Sunday, May 29, 2022

Homily for the Sunday of the Blind Man (St. Luke of Simferopol)


 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 10, 1953)

You heard today the Gospel story about one of the greatest miracles of Christ - the healing of a man born blind. Much could be said about this, and I've been talking about it for years. Today I want to talk about what I did not speak about, about those words of Christ, full of great significance for us, which He spoke after the healing of the blind man. He said:

“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

“I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see may see, and those who see will become blind” (John 9:39).

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Dialogue on the Nature of the Soul (St. Andrew the Fool for Christ)


Epiphanios said to [Andrew], "I beg you, if I have found favour with you, tell me what the soul of man is like, for although I too know her nature, I do not trust my own assumptions as I will trust the divine words you speak to me."

The blessed man answered, "My son, the soul of man, she is everything. She is the life or even, if I may say so, the god of this flesh of our earthly body, and nothing else. For God gave to her the power of giving it life and guiding it and quickening and refreshing it with her warmth. Without her our bodies are mud and dust and ashes."

Friday, May 27, 2022

Why a Carpet Covers the Body of Saint John the Russian in Icons


When Saint John the Russian reposed on May 27, 1730, in a stable owned by his former master among the animals he cared for both before and after he was a slave, his former Ottoman master, a Muslim who had freed him from being his slave due to his reverence for him, called for the Orthodox Christian priest of the village of Prokopion as well as the Christians to take the body and give him a proper Christian burial. Because his former Turkish master came to love John very much, he showed his love for him by taking a costly carpet and placing it on the Saint's coffin, according to the custom of the time, which showed that he held him in great honor and esteem.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Some Guiding Principles for the Correct Interpretation of the Bible (Hermeneutics)


Some Guiding Principles for the 
Correct Interpretation of the Bible 
(Hermeneutics)

1) Accounting for inspiration.

Since the Bible was written under the inspiration of God by men filled with the Holy Spirit, it should be trusted. If any biblical fragment seems incomprehensible or inconsistent with natural scientific knowledge, this does not mean that it is false. The Bible contains science and history, but it is not a scientific or a historical text, since in these areas it is bound by the knowledge of its time and uses them to convey a deeper purpose. It would be a scientific and historical text only if that was its primary message and aim. However, the primary message and aim of the Bible is the salvation of the human race and how this salvation is achieved, with the ultimate goal of human beings uniting with God. 
 
Comprehending sacred texts should be based on the interpretations of the holy fathers, who are the successors of the holy apostles and who combined the height of their theological thoughts with the holiness of their life. At the same time, it should be taken into account that the fathers could focus on different facets of understanding this or that passage.

2) Accounting for the entire text.

Taking quotes out of context is considered bad form in any area of human knowledge. An example of incorrect quoting from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: "Great Artemis of Ephesus" (Acts 19:28), or from the Psalter: "There is no God" (Ps. 13:1; Ps. 52:2). Obviously, Holy Scripture does not glorify a pagan deity and does not preach atheism. Or the episode of the trial of the Savior (Mt. 26:63-66), where the high priest bases the verdict on a fragment of the Mosaic law on blasphemy, not wanting to see any other quotes, or the fact that Christ is obviously the Messiah (fulfilled prophecies, miracles, etc.). Those who take quotes out of context and distort the meaning of Scripture are to some extent likened to this high priest.

Text always suggests context. It is impossible to consider this or that expression of the Bible (especially this or that thought, quotation) as an intrinsically valuable unit. It must be considered in conjunction with the context and with all of Scripture. Then any quotation gets its "place" and meaning as an element of the grandiose and beautiful mosaic of the word of God.

3) The criterion for considering any quote: who, when and where (historical setting), to whom, for what reason and for what purpose he said it.

Over the hundreds of years since the Bible was written, the historical and cultural background has changed significantly. The psychology of people is changing, and their way of knowing and describing the world. Ancient texts are often difficult to understand without knowledge of historical realities. A common mistake is to judge the actions of people and historical events only from the vantage point of our time.

For example, the episode of the healing by the Savior of the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician (Mark 7:25-30) may confuse the modern reader. It helps to resolve this confusion by knowing that the Jews called the Gentiles "dogs" because of their idolatry (which included sacrificing children to an idol) and depraved life. The purpose of Christ's refusal was both to test the love of this woman for her daughter, and to confess the true faith.

4) Knowledge of literary genres.

The Bible contains many genres: epistles, parables, hymns, riddles, prayers, apocalyptic literature, love lyrics. Accounting for the genre is the basis for the interpretation of a particular fragment.

Let us recall the words of the Apostle Paul: "Everything is permissible to me, but not everything is useful; everything is permissible to me, but nothing should possess me" (1 Cor. 6:12 and 10:23). Did the Apostle really hold such liberal views as "everything is lawful to me"? Most likely, this is a method of ancient writing - a diatribe - a conversation with an imaginary opponent.

5) Linguistic aspect.

Often in discussions of amateurs concerning biblical verses, only the English text is considered. English is not the original language. Translation cannot always fully and accurately convey the content of the original.

Examples.

a) All the evangelists speak of the brothers and sisters of the Savior (Mark 6:2-4). In Hebrew, the meanings of the words "brothers and sisters" are much broader than in English and include all relatives of a person, more or less equal in age, those whom we call distant relatives, for example, cousins. These could be the children of Joseph the Betrothed from his first marriage and Jacob, the son of Mary, who was a relative of the Virgin Mary.

b) The Virgin Mary "gave birth to her firstborn Son" (Mt. 1:25) and (Lk. 2:7). As for the word "firstborn", this is how the Greek word (prototokos) is translated, literally meaning "firstborn". This concept is not genealogical, but legal (the first-born had priority rights among children). All this is confirmed by the fact that on the 40th day the parents brought the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem (we celebrate this event on the feast of the Reception on February 2nd), because only the first-born male infant was brought to the temple.

c) “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and, moreover, his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:25-27). There are no degrees of comparison in Semitic languages. Here, as often in the Bible, the verb "hate" has the comparative meaning of "love less".

6) Accounting for literary devices.

The Bible uses types, prophecies, comparisons, metaphors, sayings, parables, allegories, so not all of its text should be taken literally.

An example of a prophecy (from Matthew 1:21-23): “... and you will call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. And all this happened, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would come true, who said: Behold, the Virgin will give birth to a Son, and they will call His name Emmanuel, which means: God is with us” (Is. 7:14). The evangelist uses this prophecy, in particular, because the inner meaning of these names coincides (Jesus - "The Lord saves", Emmanuel - "God is with us"). In the Bible, sometimes a name not only defines, but also characterizes a person. This is confirmed by another quote from the same Prophet Isaiah through one verse: “For a child is born to us ... and His name will be called: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Is. 9:6).

An example of hyperbole (poetic exaggeration): “If your right eye offends you, tear it out and throw it away from you, for it is better for you that one of your members perish, and not your whole body be cast into hell. And if your right hand offends you, cut it off and throw it away from you, for it is better for you that one of your members perish, and not your whole body be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:27-30).

Interpreting the Bible

One Saint wrote about the Bible: “There is found depth, there is found inexhaustible meaning. Just as you can remove one scale from an onion, then another, then a third, etc. - it is the same in Holy Scripture: a person understands one meaning, behind this meaning there is another deeper one, then a second one, a third one, etc."

Holy Scripture speaks a human language, but we must not forget that we have before us a sacred text: along with historical and everyday information, it contains doctrinal information that is "not of this world." The latter are only gradually revealed to man based on following guided principles and listening to experienced exegetes, as well as allowing for divine grace to inform us when we have attained the purification of our hearts and subsequent illumination.

The depth of the Bible makes possible (at least) five levels of its reading: literal, allegorical, moral, representative and spiritual.

The need for interpretation is related to:

- changes in the linguistic, cultural and historical environment. The language of the Bible is highly figurative. Figurative language sometimes has the purpose of conveying theological thought more clearly and more precisely, and in other places, on the contrary, it is used to make the truth hidden.

- the fact that events sometimes do not only have a literal meaning. For example, in the episode of the healing of the blind man by the Savior, who “received his sight and followed Jesus” (Mark 10:51-52), blindness is understood not only as physical, but also as spiritual.

These are the following branches of scientific study of Holy Scripture:

- hermeneutics - a science that develops rules, principles and methods of interpretation;

- textual criticism - an attempt to clarify the edition of the original text;

- isagogy - a branch of theology that is preliminary to actual exegesis and deals with the literary and external history of the Bible;

- exegesis - extracting the exact meaning, the interpreter tries to extract understanding from the text, and does not bring his own meaning to the text.

Are there errors and contradictions in the Bible?

Opponents of Christianity speak of so-called "biblical contradictions". Clearly, educated Christians know the Bible as well as educated skeptics. And they recognize that the understanding of the same passage from the Bible can be different. One and the same passage can have several quite legitimate interpretations: literal meaning and allegorical meaning. For example, there are many poetic pages in the Bible that no one would ever think of taking literally. It is easier to accuse the Bible of contradictions than to accuse oneself of not knowing the principles of its understanding or ignoring the Holy Tradition of the Church.

For example, in the Gospel according to John, Christ says things that seem to be opposite: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and “My Father is greater than Me” (John 14:28). One of these expressions can be understood through the prism of the other: since Jesus Christ is both God and Man, the first speaks of the consubstantiality of God the Son and God the Father, and the second speaks of the economy of the Son in the incarnation .

“If we are confused by an apparent contradiction in Scripture, then this does not allow us to say that the Author of this book was mistaken. But either the manuscript is corrupted, or the translation is wrong, or you just didn’t understand,” said Saint Augustine.

Some rules for reading the Bible.

- For a Christian it is equally important to know the Gospels and to live according to them; reading by itself, apart from the Church, is not beneficial.

- The Bible is not just read, but studied. Christ says: "Search the Scriptures" (John 5:39). It cannot be read from beginning to end and put on the shelf like a historical novel.

- It should be read after praying, with reverence, thoughtfully, using, first of all, the interpretations of the holy fathers. Only with discretion should one treat the interpretations of authors who are outside the Church. They can be interesting, informative, but a different spirit reigns in them. In addition, one must have a certain amount of experience in order to discern the lies contained in the interpretations of heretics.

- In Orthodoxy, a student's correct understanding of the Bible comes through a teacher and a preacher - "faith comes by hearing" (Rom. 10:17), and not from one's own opinion.

- The Bible mainly talks about key characters and principle episodes. An example (from Gen. 4), when Cain says to God: "the first comer will kill me", although earlier in the same chapter only two children of Adam and Eve were mentioned, Cain and Abel. Only the essentials have been said about Christ's childhood. Or the killing of a thousand Philistines by Samson's donkey jaw (Judges 15:15) should be understood in the same vein as the phrase "Marshal Zhukov occupied Berlin."

- The truths of the Gospels are extremely concentrated, indicating that Christ gives us a perfect model, an ideal of Christian life ("Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" - Matt. 5:48). For example, He calls us not to worry about the future, or only adultery is established as a valid reason for divorce. This is why personal guidance with an experienced and trusted guide in the spiritual life is essential.

Source: Translation by John Sanidopoulos. 
 
 

Holy 104 Martyrs of Cherkasy (+ 1937-38)

Holy 104 Martyrs of Cherkasy (Feast Day - May 26)

In the year 2000, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized one hundred and four priests and monks who were arrested and convicted for their faith in the year 1937, in the Ukrainian city of Cherkasy. Many of them were shot, others did not return from the camps. From the documents it is clear that often sentences were handed down to people who had not yet been arrested. Church historians from Cherkasy cite only one case of the return of a clergyman from the camp.

In the 1920s, the first massive wave of repression against clergy and believers swept across the country. At that time there were still relatively few death sentences. After five or seven years of exile, many received an order forbidding them to live in large cities such as Moscow, Leningrad, Kyiv, Kharkov. Therefore, many exiled priests and monks moved to small towns such as Cherkasy. The census of the thirty-seventh year in the country showed that two-thirds of the citizens continued to call themselves believers. On December 5, 1936, the USSR adopted the Constitution, which declared freedom of conscience, equality of rights for all citizens, universal, equal and direct elections by secret ballot... People were optimistic.

Holy Apostle Carpos of the Seventy (St. Justin Popovich)

 
By St. Justin Popovich

The Holy Apostle Carpos, one of the Seventy Apostles, was a companion and servant of the Holy Apostle Paul; he distributed his epistles to those for whom they were intended. Striving much with the Apostle Paul in preaching the gospel of Christ, Saint Carpos suffered many temptations. He was then appointed Bishop of the city of Beroea in Thrace by the Apostle Paul. Saint Carpos also made an effort to preach the gospel of Christ on the island of Crete. There he received Saint Dionysius the Areopagite into his home. There he also saw the Lord who appeared to him in a vision, when Carpos begged Him to punish two sinners, and he heard the voice of the Lord saying to him: "Strike me, because I am ready to be crucified again for the salvation of men."

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

When It Snowed in the Summer! A Miraculous Event from the Life of Saint Anthimos Arethiotis


By Spyros Symeon

It was the summer in the 19th century and the monastery in Retha, northwest of Aetolia-Acarnania, was surrounded by a Turkish army in order to burn it, maybe in retaliation, maybe to scare the Greeks, maybe ... for something that history did not preserve since it was overshadowed by the ridiculousness that took place in the area.

The Turkish army surrounded the Monastery of Panagia Arethiotissa, or as it is known as Lady of the Valtos since the whole area belongs to the province of Valtos.

Officials entered the monastery where they found the abbot Elder Anthimos, originally from Ithaca.

Homily on the Third Finding of the Honorable Head of Saint John the Forerunner


 By Presbyter Athanasios Menas

Today we celebrate the Third Finding of the Honorable Head of the Honorable Forerunner and Baptist John. This is the prophet, according to the word of the God-man, who is the greatest of the prophets. He is the preeminent preacher of repentance, for the period when God ordained people to repent until the Second Coming. Those who wish to repent live the Orthodox ascetic praxis.

Remarkable is the emphasis and separation that Christ makes for those who wear soft clothing and live with indifference and unrepentance, in contrast to the humble appearance, works and words of the Honorable Forerunner and the testimony of the Prophets before the Forerunner regarding the person of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Saint Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain and the Blind Old Man With a Mortal Wound


Near Antioch, under the mountain by the road, a blind old man was sitting during the barbarian invasion and begged for alms from passers-by. And when the barbarians unexpectedly attacked, one of them struck the old man on the neck with a sword and inflicted a fatal wound on him. The old man was rolling in his blood, with little life in him. And Saint Symeon, seeing all this with his transparent vision, sent several monks to bring him that old man. The monks went, laid the old man on the mat and brought him under the pillar. The Saint took the dust from the ground, moistened it with consecrated water, and ordered them to put it on the old man's wound, saying: "In the name of Emmanuel, let this head cling to its place and hold together." Immediately the old man's head stuck in its place, the veins grew together, the head became stronger, the terrible wounds disappeared, and the old man spoke. Then his blind eyes opened. And all who saw it were terrified and glorified God. 


The Priest Who Constantly Laughed During Confession


By Fr. Ephraim Triantafyllopoulos

I met Saint Eumenios Saridakis in the summer of 1990 when I visited the Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Agia Varvara. It was in the middle of my military service for the Air Force. While I confessed a personal difficulty of mine, he laughed constantly having a childlike look that never left him whenever we were together, and then he suggested we do Vespers together. I was his chanter. Afterward I received his blessing and left. May the Saint intercede for me and for all of us, although he constantly did this and does this, but now basically more officially.
 
(From a Facebook post on May 24, 2022)
 
 

Saint Kyriakos of Evrychou and the Child With Brain Cancer

In Larnaka there was a child who was the son of a teacher who suffered with brain cancer, and one night he saw in a dream a revered elderly man who told him:

"What is wrong, my child, that you are in pain and suffering?"

The child replied to him:

"My head."

The elderly man who appeared to him said:

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Cell of Saint Eumenios Saridakis

 
The Cell of Saint Eumenios Saridakis was next to that of his spiritual father, Saint Nikephoros the Leper, at the Hospital for Infectious Diseases in North Attica, Greece.
 

Synaxarion of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Eumenios (Saridakis) the New

 
By Haralambos M. Bousias

On the 23rd of this month [May], we commemorate our Venerable and God-bearing Father, Eumenios the Cretan, who in these latter days shined forth in Athens.

Verses

Healer of lepers and pestilential diseases,
You were seen, Eumenios, as a guide of the faithful.


Our Venerable and God-bearing Father Eumenios had as his homeland Ethia in the province of Monofatsi in Herakleion, Crete. Wounded by divine eros as a child he followed the monastic path in the Monastery of the Great Martyr Niketas, which is located near where he was born. At his tonsure he received the name Sophronios, and at his ordination as a hieromonk by Archbishop Timothy of Crete at the Monastery of Kaliviani he received the name Eumenios. Attacked by the arrows of the hater of that which is good, Belial, he went to the famous Monastery of Koudouma, where he was liberated from that most wicked influence. Becoming sick with a pestilential disease he went to the Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Athens, it became an arena for his ascetic battles and a palace of sympathy for those sick who are suffering and in pain. At the Hospital for Infectious Diseases he fulfilled his duties in the Church of the Holy Unmercenaries and he diligently served Venerable Nikephoros, whose surname was Tzanakakis, who was blind, a leper and a paralytic. He served all those in need and the sick in great pain and became a spiritual father and guide towards salvation of countless Athenian Christians. He endured without complaint, in imitation of Job, the sicknesses of his flesh and was distinguished for his humility, meekness and sympathy towards all the sick. He reposed in Athens on the 23rd of May in the year of salvation 1999, when his grace-flowing body was displayed for veneration in the Church of the Holy Unmercenaries at the Hospital for Infectious Diseases and was given a last embrace by a countless mournful crowd. He was then buried in his homeland.

Through his holy intercessions, Christ God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the First Tone
Divine comforter to those in rough seas, aid to those in need, and guide without error, the reverence of the people with longing praises with hymns Eumenios, as one equal in zeal with Job, an expeller of evil spirits, a most gracious intercessor for us to the compassionate Lord.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
To the long-suffering, quiet, sensible, simple, meek and humble and sympathetic, revered hieromonk, let us sing praises and odes flowing with honey, without error he was a mighty guide to the faithful, and with longing we cry out: Rejoice, blessed Eumenios.

Megalynarion
Rejoice, you who have lately shined as a close helper to those in pain, a new example of patience, extreme humility and virtue, sensible Father Eumenios.
 
 

Second Homily for the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (St. Luke of Simferopol)


 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

In the book of the Prophet Isaiah we read words of great importance inspired by the Holy Spirit: “I revealed myself to those who did not ask about me; those who did not seek Me found me” (Isaiah 65:1).

The conversation of our Lord Jesus Christ with the Samaritan woman, set forth in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John, serves as the most striking confirmation of the truth of these Divine words.

The Lord Jesus Christ rested at the well of Jacob, near the Samaritan city of Shechem, on the long journey from Jerusalem to Galilee. A Samaritan woman came to the well with a water carrier to draw water. The Lord asked her to give Him a drink.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

First Homily for the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (St. Luke of Simferopol)


St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 8, 1953)

Very much could be said to you about the conversation of the Lord Jesus Christ with the Samaritan woman. I have already spoken a lot about this in past years in the cathedral, but I did not speak about one very important thing that you have heard in the current Gospel reading.

When our Lord Jesus Christ unusually deepened His conversation with the Samaritan woman, when He taught that it was not in Jerusalem, not on Mount Gerizim that God should be worshiped, for God is a Spirit, and that He should be worshiped in spirit and in truth, worshiped in more than one place, but anywhere and everywhere all the days of her life, - the Samaritan woman listened to the deepest discourse of the Lord Jesus Christ and this is what she said: “I know that the Messiah, that is, Christ, will come; when He comes, He will announce everything to us." Jesus said to her: "It is I who speak to you” (John 4:25-26).

Here on these words of the Lord Jesus Christ I want to draw your attention. For the first time in His entire earthly life, He directly told a person that He is the Messiah, that He is the Christ. It is I - I am the Messiah, I am the Christ - I, who speaks to you.

He said this for the first time, for He never directly told His apostles, His friends, that He was the Messiah, and even the apostles then considered Him only the greatest prophet, but did not know that He was the Son of God, that He was Christ the Messiah.

Once the Lord Jesus Christ asked His disciples: “Who do people say that I, the Son of Man, am?" They said: "Some John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

He said to them, “And who do you say that I am?” And Holy Apostle Peter answered for all: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

What answer did Christ then give him to this confession? “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonas, for it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

God the Father revealed through the Apostle Peter to all the other apostles that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ.

So, you see, not Christ Himself, but His Heavenly Father mysteriously revealed to the Apostle Peter, and through him to the other apostles, that He is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. And He strictly forbade them to talk about it.

As you can see, He never told the chosen people, the people of Israel, that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, the Christ; but here, in a conversation with a Samaritan woman, He said this for the first time.

How will we understand this? How can we explain this? After all, the Jews did not have fellowship with the Samaritans, considering them an outcast people. Not only did they not have spiritual communion with them, they also did not have everyday communion: they never spoke, never ate with them.

So the Samaritans were outcasts in the eyes and hearts of the Jews. And the Samaritan woman herself, at the beginning of her conversation with the Lord, said: “How can You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, to drink?”

Therefore to this Samaritan woman, who did not belong to God's chosen people, she was a stranger to them, and they were to her, the outcast, with whom the Jews did not want to have fellowship, that Jesus Christ said what He had never said to the Jews, that the Messiah is He: "It is I who speak to you."

The Samaritan woman, struck by these words, left her waterpot and ran into the city and said to all the people: “Go, go to Jacob’s well, see at the man who told me everything that I have done in my life, behold, is this not Christ?”

And many, many Samaritans, at her word, went to Jacob's well. At that time, the disciples of Christ also returned, who had gone to the city to buy food. Jesus talked with them about His calling, about what He and them should do. And the Samaritan woman stood and listened to these amazing words. “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him at the word of the woman, who testified that He had told her all that she had done. And therefore, when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days, and an even greater number believed according to His word” (John 4:39-41).

You see what happened: the Lord converted to faith in Him, to the Christian faith, those Samaritans whom the Jews despised, Jews who themselves did not want to believe, but whom Christ called first - the first to call to faith. Now He called to faith in Himself those who were considered outcasts.

This means that the Lord was the Knower of Hearts: the Lord knew that in His chosen people Israel there would be many, many who would not believe, despite His amazing endless miracles, which the Samaritans did not see, despite the Divine teaching, which the Samaritans did not hear.

Well, if Israel for the most part did not believe in Him, should the work for which the Son of God was incarnated from the Blessed Virgin Mary, descended to earth, ascended the terrible cross of Golgotha and gave His life for the salvation of the human race, really have to remain unfulfilled? Could it remain unfulfilled? No, the Lord knew that there would be many outside the people of Israel, many of those whom Israel considered unclean pagans and outcasts, but who would believe in Him and enter Christ’s flock: "And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd.”

You see, out of all nations, our Lord and God Jesus Christ will find the sheep of His flock. Who will be the sheep of His flock? Only the humble, only the brokenhearted, trembling at His word, as the Holy Prophet Isaiah foretold.

And we know that today the flock of Christ no longer consists of the people of Israel, the majority of whom rejected Him, but of that part of them that believed, and of those countless meek and lowly in heart, whom Christ found in all ages and still finds in all peoples. There is one Church of Christ in the eyes of God; it is divided only in our sinful eyes.

So, remember that the present little flock of Christ consists and henceforth will consist only of the meek and humble, contrite in spirit, trembling at the word of God.

Know that only those of you who tremble at the words of Christ, who loved Him with all their heart, believed unconditionally, and every word of Him is considered a Divine revelation - only they will be worthy to be friends of Christ, brothers and sisters of Christ. They alone will be deemed worthy to enter His eternal Kingdom.

Does this apply only to individuals, to each of us? Isn’t it necessary to say that Christ’s demand applies to entire nations, among which there are proud peoples, completely far from humility, proud peoples, even exalting themselves above other peoples, thirsting for power over the whole world, thirsting for the treasures of the whole world and for this, committing horrific atrocities in the unfortunate Korean country and in many other countries where the weak and defenseless are oppressed and brutally exploited by strong peoples.

These are the French who oppress the peoples of Tunisia, Morocco and the unfortunate Negroes in their colonies; these are the British who oppress the peoples of Central Africa.

The words of Christ apply to all of them, that they, proud and exalted, will be far, far from the Kingdom of God. They, who imprison peace fighters, speak falsely about their desire for peace.

And we, Christians, shall we really be like them, shall we not love peace with our hearts, peace with the whole world! Shall we not be heralds of peace among peoples, shall we not be opponents of a terrible world war, which is being prepared by proud peoples, thirsting for power over the whole world? Let it not! Let it not! May the word "peace" be sacred to us. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 
 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Homily on the Sainthood of Saint Constantine the Great (Metropolitan Augoustinos Kantiotes)

 
By Metropolitan Augoustinos (Kantiotes) of Florina

(Delivered on May 21, 1973
in the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen in Amyntaio)


Our Holy Church celebrates and keeps festival today in commemoration of Saint Constantine and his mother Saint Helen.

Constantine - a name that is sweet, Constantine - a name that is beloved, Constantine - a name that is a star of the race. The name is dear, not only to us Greeks, but also to all the Balkans. Whether in Sofia, Belgrade and Bucharest, or in Stalingrad and Moscow and at the edge of Russia, you will hear the name Constantine.

If we open the history of the Greek nation, we will see that the name Constantine was carried by thirteen kings and emperors. Of these kings and emperors, the most famous were: first, Constantine the Great, who celebrates today; second, Constantine Palaiologos, who fell gloriously defending the walls of Constantinople; and the third was Constantine XII, who liberated the Macedonian land. Foremost among them was Constantine the Great. And that is why he is called Great, so that he is distinguished from the others.

Maria Loulaki Kokovaki, "Sister by Suckling" of the Newly Canonized Saint Eumenios Saridakis, Has Reposed


Maria Loulaki Kokovaki will be celebrating in heaven the first feast of her "brother by suckling", Saint Eumenios Saridakis, who was just recently canonized a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and whose feast is celebrated on May 23rd. She reposed on May 20th at the age of 91, and her funeral took place today, May 21st, in Ethia, Crete.

In Greece, when infants are suckled by the same woman, they become "siblings by suckling" by virtue of sharing the same breast to feed and be nourished. They were born two days apart, and Saint Eumenios had to breastfeed from the nipple of her mother, though as a sign of his holiness, he refused to suckle as an infant on Wednesday and Friday, which are fasting days.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Saint Lydia of Philippi Resource Page

St. Lydia of Philippi (Feast Day - May 20)
 
Verses

Your entire household believed in Christ Lydia,
Appearing as the first of Philippi O Saint.

 
 
 
 

Synaxarion of Saint Lydia of Philippi


By Monk Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis

On the 20th of this month [May], 
we commemorate Saint Lydia of Philippi.

Verses

Your entire household believed in Christ Lydia,
Appearing as the first of Philippi O Saint.


Blessed Lydia was a merchant of purple cloth in the city of Thyatira in Philippi, and as one who revered God she adorned herself with blameless conduct. When she came to the heaven-traversing and divinely-sounding Paul, she listened to his teachings, and accepted the light of the gospel. Her entire household believed in Christ, and were baptized in the stream of the Zygakti River. Thus she conducted herself according to the gospel, and attended to the blessed Apostles in her home, while serving the Lord with virtuous works and good acts. Her life came to an end in an apostolic manner, and departed to the heavenly mansions, having inherited the heavenly Kingdom.

Saint Asklas the Martyr as a Model for our Lives

St. Asklas the Egyptian (Feast Day - May 20)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Asklas lived in the third century, which was a period of terrible persecution against the Church. He was from the Thebaid in Egypt and was considered a man of deep faith and spiritual courage. He was arrested by the pagan ruler Arrian, who tried, first with flattery and then with threats, to persuade him to deny Christ and sacrifice to idols. Because, however, he remained steadfast in his faith, he was subjected to severe torture, which he faced with admirable courage and patience. He was suspended, his sides torn and then, as he was wounded, he was imprisoned. There in prison, as he was praying, the Grace of God enlightened him and he understood that the ruler Arrian with his companions were traveling by boat along the Nile River. Then he made the sign of the cross over the boat and it was immobilized in the river, as if tied up. He sent a message to the ruler and called on him to confess in writing that Christ is the only true God, otherwise the boat will not sail. The ruler asked for a piece of paper and wrote: "The God of the Christians is great and besides Him there is no other." Then the boat started moving again and arrived at its destination.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Synaxarion for the Holy Thirteen Venerable Martyrs and Confessors of the Monastery of Kantara

 
 On the 19th of this month [May], we commemorate the Holy Thirteen Venerable Martyrs and Confessors of the Monastery of Kantara in Cyprus, John, Konon, Jeremiah, Markos, Kyrillos, Theoktistos, Baranabas, Maximos, Theognostos, Joseph, Gennadios, Gerasimos and Germanos, who in the year 1231 under the Latins had their end by fire.

Verses

Revered assembly, Champion Fathers,
You contested radiantly, against the Latin-minded.
On the nineteenth, the thirteen went to heaven together.


In 1228, when Cyprus was subject to the Latins, and the Orthodox were in many ways deprived of their faith, two God-bearing ascetics, John and Konon, came to Cyprus from Pamphylia in Asia Minor, and having first entered the Monastery of Machairas, they then settled in the abandoned Monastery of Mount Pentadaktylos called the Theotokos of Kantara, where they struggled in asceticism and piety and all means of philanthropy. With them there joined nine other monks - Jeremiah, Markos, Kyrillos, Theoktistos, Barnabas, Maximos, Theognostos, Joseph and Germanos.

The Pontian Genocide (May 19, 1919)


On May 19, 1919 the plan was implemented, for the final extermination of the Greeks (Romans) throughout Pontus, in an endless course of death.

By 1924, Pontus had suffered an unspeakable atrocity:

Destroyed

1134 Churches
815 Villages
960 Schools

People Uprooted

400,000 (mainly to Greece and the Soviet Union)

People Exterminated

353,000

... but also countless rapes, tortures and looting.

1,460 Orthodox clergy served the faithful Christians of Pontus, who were either slaughtered or uprooted with their flocks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Homily on the Wednesday of Mid-Pentecost (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

"Whoever is thirsty among you, let them come to Me and drink" (John 7:37). These wondrous words were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ on the day of Mid-Pentecost in the Temple of Jerusalem. Roughly the same words were given in the Holy Spirit by the Prophet Isaiah, who lived seven centuries before the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was as if the Prophet heard what 700 years later would be spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. He said the following: "Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Is. 55:1). "Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (Is. 12:3).

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Saint Theophanes the Myrrhgusher, Bishop of Solea in Cyprus (+ 1550)

St. Theophanes of Solea (Feast Day - May 17)

 Verses

Blessed Theophanes longed for his Bridegroom,
departing from this world empty of glory.
The Monastery of the Forerunner rejoices and is glad,
having you venerable one as a divine protector.
On the seventeenth Theophanes united with God.


Saint Theophanes lived in Cyprus during the Venetian occupation (1489-1571). We do not have information about his parents, his origins and his education. The information we have is little, but important, because it is handed down by a contemporary of the Saint and an eyewitness of the exhumation of his Holy Relic, Stefano Lusignan (1537–1590), a Dominican monk and vicar of the Latin Archdiocese of Cyprus, in his work "The Chorography of the Island of Cyprus". This work, which is considered an important source of information on the medieval history of Cyprus, was published first in Italian (1573) and then in French (1580). The second edition, which is more elaborate, completes the first.

Third Homily for the Sunday of the Paralytic (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
 
 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

Our Lord Jesus Christ came to Jerusalem for the feast. At the Sheep Gate of this city stood a pool, called in Hebrew Bethesda, which means "the House of Mercy". This pool was surrounded by five covered passages, in which lay a huge number of sick, blind, lame, withered, waiting for the movement of water, which from time to time was made by an angel descending into the pool. And then every sick person, who was first to descend into the water, was miraculously healed of their illness, whatever it was. Who, if not the Eternal Son of the God of mercy and the Father of bounties, should enter the House of Mercy?

Monday, May 16, 2022

Second Homily for the Sunday of the Paralytic (St. Luke of Simferopol)


 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 20, 1951)

One evening, the Holy Prophet David was on the roof of his house, and from the height of the roof in the neighboring courtyard he saw an extremely beautiful woman bathing. He was inflamed with passion for her, and sent his servants to bring her to his house. The king questioned her and learned that she was the wife of Uriah, a brave warrior who fought against the Ammonites and the Syrians. He took her for himself. He called for the commander under whose authority Uriah was, and ordered to put Uriah in the most dangerous place and move away so that he would be killed. A messenger came from the field and reported what was done according to his word - and Uriah died.

Synaxis of All the Holy Venerable Fathers of Meteora


On the Sunday of the Paralytic, it has been established in Meteora and Kalambaka to commemorate the Synaxis of All the Holy Venerable Fathers of Meteora, whose asceticism for the love of God shine as a bright example for our own sanctification.
 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

First Homily for the Sunday of the Paralytic (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea 
 
(Delivered on April 30, 1950) 
 
"There is a pool in Jerusalem at the sheep gate, called in Hebrew Bethesda, in which there were five covered passages. In them lay a great multitude of the sick, the blind, the lame, the withered, waiting for the movement of the water. For the angel of the Lord went down at times into the pool, and disturbed the waters; and whoever first entered it after the disturbance of the water, recovered, no matter what disease was possessed" (John 5:2-4).

I think that the whole world, that all mankind is like this pool of Bethesda: you need to know that this Hebrew word means "house of mercy." In it, in this house of mercy, lay many sick, crippled, lame, blind.

This is the image of our world. Is there not in it a huge number of sick people who lay at the pool at the Sheep Gate: lame, crippled, blind, withered and paralyzed?

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Saint Leontios, Patriarch of Jerusalem (+ 1190)

St. Leontios of Jerusalem (Feast Day - May 14)

 Verses

Breathing like a Lion O Leontios,
You overcame Satan like a small gnat.


Saint Leontios came from Tiberiopolis in Phrygia, and was born to wealthy and pious parents around the second half of the 12th century AD. When his father died, after leaving his hometown and studying under a pious priest, he came to the Monastery of Ptelidi, where he became a monk. Later he went to Constantinople and became associated with the Metropolitan of Tiberias, to whom he submitted. After following his elder, who was returning to his Diocese, he sailed with him to Patmos, to worship at the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian. He then started his journey to Cyprus, but the will of God led him back to Patmos. There, with the spiritual guidance of the abbot of the monastery, Theoktestos, a man experienced in spiritual matters, he became a model of brotherly love and humility. When the abbot Theoktestos died, Leontios was elected his successor by a unanimous decision of the monks.

Saint Isidore of Chios Resource Page

St. Isidore of Chios (Feast Day - May 14)

Verses
 
Isidore is gladdened with the hope of the crown,
And he went to be beheaded after the crown. 
On the fourteenth Isidore was beheaded by the sword. 
 
 
 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Saint Polybios, Bishop of Rhinocorura (the disciple and biographer of Saint Epiphanios of Salamis)

 
Saint Polybios probably came from Phoenicia (Lebanon). Information about his life comes from the Life of Saint Epiphanios of Salamis (Constantia), to whom he was a disciple and biographer. He became a monk from a young age, and "he was pious man and perfect in temperance", according to his biography. While Epiphanios was still in Phoenicia, and when he was a simple monk, the bishops of Palestine gathered in a Synod and decided to ordain him a bishop. So they sent to him the monk Polybios, to inform them how Epiphanios was doing in his monastery in the area of Spanhydrion, but was told not to inform him of his election, so that he could have an excuse to escape. But Saint Epiphanios recognized from divine revelation the truth, called on Polybios to remain with his brotherhood, and thus left the bishops to investigate the worthiness of another bishop.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

A Beautiful Chapel Dedicated to Saint Epiphanios of Salamis in Cyprus

 

A beautiful chapel, located east of the Cypriot village of Anarita, was recently dedicated to Saint Epiphanios of Salamis, who was Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus for 36 years, and was distinguished by his piety and love and spreading Orthodox Christianity in all corners of the island.
 



 





Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Saints Cyril and Methodios of Thessaloniki, Teachers of the Slavs


By Panagiotis K. Chrestou,
Professor of the Theological School 
of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

THESSALONIKI IN THE NINTH CENTURY

By the beginning of the 9th century, more than one thousand one hundred years had passed since the establishment of the city of Thessaloniki (315 BC). During this period, the city had undergone days of great glory and terrible suffering, still, it remained glorious and proud.

As it was the capital of Illyria during the Byzantine period, it came great battles to protect Hellenism and Christianity from the barbarians that continuously arrived from the North: the Goths, Huns, Avars and Slavs.

Protector in those battles was the all-glorious martyr Demetrios, would appear over the city walls in a white mantle and continuously empower the defenders when the raiders narrowed the siege. That's why the Thessalonians never missed a chance to express their gratitude towards their saviour Saint.

Patriarch Irenaios of Jerusalem on the Miracle of the Holy Light of Jerusalem


In 2019, Patriarch Irenaios of Jerusalem, who served as Patriarch from 2000 till his dismissal in 2005, was asked about the authenticity of the miracle of the Holy Light in light of the allegations of some who serve under Patriarch Theophilos III that it is a hoax, to which he replied:

"I do not know what others say, I do not know if they said it or how they said it, what I know is what I experienced as many times as God required me to perform the Service of the Holy Light. I entered the Holy Sepulcher, I prayed on my knees holding the bundles of candles that, like the oil lamp, lit by themselves. I never looked into 'how' or 'why', but I experienced the event and the miracle of the Resurrection of the Lord with fear of God and awe like all the old and contemporary genuine Fathers of the Holy Sepulchre and every faithful Orthodox Christian."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 
 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Interview With Patriarch Diodoros I of Jerusalem on the Miracle of the Holy Light


Interview with His Beatitude Patriarch Diodorus I on the
Miracle of the Holy Fire

 
By Niels Christian Hvidt

His Beatitude Patriarch Diodorus I was born in 1923. He first came to Jerusalem in 1938 and assisted the Miracle of the Holy Fire ever since. In 1981 he was elected Patriarch and was thus the key witness to the Holy Fire 19 times until his death in December 2000, as the Greek-Orthodox patriarchs always enter the little tomb chapel where the flame first occurs. I spoke with him at the Orthodox Easter, 2000.

"Your Beatitude, what actually occurs when you enter the tomb on Holy Saturday during the ceremony of the Holy Fire?"

The Four Gospels Summarized in Four Words

 

Christos Anesti!
Alithos Anesti!


With only four words the four Gospels of Christ are summarized.

- St. Justin Popovich
 
 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Testimony of a Nun Who Knew Saint Hieronymos of Simonopetra


Abbess Taxiarchia writes:

I have known the Elder [Hieronymos of Simonopetra] since 1934 when I was still a child. He always welcomed us with affection. He was tireless to give us the spiritual fruits of his love.

I had never told him that I would become a nun, because I had not yet thought about it on the one hand, and on the other hand I had a big war going on at home. I was not even allowed to go to church.

Many times I went secretly to both the Elder and the church.

"I Kissed the Living Hand of the Lord!" (St. Hieronymos of Simonopetra)


One of Elder Hieronymos of Simonopetra's spiritual children wrote the following in a notebook of his memoirs:

A family, refugees from Russia, condemned by the regime there, fled to Greece and settled in Nea Ionia. One day the father of the family fell ill with a high fever.

Reflecting on his poverty, he asked the Panagia, whose icon he had brought with him from Russia, to help him get well so that he could work and support his family.

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