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Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Best of March 2022 by the Mystagogy Resource Center (MRC)



Below is the monthly review for the month of March 2022 of the ten most popular articles on johnsanidopoulos.com, then all the posts made on the other websites of the Mystagogy Resource Center in order of popularity.

The Veneration of Saint Hypatios of Gangra in Greece and Cyprus

Icon from 1817 in the current Chapel of Saint Hypatios in the Church of Panagia Dexia in Thessaloniki

Numerous miracles took place both during and after the burial of the Holy Bishop Hypatios of Gangra, a fact that proves that he received richly from God the gift of performing miracles uninterruptedly. That is why it was established for him to be honored from the fourth century as a miraculous protector and patron saint of the city of Gangra of Paphlagonia, while the oldest iconographic representations of the Saint are preserved in temples of Cappadocia and monasteries in Serbia. It is noteworthy that in his honor a majestic sacred temple was erected in Gangra, which until the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 was the central point reference for his veneration and the center of the worship life of the pious inhabitants. This historic Church of Saint Hypatios in Gangra was adorned with a magnificent iconostasis that attracted the interest of visitors, while the miraculous icon of Saint Hypatios, which was saved from destruction by the late Ypatia Patmanoglou, was kept as a valuable spiritual treasure. This icon is now kept in the new beautiful Church of Saint Hypatios, founded in 1973 and consecrated in 1976, in the village of Antigonos in Florina, where many of the inhabitants of Gangra settled after 1922.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Spiritual Legacy of Saint John Climacus


 By Jonathan L. Zecher

John the man is interesting, but it was his work rather than his personality that would exercise monastic imaginations across the globe. From its textual dissemination, it is clear just how important this work was and is, although it has yet to receive the scholarly attention it deserves. The Ladder itself, however, has long been a unique locus of reverent study in the Christian East. Peter Brown, though dedicating to it only a few brief pages in his massive work, The Body and Society, there called the Ladder the "undisputed masterpiece of Byzantine spiritual direction." His comment concerns its content, but also touches on the Ladder's popularity. Scripture excepted, almost no other work has exercised such a profound and lasting influence on Greek Christian ascetic spirituality.

The Death Prayer of Venerable Parthenius of Kiev


 The Death Prayer

By Venerable Parthenius of Kiev

1. When I, dejected by illness, feel the approach of the end of my earthly existence: Lord, have mercy on me.

2. When my poor heart, in its last beats, will languish and pine in deathly torments: Lord, have mercy on me.

3. When my eyes are watered for the last time with tears at the thought that during my life I offended You, O God, with my sins: Lord, have mercy on me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Homilies on the Divine Liturgy - The Ecclesiastical Government (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Homilies on the Divine Liturgy

The Ecclesiastical Government

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

When an official visits our land, an audience usually follows, that is, the meeting, to which we report our requests, and we ask them to satisfy some of our desires that refer to the life and society in which we live. The same happens with the Divine Eucharist. After the coming of Christ on the Holy Table there follows our requests and the expression of our inner feelings. Three main things will be mentioned.

First, immediately after the change of the Holy Gifts we feel the need to say to the Father - our God - that we offer the Divine Liturgy to honor the Saints, the Prophets, the Righteous of the Old Testament, the Venerables and the Confessors and every righteous person who ended their life in Christ. Above all, we offer the Divine Liturgy to our Panagia, which is why we say "especially our all-holy, immaculate, most-blessed, glorious Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary." The Saints were united with Christ. At this time we also mention the Saint who celebrates that day, because we believe that this day they are especially among us.

Second, we remember our living and reposed brethren. We first mention those who have fallen asleep, because they are in great need of our prayers, since now they can do nothing for themselves and expect them of us. The commemoration takes place at this time - the memorial service for our brethren, our relatives. That is why at the time when the chanter chants "Axion Estin" we should mention the names of the people we love and who have left this world. Then we mention the names of the living, we pray for the world, the Church that is all over the world, for the priests and deacons, for those who struggle to live with purity and modesty and for the rulers, so that there is peace in the nation. We also pray for the city in which we live and for those who live in it in faith, for those who travel in various ways, for the sick and the demon-possessed, the captives, for those who help the Church in various ways, for those who help the poor and finally we pray for ourselves, to receive the mercy of God.

Third, we mention our Bishop, in whose name the priest performs the Divine Liturgy. "And first remember Lord our Archbishop ... to whom you have given your holy Churches peace, salvation, honor, health, length of days, correctly dividing the word of your truth."

The Metropolitans commemorate the Holy Synod to which they belong, the leaders of the Autocephalous Churches and the Patriarchs, and mention "every Diocese of the Orthodox". This utterance shows our ecclesiastical government. The Church is not an abstract faith and ideology, but a specific organization, structured in Patriarchates, Autocephalous Churches, Dioceses and Parishes. Everyone mentions their immediate superior, to whom they refer. There is no individual ecclesiasitcal life. The Hieromonk who liturgizes in the wilderness of Mount Athos mentions the Ecumenical Patriarch, to whose jurisdiction Mount Athos belongs. If this mention is omitted then the Divine Liturgy suffers from being uncanonical. And we say this because a Eucharist that takes place outside the Church is not a real Divine Eucharist, but a conventicle. And of course it is not enough to mention one's Bishop and not to have a meaningful communication with him.

The Church is one body, the Body of Christ. To this Body belong the Saints, the Angels, the dead who departed with repentance and the living who struggle to be united with the Body of Christ. One cannot live alone and independently of one's brethren. Also, one cannot live outside his Bishop, who is in "the type and place of the head of the Church, that is, of Christ." Worse still, a priest cannot perform the Divine Liturgy in the name of his Bishop, mention him, so that God may preserve him in peace, salvation, honor, health, longevity and the orthodoxy of the word of truth, and yet with his daily actions to slander him, to demonize him, to fight him in various ways.

Today we do not need an individual religiosity, but a stable ecclesiastical experience and mindset. We must live in the spiritual family called the Church and respect the Bishops God has placed in the Church organization.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.


An Interpretation of the Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian: On Lust for Power (4)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

"Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of lust for power."

What is the spirit of lust for power? This is the desire to excel, to rule over others, to take first place. This striving to excel destroyed the archangel - the head of all angels - and made him Satan, that cast him out of heaven. This desire to dominate ruined Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who envied the glory of Moses when he led the people of Israel through the wilderness into the land of Canaan; they wanted to overthrow him and usurp power, and the Lord punished them with a terrible execution: the earth opened up and swallowed them up with all their families.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Second Homily on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

In beginning my words to you, I made the sign of the Cross on myself. So do you, Christian listeners, do on various occasions. We are so accustomed to this custom from childhood that we rarely pay due attention to it. And therefore, let us now consider what it means that we make the sign of the Cross on ourselves, and why we do it.

From the time when Jesus Christ was crucified for us on the Cross, the Cross has become an integral part of Jesus Christ. Therefore, when we make the sign of the Cross on ourselves, we show and, as it were, say about ourselves: I am a Christian, I am Christ's, I believe in Christ, I hope and trust in Christ, I serve Christ, I follow, I adorn myself with Christ, I put on Christ. Thus, by the sign of the Cross, which we make on ourselves, anyone can know that we are Christians. The sign of the Cross is the external distinguishing mark of a Christian.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

First Homily on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"We venerate Thy Cross, O Lord, and glorify Thy holy Resurrection."

At one time, Jesus Christ, having called the people with His disciples, said to them: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).

Saturday, March 26, 2022

An Interpretation of the Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian: On Despondency (3)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

"Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of despondency."*

What is the spirit of despondency? This is what is called discouragement. People who do not understand Christianity at all, who do not understand our spiritual life, think that the entire Christian religion is full of a spirit of despondency. Looking at the monks walking around in black clothes with downcast eyes and turning the prayer rope, they think that the whole religion is dull, like the monks. This is not so at all. This is contrary to the spirit that permeates all of Christianity, for tell me, can a person with a spirit of despondency have the spiritual strength, spiritual vigor necessary to walk along the narrow path, tirelessly struggling with demons? Of course not.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Homily for the Day of the Annunciation (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)



 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

On the day of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, I, as the pastor of the church, on behalf of God to you, Christians, children of the Orthodox Church, announce that you will be saved through Jesus Christ, inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, you will rejoice in paradise with the Angels, be blessed with the saints. Listen more attentively to this gospel of God: through Jesus Christ you will all certainly be saved, you will certainly inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, you will certainly rejoice in Paradise with the Angels, and be blessed with the saints. Oh, I am glad every day, every hour, to repeat this gospel to you.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Homilies on the Divine Liturgy - The Holy Anaphora (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
 Homilies on the Divine Liturgy

The Holy Anaphora

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
 
Analyzing the Divine Liturgy in these sermons, my beloved brethren, we have reached the central part of the Divine Eucharist  which is called the "anaphora" (or the "elevetation"), during which through the Holy Spirit the bread and wine will be changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. We will analyze this in a few simple words today.

The prayer of the anaphora is recognized by the exhortation of the deacon "let us stand well, let us stand in fear, let us be attentive to the holy anaphora which we offer in peace." It is called an anaphora, because this prayer and sacrifice is offered not on an earthly altar, but on the heavenly altar. In fact the prayer of the anaphora begins with the apostolic blessing: "The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be upon us all," and ends again with the prayer and blessing "and may the mercies of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ be with us all.” The greatest events in our lives are done with the blessings of God.

An Interpretation of the Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian: On Idleness (2)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

"Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of idleness."

This is how Saint Ephraim the Syrian begins his great prayer. Why does he begin with a request to be delivered from idleness, as if there were no more grievous vices than idleness?

Saint Ephraim speaks of idleness because he knows better than us what is more important, what is more disastrous, what vice is stronger, more dangerous, and, if we talk about idleness, he begins his prayer with a prayer not to give the spirit of idleness, which means that idleness is a very dangerous vice.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

An Interpretation of the Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian: Introduction (1)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea
 
Lord and Master of my life, 
give me not a spirit of idleness, 
despondency, lust for power, and idle talking.
 
Bestow on Your servant instead 
a spirit of chastity, 
humility, patience, and love.
 
Yes, Lord King, grant me to see my own offenses, 
and not to condemn my brethren, 
for You are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

This is the Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian, about whom I have already told you, and some of whose great works I have read. Why does the Holy Church give this prayer such an unusually prominent place in the Divine Services, why is it repeated so many times during all Lenten Divine Services? Not without a special reason - you yourself feel with your heart what the reason is - this prayer penetrates the heart like no other, you feel its special, exceptional, divine power.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Homily on our Holy and Wonderworking Hierarch Gregory Palamas Archbishop of Thessaloniki (Elder Gabriel Dionysiatis)


 Homily on our Holy and Wonderworking Hierarch 
Gregory Palamas Archbishop of Thessaloniki

By Archimandrite Gabriel,
Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou

1959

Six hundred years have passed since our Father among the Saints Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, reposed in the Lord. In 1959, honoring this anniversary in a grand manner, beginning with November 14, the day of his repose, the Church of Thessaloniki dedicated a festive celebration of three days in that city.Among the participants were representatives of all the Orthodox Churches and leaders in the field of Orthodox Theology. The celebrations constituted a major event in the history of the whole Orthodox Church, and by extension of the Holy Mountain, for it was here that the Holy Father began his spiritual activities and arduous struggles for Orthodoxy, having as his co-workers a group of select, God-inspired monastics.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

A Second Triumph of Orthodoxy Over Heresy (George Mantzarides)

 

By George Mantzarides,
Professor Emeritus of the Theological School of the 
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

On the first Sunday of the Fast of Great Lent, the Church celebrates the triumph of Orthodoxy over the heresies. The specific historical event which was the basis and starting-point for this celebration was the victory of the Church against the iconoclasts. The latter proclaimed that the use of icons is anti-Christian. They would not accept the veneration of the icon of Christ, nor the honor paid to the other icons or to the relics of saints. This attitude of theirs was not superficial, but came from a more profound denial of the depiction of Christ, which, in the end, led to a denial of his incarnation and his presence in the world as a real human being. The way the conflict over the icons ended shows its heretical nature. It really was a true heresy.

Homily on the Second Sunday of Great Lent (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"And He preached a word unto them" (Mark 2:2).

At one time Jesus Christ came to Capernaum. When it was heard in the city that He was in a house, many immediately gathered, so that there was no room outside the doors. "And He preached a word unto them." They came to Him with a paralytic, who was carried by four men. And not being able to reach Him due to a multitude of people, they opened the roof of the house where He was, and breaking through, lowered the bed on which the paralytic lay. Jesus, seeing their faith, says to the paralytic: "Child, your sins are forgiven you." Some of the scribes thought in their hearts, "Why does He blaspheme so? Who can forgive sins except God alone?" Jesus, immediately realizing in His spirit that they were think this way in themselves, said to them, "Why do you think this way in your hearts? What is easier? Should I say to the paralytic: your sins are forgiven? Or say get up, take your bed and go? And so that you may know that the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins on earth (he speaks to the paralytic), I say to you: get up, take your bed and go to your house." He immediately got up, took the bed and went out in front of everyone, so that everyone was amazed and praised God, saying: "We have never seen anything like this" (Mark 2:1-12).

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Saint Aristobulus of Britain as a Model for our Lives

St. Aristobulus of Britain (Feast Day - March 15)

 By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Aristobulus was considered a brother of the Apostle Barnabas and a member of the chorus of the Seventy Apostles of Christ, as was his brother. Also, he was a travel companion of the Apostle Paul, who mentions him in his Epistle to the Romans, where he writes: "Greet those of the household of Aristobulus." Seeing his various gifts, and especially his missionary zeal and spiritual courage, the Apostle Paul ordained him Bishop of Britain, a country which, as we shall see later, had many peculiarities and difficulties.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Concerning Icons in the Orthodox Church (Demetrios Panagopoulos)


By Demetrios Panagopoulos, Preacher
 
(Sermon Delivered on the Sunday of Orthodoxy 
in March of 1969)
 
The Icon is an expression of the divine economy, which is summarized in the teaching of the Orthodox Church which says: "God became man, that man may become God."

The Church attached so much importance to the Icon that she proclaimed and still proclaims that the victory over the Iconoclasts was a triumph of Orthodoxy, which we celebrate during the first week of Great Lent.

Furthermore, for the Orthodox Church, the Icon is a language through which it expresses its doctrines and commandments so well, just like it does with words. It is a theology that is expressed in shapes and colors that the eye sees. In other words, it is like a mirror that reflects the spiritual life of the Church, and in which one can judge the dogmatic struggles of every age.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Homily on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

Let us give thanks to God that, although we are disobedient, by His goodness we are not yet such as the Church is now anathematizing. Let us deepen our obedience to our Church! Let us not be tempted by various slanders against her, which we so often hear about! This is not news: there have been such slanders before, and always will be, and our Church has not done anything and will not do anything. No darkness will darken the purity of her teaching, the firmness of her commandments and the powers of hell will not shake her. It has Jesus Christ as its cornerstone - God's power and God's wisdom, it was founded by the inspired apostles, approved by the Ecumenical Synods, proven by the holy fathers, tested for thousands of years.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Homily Before Holy Communion on the First Sunday of Great Lent (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

Before you come, listeners, to Holy Communion, let's talk about what benefit we get when we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, and with what feelings we should approach this Awesome Mystery.

What benefit do we get when we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ? We are most closely united with Jesus Christ, so that Jesus Christ then begins to abide in us, and we in Him: "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me, and I in him" (John 6:56), says Jesus Christ. What exactly is happening in us then? It is impossible to explain and realize this, it is impossible, one can only feel it a little, and even then not completely.

Friday, March 11, 2022

The Value of the Compline Prayer to the Theotokos


 By Metropolitan Chrysostomos III of Mani

The Prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos, which we read and chant during Small and Great Compline, and was written by the scholar Venerable Paul, the founder and builder of the Sacred Monastery of the Theotokos the Evergetidos in Constantinople in the eleventh century, has great value and importance for its spiritual content.

It consists of five parts. The first is about the Most Holy Theotokos. The second contains the awareness of the sinfulness of the praying believer. The third refers the Prayer to the Panagia, while the fourth is about the situations of human life, and the fifth closes the Prayer, referring to the Panagia's mediation to Christ, her Only Begotten Son.

Homily on the Friday of the First Week of Great Lent (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

Some Christians, as you know, do not partake of the Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ even during Great Lent. Surely, listeners, among you who are now standing in this temple, are there those who will not receive communion during this present fast? If there is one among you, I will turn my conversation to them. Listen to what I'm going to tell you: God Himself has sent you to church today so that you can hear how harmful it is for the soul to withdraw from Holy Communion.

Tell me, why don't you think of partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ? Or do you not know why? So, for no reason do you think about taking communion, or maybe you don’t even think about it, that you won’t take communion? Is it all the same for you whether to take communion or not? Oh, if you are like that, then come to your senses, think of yourself. You descend into the depths of sin, and therefore do not take care of yourself; you have forgotten about the salvation of your soul, and that is why you do not remember that you need to take communion. You are sick in soul and do not feel your illness, and therefore you do not understand that you need to take communion for the healing of the soul. You don’t care about the future life and don’t think at all whether it exists, that’s why you don’t think about communion into eternal life, that’s why it doesn’t matter for you whether you commune or not. Come to your senses, think of yourself: you are sleeping, you are dying,

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Homilies Before Confession (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


Homily Before Confession (1)

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

Today, Christians usually go to confession. When you, listeners, go to confession to your confessor, then have a firm, resolute intention to tell him everything that you know is bad within you, and tell him frankly, without any excuse or justification. You want your spiritual father to forgive your sins on behalf of God, but how can he forgive your sins when you do not fully reveal them to him? You want to be cured of a sinful disease, but how can a spiritual physician cure you when you do not tell him clearly and directly what you are sick with?

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A Miracle of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste at Dachau Concentration Camp


Elder Theophylaktos Nanopoulos from the Athonite Cell of Saint Nicholas (known as the "Cell of the Typographers"), which is under Iveron Monastery, once told the following story with tears in his eyes:

"During the years of the German Occupation I was arrested by the Germans, together with my brother according to the flesh Papa-Panteleimon, and they took us to Dachau. One night they took us outside to execute us. It was winter and they undressed us. We waited for our turn. There was no hope for our salvation.

Saint Vitalis of Castronovo in Sicily (+ 994)

St. Vitalis of Castronovo (Feast Day - March 9)

Our Venerable Father Vitalis was born in Castronovo of Sicily, to pious Christian parents Sergio and Chrysoniki. He became a monk in the famous Monastery of Saint Philip in Agira at the foot of Mount Etna, where he remained for five years. He decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome. During the journey, near Terracina (in Campania), a poisonous snake bit him, but he miraculously managed to save himself by making the sign of the cross on the wound. On his return he remained to Calabria, in the area of Santa Severina, where he lived as a hermit for two years. He returned to Sicily and lived as a monastic for twelve years in a monastery near that of Saint Philip.

Homily on the Wednesday of the First Week of Great Lent (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"Now the Powers of Heaven serve with us invisibly; behold, the King of Glory enters."

What are these Heavenly Powers invisibly serving with us, listeners? Archangels and Angels, Cherubim and Seraphim and other Incorporeal Powers, whose main dwelling is Heaven, that is why they are called Heavenly. Yes, these are the Heavenly Powers that serve with us. In addition, each of us has, as you know, our own Guardian Angel. These Guardian Angels also belong to the Powers of Heaven, so they also serve invisibly with us. Now they serve with us. When is now? At the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. However, at every Liturgy, the Heavenly Powers invisibly serve with us, and not only at the Liturgy, but also at every church service, they serve with us. It is only during the Liturgy that the Heavenly Powers serve invisibly with us. Why? Because the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, Jesus Christ, is with us primarily at the Liturgy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Despite the War, Many of the Greek Soldiers in 1940 Kept the Fasts of the Church

 

The Greco-Italian War took place between the kingdoms of Italy and Greece from 28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941. According to the eye-witness testimony of Archimandrite Haralambos Vasilopoulos, who wrote the book The Miracle of the Greeks of 1940, many soldiers who fought in the Pindus mountains continued to keep the fasts of the Church despite all the hardships they faced.

Venerable Ephraim the God-seer: The Mysteries of the Spiritual Life According to Saint Ephraim of Katounakia

 
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

On a few occasions I had the great blessing from God to talk [with Papa-Ephraim of Katounakia] about matters of the spiritual life. He had read some of my books and wanted to reveal to me various obscure aspects, of the many, from the lives of the deified saints, so that I could write about them for the benefit of the brethren. I remember with nostalgia a unique day when Papa-Ephraim opened his heart and told me about the mysteries of the spiritual life. He told me about the importance and results of the tears of repentance, that all reasoning is cleansed by tears, that tears have nothing to do with the vision of God, since, when man sees the uncreated Light, tears cease; about the experience he had of the vision of God, when he saw three Lights, Lights which flooded the whole space of his cell and embraced him; about the posture of the body during the vision and so much more.

Homily on the Tuesday of the First Week of Great Lent (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

How weak we are, listeners: we fasted for one day and we are already weak. This is what our non-habit of fasting means, this is what our habit of immoderate consumption of food and drink means. If during the year we drank and ate more moderately, then it would be easy for us to fast now, and we would not become as weak as we are now. However, do not be embarrassed by your present weakness; it's nothing that you have weakened a little, this weakening is bodily, but not moral. There is power in this weakening, and the power is saving for us. By this weakening you prove obedience to the Holy Church. Yes, the Holy Church looks with love at those who fast, for she sees in this obedience to herself. If God promises those who honor their father and mother a long and happy life, then to those who obey their mother, the Holy Church, He will give life eternal, blessed life.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Saint Paul the Simple as the Rule and Type of Blessed Simplicity (St. John Climacus)


 By St. John Climacus

(The Ladder - Step 24: On Simplicity)

24. The first property of the age of childhood is uniform simplicity, and as long as Adam had it, he did not see the nakedness of his soul, or the indecency of his flesh.

25. Excellent too is that simplicity which is in some by nature, yes, and blessed, but not as much as that which is grafted in with toil and trouble after repenting from sin. For the former is sheltered and protected from much affectation and passion, but the latter leads to the highest humility and meekness. The former has not much reward, but the latter—infinite, infinite.

Homily on the Monday of the First Week of Great Lent (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

We have come to the holy fast. Thanks be to the Lord God that He gives us time to repent of our sins. I consider it useful to say now to you, pious listeners, a few words about what we should mainly do during the days of the holy fast.

What to do now? Now, according to the rules of the Church, we abstain from food and drink. Yes, it is necessary, and it is necessary not only to abstain, that is, to eat and drink less, but it is necessary to eat and drink only what the Holy Church does not forbid. However, this is not the strength of the fast. In what is it then? Now, more than at other times, we pray to God, listen to the word of God. Yes, it is necessary, more necessary than abstinence itself. As often as possible, one should pray and listen to the word of God. While doing these things, owe should fall asleep, and with these things we should also wake up from sleep.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Homily on Cheesefare Sunday and Forgiveness (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

On this day, we Christians are in the habit of asking forgiveness from each other, and therefore this very day is called Forgiveness Sunday. This custom, listeners, is the most Christian, for what is more fitting to begin the upcoming fast, if not with mutual forgiveness? During the fast of the Holy Forty Days, we mainly ask God for forgiveness for all the sins that we have committed during the year. But will God forgive us our sins when we do not forgive the sins of our neighbors? The Lord forgives us only when we ourselves forgive others everything; if you forgive people their sins, then your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive people their sins, then your Father will not forgive you your sins (Matthew 6:14-15). Whoever does not forgive the sins of their neighbor, does not truly repent of their sins. The truly repentant sinner cannot remember the insults they have suffered or are suffering from others; they have one thing on their mind - the sins with which they have offended God; sadness according to God drowns out all other cares in them.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Saint Conon of Isauria as a Model for our Lives (1)

St. Conon of Isauria (Feast Day - March 5)
 
By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The Venerable Martyr Conon lived during the times of the Holy Apostles and was from the village of Vadini in Isauria. His parents Nestor and Nada became Christians, and Nestor was found worthy to be a confessor and a martyr. Conon, together with his pious wife, devoted himself entirely to the spread of the true faith. His idolatrous compatriots reacted to the gospel preaching and claimed that their own faith was true. Then Conon said to them that he could prove to them that the God he worships is the only true God, in the following way: "When you go up to the mountain and sacrifice to your gods, notify me and we will set off together. You will go up with your horses and I with my feet, and whoever arrives first, their faith is true." They also agreed on the appointed day and then they set off with their horses like lightning. When they arrived, however, at their destination and saw him waiting for them, they could not believe their eyes.

Miracles of the Venerable Martyr Adrian of Poshekhonye

St. Adrian of Poshekhonye (Feast Day - March 5)

During the acquisition and transfer of the relics of the Venrable Martyr Adrian, by the will of God, many miraculous healings from various ailments and diseases took place. And in the time that followed, with faith, those who gathered to the tomb of the Saint received consolation in their sorrows and were healed of illnesses.

The most important of the miracles from the time of the uncovering of the relics were recorded by Adrian's Hermitage. Here are some of these miracles.

Introduction to the Writings of Saint Mark the Ascetic in the 'Philokalia' (St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite)


By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

Our venerable father Mark the Ascetic thrived in the year 430. He was a disciple of Saint John Chrysostom, according to Nikephoros Kallistos (vol. 2, bk. 14. ch. 53), and was a contemporary of Saint Nilus and Isidore of Pelusium, who were famous ascetics. Diligent in the study of the Scriptures, he wrote many discourses full of abundant learning and spiritual benefit. Of these, 32 are mentioned by Nikephoros Kallistos, which teach the entire path of the ascetic life, though they have not been preserved. Only eight of his discourses survive, different from the above, which are mentioned by both Kallistos and the critic Photios (codex 200).

Friday, March 4, 2022

Saint Nikanor of Hilandar (+ 1990)

St. Nikanor of Hilandar (Feast Day - March 4)

By Monk Moses the Athonite

The late Elder Nikanor was born in Divci, near Valjevo of Serbia, on August 13, 1903 to pious and simple parents. From a young age he had the zeal of the early Christians. In the world he was known as Nikola Savic.

He came to the Sacred Monastery of Hilandar, which was founded by his compatriots and in which many live until today, on August 17, 1927. There he was tonsured a monk on September 15, 1929. He was elected abbot of the monastery of his repentance, which he fervently loved and tirelessly served, on December 31, 1941. In 1963 he was the First Administrator of the Holy Mountain, and for several years a commissioner and representative of his monastery in the Sacred Community. He also worked in the vineyards and the chestnut groves of the monastery.

The "Blasphemous" and "Impious" Sermon of the "High Priest of Bacchus" Regarding Carnival


By Panagiotis Andriopoolos

Much has been written from time to time about the famous homily of the late Elder Meliton of Chalcedon about "Carnival" (Metropolitan Church of Athens 3/8/1970).

We focus on two important texts that illuminate its implications for ecclesiastical life today.

Reading them, and having in mind, of course, the eponymous speech, one comes to the conclusion that even if only this homily had been delivered by this eminent - in his time - hierarch of the Ecumenical Throne, it would have gone down in history.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Showing Hospitality to Christ (A Cypriot Folk Tale)


Once there was a woman. One day on her property she met Jesus Christ. She greeted Him, she did a prostration before Him, kissed His hand and said:

"I am waiting for you to come to my house tomorrow. I will prepare. You will come?"

"I will come."

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Miracles of Saint Arsenius of Tver


After the death of Saint Arsenius, the citizens of Tver did not cease to honor his memory. Seeing the miracles that flowed from his tomb, the pious inhabitants of Tver called upon Saint Arsenius in their prayers and received help and intercession in troubles. 74 years after his repose (in 1483), Bishop Bassian of Tver, at the behest of Tsar John Vasilyevich, wanted to open his relics. Having gathered in the cathedral with a multitude of people, he went to the Zheltikov Monastery. The coffin, in which the relics of the Saint of God rested, was taken out of the ground and brought into the cathedral church. When the lid was opened, the whole church was filled with fragrance. Corruption did not touch the relics of Saint Arsenius, even the very vestments remained completely intact. Then the bishop commanded to cover the coffin again with a lid, ordered to paint the icon of the Saint (it is intact to this day) and placed it at the Sepulcher for veneration by those who came. A cover with the image of the miracle worker was laid on the coffin. With the blessing of Bishop Bassian, the service to Saint Arsenius was also compiled. Then a local celebration was established for him in the Zheltikov Monastery. Since that time, even more miracles began to be performed at his tomb.

The Chapel of Saint Nicholas Planas in Xylotymvou of Cyprus and the Cave of the Nativity of Christ


East of the Monastery of Saint Raphael in Xylotymvou of Cyprus is a small church dedicated to Saint Nicholas Planas. This is a chapel built in the style of a basilica with a dome. Its interior is simple and unpretentious, as it is not painted with frescoes and consists of a simple wooden iconostasis with images of the Saints of Orthodoxy and representations from the New Testament. An internal staircase leads to an ancient cave of early Christian times, one of the many found in the area. This particular cave is dedicated to the Nativity of Christ and is also known in the community as the Cave of the Nativity. 

The Epitrachelion of Saint Nicholas Planas


The epitrachelion (priestly stole) of Saint Nicholas Planas was given to him from his grandfather, the Priest George Melissourgos, for whom the Saint served as an altar boy as a child and by whom the Saint was taught to love divine worship through the Divine Liturgy and to read the Psalter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Homily on Carnival (Metropolitan Meliton of Chalcedon)


 By Metropolitan Meliton (Hatzis) of Chalcedon (+ 1989)

(Delivered in the Metropolitan Church of Athens 
on Cheesefare Sunday, 8 March 1970)

My brethren,

The Lord scolded nothing as much as hypocrisy. And rightly so, for He saw in her that there is always the greatest danger of complete delusion, that is, the angelic-looking luciferian light. The power of hypocrisy is indeed awesome. Both for those who live it and exercise it, and for those who suffer from it. And hypocrisy is dangerous, because it corresponds to a deeper psychological problem of man.

Man wants to appear like someone he is not. Even before himself and before God. And so he escapes from truth and simplicity and of course from repentance and salvation.

Venerable Mother Zosima of Ennatsky (+ 1935)


Venerable Zosima of Ennatsky (in the world Evdokia Yakovlevna Sukhanova) was from the village of Sentsovka, of the Orenburg district, and was born on March 1, 1820. She grew up in a deeply religious family. At the behest of her father, she got married. Subsequently, her husband died in the Russian-Turkish war, and her son died in an accident while hunting (his widow later became the cell attendant of Mother Zosima and never left her until her death).

Some time later, after the death of her loved ones, when she was 72 years old, she came to the Pokrov-Ennatsky Monastery,* and was tonsured a nun with the name of Evnikia (Eunice). On several occasions she went on pilgrimage by foot to Jerusalem. The last time she did this was in 1912, at the age of 92. In Jerusalem, she was greatly impressed by the miraculous descent of the Holy Light on Holy Saturday in the Holy Sepulchre.

Near the Pokrov-Ennatsky Monastery, the Saint found a spring, from the water of which people began to receive healing. Later, a skete with a chapel in honor of the Holy Trinity was built near the spring.

In 1919, Nun Evnikia received the Great Schema with the name Zosima. The tonsure was performed by Bishop Andrei (Ukhtomsky). From the time of her tonsuring in the Great Schema until her blessed repose, Mother Zosima slept in a cypress coffin she brought from her last pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1912. According to the recollections of her contemporaries, it was in this coffin that they carried her out of the monastery when they closed it in 1923. When the monastery was closed in 1923 by the Soviets, Zosima settled in the village of Novo-Arkhangelovka, in a small house built in the yard of one pious family.

During the time of the persecution of the Church, peasants hid Matushka Zosima. In the holy cypress coffin brought from Jerusalem, she slept in one or another hut, and in it she was carried from village to village.

Many people from the Ufa, Chelyabinsk, Samara and Saratov regions constantly came to Mother Zosima. People brought her their worries, ailments, diseases. She helped everyone with words of consolation, and wondrously healed their ailments.

The venerated elder of our day Archimandrite Seraphim Tomin (1923-2013), the founder and spiritual father of Saint Andrew’s Monastery in the village of Andreevka in the Saraktash District of the Orenburg Province, who prior to this resided at the Russian Saint Panteleimon’s Monastery on Mount Athos in the 1970s, left his spiritual children an amazing story about how Mother Zosima healed him in infancy, and then foretold both his monasticism and his time on the Holy Mountain. Father Seraphim would later be instrumental in getting Mother Zosima canonized.

Venerable Zosima of Ennatsky lived for 115 years. She reposed in her native village of Sentsovka on March 1, 1935 and was buried in the village cemetery. Because of a report that there was gold and jewelry buried with her, her grave was opened after her burial by order of the authorities. Of course, nothing was found in it.


Finding of her Relics

The sacred relics of Zosima of Ennatsky were found in 2003 in the village of Sentsovka, and were originally placed in the Kazan-Bogorodsky Church in the city of Meleuza, of the Diocese of Ufa, and were later transferred to the Pokrov-Ennatsky Monastery.

On June 11, 2006, on the feast of the Holy Trinity in the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent (or Martha and Mary Convent) in the village of Ira, of the Kumertau district, in the Ufa Diocese, Archbishop Nikon of Ufa and Sterlitamak performed the rite of canonization of Mother Zosima of Ennatsky.

Venerable Zosima of Ennatsky is commemorated on the day of her birth and the day of her repose, both of which took place on March 1st.

 
Miracles

1. Monks of the Pokrov-Ennatsky Monastery often travel with her holy relics to various cities in Russia. "When I came to Orenburg," says Father Nikolai, "such a miracle happened. A mother and daughter came to the relics. The 28-year-old daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer, and and they came to the cathedral where I brought the relics, and day and night they stayed in the temple. The night before the operation they prayed and left, and I did not know what happened next.

But when two weeks later we returned to move to a different area of the Diocese of Orenburg, we stopped again in the cathedral, where the relics of Saint Zosima spent the night in the church. And this old woman, with a loud cry, came to me and she told me that when her daughter went in for surgery, the doctors examined her again and found no tumor. The next day, the woman brought a handful of gold jewelry and donated them to Mother Zosima."

2. Another case of the miraculous help of Mother Zosima took place in Orsk. "A young man, about twenty-five years old, came," says Father Nikolai, "and said that his son was born not breathing - his lungs did not open, and a respirator had to be connected. I advised him: the temple is now closed, ask, and you will be left alone and you can pray. In the morning, when we were leaving, he appeared from somewhere and said, 'Father! The prayers of the Nun Zosima gave breath to the child!'"

3. Even during her lifetime, the holy eldress particularly healed the diseases of the feet, and the demon possessed who were brought to her in chains recovered. She also had a prophetic gift. She was approached for help even by sick cattle and did not deny them - the cow or the horse in those days were precious, and their loss put the family in danger.


Notes:

* An Orthodox monastery in the village of Novomikhalkovka in the Fedorov District of the Republic of Bashkortostan, founded in the late-nineteenth century. It is called Ennastky in memory of the churchwardens, who were local landowners named Ennatsky. It operated as a convent until the early 1920s. In 2000, it was revived as a men’s monastery.
 
 

The Best of February 2022 by the Mystagogy Resource Center (MRC)

          

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