Saturday, April 30, 2022

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

Venerable Stephen of Sinai, Whose Incorrupt Relics Rest in the Ossuary of Saint Katherine's Monastery


The Ossuary of the Monastery of Saint Katherine, at the foot of Mount Sinai, occupies the ground floor beneath the Chapel of Saint Tryphon. When bones have been disinterred from the cemetery, they are placed in the Ossuary in an orderly manner. Memorial services are regularly held in the ossuary, commemorating those who have gone before to their rest. It is edifying to recall that our life here has its appointed end. It is also important to remember that these are the bones of those who have fallen asleep, and who lie here awaiting the Resurrection and the Second Coming of Christ.

Friday, April 29, 2022

The Miraculous History of the Chapel of the Life-Giving Spring in the Village of Garefi


The following written testimony comes to us from the good shepherd Binos Traianos, as handed down to us from his grandson Andrew Binos. It is regarding a divine visitation in the middle of the 20th century to the good shepherd from the village of Garefi in the prefecture of Pella, which led to the construction of a chapel and a local annual celebration on Bright Friday.

Since then, every year on the feast of the Life-Giving Spring, at the spot of the first vision, on the mountain of Garefi at the fountain of Koupriva, a big festival takes place in honor of the Panagia, headed by the family of Binos Traianos and attended by crowds not only from the village, but from neighboring communities as well.


Agionisi - A Holy Island Off the Coast of Igoumenitsa With the Ruins of the Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring


Surrounded by the sea is a dot of land immersed in trees and vegetation. This island is known as Agionisi (Holy Island), which is off the coast of Igoumenitsa, a coastal city in northwestern Greece.

There, in the old days, it is unknown when, there was a whole monastic complex, but now only the Church of the Life-Giving Spring (Zoodochos Pege) is there and some stone ruins, testifying to the presence of a habitation which left its traces and was not completely lost.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

In 1868 Patriarch Kyrillos II of Jerusalem Gave His Testimony Concerning the Holy Light of Jerusalem

Patriarch Kyrillos II of Jerusalem

Patriarch Kyrillos II, born in Samos in 1795, served as Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1845-1872. According to the renown British Archaeologist Charles Warren, he was "a kind, good-hearted old man."

On Holy Saturday of 1868 - a few months after the death of Bishop Meletios - Patriarch Kyrillos was appointed head of the ceremony for the first time, despite the fact that he had been on the patriarchal throne for 24 years. Archaeologist Charles Warren, who was still exploring the unseen side of the miracle, decided to meet the Patriarch after the ceremony. He had done the same a year earlier with Bishop Meletios. According to his account, the Patriarch answered all his questions politely. The British archaeologist writes:

Holy New Martyr John of Petra in Pieria (+ 1822)


There are several Saints who are not widely known in Greece. One of them is Saint John from Petra in Pieria who celebrates on April 28.

On the 27th of the month, in the Monastery of Panagia in Petra, a Solemn Vespers was celebrated in honor of the Saint. The following is a brief description of the life of the Saint:

For the holy new martyr John we do not have information about the exact date of his birth (which is probably around the end of the 18th century) and his origin.

Saint Paisios the Athonite Chants the Paschal Hymn "Christ is Risen"


 
 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A Second Homily for the First Day of Pascha (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 25, 1954)

Our Lord and God Jesus Christ, after His resurrection from the dead, began to appear almost immediately: He appeared to the holy myrrhbearing women, the holy apostles; He appeared 40 days after His Resurrection, and there were many marvelous and incomprehensible things for us in His appearances.

What could we say to explain that when two disciples who were traveling on the road to Emmaus, after talking with Him, after supper, when they finally recognized Him in the breaking of bread, suddenly He became invisible?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

When Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene Appeared to our Holy Father John Kalaides


 By Miltiades Tsesmetzes,
Teacher in Serres

During our visit to Fr. John Kalaides, he told us how he met the three new saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, and since then his life has been completely connected with them! He said to us:

"In 1987, when I was in Neochori, I was suffering from renal colic. It was then that I received a package, without a return address, which contained the book of Photios Kontoglou (A Great Sign), regarding the lives of the three newly-appeared Saints and the miraculous events surrounding the finding of their holy relics. Reading it I was amazed by their shocking martyrdom and contacted the abbess of the Holy Monastery in Mytilene. I asked her to send me oil from the lamps of the Saints, along with holy water and certain books containing their miracles. The abbess Eugenia sent them to me and I began to cross myself with these blessings, as well as to read the books of the Saints (Fr. John always read sacred books standing up!). When a Supplicatory Canon was chanted to Saint Raphael, at the end of the service I would read to the faithful the miracles of the Saints.

"My Life Was All Darkness and Totally Meaningless" - Testimony of a Miracle of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene


A woman named Paraskevi Ch. related the following to the fathers of the Monastery of Saint Raphael in Ano Souli, about how the Saints had led her to visit their monastery:

"A very difficult situation in my life had made me break down, without being able to find support anywhere. My life was all darkness and totally meaningless. None of the people close to me could give me the slightest help or hope.

It was at that difficult moment that Saint Raphael had taken pity on me and had approached me. His presence was so frequent and vivid, that I could not consciously realize what I was experiencing. They were the most soul-stirring moments of my life.

Fourth Homily for Pascha Sunday (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

The Lord God has vouchsafed us to enter the Bright Resurrection of Christ. Let us rejoice and be glad on this day, pious listeners!

How can we not rejoice, how can we not be glad on this day! We fear hades - now there is nothing to fear from it, it is now destroyed. We tremble with death - now there is nothing to tremble toward, its sting is destroyed. We are afraid of the devil - there is nothing to fear from him, he is deposed. We want paradise - heavenly doors are open. Everything is ready, whatever our soul desires; everything was brought to us by the Resurrection of the Savior.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Homily on the Second Day of Holy Pascha (St. Luke of Simferopol)


 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 29, 1951)

"... I am with you always, even unto the end of the age. Amen" (Matthew 28:20).

Deep despondency and hopelessness took possession of the hearts of the apostles after the terrible crucifixion of their Teacher. Endless darkness settled in their hearts, for all their hopes for what they expected from their Teacher, Whom they considered the Son of God and the Messiah, collapsed. How could the word of Jesus, spoken so long ago by Him, be fulfilled now: “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt. 19:28).

Who will protect them from the terrible danger that threatens them from the murderers of their Teacher?! For if they killed Him, then, of course, they will not be spared either. This mood of the apostles was clearly reflected in the answer of Luke and Cleopas, whom the Resurrected Jesus met on the way to Emmaus: “But we hoped that He was the one who should deliver Israel” (Lk. 24:21) .

“But we hoped.... ” So, now their hope has disappeared. What should they do, poor and unlearned fishermen who have lost their Divine Teacher, whose mind and will they experienced? Everything collapsed, and hopeless darkness was before them.

But here is the amazing news that astonishes them. Mary Magdalene and other myrrhbearing women run with her with the news that the tomb of the Savior is empty, and they saw Him Risen and spoke with Him.

And fiery Peter confirms this, for he saw an empty tomb, and the Risen Christ appeared to him.

With the same message, Luke and Cleopas returned to the apostles from their journey to Emmaus.

Remembering the promise of the Teacher that after His resurrection from the dead He would precede them in Galilee, the apostles hastened there.

“And when they saw him, they worshiped him; while others doubted. And drawing near, Jesus said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the end of the age. Amen" (Mt. 28:17-20).

And suddenly their dead hearts came to life and kindled with a fiery hope for everlasting help from the light of their eyes, their Divine Teacher.

For forty days Jesus appeared to them, continuing to teach them and strengthening their faith.

And when the time came for His ascension to heaven, then the apostles heard His last great promise: “... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit descends on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

These great promises of the Savior were fulfilled, and the Holy Spirit descended on them on the day of Pentecost reminding them of everything they had heard from Christ, and made them fearless and mighty fighters for the truth of God.

After the murder of the First Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen, “there was a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem, and all, except the apostles, were scattered in different places in Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1).

Such was the fortitude and courage of the apostles, who, of course, faced the greatest danger.

The hands of the apostles performed great miracles, and they fearlessly preached about the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The high priest, and with him all who belonged to the heresy of the Sadducees, were filled with envy. And they laid their hands on the apostles, and shut them up in the prison of the people. But the Angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison at night and, bringing them out, said: 'Go, and standing in the temple, speak to the people all these words of life'” (Acts 5:17-20).

With great boldness, the apostles answered the members of the Sanhedrin, who demanded of them that they should not dare to preach about Christ: “Judge whether it is fair before God to listen to you more than to God? We cannot but speak what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

Christ was with them, to whom was given all authority in heaven and on earth, and the Holy Spirit spoke through their mouths.

The twelve Galilean fishermen faced the seemingly impossible task of entering into an unequal struggle with the whole pagan world, with the mighty Roman Empire, with Greece, which gave the world great philosophers. And this task, to the amazement of the whole world, they victoriously fulfilled and hoisted the Cross of Christ over the new world.

Thus, the great promise of the Savior was fulfilled: “And lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the age.”

The chosen people of Israel throughout the days of the Old Testament were guided by God's power. By this power, the people of Israel, who were in bondage there, were freed from Egyptian captivity. This power dried up the Red Sea before them and drowned the pharaoh in it, who was pursuing them with a huge army. This power expelled from Palestine the pagan peoples who inhabited it, when the forty years of wandering in the deserts of the Jews ended, and they entered the promised land. This power protected Jerusalem from imminent destruction when Rabshakeh, the commander of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, came to it with a huge army and mocked the faith of the Jews in protection from Jehovah.

For this impudence and blasphemy, he was punished by the One Whom he reproached: in one night, the Angel of the Lord destroyed one hundred and eighty-five thousand people of the army of Rabshakeh and turned him into a stampede.

This has been repeated and is repeated even to this day.

In 626, the capital of Byzantium, Constantinople, was in mortal danger from the Scythians and Persians who surrounded it from the west and east. In horror and confusion, all the people prayed to God with tears in the Blachernae Church, and in the morning Patriarch Sergius plunged the robe of the Most Holy Theotokos into the waters of the Bosporus, and a storm suddenly arose, sinking all enemy ships.

In remembrance of this miracle of God's help, through the prayerful intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, songs of prayer are performed to this day, called the "Akathist of the Mother of God" on the fifth week of Great Lent.

And our capital city of Moscow has more than once been saved from formidable enemies by the power of God and the intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos.

In 1521, the Tatars, led by Mehmed Giray, made terrible devastation and showed cruelty on the way to Moscow.

Grand Duke Vasily Ivanovich, with the people and the army, turned with a fervent prayer before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, and suddenly the Tatars, who were about to burn Moscow, saw an uncountable army around them - and they fled.

Therefore, in the fate of entire nations, if they honor God and put their trust in Him in everything, we see the fulfillment of Christ's promise - "And lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the age."

But the same without a doubt applies to every person who has completely loved Christ and diligently walks along the path indicated by Him. And his fate, and the whole direction of life is always determined by the grace-filled influence of the Holy Spirit, creating in him everything good and pure.

Hope in God is never in vain. If only there was a person worthy of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him, so that he would become a temple for Him, then there would be no need to worry about anything, and such a blessed one would be completely imbued with the holy word of the prophet David, who said: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday” (Ps. 36:5-6).

Let us keep forever in our hearts the holy promise of the Lord Jesus: “And lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 
 

Third Homily for Pascha Sunday (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

Christ is Risen! We thank You, Lord, that You made us sinners worthy to arrive at and worship Your Holy Resurrection!

Christ is Risen! I wish you, listeners, to spend this holy and joyful feast in holiness and in joy. How much it is proper to rejoice now, how much it is necessary to behave holy now; it is a sin, one might say, not to rejoice now - so great is this feast for us; it is purely sinful to sin now, so holy are these days. So, and I repeat to you my desire: I wish you to celebrate this holy and joyful feast of the Bright Resurrection of Christ in a holy and joyful way; I wish that you are now both cheerful and not sinning.

How can we combine both? How can we make sure that we both have joy on a real feast and not sin?

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2022 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Hierotheos
by the mercy of God Bishop and Metropolitan
of the God-saved Sacred Metropolis 
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

To
the Clergy, Monks and Laity
of our Sacred Metropolis

Beloved children in the Lord,

On the occasion of the great feast of the Resurrection of Christ, I have the great joy of addressing all of you, the blessed Christians of our Sacred Metropolis, and to address you with the triumphant greeting "Christ is Risen!"
 

Homily at the First Paschal Vespers (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 20, 1952)

You have just heard the Gospel story about the first appearance of the Risen Lord to His disciples.

What was the first word the disciples heard from the Lord? That first word was: "Peace be with you!"

It is natural to expect that the first word spoken by the Lord after His resurrection from the dead to His disciples will be the deepest, most important, most necessary word for them. And that word was: "Peace be with you!" Three times He repeated this great greeting: "Peace be with you!"

And if this first word of His after the Resurrection was repeated by Him three times, then does this not mean that a huge, truly deep meaning is contained in this word: “Peace be with you!”?

This means that the peace that Christ gave them was the most important blessing for them, the most valuable gift.

Homily for the First Day of Pascha (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1951)

"Christ is risen from the dead, 
trampling down death by death 
and on those in the tombs, bestowing life."

What is this amazing troparion of the greatest of feasts, so dear to us and so incomprehensible to non-Christians, causing even its ridicule?

Can fire be put out by fire? Can darkness be illuminated by darkness? Can evil be defeated by evil? Of course not.

Like is not destroyed by like, but only by the opposite. Fire is extinguished by water, darkness is dispersed by light, evil is overcome by good.

And yet, contrary to this universal law, Christ trampled down death by His death.

Second Homily for Pascha Sunday (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"This is the day the Lord has made: 
let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Ps. 117:2).

This day is a day of special joy, unique gladness; we have no feast more cheerful and joyful than the present. And with what eagerness we all await it, with what pleasant anxiousness we prepare for it, with what pleasure we greet each other when it comes. At the words "Christ is risen", we ourselves, as it were, are resurrected, the soul comes to life, the heart admires. Yes, this feast is established for this, so that we rejoice and be glad.

A Lesson for the Soul on Pascha Sunday: Be Joyful (Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios)


Be Joyful
 
 On Holy Saturday
we commemorate 
the Bright Resurrection of our Savior Christ.

"Rejoice!" (Matt. 28:1-10)
 
Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice. (Philip. 3:1-4)

By Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios
 
The anthem of Christianity is joy.

The first word that was heard from the mouth of the Risen Jesus was, "Rejoice!"

It was joy that was spread by the Great Conqueror.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

First Holy Saturday Homily of Saint Photios the Great


Homily 11

HOMILY OF THE MOST BLESSED PHOTIOS, 
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE, 
DELIVERED ON THE BURIAL OF THE HOLY BODY 
OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, ON HOLY SATURDAY

From each work and deed of Christ, our Saviour, the magnitude of His love for us is apparent, and the graces of salvation are splendidly unfolded unto us; and as the abundant sweetness of joy is distilled into men’s souls, it wipes away the bitter pollution of ancestral sin. The memory and topic of the passion and the burial is, however, an awful and inexpressible matter, but inasmuch as it is the end of the Incarnation, and anchors us, so to speak, in the very harbour of re-creation, and sounds forth in clear trumpet tones the Creator’s providence concerning us, so the feeling it arouses is neither simple nor unmixed, but it both overwhelms us and revives us with courage; it grieves and gladdens, the former by the passion and the death, the latter by the destruction of the passions and the slaying of death—which things are marvellously wrought for our resurrection in a manner surpassing words.

Homily Spoken Before the Holy Shroud of Great Saturday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 23, 1954)

With sinful hands we, the servants of God, carried the holy shroud before you. It is not only holy, it is terrible, for it depicts the naked dead body of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, executed by His accursed enemies. How could this crime, the most terrible of all the crimes of the human race, have been committed?! Why did not the Son of God implore His Father to send legions of angels to slay His accursed enemies, who thirsted for His blood?

With our strength, our mind and heart, we would never have found the answer to this terrible question. Let us look for someone who could explain this inexplicable thing to us. Who will we find?

Homily for Holy Saturday (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

Everyone is preparing for the upcoming feast, everyone is busy with one thing - how to better celebrate the Bright Resurrection of Christ. To help your preparation somewhat, I will say in brief words the main thing: how we, Christians, should celebrate the Bright Resurrection of Christ.

How should we celebrate? Celebrate, listeners, as merrily as possible; rejoice, listeners, as much as possible. This is the main thing: rejoice as much as possible, celebrate as merrily as possible. The Resurrection of Christ brought us such joy that we will never exhaust everything, no matter how much we rejoice; in Jesus Christ there is so much consolation for us that we can never rejoice in Him to the fullest. Look at our mother - the Holy Orthodox Church - tomorrow see how she rejoices and is glad. She, one might say, is all joy, all fun, she seems to be all with us in Heaven, and not on earth, all triumphs, and does not fight.

A Lesson for the Soul on Holy Saturday: Be Courageous (Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios)

 
 
 
Be Courageous
 
 On Holy Saturday
we commemorate 
the Entombment of the Divine Body and 
Descent Into Hades of our
Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

"Joseph of Arimathea ... coming and taking courage, 
went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus." 
(Mark 15:42-47)

By Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios
 
The Great Teacher was dead.

The fear of the Jews could be found sealed in a tomb. However, the consciences were so shaken by their quagmire with the words of the One, who even dead they still feared. His name causes loathing and hatred. The atmosphere is so electrifying that no one can talk about Him in public without risk.

A First Look at the Holy Light (Holy Fire) of Jerusalem 2022


Today in Jerusalem the Holy Light, known in the West as Holy Fire, once again descended into the Tomb of Christ as Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem knelt in prayer within the Holy Sepulchre. This ceremony has taken place just about every year for hundreds of years on Holy Saturday, shortly after 2:30pm. With 33 candles in each hand he distributed the Holy Light to the many present. This year, as opposed to last year year, coronovirus measures were lifted, allowing for greater participation of the people. Following the Holy Light ceremony, the flame is taken by plane to other Orthodox communities in countries such as Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania. In Greece the Holy Light is usually received with the welcome of a Head of State.
 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Third Great Friday Homily of Saint Photios the Great

 
Homily 6
 
THIRD HOMILY OF PHOTIOS, 
THE MOST-BLESSED ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE, 
DELIVERED FROM THE AMBO OF ST. IRENE 
ON GREAT FRIDAY, 
AFTER THE PERUSAL OF THE USUAL CATECHISM

When the devil’s might is being despoiled, when the sting of death is being blunted, when the trophy over Hades is set up, then the tablet of agreements is read out to us, then the document of the covenant is brought forward, then the written record of our promises is carried in triumph. Why so? In order that, as we see the common enemy vanquished and lying low, and the common Lord being praised in song for having through His own suffering and experience of death won victory and granted victory unto us, we should know clearly of what we stand in debt, and that we have made our life a contradiction of the hymns we sing, and that those of us who have departed from the covenant have deprived ourselves of every excuse. For when Christ fights for me as He is hanging on the cross, or rather awards me a brilliant victory, while the enemy of our kind is lying low helpless, and I not only do not exert myself against the prostrate one, but offer and dedicate myself entirely to passion- provoking indolence, breaking by my transgression the pact with God, and of my own free will handing to the enemy the power over me, what other refuge of excuse is left to me? What device will be found that I may not suffer an irrevocable and cruel punishment? For if those who set at nought imperial commands pay the unavoidable penalty when they render accounts for what they have been ordered to do, will not those who, not only disregard and pass by the commands of the King of kings and Lord of lords and Creator of all, but trample and spit upon the pacts they have made with Him, pay the ultimate penalty, and one which cannot be exceeded? Tell me, O man: Christ, fastened to the wood, is crucified for thee, and suffers the death of criminals; out of that, grace and victory over the foe accrue to us; the enemy fails, for the swords of the enemy have failed utterly; our free will has been liberated from the disabilities caused by the transgression; the pacts with God lie before us. Why do we not fulfill our promise? Why do we not repay at least a small part of our debt, but instead increase, and that every day, our obligation by heavy interest, having wretchedly forfeited’ our body and our very soul? Is it not out of negligence? Is it not from an indolent mind and an inclination prone to passions? If through indolence and negligence we are brought to barter away a wealth of so great and so many goods—the Lord’s victory, the foe’s defeat, the grace proferred to us, our free will, the covenant itself, then those who have betrayed all these things through the enjoyment of the passions, and considered their safeguarding and maintenance of no account, what room for forgiveness have they left themselves? Have they not shown themselves guilty of a multitude of evils? Are they not the enemies of their own salvation? Are they not the foes of the Cross? He saves, we destroy. Are we not fighting for the enemy? For by doing those things in which his strength against us lies, we are thereby proven to be fighting on his side and, worst of all, against our very selves. Are we not the denouncers of our liberty? For we have made it useless by remaining subservient to the pleasures. Are we not inconsiderate of the grace? Are we not ungrateful for the beneficence? For those who live contrariwise to the grace and the beneficence render a great insult and blasphemy both to that grace and to that beneficence.

A Lesson for the Soul on Great Friday: Be Dead (Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios)

Rembrandt painted himself into the Raising of the Cross.

Be Dead
 
 On Great Friday
we commemorate 
the Holy, Saving and Terrible Passion of our
Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

"And they crucified Him" (Mark 15:1-41; Col. 1:3-5)

By Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios
 
Great Friday! The Crucifixion!

The greatest crime in history. Man crucifies his God, having previously ridiculed Him.

"Behold the Man".

Fallen man, the way sin made him.

By pointing to Jesus, Pilate was actually showing fallen mankind as undertaken by God's Word. Poor man! The story of Jesus shows your abysmal poverty in the face of His own abysmal wealth. And God insists. He wants to lift you up. He wants to show you the magnitude of your crime to show the richness of His own goodness in forgiveness.

It was from these burning lips on the cross that forgiveness was given. And from His speared side, the "new creation" of man took place. We crucified Him, and from the sufferings we caused Him He gave birth to our salvation.

A famous painter in his painting on the Raising of Jesus on the Cross, among the people who raised the dead body of the Lord, he placed himself. When asked, he answered that he too, through his way of life, had many nails driven into the Body of Christ.

Poor soul! You also were there when they crucified Christ.

Your eyes are now filled with tears. You humbly asked forgiveness. So come and die with Jesus. "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God… Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Let me die, Lord, to sin, this is what Your divine Heart longed for!

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
You redeemed us from the curse of the law
by Your precious Blood.
Having been nailed to the Cross and pierced with a spear,
You poured forth immortality upon mankind.
O our Savior, glory to You. 


Second Homily for Holy and Great Friday (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 4, 1953)

Thus ended the most terrible and greatest drama in the history of the world. The most pure Body of our Savior hung lifelessly by the torn wounds from the nails. The head of the dead man sank low on the chest. And so it hung for a long time.

Already dispersed, beating their chests, were those accursed ones who crucified Him, while the body hung and hung - hung for a long time ... It hung, until the blessed secret disciples of Christ, the "Pharisees" Joseph and Nikodemos, came, and removed the bloody body of the Savior from the cross, and they laid it on a clean linen spread on the ground, washed the blood and dirt off, and laid it on another shroud, clean and dry.

Homily for Great Friday Before the Holy Shroud (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

"My mouth is silent, my tongue does not speak, but my heart speaks."

The lips of our Savior are silent, the tongue does not speak, but the heart speaks. What does it tell us? Listen, sinner! Listen to what your Savior is telling you from the tomb.

“Do you see how much I love you? I'm lying dead, for you; for your salvation I died. You are too afraid, you think that it is already impossible for you to be saved, you sometimes completely despair of your salvation. I knew this beforehand, I knew it even before you were born; I knew that you would be much afraid for your salvation, that you would sometimes despair of your salvation. All sinners are like that. When they sin, they are not afraid of anything, they don’t think about anything, and when they sin, they immediately begin to be afraid of everything - they think that they have already died, that there is no salvation for them, there will be no forgiveness for them.

I knew this in advance about you, sinner, and therefore I died beforehand, when you not only did not sin, but were not yet born. I died in order to assure by My death, to reassure you, so that you would not be afraid for your salvation, so that you would not despair of your salvation. Yes, for those who think that it is impossible for them to be saved, I died. I would not die for you if I knew that you would not despair of your salvation. Your desperation for salvation made Me die for you. Do you see how much I love you! It was hard for me to suffer. You heard how I grieved, mourned, almost reached despondency in the garden of Gethsemane. What made me go?

The thought of you, sinner, the desire to save you. When, amidst my spiritual sorrows, I remembered you, I remembered that My sufferings are necessary for your eternal salvation, that without My death it is impossible for you to rest from your sins, that if I do not go to suffer, then you will forever have to suffer, endure suffering for your sins - as soon as I remembered this, I immediately went, willingly went to suffer for you, to fulfill the will of My Father. You see how much I love you.

It was hard for Me after, when they began to judge Me. They blamed Me for everything, although I was not to blame for anything; they beat Me for everything: I was silent - they beat me, I spoke - they beat me; and they beat, and spat, and slapped, and scoffed, and laughed; finally, they put me on a par with the villains, they crucified Me with the robbers. It was hard for me to hang on the cross; My head was in a prickly crown of thorns, My hands and feet were nailed, I suffered terribly - and did not meet compassion in anyone; those who were Mine stood afar off and did not dare to approach Me. It was so hard for Me then that I could not help but sigh, so as not to cry loudly to My Father: My God, My God! why have You forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46).

What made me endure such suffering? What made Me endure these torments, these spittings, and beatings, and the cross, and death? All the same thought, the same desire - the thought of you, sinner, the desire to save you from sins. I will suffer, endure, forebear - I thought this in the midst of suffering - but sinners, My people, will not suffer, endure, forebear. Yes, My desire to save you, sinner, so inspired Me when I suffered that I longed for more suffering, if only to save you from suffering.

Do you see how much I love you, sinner? No one loves you more than I do, I laid down My life for you. I loved you so much, I suffered so much for your salvation, when you were not yet born, when you had not yet sinned, when you had not yet asked for your salvation and mercy. Will I not save you now that I see that you are perishing? Can I not save when I hear that you are praying for your salvation, can I not have mercy when you ask for mercy for yourself? Shall I not save and have mercy on you, when I Myself, without your calling, volunteered to save and have mercy on you? For the sake of Me, for the sake of My love for you, for the sake of My suffering for your peace and salvation, do not despair of your salvation. Do not be afraid to ask for forgiveness, never be afraid, no matter how great your sins are. I will save you and have mercy."

Here it is, Christian listeners, for what purpose now the Holy Church solemnly, with all the details, remembers the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ: to calm, assure us sinners that Jesus Christ will save and have mercy on us, in spite of any of our sins. Amen.
 
 

An Interpretation of the Hymnography of Matins on Holy Thursday


By Dr. Michael Koutsos

Introduction

We are at the end of the Bridegroom Services (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), which are so named from the troparion "Behold the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night", which is sung these days. From Holy Thursday the Services of the Passion begin, that is, the Secret Supper, the Crucifixion and the Burial. Holy Thursday with the Secret Supper is the summary of the next two days, because in it the Crucifixion and the Burial of Christ take place in advance and mysteriously, which are repeated every time a Divine Liturgy takes place, where the mystery of the Secret Supper is revived.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Saint Iakovos of Evia's Holy Thursday Fast During His Illness


"His ascetic struggles were great. Even in the period when he was ill. He had a pacemaker in his heart, he had done various surgeries, he was taking many drugs, which put a lot of strain on his stomach. When on Great Thursday, Fr. Kyrillos, because Elder Iakovos was in a terrible condition, put a little oil in his food, he became upset and said: "I am not a Turk to eat oil on Great Thursday."

A Lesson for the Soul on Holy Thursday: Be Christ-Bearers (Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios)


Be Christ-Bearing
 
 On Holy Thursday
we commemorate 
the Secret Supper of the Lord.

"He who eats my body and drinks my blood 
abides in Me and I in him" (John 7:22-59; Matt. 27:17-29)

By Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios
 
The manna fed the Jews in the desert for forty whole years, but the manna was not the true one. It was just a prototype. Those who ate it died.

The true manna had to come, that those who will eat it will never die. This was also demanded by those who were fed with bread among the crowd of five thousand. But they did not recognize that the "the True Bread" was before them. "Man shall not live on bread alone", but "if he eats this bread he will live unto the ages."

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

An Interpretation of the Hymnography of Matins on Holy Wednesday


By Dr. Michael Koutsos

Introduction

In the third service, our Church features a controversial person, a prostitute, but with an important characteristic - repentance. We are not surprised that there is talk of prostitutes and thieves, because they, according to the Word of God, lead us to Paradise. Both the prostitute who regretted her restless life and the thief who said on the Cross, "Lord, remember me when you enter into your kingdom," conquered Paradise. The prostitute and the thief are examples of repentance, which leads to a change of attitude towards life and ultimately leads to redemption and salvation.

Judas is a classic example of regret, which leads to the recognition of error, but only so far. He does not change his life and repent in practice, but instead is led to destruction and many times death. If Judas truly repented, asked God for forgiveness, and changed his life, then he would not have hanged himself but would use the rest of his life to do good, that is, to repent in practice. But he did not do it, because he had become an instrument of Satan, he had penetrated the tollbooth of avarice, to complain about the value of the myrrh, which the woman poured on His feet, and at best he would not betray his teacher and Lord.

Second Homily for Holy and Great Wednesday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 21, 1954)

On Great Wednesday, the Holy Church remembers the deeds of two people: the harlot, who washed the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ with precious ointment and wiped them with her hair, and the Apostle of Christ, Judas, who betrayed his Teacher. The great love of the sinner is opposed to the vile behavior of the apostle, as light is to darkness.

About the betrayal of Judas, I recently spoke to you in detail, and now I want you to remember forever the unfortunate harlot, despised by everyone.

A Lesson for the Soul on Holy Wednesday: Be Loving (Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios)

 
Be Loving
 
 On Holy Wednesday
we commemorate 
the Anointing of the Lord with myrrh by the sinful woman.

"For she loved much...." (Matt. 26:6-16; Lk. 7:36-48)

By Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios
 
Love - Betrayal. The two poles of the heart. You will either love Jesus or betray Him. There is no third situation. No one in history has been indifferent to Jesus. You will definitely have an opinion about Him. You will either wash His feet with the myrrh of your love or you will betray Him with the satisfaction of your ego.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

An Interpretation of the Hymnography of Matins on Holy Tuesday


By Dr. Michael Koutsos

Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Behold, the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night, 
and blessed is the servant whom He finds watching. 
And again unworthy is he whom he shall find careless. 
See to it, my soul, that sleep does not overcome you, lest 
you be given over to death and are locked out of the kingdom. 
But arise and cry out: Holy, Holy, Holy are You our God, 
through the Theotokos have mercy on us.

A Lesson for the Soul on Holy Tuesday: Be Watchful (Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios)


Be Watchful
 
 On Holy Tuesday
we commemorate 
the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

"Watch therefore...." (Matt. 25:1-13)

By Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios
 
The dust of the soul. This is what indolence was called, that carelessness of the soul for the spiritual life and salvation. And slowly slowly it drowns into obscurity, just as with all the ancient creations of this world. The work of carelessness comes to complete the ignorance of the Law of God due to the absence of study, and subsequently, of forgetfulness of every good thing the soul acquired in the past.

Monday, April 18, 2022

An Interpretation of the Hymnography of Matins on Holy Monday


By Dr. Michael Koutsos

Introduction

The combination of the parable of the "withered fig tree" and "the all-comely Joseph" may seem out of place at first, but it is not. The combination is harmonious, one complements the other, the fruitlessness of the fig tree is complemented by the fruitfulness of Joseph. I will explain

The primary destiny of the fig tree, like all other trees, is its fruitfulness. Everything else is secondary, such as giving us leaves for shade or wood for burning. The fig tree with its fruitlessness does not perform the basic purpose for which it was created. This also applies to man. Fruitfulness, ie creativity and productivity, is for man the first and basic reason for his existence. The hymn writer, of course, likens the barren fig tree to the barren synagogue of the Jews and urges us to avoid the barren fig tree, because as they throw dry and unproductive branches of trees into the fire, so they will throw us into the fire of hell, if we are fruitless. In other words, "Christ imagines the Synagogue of the Jews as a fig tree devoid of spiritual fruit, so He curses it and in turn it withers." Therefore, let us avoid this suffering and let us bring forth the fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit, which is both a desired goal and a criterion for our examination.

Holy Week is About the Search for Adam Among the Dead


By Dr. Panteleimon Levakos

"You came down to earth to save Adam, 
and not finding him on earth, Lord, 
You descended into Hades to seek him."

This verse, from the Lamentations on Great Saturday, states, in a very concise yet apt manner, the plan of Divine Providence for the salvation of mankind, in the persons of Adam and Eve.

The second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son and Word of God, became a perfect human being in order to save us. He came down from heaven into the womb of the Virgin Mary, so that He could become the same as us and in order to call us to our heavenly home. In this verse, the hymnographer refers to the aim of God’s descent to the earth: the purpose of the incarnation of the Son is the fulfillment of the promise to our first ancestors that the Son and Word of God would crush the head of the serpent and bring Adam and Eve back into the bliss of Paradise, into direct communication with God.

A Lesson for the Soul on Holy Monday: Be Fruitful (Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios)


Be Fruitful
 
 On Holy Monday 
we commemorate 
the withering of the fruitless fig tree.

"And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves." (Matt. 21:18-22)

By Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios

One morning, Christ was hungry. On the road He came to a fig tree, and looked on it for a fig. However, only leaves were to be found. For this the fruitless tree was condemned to be withered.

You as well, sister soul, are like a tree in the garden of the creation of God.

The Heavenly Gardner has come to you many times.

Rare Video Footage of Saint Eumenios Saridakis Serving Matins and the Divine Liturgy


This is rare video footage of the newly-canonized Saint Eumenios Saridakis serving Sunday Matins and the Divine Liturgy. It took place in the Church of the Holy Unmercenaries which served those who were lepers and had other infectious diseases in the Hospital of Saint Barbara in West Attica. The video was taken with the blessing of Father Stephanos Dalianis, who is seen serving as a priest with Saint Eumenios, and who recently reposed in July 2021, and was a spiritual child of Saint Eumenios. 
 
  
 



 
 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

First Homily for Palm Sunday (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"God the Lord has appeared to us, make a feast, and rejoice, let us magnify Christ, with vines and branches, crying out with songs: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord our Savior."

On this day, we, according to the typikon of our Church, are in the habit of holding tree branches and burning candles.

With what intention did our Orthodox Church introduce such a custom? Let's say a few words about this for our edification.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt and Its Theological Messages (4 of 4)


...continued from part three.

Sixth. The Energy of Holy Communion.

Saint Mary of Egypt, as can be seen from the biography compiled by Saint Sophronios of Jerusalem, communed with the Body and Blood of Christ at the beginning of her repentance and immediately after Holy Communion she devoted her entire life to repentance in the desert, and after forty-seven years of repentance she was found worthy to partake again of the Body and Body of Christ and on the same day to depart to God. This shows us that asceticism cannot be separated from Holy Communion, the eating and drinking of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The important thing is that Saint Mary of Egypt arrived at the place where Abbot Zosimas was waiting for her, walking on the waters of the Jordan River, and left after Holy Communion in the same way, though of course after Holy Communion she traveled the distance of twenty days within one day and there she reposed, where she experienced her resurrection and ascension.

When Saint Nektarios Healed Saint Amphilochios Makris

 
By Fr. Demetrios Kabbadias

With his humility, Saint Amphilochios Makris won the trust of Saint Nektarios. He had been visiting him frequently since then. When Elder Amphilochios became a Deacon, they concelebrated many times.

Their souls were united even more during the last liturgy they performed a year before the death of Saint Nektarios. Their spiritual union became more intense when the Saint instructed him to take a sick nun to her cell.

Another time, due to the crowds in the small hostel of the Monastery, Saint Nektarios arranged for him to sleep in his own cell in the courtyard of the Monastery.

This spiritual friendship and love continued even after the repose of Saint Nektarios.

On the Resurrection of Lazarus (Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi)

 
By Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi

I will remind you of a beautiful saying of our great father Epiphanios, Bishop of Cyprus, who once spoke at the beginning of one of his discourses. "Six days before Pascha, through the five senses, He who was four days dead was given by He who rose on the third day, to the two sisters, their one brother."

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who completed His mission and healed the universal wound and in six days would surrender to His all-immaculate passion, where He would seal the success of our salvation, showed, as a prelude to us His disciples and to all the world, that there is a resurrection of the dead and that He is indeed "the Resurrection and the Life".

Homily for the Saturday of Lazarus (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
 
By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin
 
"Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days" (John 11:39).

The story of Lazarus' resurrection is known to you, listeners. We now turn our attention to one of its circumstances. When Jesus Christ approached the tomb of the righteous Lazarus to resurrect him, and when He said to take away the stone that lay at the tomb, the sister of the deceased, Martha, said: "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days."

Christian Listeners! Stink comes from a sinner, a rotten smell can be smelled, just as it stinks from a dead person on the fourth day after his death. Does every sinner stink? All the unrepentant. Who can smell that a sinner stinks? People smell, guardian angels especially smell, Jesus Christ smells, and the stench of sin is smelled most clearly; but He does not move away, does not run away from the sinner, but approaches, and approaches as close as possible to him, in order to resurrect him, who has died from sins, in order to take away the stench of sin from him. He approaches and stands, and waits for the sinner to reveal his sin, which, like a stone, lies on him and crushes his soul.

Friday, April 15, 2022

An Interpretation of the Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian: Conclusion (10)

 
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

The great prayer of Ephraim the Syrian ends with an extremely important petition:

"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."


The condemnation of our brethren is our deepest universal habit. The condemnation of our neighbors is what we are always busy with, and we leave off the most important of all our deeds - the consideration of our own transgressions.

No one has such a custom: from the beginning of the day until the very night, we think about everything, do everything, but we don’t do the important thing - considering our own heart. No one does this, except for a very small number of people who have dedicated themselves to God, they have this most important, primary occupation: they look for the impurities of sin in their own hearts. When they find it, they easily and quickly get rid of it, because when they find any impurity in their hearts, they become disgusted and try their best to get rid of it. When they see sins, they will repent and be cleansed of them.

An Interpretation of the Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian: On Love (9)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

"Lord and Master of my life, bestow on Your servant a spirit of love."*

We now ask for love, which is the fulfillment of the whole law. If we do not have love, then, according to the words of the holy Apostle Paul, we are like "ringing brass or a sounding cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1).

If we have the gift of prophecy and great knowledge, and have faith that moves mountains, but do not have love, we are nothing. If we distribute all our property to the poor and give the body to be burned, but we do not have love, we are nothing. That's what love is. If there is no love, no matter how perfect we may be, we are nothing.

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