason for us to apply all diligence (II Pet. 1:5) toward our calling. 
 
 

Saturday, January 8, 2022

The Cave Church of Saint John the Forerunner of Damialis in Crete


In the west of the island of Crete, passing from Kastelli Kissamos in the direction of the famous beaches of Falassarna and Balos, you will see on the side of the road the Cave Church of Saint John the Forerunner of Damialis, as the locals call it.

The place name Damialis was given because in this area during the Turkish occupation there was the damia, that is, the stable of Ali, an Ottoman cattle breeder who was active in these places.

The place where the church was built, as you can see in the photographs, is a large cave in one part of which the church was formed, and in the second beautiful representations were erected from the Nativity, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of the Lord, in an imposing way, while the middle part of the cavitation is the yard.

Reflection for the Saturday After Theophany (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 
By St. Theophan the Recluse

The Apostle clothes Christians in the whole armor of God. It is appropriate that this follows the previous lesson. For, if someone, heeding the call of God, has taken on the beginning of a new life through God’s grace, providing for his own part all diligence (II Pet. 1:5), then he must not expect to rest on his laurels, but rather to struggle. 
 

When Saint John the Baptist Appeared to Elder Eumenios Saridakis on a Boat and Covered Him


By Monk Simon

One time, Father Sophronios [later known as Father Eumenios Saridakis] fell ill there in the Monastery [the Monastery of Saint Niketas located in Achendria of Archanes Asterousia, in Crete].

As he told us:

"Some skin was coming off of my body. The Abbot told me, 'Go to Athens to be examined.' They gave me the fare, and I got on the boat to go to Athens.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Father John Kalaides and his Patron Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist



By Miltiades Tsesmetzes, Teacher

The holy Father [John Kalaides] honored Saint John the Forerunner very much, whose holy name he worthily bore.

Every year we visited him, on this day [January 7th], to wish him many years and to receive his blessing. I will never forget a year we went to wish him well for his celebration and he miraculously healed in front of our eyes a very special person of ours, touching him on the back, exactly where he had for a long time strong pains! This was done without knowing the slightest thing about his problem!

The Life of Saint John the Baptist (St. Sebastian Dabovich)


By St. Sebastian Dabovich
 
Saint John the Baptist was the son of the Jewish Priest Zacharia. His mother was Elizabeth, a blood-relation to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. This righteous couple were childless, for Elizabeth was barren. They prayed much and long; as true Israelites they desired the consolation of being blessed with children, aspiring,but in this instance with an humble and holy resignationto the birth of the great Messiah, who was coming to save mankind, and, as they thought, to free and unite Israel. Although Zacharia and Elizabeth sorrowed in their old age to a day which was beyond the natural limit of child-bearing, still they continued hopefully praying. The prayers of faith of this priest and his patient spouse ascended on high, from whence came down an angel with the message telling them that the Creator of nature and the God of wonders had been pleased to fulfill their desire. Accordingly, Elizabeth bore unto her husband Zacharia a male child, who was called John. 
 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Homily on the Day of the Theophany of the Lord (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"Today the waters are sanctified, and the Jordan is divided in two, and turns back the stream of its waters, beholding the Master being baptized" (Troparion at the Sanctification of the Waters).

In peace, we will now go out, in the name of the Lord, to the river and there we will immerse the Life-giving Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in water. Why will we immerse? For the remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was baptized once in the Jordan River. Is it just a commemoration? No, but also for the sanctification of the waters. "Today the waters are sanctified, and the Jordan is divided in two, and turns back the stream of its waters, beholding the Master being baptized." Yes, at the commemoration of our Lord Jesus Christ, through immersion in the water of His Life-giving Cross, the water is sanctified, it becomes holy, healing souls and bodies and to drive away all resisting forces. Ordinary water, by its very nature, is only healthy for the body, and through sanctification, its nature changes, improves, is elevated, so that it becomes a blessing for the body and the soul.

The Theophany of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ (St. Justin Popovich)


By St. Justin Popovich

Upon his return from Egypt, our Lord Jesus Christ was in Galilee, in his city of Nazareth, where he would be brought up, hiding his power and omniscience from his people until the age of thirty. This was because with the Jews, no one was allowed to have the dignity of a teacher or a priest before the age of thirty. That is why Christ did not start preaching until he was thirty, nor did he announce that he was the Son of God and the Great High Priest who passed through heaven. Until that time, he lived in Nazareth with his Immaculate Mother and with his supposed father Joseph the Carpenter, while he was alive. During this time he occupied himself with the craft of carpentry. And when Joseph died, he labored at that craft himself, earning bread for himself and the pure Mother of God with the labor of his hands, in order to teach us not to be lazy or eat bread for nothing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

On Theophany the Face of the Girl Shined


Theophany Eve of 2000. The first sanctification (Sanctification of the Waters on Theophany eve). In Piliouri, a village in the Himara of Northern Epirus, a priest gets out of the car that transported them there and prepares to sanctify the houses.

In an hour and fifteen minutes they made it by car to arrive. The village is hidden on the beautiful historic Himara mountains. The road is dangerous. The car was struggling to detach from the mud created by the rain in the previous days. He is a young priest, just two months ago he was ordained a Presbyter. He had come from Greece with three students to help with the analogion and to serve the necessary liturgical needs to the villages of the area and anywhere else they would need them.

The Shameful Oath the African Clergy Have Made to the Patriarchate of Moscow


The Russian invasion of the Patriarchate of Alexandria under the pretext that about 100 clergy in Africa want to belong to Moscow, has also produced … oaths!

We quote an "Oath" signed by these clergymen, who declare that they are joining "voluntarily" with Moscow without any "personal financial gain", but with the "sole purpose" of saving their soul which is in "spiritual danger" from the moment the Patriarchate of Alexandria recognized the Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine, which for Moscow is still a "schism".

"The Voice of the Lord Upon the Waters": Creation and Recreation


In the Cathedral of the Assumption in Monreale, Sicily there are the so-called Genesis Mosaics from around the 12th century.  The first mosaic bears an inscription from Genesis 1:1, "In principio creavit deus celum et terram," ("In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth") but the image also covers verse 2, "And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." The mosaicist takes the "face of the waters" literally and shows the "Spirit of God" in the form of a dove with a halo being sent by Jesus above. The "darkness on the waters" is visualized as a dark band transpierced by the dove's path.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Some Appearances and Miracles of Father Nicholas Pettas After His Death


By Dr. Photios Dimitrakopoulos,
Professor of Byzantine Philology at the University of Athens

After his repose, Fr. Nicholas Pettas (+ January 4, 2000) appeared to Fr. Emmanuel L. from Ano Moulia, Crete. The hieromonk, son of Fr. Nicholas, had gone to Crete on a pilgrimage and the priest of Ano Moulia thought that he wasn't a canonical hieromonk, and was thus hesitant to send him on a priestly service. One night Fr. Emmanuel saw a priest telling him who he is and that his son is indeed a hieromonk and that he can assign him the service he wanted without hesitation. Indeed, the priest from Ano Moulia called at the time when he had finished the memorial service for Fr. Nicholas over his grave, and narrated to him the vision.

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