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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Miracle with the Lilies of the Panagia Gravalliotissa in Pastra, Kefallonia


Near the southeastern villages of Demoutsanata and Pastra on the island of Kefallonia, there is a strange phenomenon in the village church that takes place annually.

In the courtyard of the Church of the Dormition, there are various flower beds, where the women of the village plant parthenocrine bulbs (Virgin's Lily). This is done on March 25th, which is the Feast of the Annunciation.

When the Feast of the Ascension comes around in May or June, the lilies begin to bloom, so they are cut and placed in bouquets in front of the holy and miraculous icon of the Panagia Gravalliotissa. In a few days the lilies dry up, according to the laws of nature.

Homily Three on the Dormition of the Theotokos (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

 
 
By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

(Delivered in 1985 at Gregoriou Monastery on Mount Athos)

My fathers and brothers, throughout the holy vigil, and with the discourses of praise and with the sacred encomiums, our holy Church extols and praises and glorifies the Ever-Virgin Theotokos, and indeed today on her revered Dormition.

She ascended very high, higher than all men and Angels.

So it was said in the discourse of Saint Gregory Palamas that we read.

Of all the rational beings of God, the Panagia ascended higher and closer to God.

Why did she rise so high? Because she stooped so low.

If she had not descended in blessed humility and perfect obedience to the holy will of God, lower than all men on earth, she would not have risen higher than all.

This is the secret of the ascent of our Panagia, which presupposes her descent.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Saint Gerasimos of Kefallonia and the Biker

 
Metropolitan Gerasimos Fokas of Kefallonia narrated the following incident:

I was up at the monastery in the old church of Saint Gerasimos.

The coffin was open and among the pilgrims I noticed a young modern-type, with long hair, biker clothes and an investigative look. He stood serious, concentrated in front of the Saint and looked at him motionless for some minutes. Then, without offering veneration, he left.

Holy New Venerable Martyrs Nikodemos of Meteora (+ 1551) and Daniel of Meteora


 Verses

"What of you Nikodemos?" He said during his passion,
"I am being put to death for the love of the Lord."


We are told by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, who wrote the verses above, that the "Holy New Venerable Martyr Nikodemos from Meteora was martyred for his piety in the year 1551." Besides this, we have no other information about this Saint or what led to his martyrdom, other than the fact that he lived at the Great Meteoron Monastery and was martyred on August 16th.

The Theotokos On Her Deathbed (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
 
The last page of the holy book has been read, the content of which from cover to cover exudes holy innocence and piety. This is the book at the sight of which even the most cruel critics, bearing the burden of biases and prejudices, silently stopped and, having read it from beginning to end, left with a softened heart and rejuvenated spirit. That book is closed, the first words of which are - "In the Jewish town of Nazareth lived the childless pious old man Joachim and his wife Anna ...".

How bright are the first pages of this story - as if illuminated by that evening's soft and quiet blush of the sunset, seeing off the sun, so that after the night it would shine with light from the east. Who would not rejoice at the happiness of these elderly people, who were visited only at their parting with the world, to add a drop of honey to their life poisoned by sorrow!

Homily Three on the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

Our Lord Jesus Christ was pleased to mark the death of His Most Pure Mother in human flesh as a great event in the history of the Church and even in the history of the world.

The Holy Church honors the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos with a two-week fast, equal in severity to Great Lent.

Do you remember the deeply disturbing words of our Lord Jesus Christ, hanging on the cross, spoken shortly before the terrible words “It is finished”: “Woman! Behold, thy son” (John 19:26), and turning his gaze to his beloved disciple John: “Behold, thy mother” (John 19:27).

Monday, August 15, 2022

The Snakes of the Panagia Have Made Their Appearance in Kefallonia (2022)


Just as every year, from the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ till the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, or from August 6th to the 15th, snakes appear in a wondrous manner in two villages of Kefallonia with chapels dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos, in Markopoulo and Arginia, that appear to worship among the pilgrims who flock to these chapels, and venerate of their own accord the icon of the Panagia. Many noted miracles are associated with these snakes.

Homily One on the Dormition of the Theotokos (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)


 By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

With the Feasts of our Panagia, the Feasts of the Mother of God, among them the greatest is the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, a small Easter, an Easter in the summer, giving us the opportunity to express our deep gratitude to the Mother of our Redeemer and our Mother for what she has done for the human race and for each one of us. Because, without her own synergy and offering to the Holy Triune God, the Word of God would not be incarnated. God was waiting for such a holy soul to be found, all-immaculate and all-pure, who would offer all their freedom to God, so that God would also offer Himself entirely to them.

And this was the blessed Mary, the humble maiden of Nazareth. We thank her. She gave us the most precious thing we have in our lives. Our Savior. What would we be without Christ the Savior? Despairing prisoners of death. The eternal prisoners of the devil. No hope. The fact we have a Savior and a Redeemer and a God, the Lord Jesus Christ our God incarnate, we owe it to the Mother of God.

On the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary (St. Theophan the Recluse)


By St. Theophan the Recluse

After the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, His Most Pure Mother lived for about fifteen years in Jerusalem, in the house of the holy Apostle John the Theologian, to whom the Lord Himself entrusted her from the Cross. The time came for her to move on to the heavenly abode of her Son. When the Mother of God was praying on the Mount of Olives, the legend tells, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her, bringing a date branch, and announced her death would take place in three days.

The Most Pure One was overjoyed to hear such news, and began to prepare. By the day of her repose, by the command of God, there appeared miraculously in Jerusalem, except for the Apostle Thomas, all the apostles who had been scattered for preaching throughout the world. They were witnesses of Her peaceful, quiet, holy and blessed death. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, in heavenly glory, surrounded by an innumerable multitude of angels and righteous spirits, appeared to receive the soul of His Most Pure Mother and with glory ascended her to heaven.

Homily One on the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on August 15/28, 1951)

Who among earthly people died like the Most Holy Theotokos? Whose deathbed was surrounded by the apostles? At the head of whose deathbed the heavenly branch shone with heavenly light, brought by the archangel Gabriel three days before the death of the Most Holy Theotokos?

Whose soul did the Lord Himself and our God Jesus Christ come to accept?

Oh no one, no one, of course, no one!

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Homily for the Ninth Sunday of Matthew - The Internal Problem of Mankind (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Homily for the Ninth Sunday of Matthew

The Internal Problem of Mankind

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Take courage, it is I; be not afraid" (Matt. 14:27)

Sacred Chrysostom, interpreting the event according to which the Apostle Peter, while walking on the waves, then sank, says that Christ at that moment did not stop the wind, but stretched out His hand and caught him, saying "O you of little faith, why did you hesitate?" (Matt. 14:31). In this way, Christ showed that the change in Peter was not caused by the force of the wind, but by his lack of faith. If his faith did not weaken, then he could easily face the wind. That is why Christ took him by the hand and let the wind blow, showing that the wind cannot do any harm when the faith is firm.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

The Theotokos as an Embodiment of "Living Dogma"

 
 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

In the Theotokos there were united the divine and the human nature in the hypostasis of the Word, and her womb became the workshop of this union, that is why she is also the "living dogma". The glory she has is the glory of her Son and God; her boldness before God is a consequence of her synergy in the incarnation of Christ; her intercessions are due to her being the Mother of Christ; the term "Theotokos" constitutes the mystery of the divine economy. The Third Ecumenical Synod, which decided that she should be called Theotokos and not Christotokos, shows that the Panagia is indeed a "living dogma". All the heresies about Christ culminate in the Theotokos, and all the heresies about the Theotokos also refer to Christ. Her appearances to the deified saints in the Light, and the Grace that the saints receive from her show that the Orthodox dogmas are alive and not dead, they are theology and experience and not philosophical reflection.

Homily Seven on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

I have already preached to you many times about the great feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor, but this feast is so great that any new thought about it deserves a separate sermon.

In the troparion of the Transfiguration of the Lord, you hear the words: “May Your everlasting Light shine on us, sinners, through the prayers of the Theotokos, Giver of Light, glory to You."

Is it necessary to understand these words in such a way that we ask the Lord Jesus Christ that His Divine Light shines on us, so that we only see this Light, be His spectators?

Friday, August 12, 2022

The Theological August: Pastoral Encyclical for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


The Theological August
 
Pastoral Encyclical for the Feast of the 
Dormition of the Theotokos (2022)

In the middle of Summer, and in fact in the middle of the month of August, we celebrate the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, from whom Christ took on human nature and entered history as the God-man Christ.

In the first days of August until the eve of August 15th, we chant in the sacred churches the Supplicatory Canons to the Most Holy Theotokos, the Small and the Great Parakleseis, which are full of theological and spiritual meanings. With theological words and wonderful images, the entire universal work of Christ and His Mother is presented.

Homily Six on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
 
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in Alushta in 1957)

The glorious feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord gives us reason to ponder the words of our Lord Jesus Christ addressed to the people and the Apostles: “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God come in power” (Mk. 9:1).

We could not understand these extraordinary prophetic words of the Son of God if we related them to the manifestation of the Kingdom of God at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, for more than 1900 years have already passed; and all the contemporaries of the Lord Jesus have died, and we are still waiting for the Second Coming.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Homily Four on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1953)

In the great first chapter of the Gospel of John we read about God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

What life? There is a life that can only be called existence, vegetative life, and a huge number of people live such a life. There is no light in it, true light, but only a faint twilight sort of light.

There is a life completely devoid of light, a life full of darkness. In such darkness live all whoremongers, lechers, drunkards, who serve passions and lusts.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Homily Three on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on August 6/19, 1952)

One of our greatest feasts has come - the Transfiguration of the Lord, and already yesterday at the Vespers you heard the troparion of this festival, and in it such words: “May Thy everlasting light shine on us sinners through the prayers of the Theotokos, Giver of Light, glory to Thee.”

Have you thought about what a great blessing we ask of God in these words, what joy - eternal, unceasing joy we ask - we ask that that divine light shine in us forever, which illuminated on Mount Tabor the whole body, all the clothes of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Homily Two on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1951)

With deep reverence, we are now celebrating one of the greatest events in the earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ - His Transfiguration.

Why do I call this feast so great?

Because the Lord was pleased to reveal to the whole world through His chosen apostles, witnesses of the Transfiguration, His heavenly glory.

Has He revealed all the glory? Oh no, far, far from all. It is impossible to see the glory of God with impunity: it is impossible for a person to see the glory of God and stay alive.

Homily for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew - The Blessing of Christ (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
Homily for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew

The Blessing of Christ

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The miracle of the multiplication of the five loaves of bread, which Christ blessed and distributed, is well known, with the result that five thousand people were fed, not including the women and children. The Evangelist Matthew writes: "Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and blessed them" (Matthew 14:18). The result of God's blessing is the multiplication of loaves and fishes.

The blessing of Christ is His energy with which He benefits the world. During His Ascension, Christ ascended to heaven and blessed His Disciples present, as the Evangelist Luke writes: "Through His hands He blessed them, and when he had blessed him, he separated from them and was taken up to heaven" (Luk. 24:50-51). He left us His blessing, that is, His grace and energy, for this reason the Apostle Paul writes to the Christians of Ephesus: "Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

Homily for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew - The Basic Needs of our Lives (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
 Homily for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew

The Basic Needs of our Lives

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The miracle of the multiplication of the five loaves is one of the most well-known and beloved events of the life of Christ, because it shows that Christ is interested in the material problems of people, in their hunger, but also because it shows the mystery of the divine Eucharist, as the holy Fathers of the Church interpreted this passage. But today, in this short sermon, we will see another side of this subject that is important. That is, we will examine the issue, not from the side of Christ, but from the side of people.

Homily Two for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew (St. Luke of Simferopol)


 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on July 21/August 3, 1952)

Today you heard in the Gospel reading about one of the greatest miracles created by our Lord and God Jesus Christ - concerning the feeding of a multitude, a multitude of people with five loaves of bread and two fish: five thousand men alone, not counting women and children.

You know about the countless miracles that our Lord Jesus Christ did: you know about walking on the waters of Lake Gennesaret, about the calming of a storm by His word on this lake, you know about the resurrection of the dead, about the return of sight to the unfortunate blind and about many other miracles.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Saint Kallinikos of Edessa, a Balanced and Transfigured Man


Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, in his sermon today in honor of the feast of his spiritual father who was canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate two years ago, Saint Kallinikos of Edessa, referred to the glorious repose of this Saint of our days, which came after the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ and after he said a prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos, in view of the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos.

This is important, because he loved both of these feasts. He spoke every day during this period about the Panagia, about her faith, her purity, her patience, her silence, but also about the Transfiguration of Christ.

Saint Kallinikos himself was a balanced man, a transfigured man.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Homily Two for the Epistle Reading on the Eighth Sunday After Pentecost (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


 Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

Homily on 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The early Church, despite its rich gifts of the Holy Spirit, was troubled by various problems. Among these problems were divisions and schisms among Christians. The Apostle Paul refers to this fact in the reading we read today.

The Christians of Corinth were divided into groups and factions. Some claimed to belong to Paul, others to Apollos, others to the Apostle Peter and there was also a portion of some people who said they belonged to Christ, as if the previous ones did not belong to Christ and were not His disciples. The Apostle Paul rebukes this mentality of divisions and schisms, and he emphasizes to them that they must be trained in the same mind and the same opinion and stand immovable in their unity with Christ, since He was crucified and rose again for men. But Christians were also baptized in the name of Christ and not in the name of the Apostles. The Apostles are Disciples and Apostles of Christ (1 Cor. 1:10-17).

Homily for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew - The Mystery of the Divine Eucharist (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
Homily for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew

The Mystery of the Divine Eucharist

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"And they all ate and were satisfied" (Matt. 14:20).

Beloved brethren,

The ancient ecclesiastical hermenutical tradition gave an ecclesiastical and eucharistic meaning to the miracle of the multiplication of the five loaves, which we heard today in the Gospel reading. This miracle is a prototype of the mystery of the Divine Eucharist, according to which the spiritually dead person receives Christ and is revived. Therefore, we are given the opportunity to formulate some thoughts about this supernatural and great mystery which is the center of ecclesiastical and spiritual life.

Homily One for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew (St. Luke of Simferopol)


 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on July 23, 1950)

You have heard in the current Gospel reading about one of the greatest miracles of Christ - about the feeding of five loaves and two fishes to more than five thousand people.

Why did the Lord create this miracle? What is its significance for us? Why did the Lord perform His miracles at all?

We find the answer to this question in the Evangelist Matthew, who says this: “Jesus departed from there in a boat to a deserted place alone; and the people, when they heard about it, followed Him out of the city on foot.”

Reflection on the Eighth Sunday of Matthew (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 
Eighth Sunday of Matthew

Matthew 14:14-22

By St. Theophan the Recluse
 
Before the miraculous feeding of the five thousand people, the disciples of the Lord wanted the people to be sent away; but the Lord said to them: "They need not depart; you give them something to eat." 
 
Let us learn this word, and each time the enemy suggests to us to refuse someone who asks for something, let us say from the person of the Lord: "They need not depart; you give them something to eat"—and let us give whatever we find at hand. 
 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Homily on the Transfiguration of the Lord (Archim. George Kapsanis)


By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

We were mentally transported to Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration of the Lord took place. We mentally saw our God-man Savior transfigured, shining like the sun, and His garments white as light. We saw the representatives of the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah and the prophet Moses, conversing with Jesus. We saw the holy Apostles in awe and marvel. And as those who visit Mount Tabor of the Transfiguration say, on this day of the feast the whole Mount is fragrant. With this sign, this heavenly fragrance, which the pious pilgrims of the Mount of Transfiguration sense today, the Lord gives one more proof of His presence and His Grace on this blessed Taborian Mount.

Homily Two on the Transfiguration of the Lord (St. Chrysostomos of Smyrna)


By St. Chrysostomos, Metropolitan of Smyrna

(Delivered on August 4, 1912)

From the event of the Lord's Transfiguration begins the second period of the Lord's public life, which was his final journey to Jerusalem, where the passion, the cross, and death awaited Him, which were also the main purpose of His life on earth, and the object of the preaching and the preparation of the first part of His early ministry.

But when the first period of the Lord's public life on earth began by a sign from heaven in Jordan, then the heavens were opened, and a voice came from there: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11). Similarly, this second period begins with a sign from the sky: "Suddenly, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice came from the cloud, saying: This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."

Homily One on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (St. Luke of Simferopol)


 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on August 19, 1950)

On this great day, we remember the glorious Transfiguration of our Lord and our God Jesus Christ, when He revealed to us the Divine light of His Person, His entire Nature.

We must understand what spiritual light is. My sermon will be about spiritual light.

You all know how every living creature quiveringly reaches out to the sun, to the light of the sun, to the material light, shining from the sky. You know how every insect, every grass, every leaf and flower always reaches for the light. The light of the sun, the material light is known to all of you, and you all love it.

Friday, August 5, 2022

When the Mother of God Sent Aid to Saint Paisios the Athonite


Saint Paisios narrated the following story of a personal intervention of the Mother of God in his life:
 
I had been fasting and keeping vigil. In those days I split the fast of the Fifteenth of August into two: until the Transfiguration I did not eat anything, on the day of the Transfiguration I ate, and then until the Panagias again I did not eat anything. So I left immediately after the vigil and didn't even think to take a little dried bread with me.

I arrived at the Monastery of Iveron, gave the letter and went down to the dock to wait for the boat. It was supposed to come at four in the afternoon, but it was late. In the meantime I started to get dizzy. Beyond was a stack of tree trunks, like telegraph poles, and I said with my thoughts:

Holy New Martyr Christos from Preveza, A Once Forgotten Saint

 
By Spyros Symeon

Saint Christos is one of the holy new martyrs of our Church that bears the name of the Savior and Risen Christ. This name is only found among martyrs since unfortunately it is not given to monks and clergy because it is customary there to give "monastic" names, and unfortunately although many lay people receive it they do not honor it in memory of a Saint but on the feast of the One who on that day is celebrated by all of Christianity.

When I was young I had heard an elder in a small monastery who told us that those who have names that celebrate them on some Despotic Feast should be catechized and urged to move their name day feast to a day in memory of a Saint who bore their name.

Saint Eugenios the Aitolos, A Supporter of the Greek Nation in Difficult Times


By Fr. Elias Makos

Saint Eugenios Yiannoulis the Aitolos, from Megalo Dendro in Thermo, who celebrates on August 5 (he reposed on August 6, 1680, but the celebration of his memory was moved a day earlier, due to the great feast of the Transfiguration of the Savior), may not be particularly well known nowadays, however, his contribution to the enslaved Greek nation, through education, was very great.

Indeed, he paid the heavy price of being removed from the priesthood for his contribution to the Fatherland, but in 1639 he was restored with honors by Patriarch Parthenios, while in 1982 he was canonized.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Homilies on the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy - Clergy and Laity (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


 Homilies on the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy

Clergy and Laity

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

We are interpreting in these eucharistic sermons, during the Summer Sundays, the petitions we address to God at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, every Mystery and Sacred Service. Today we will look at the petition we are called to address to God for all the members of the Church. The Priest exhorts us: "For our Archbishop, the Honorable Presbyters and those who minister in Christ, all the Clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord", that is, let us pray for the Archbishop, namely, the Metropolitan of this region - and mention his name - for the Presbyters and Deacons, for all the Clergy and the laity of the Sacred Metropolis.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Matthew - Slandering and Blaspheming the Church (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Matthew

Slandering and Blaspheming the Church

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons through the prince of the demons." (Matt. 9:34)

With the healing of the two blind men and the deaf man who was demon possessed, the crowds "marvelled, saying, 'It was never so seen in Israel'" (Matthew 9:33). However, the immediate reaction of the Pharisees to the cures and to the opinion of the people was not to deny the miracles, but to distort them and attribute them to the power of demons, saying: "He casts out demons through the prince of the demons" (Matt. 9:34). This is a serious form of slander that ends up in blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The interpretation that the Pharisees gave of the miracles showed the illness of their soul, it revealed the existence of the evil spirit in their hearts.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Holy Seven Maccabees, their Mother Solomone and their Teacher Eleazar as Models for our Lives

(Feast Day - August 1)
 
By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The holy seven Maccabean martyrs lived and were martyred before the incarnation of the Son and Word of God, but the holy hymn writer calls them, apart from "guardians of the doctrines of the law", also "martyrs of Christ", that is, of the Incarnate Word. And he calls them so, because these martyrs also had communion with the Son and Word of God, since all the appearances of God in the Old Testament, namely to the Patriarchs, the Prophets and the Righteous, are appearances of the Pre-Incarnate Word.

These, then, the seven martyrs lived in the years of the Syrian king Antiochus, who was a cruel, barbaric and deadly persecutor of all those who worshiped the true God. Therefore, this ungodly king, after first arresting, torturing and killing their ninety-year-old teacher Eleazar, who remained steadfast in his faith and teaching on the exact observance of God's law, then arrested them as well. At first he treated them with feigned kindness, offering them honors and positions, if they would deny their faith in the God of their Fathers. In fact, he offered them delicious food, which, however, was forbidden by the law given by God to His people, through the Prophet Moses, and insisted that they try it. They refused and then Antiochus showed his true face, the cruel and inhuman one. He had each of them, one by one, endure wheels, javelins and fire. Their mother Solomone was constantly near them and strengthened them, and then followed them in martyrdom. She was also thrown into the fire and thus everyone received the unfading wreath of martyrdom.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Matthew - The Gospel of the Kingdom (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Matthew

The Gospel of the Kingdom

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In today's Gospel reading, we heard about the miracle that Christ performed on the two blind men, who followed Him crying: "Have mercy on us, Son of David" and were found worthy to see the light of the sun and all of creation. Previously, they were blind and in darkness. However, when Christ opened their eyes, they began to see God's creation for the first time. Also, the Gospel told us that Christ healed a demon possessed deaf man, who then heard and spoke. Light and sound are two important factors which are connected with creation, but also with two basic senses that God gave to man to see and hear, that is, the sense of sight and the sense of hearing.

Reflection on the Seventh Sunday of Matthew (St. Theophan the Recluse)


 Seventh Sunday of Matthew

Matthew 9:27-35

By St. Theophan the Recluse

"According to your faith be it unto you," said the Lord to the two blind men, and immediately their eyes were opened. 
 
The greater the faith is, the greater is the influx of Divine power. Faith is the receiver, lips, and receptacle of grace. Just as one person’s lungs are large while another person’s are small, and the large take in more air, while the small take in less, so one person has a large degree of faith, and another a small degree, and one person’s faith receives more gifts from the Lord, and another person’s fewer. 
 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

I Named Him Chrysovalantis to Always Remember the Gift You Gave Me: A Miracle of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou

Chrysovalantou and Chrysovalantis Sotiropoulos

My Saint Chrysovalantou Irene, I also come to thank you for the miracle you did for me too.

I have been married for nine years and after around five years we made the decision to have a child as well, but things did not turn out as we expected. We tried for quite some time without success, when we made the decision to do tests, which unfortunately showed that my husband had a problem and the doctors said was that we will not have a child if we do not do IVF.

When I heard this I lost the ground under my feet, because I never thought that something like this would happen to me in my 28 years. Six months after the exams and without expecting it, I became pregnant naturally. My joy was indescribable, but it only lasted two months. Unfortunately I had a miscarriage and from then on my psychology was very bad.

Saint Irene Chrysovalantou as a Generous Physician: A Miracle Story


My Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, I also come with tears in my eyes to thank you for the miracles you performed in my family. Praise be to God and the Most Holy Theotokos, who enriched you with such grace, Generous Saint, to perform miracles and heal human pain.

The first miracle is that with your help I gave birth to my first baby girl Chrysovalantou.

You performed the second miracle on my Maria, when she was three years old. The greatest miracle happened again to my Maria at sixteen years of age.

It was August and me and her father had gone on vacation. Every day she called me and told me how her little head hurts. I was scared and told her to come to us there. The pain continued and suddenly her right eye began to blur and she could not see at all.

Great Is the Grace of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou: A Miracle Story

Chrysovalantou (left) and her mother Varsamo (right)

Great is the grace of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou. Thank you for the miracle you did for me and my daughter.

While I was fine, I suddenly had a phobia from an earthquake that happened in the area where I lived. Then the torture of my health began, because the nerves of my brain were affected and I was in so much pain that I could not sleep. For six months, my everyday life became a torture.

I went to the doctor and he gave me some pills, but he told me that the problem of the nerves in the head is not a simple thing, because our whole body works from our brain.

And he assured me that I had to take the pills for years.

Five Testimonials of the Miraculous Grace of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou


My Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, I venerate you. My deep gratitude to your miraculous grace cannot be expressed in words.

A warm thanksgiving comes from my heart, from the heart of a suffering mother whom You helped and saved her child.

My daughter Eleni at the age of 6 suddenly had convulsions. I started taking her to the doctors at the clinics, but I didn't see any difference.

Then I began to think that the only savior of my child is the savior of the whole world, Jesus Christ. From one church I went to another, until I heard about your miraculous grace.

Faith and hope nestled in my aching soul that with your prayers Jesus Christ will help my child. I also came to your grace and venerated your miraculous Icon.

My child is fine now. She goes to school and plays casually with the other children and glorifies you.

As a small token of my gratitude, I vowed to give your name to my fourth angel that I was waiting to bring into the world.

He is now 14 months old and has your name. My belief that you will always be close to us is great and we all thank you.

With infinite gratitude,

E. S.

March 1977

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Parish Priests of the Church of Saint Panteleimon in the Leper Colony of Spinalonga


When the decision of the Cretan government in 1903 to transfer the lepers of Crete to the island of Spinalonga became known, the then Bishop Titos of Petras renovated the Church of Saint Panteleimon that was located there and consecrated it, before the lepers even arrived. But when he wondered if he would find a priest, Father Manolis Psarakis, a parish priest in Neapolis, stood up and volunteered to serve the sick, which he did with zeal for 21 whole years. After the death of Papa-Manolis, he was successively and voluntarily succeeded by the very old Father Nestor, Father Nikandros, Father Nikodemos and Father Andronikos who served until 1935, all brothers of the Holy Monastery of Aretiou.

How Fr. Evangelos Halkidis Came to Possess the Hand of Saint Panteleimon


In the small chapel, in Fr. Evangelos' (1923-1987) house, were resting the relics of many saints that were fragrant, and the hand of Saint Panteleimon would release myrrh.

All of them had miraculously come into his possession.

One day, in the summer, with a lot of heat and little sleep, the father returned from a ministry duty to his house, in Thessaloniki where he lived at the time, and being tired he lay down on the couch with the window half open above him.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Fr. John Kalaides and the Miracle of Saint Paraskevi


 By Miltiadis Tsesmetzis, Teacher

In the village of Sintiki in the prefecture of Serres, where the holy father lived, there is a Chapel of Saint Paraskevi, at the foot of the mountain. Because the area has many chapels, where many miracles took place, my grandfather used to tell us that this place is a second Mount Athos!

So he [Fr. John Kalaides ] once told us:

Saint Paraskevi and the Blasphemer


Michael, a resident of Smyrna before the Population Exchange of 1922, one day went to plow his field with oxen. In a moment the plowshare* got stuck somewhere, the oxen did not advance and he himself could not get the plowshare out of the ground. After he was tired and indignant, he began to blaspheme Christ and the Saints.

He immediately lost his sight for about a quarter of an hour. Then, repentant and compunctionate, he begged Saint Paraskevi to give him his sight and promised never to blaspheme again. He also made a vow. As long as he lived, on Friday he would not eat or drink anything. And immediately, miraculously, his sight came back, he easily took out the plowshare and continued plowing, thanking God and Saint Paraskevi.

Homily on Saint Paraskevi the Wonderworker (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Saint Paraskevi is honored not only by those women who bear her name, but also by all Christians. This happens especially in our Province, since there are many parish churches, but also chapels that are honored with her name and on this day they celebrate brilliantly.

The life of Saint Paraskevi is wonderful. Her parents were pious and virtuous, her birth was by God's intervention, she herself grew up in a Christian way, distributed her property to the poor, became a nun, preached Christ, confessed Him and finally suffered many tortures and was martyred for the love of Christ. That's why she is called a Venerable Martyr.

Homily on Galatians 3:27 - "As Many of You as Were Baptized Into Christ Have Put on Christ" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Homily on Galatians 3:27 - "As Many of You as Were Baptized Into Christ Have Put on Christ"

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In the sermon of each Sunday of the two summer months this year, we will interpret some phrases of the apostolic readings that are read in the Divine Liturgy. These are readings from the Apostle Paul's Letters to the Christians of the various Churches he had founded, and they aimed at solving problems and guiding them to a life in Christ.

Today we will interpret the passage from his Epistle to the Galatians, which refers to the Baptism of Christians and declares its great value: "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ". That is, those who were baptized in the name of Christ have clothed themselves with Christ. This passage is chanted every time the Mystery of Baptism takes place and it is also chanted on the great Despotic Feasts, Christmas and Easter, because then the group baptisms of the catechumens and the illuminated took place. It is a very important passage.

Monday, July 25, 2022

How Saint Anna Saved a Greek Family from a Nazi Assault

Hieromonk Hesychios Agiannanites

During the years of the German occupation of Greece, the following incident happened.

Father Hesychios Agiannanites (1909-1982) was passing through a village with the relic of the foot of Saint Anna, the Grandmother of the Lord. In a certain house, when they learned that the Holy Relic of Saint Anna had arrived, they ran to welcome it with longing.

With many tears and words of thanks, they venerated and kissed the Saint.

The Relics of Saint Olympia the Deaconess


 
By St. Justin Popovich
 
After Saint John Chrysostom was exiled from Constantinople and traveled to Cyzicus, Saint Olympia was also sentenced to be exiled and shelter in Nicomedia. Upon learning of this, Saint John Chrysostom wrote her a letter from his imprisonment, consoling her in her troubles. Having spent a considerable amount of time in captivity and having suffered many torments, the blessed one reposed in the Lord on July 25th 408.

After her repose, while her honorable body was not yet buried, the Saint appeared in a dream to the Bishop of Nicomedia and said: "Put my body in a wooden box and cast it into the sea, so wherever the waves throw it onto the shore, there may it be buried."

Crypt of Santa Cristina in Carpignano Salentino


A gate and small baroque facade may mislead you into thinking there is not much to see at the Crypt of Santa Cristina (also known as the Crypt of Madonna delle Grazie) in Carpignano Salentina, but that would be wrong. Because once inside you'll descend some steps and enter two chambers carved out of limestone, where you'll discover that the Crypt of Santa Cristina is a big deal, after all. It contains the oldest Byzantine frescoes in Puglia, the most ancient inscription dates them to 959, signed by Teofilatto. Santa Cristina is also one of oldest place of worship in Puglia.

Monastery of Saint Eupraxia in Hydra


The picturesque island of Hydra, located in the Saronic Gulf, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

One of the main and, perhaps, the most interesting sights of the island of Hydra is the Convent of Saint Eupraxia. It is located in an amazingly beautiful place among pines and cypresses on the slope of the islands highest peak, Mount Eros (588 m), at an altitude of about 500 meters above sea level. Nearby is the slightly older Monastery of the Prophet Elias.

The Monastery of Saint Eupraxia was built in 1819, while the katholikon, or central church, was built in 1829. The builder was Fr. Hierotheos Dokos, who named the monastery after the patron saint of his daughter, who bore the name Eupraxia, and from a young age dedicated her life to Christ as a nun.