Thursday, March 14, 2019

Photios Kontoglou on Panagia as the Humble Queen

The Most-holy Theotokos and Christ surrounded with Angels depicted in the wonderworking icon of Panagia Pantanassa (Queen of All) treasured by Vatopedi Monastery, Mount Athos (source)
  
"Panagia is the spiritual adornment of Orthodoxy. For us Greeks [and for all peoples], she is the pained mother, the consolation, the protector, who stands beside us in every circumstance.

"In every part of Greece are built countless churches and monasteries, palaces to this humble Queen, and a multitude of chapels in the mountains, the fields, the islands, that are fragrant from her virginal and spiritual fragrance.

"Within each of these is found her ancient and honored icon with her dark hair and golden face, which receives all of the tears of our tortured faithful, because we have no one else to help us except Panagia: 'we who sin have no one else, who intercedes for us before God, praying endlessly, in ills and all dangers, for us who are laiden with our many sins and mistakes' (Paraklesis to the Theotokos).
  
"The beauty of the Panagia is not a bodily beauty, but spiritual, because where there is pain there is also found holiness, there alone is spiritual beauty. Bodily beauty brings bodily excitement, but spiritual beauty bring contrition, respect and pure love. This is the beauty which our Panagia has.
  
"And this beauty is depicted in her [Byzantine] icons which pious men fashion, who fast and chant and are found with contrite heart and spiritual purity.
  
"In the face of Panagia are depicted this mystical beauty which attracts like a magnet pious souls and brings them silence and consolation."
-Photios Kontoglou (+1965)
  
(source)
  
Forgive me, and may the Lord forgive us all and grant us a blessed Lent!
  
Most-holy Theotokos, save us!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

"O Champions of Christ, you make the all-sacred fast even more joyous..."

The Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (source)
  
O Choir of flames four-times-ten, army wholly chosen by God, you make Lent shine furthermore because of your sacred struggles, sanctifying and enlightening our souls.
  
The forty-numbered Choir of Martyrs, who would not hymn? For they entered into the waters of the lake bravely, being clenched by the cold, and offered up an ode to the Lord: "Do not let waters drown us in your anger, O Lord, do not let your waters drown us in your anger, O Lover of mankind, but lighten the burden and the bitter wind, for You dyed our feet in Your very own blood, and you have led us, O God, into your eternal mansions, that we might have rest in the bosom of the Patriarch Abraham."
  
You watered the faithful with the chalice of truth, filled with your own blood, and with the fire of tortures, and the drowning of water. O Four Decades of the Lord, you chanted to the Savior, though separate in bodies, but united in spirit, and you offered yourselves to Christ, while the Mother and bride of God offered her Christ-loving child, who was carried on her shoulders, saying: Come, O Champion, and struggle together with the rest.
  
O Champions of Christ, you make the all-sacred fast even more joyous through your glorious struggles, for you were Forty in number, and you sanctify the Forty-day Lent, imitating the saving passion through your struggle on behalf of Christ. Therefore, as ones having boldness, intercede that in peace we might meet the Third-day Resurrection of our God and the Savior of our souls.
-Idiomela and Doxastikon from the Matins for the Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
  
(source)
  
The Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Elder Aimilianos: Fasting and Prayer as a Longing for God

Jesus Christ, detail (source)
  
"Longing for God is expressed with fasting, with an empty stomach... Fasting has a unique meaning by expressing the longing for God... The same occurs for prayer. If prayer to myself had meaning, then my prayer life would be a human endeavor, a tendency and revival, it wouldn't be God. My prayer has meaning because it exactly expresses my longing: 'Come and abide in us...', the: 'Where are you, my God?'

"With fasting, vigil, and prayer, chaos and malaise are shown to be our rags before God, as the poor man shows his rags to his fellow man in order for him to have pity on him to help him, or like the blind man cried out to Christ to give him light. Thus, we show our poverty and he ask that He open our eyes in order to understand that we are sinners, that we might repent and so He can forgive us...

"The approach therefore is an uncreated energy, a true projection of His being. Because of this, my life as well is a true communion with the true God. While God acts, I commune with Him. While God is unapproachable, I partake of Him...

"Only the: 'Where are you, my God?', can make visible the invisible presence of God...We give Him our consent, our being, and He directs everything, He kneads us..."
-Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

St. Paisios the Athonite on Death, Prayer for the Departed and the Last Judgment

The classic iconographic type depicting the dormition of St. Ephraim the Syrian, with the choirs of his beloved fellow monastics coming from afar to venerate him and pray for him (source)
  
LIFE AFTER DEATH
by Saint Paisios of Mount Athos
  
--Geronda [Elder], when a person dies, does he become immediately aware of his spiritual condition?
--Yes, he does, and says to himself, "What have I done?" But the result in fayda yok, [An expression in the Turkish language, which means: "There is no benefit, there is no progress or success".) that is, this awareness is of no benefit. This can be likened to a drunk man who kills his mother and goes on singing and laughing, but who, upon becoming sober and realizing what he has done, will wail and lament and say, "What have I done?" In much the same way, those who commit wrongdoings in this life are like drunken men. They don't understand what they're doing; they don't have a sense of their guilt. But when they die, this "drunkenness" disappears and they become aware of their real condition. The eyes of their soul are opened and they realize their guilt, because the soul, when separated from the body, moves, sees and perceives with an inconceivable speed.
  
Some people ask when the Second Coming will take place. But for the person who dies, the Second Coming is, in a way, taking place, because he is judged on the basis of the state in which he is found at the time of death.
  
--Geronda [Elder], in what state are the souls of the tormented found at this time?
--They are indicted, imprisoned, and suffer in accordance with the sins they had committed; and they await the final trial, the future Judgment. There are those who have been indicted, facing heavy sentences, and those who have been indicted, facing lighter sentences.
  
--What about the Saints and the thief? (St. Luke 23:32-33 and 39-43)
--The Saints and the thief are in Paradise; but they have not received the final glory, just as those who have been indicted are in hell but have not received the final sentence. Even though God has taught us from centuries ago: "Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?" (St. Matthew 3:2 and 4:17) He extends the time more and more, because He waits for us (with the pronoun "us", the Elder means all of humanity) to correct ourselves. But we, by remaining in our (unrepentant) misery, are unjust to the Saints because they cannot receive the final glory, which they are to receive after the future judgment.
  
St. Paisios the Athonite (source)
  
PRAYER AND MEMORIALS FOR THE DEPARTED
  
--Geronda [Elder], can the indicted souls who await trial pray?
--They are aware of their condition and seek help, but they cannot help themselves. Those who are in Hades desire only one thing from Christ: to live for five minutes in order to repent. We, who live, still have time for repentance, but those unfortunate ones who have fallen asleep cannot improve their condition on their own; they await help from us. This is the reason why we have an obligation to help them with our prayer.
  
--It is my belief that only about ten percent of the indicted dead awaiting trial are, as the demons do. They don't seek any help, and they also reject all help. For what can God do for them? It's like a child who has alienated himself from his father, squanders all of his property, and on top of that, curses him. What can his father do for him? But the other indicted ones, who still have a little philotimo, are aware of their guilt. They repent and are tormented because of their sins. They ask to be helped and are helped through the prayers of the faithful. [Saint Nectarios, in his study, A Treatise on the Immortality of the Soul and on the Sacred Memorials, ed. Basil Regopoulos, Thessaloniki 1973, p. 202, writes as a conclusion to what he developed on the basis of the witness of the Holy Fathers: "On the basis of all the above, it becomes clear that the soul after death is unable to do any solitary deed and be relieved from the indissoluble bonds of Hades. Only the Divine Liturgies, the prayers of family members, of the just, which are offered for them, including charity, become instrumental agents of deliverance and freedom from the bonds of Hades."] In other words, God provides an opportunity for them, now that they are awaiting trial, to be helped until the Second Coming takes place. And just as in this life when one who's a friend of the king can intercede and request help for someone awaiting trial, so, too, if one is "a friend" of God, he can intercede with prayer to God, and He can transfer the indicted souls of the dead from one "prison" to another, better one, from one "detention-cell" to another, better one. Or God may transfer them to a "room" or to an "apartment".
Just as we provide some comfort to the imprisoned with the refreshments and other material goods we bring to them, so are the dead refreshed by the prayers and the charity we execute for their souls. The prayers and the sacred memorial offered by the living for the dead are the final chance that God gives to the dead to be helped until the Final Judgment takes place. After the Judgment, there will no longer be any possibility for help.
  
God wants to help those who have fallen asleep because He cares about their ultimate salvation; but He does not help because He has a noble spirit. He does not want to give the devil the right to say: "How can you save him, since he did not labor to achieve it?" But when we pray for those who have fallen asleep, we give God the right to intervene. God is moved more by our prayers for the dead than by those for the living.
  
Kollyva offered for memorial services on the Saturday of the Souls as a symbol of the Resurrection, and out of love and compassion for our departed brethren (source)
  
This is the reason why our Church has the sacred memorials with the kollyva. [Kollyva (κόλλυβα): boiled wheat kernels. The wheat kernels express belief in everlasting life, according to what Jesus said, "Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (St. John 12:24). It is a tradition among Orthodox Christians to bring a tray of boiled wheat kernels to church for the Memorial Service.] Memorials serve as the best attorney on behalf of the souls of those fallen asleep. They even have the power to bring a soul out of hell. At every Divine Liturgy, we should pray with kollyva for those who have fallen asleep. The wheat has a symbolic meaning: "It is sown in corruption; it is raided in incorruption" (1 Cor. 15:42) according to Sacred Scripture. Some people can't be bothered to boil some wheat and instead bring raisins, cookies or other pastries so that the priest may bless those things. Up on the Holy Mountain, there are some elderly monks who will prepare kollyva for every Divine Liturgy for those who have fallen asleep in the hope of the Resurrection and for the Saint commemorated that day, in order to have his blessing.
  
THE FUTURE JUDGMENT
  
--Geronda [Elder], how is the soul purified?
--When a person observes the Commandments of God, working to be cleansed of one's own passions, then the mind is enlightened; it attains spiritual vision, and the soul becomes as resplendent as it was before the Fall of man. This is the condition he will be in after the resurrection of the dead. But one can see the resurrection of his soul before the General Resurrection only if he is cleansed entirely from the passions. Then, his body will be Angelic, incorporeal, and will not be concerned with material nourishment.
  
--Geronda [Elder], how will the future Judgment take place?
--In the future Judgment, the condition of each person will be revealed in an instant, and each person on his own will proceed to where he belongs. Each person will recognize, as if on a television screen, his own wretchedness, as well as the spiritual condition of others. He will reflect himself upon the other, and he will bow his head, and proceed to the place where he belongs. For example, a daughter-in-law who sat comfortably with her legs crossed in front of her mother-in-law, who with a broken leg took care of the grandchild, will not be able to say, "My Christ, why are you putting my mother-in-law into Paradise without including me?" because that scene will come before her to condemn her..." (Note: Saint of Damascus writes: "For no one should imagine that there will be no recognition of one person by another on that fearful Day of the Judgment. Yes, truly each person will recognize his neighbor, not through the shape of the body, but by means of the vision of the eye of the soul.")
  
The Good Thief in Paradise (source)
  
THE FUTURE LIFE
  
--Geronda [Elder], I have brought some sweets for you to offer to your guests.
--Look how happy they are with that! In the other life we will be saying to ourselves, "In what foolish things we found joy! What things inspired us then!" While now our heart flutters over such things.
  
--Geronda [Elder], how can we understand this at this point in time?
--If you understand this from now, you will not say it in the next life. In any case, those who are to be found up there will be faring well. Have you any idea what handicraft they do there in Heaven? They constantly glorify God. (Note: Saint Symeon the New Theologian writes: "On the fearful Day of Judgment each sinful person will simply see, standing opposite them in the eternal life and in that inexpressible light, their fellow human beings; and they will be judged by them." On Repentance, Logos 5)
  
--Geronda [Elder}, in the other life will those in Hell see those in Paradise?
--Look, just as those who are out at night in the dark can see those who are in a lit room, so will those who will be in Hell see those in Paradise. And this will be an even greater hell for them. So, too, just as those who are in a lit room at night can't see those who are out in the dark, so will those who are in Paradise not see those in Hell. For if the saved were to see those who are condemned in Hell, they would be pained and grieved over their suffering, and would not enjoy Paradise, where "there is no pain..." And not only will they not see them, but they won't even remember if they had a brother or a father or a mother, if they, too are not in Paradise". The Psalmist says, "On that very day his thoughts perish" (Psalm 146:4). For if they are to be remembered, how can it be Paradise? Moreover, those in Paradise will have no awareness of that existence of others, nor will they remember the sins they had committed. For, if they were to remember their sins, they would not be able to bear, out of philotimo, the thought of ever having grieved God. (Source: The Family Life by Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Spiritual Counsels IV)
(source)
  
Icon of the Second Coming of Christ and the Last Judgment (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos: "Make good use of pain..."

Christ being taken down from His Cross (source)
  
How good it would have been if we did not let pain go to waste! One way or another we will suffer. But our whole torture and struggle will go down the drain, unless we make good use of pain, unless we exploit it. We make good use of pain, we exploit pain when we take the correct stance.
  
There comes a time when someone feels the great good which comes out of pain and –no matter how strange it may seem– he says: “Nothing else benefits humanity as much as pain”.
  
When we talk about pain, we generally mean sickness and the overall physical decline of man and death. If it hadn’t been for these, we would have been like brutal beasts. Society would have been a jungle. But thanks to them, we get tamer.
  
A Christian is capable of making such good use of every pain, so that he can constantly be in paradise.
  
Know this: When pain will have completed the work it is supposed to do, God takes away. It is not difficult at all for God to remove whichever pain.
  
When we suffer, when a pain insists, let us think like that: “God wants something good to come out of this in me; and I act as if I do not get it. And all I do is moan and groan.”
  
Let there be no complaint, no rebellion, no kicking about. If possible, whichever pain you have, deal with it by saying these words: “Let it be blessed, my God. Whatever You want.” This way our pain won’t get wasted, but will be exploited to the full. We will take advantage of it, and the great good which saves will come to our hearts.
  
When God visits you with sorrows, say: “Thank you, my God. As I had absolutely no intention to embrace a few ugly things, a few pains, and truly follow your path, you caught up with me and gave me a few. How can I thank you enough?”
  
Holy Hesychasterion “The Nativity of Theotokos” Publications.
Archimandrite Symeon Kragiopoulos
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Akathist to St. Irene Chrysovalantou

St. Irene the Venerable Wonderworker, Abbess of the Monastery of Chrysovalantou (source)
 
Akathist to St. Irene Chrysovalantou
By Fr. Gerasimos of Mikra Agia Anna
(except the last ode where the available text was lacking, and was supplemented from a different text)
  
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
As the pinnacle of Venerable Saints and Virgins, and a true and greatly flowing spring of wonders, we honor you, O Venerable Mother Irene, but as one nourished with the peace of the Spirit, keep us in the bond of peace, for those who cry out to you: Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
  
An Angel was sent down from heaven to you, O Irene, to relate to you unspeakable knowledge (3), and through revealing hidden and secret things, you were made shining with radiance, through which you illumine everyone who cries out to you, O Venerable one:
Rejoice, through whom Christ was exalted,
Rejoice, through whom the enemy was consumed.
Rejoice, the icon of purity inscribed by God,
Rejoice, the cedar of manliness that is unshaken.
Rejoice, perceptible height of heavenly virtues,
Rejoice, depth of notable and soul-nourishing gifts.
Rejoice, for you appeared as the pinnacle of the Venerable,
Rejoice, for you became the chastity of virgins.
Rejoice, you who unfold the ethos of the Venerable,
Rejoice, you who uproot the tares of the passions.
Rejoice, through whom love shines forth,
Rejoice, through whom delusion groans.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
   
You were the perfect and all-joyous root of good planting, and from your youth you were distinguished as beautiful in appearance, but surpassingly beautiful in soul, and you were guided and ordered by fear of the age to come, crying out: Alleluia.
   
Coming to know your future through the divine Spirit, Ioannikios the Great Ascetic, prophesied that you, O Irene, would remain in the Monastery of Chrysovalantou, and to you we cry out these things:
Rejoice, rose of gladness,
Rejoice, lily of virginity.
Rejoice, imprint of heavenly beauty,
Rejoice, partaker of earthly deprivation.
Rejoice,  refuge of the Bridegroom of souls for those condemned,
Rejoice, spotless diadem of radiant youth.
Rejoice, you who wedded [Christ] the Word without corruption,
Rejoice, joyous fragrance of the Angels.
Rejoice, cinnamon of chaste virgins,
Rejoice, gladsome beauty of souls.
Rejoice, radiant adornment of virtues.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
   
You disdained all worldly glory and the time of your youth and superficial honor, counting them as refuse, that you might gain Christ, Whom you loved. And He casts down fire from heaven upon those who chant unto you with fervor: Alleluia.
   
You hastened as a blessed thirsty doe to the divine Monastery of Chrysovalantou, in which springed forth the eternal waters from the ages, from which you drank in faith, and through which you water all those who cry out to you things like these:
Rejoice, moon of chastity,
Rejoice, vessel of dispassion.
Rejoice, imprint of eternal life,
Rejoice, radiance of unspeakable joy.
Rejoice, vineyard bringing forth incorruption from the beginning,
Rejoice, tree heavy-laden with all kinds of noetic fruit.
Rejoice, for you pour forth the streams of eternal life,
Rejoice, unemptying spring of graces.
Rejoice, river of wonders founded by God,
Rejoice, vessel of chaste fragrances,
Rejoice, waterfall of many healings.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
   
You lived according to the writings [of the Scriptures] and with divine praise, you were silent and spoke, O Venerable one, and you were shown to be full of exalted works, O Mother of the ranks of Monastics, whom you taught, and who cry out together with you: Alleluia.
   
St. Irene Chrysovalantou (source)
  
You deposed the dark mania of Belial through your voice emanating from God, for you were enriched by Christ Who was your defender, and you readily dissolved the schemes of the evil one. Therefore, offering you the tokens of victory, we cry out these salutations:
Rejoice, the casting down of bodiless enemies,
Rejoice, the pillar of many struggles.
Rejoice, you who overcame the boldness of Belial,
Rejoice, you who glorified the grace of the Savior.
Rejoice, all-magnificent trophy of feminine nature,
Rejoice, all-honored statue standing immovable.
Rejoice, for you shine forth with the rays of divine light,
Rejoice, enclosure keeping out the enemy.
Rejoice, the beloved one among chaste Monastics,
Rejoice, ray of heavenly peace.
Rejoice, vessel towards unapproachable peace.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
 
Through divine providence, you received the abbacy of your Monastery, O Venerable one, and you lead it truly with instruction and greater education, by word and example, confirming those who chanted: Alleluia.
 
You led your chosen inheritance of your sheep, O thrice-blessed and chaste one, to the Promised Land, making them worthy of the peace that surpasses understanding, offering them to the Word, therefore they cry out these things to you, O Mother:
Rejoice, steadfast in guidance,
Rejoice, tongue of counsel.
Rejoice, God-beholding directer of virgins,
Rejoice, fellow dweller with, and equal to the Angels.
Rejoice, sweetest mouth of practical teachings,
Rejoice, peaceful gaze for troubled hearts.
Rejoice, education for those living in holy asceticism,
Rejoice, light for those laying in darkness.
Rejoice, leader of chaste souls,
Rejoice, lifting up of many fallen ones.
Rejoice, mighty deposer of the enemy,
Rejoice, remover of terrible passions.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
  
Beholding the Angel's presence, O Venerable one, as a ray of divine light,  you hymned the Source of light, and were lead by the angels to heal those who cry out: Alleluia.
 
Shining with divine light, with praxis and theoria, you prayed at light and were behold as a radiant lamp, lifting up your arms the whole night, as did Arsenios the Great, fervently praying to your Creator, Who also receives these as we cry out:
Rejoice, ray of heavenly light,
Rejoice vessel of unsurpassable beauty.
Rejoice lamp of praxis and theoria,
Rejoice, lark of the breath of grace.
Rejoice, character and imitator of the famed Moses,
Rejoice, type no lesser than the wise Arsenios.
Rejoice, for you revealed the hidden things of the heart,
Rejoice, for you impart twice as many hearings.
Rejoice, pure and spotless as turtle doves,
Rejoice, lamb marked by Christ God.
Rejoice, equalling joyous flowers,
Rejoice, tuneful song of swallows.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
 
Enduring the evil that the prince of darkness breathed against you, as the senseless one waged war against you with temptations. But you wholly laughed at him, and stood as steadfast as a diamond, gazing upon Christ, and never ceasing to chant: Alleluia.
   
St. Irene Chrysovalantou (source)
   
A young man of Caesarea was terribly possessed by the demons, and you healed him, O chaste one, calling upon the Blessed Basil together with Anastasia, therefore we cry out to you these things with a proper mind:
Rejoice, the deliverance of the sick,
Rejoice, the dissolver of evil forces.
Rejoice, beautifully-flowing spring of healings,
Rejoice, fully-laden olive tree of gifts.
Rejoice, very precious body of divine energy,
Rejoice, sharp blade cutting away magic energy.
Rejoice, for you do not neglect the cry of those suffering,
Rejoice, for you depose the mania of the demons.
Rejoice, destroyer of bodiless enemies,
Rejoice, savior of lost souls.
Rejoice, fervent protector for those who entreat you,
Rejoice, shield and foundation for those storm-tossed.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
  
Strange deeds and various wonders are seen worked by you, O God-bearer, for you hearkened to every voice of those in need and you could tell of their futures beforehand, compelling all to cry out: Alleluia.
  
Wholly full of amazement, O godly-minded [Abbess], was she who beheld you in an unspeakable manner, for she strangely saw your servant [Angel] standing before you, seeking to fulfill your command, and she cried out things such as these:
Rejoice, the glory of the Church,
Rejoice, the wealth of sympathy.
Rejoice, the joyous adornment of peace,
Rejoice, the sacred resemblance to the bodiless [Angels].
Rejoice, for you revealed a prelude to eternal life,
Rejoice, shining account of the angelic life.
Rejoice, most-ready defender of those in dangers,
Rejoice, most-fervent helper of those who are wronged.
Rejoice, deliverer from unjust judgment,
Rejoice, savior of the blood of the righteous.
Rejoice, you who instruct us by sleep,
Rejoice, you who inform of future things while awake.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
  
You were lifted up towards the height of heaven, and in venerable manner, the soulless cypress trees understanding this, bowed before you like rational beings, bowing before the height of your grace which translates towards a godly height those who cry out: Alleluia.
  
You were truly seen to be a rose of virginity, and a light of purity, O All-venerable one, and you send out the ever fresh apples of your words like flowers, gladdening those who cry out:
Rejoice, haven of many graces,
Rejoice, love of those desiring to be perfect.
Rejoice, myrrh-vessel of sacred holiness,
Rejoice, holy servant of knowledge.
Rejoice, most-fragrant apple bearing the fragrance of chastity,
Rejoice, unfading tree, reaching towards Paradise.
Rejoice, for you were watered by the vine of incorruption,
Rejoice, lamp of divine goodness.
Rejoice, sense of rejoicing from above,
Rejoice, incomparable hearing of the faithful,
Rejoice, most-precious beloved one of God.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
  
As you were seen to be chaste and mindful, through your prayers to God, you delivered your servant Nicholas from his terrible possession, and he then glorified you, crying out to you in peace, O Mother: Alleluia.
  
St. Irene Chrysovalantou (source)
   
As you were about to repose, you beheld a vision of Angels leading you towards divine glory, for you shone bright light the sun, and hastened to the Word as one bearing a lamp, illumining through grace those who radiantly cry out to you: O Mother:
Rejoice, O God-bearing Venerable one,
Rejoice, lamp-bearer among virgins.
Rejoice, equal in honor to the immaterial Angels,
Rejoice, fellow-dweller with all the Venerable Saints.
Rejoice, fellow traveler of Ascetics bearing many virtues.
Rejoice, astonishing array of many kinds of gifts.
Rejoice, for at the hour of your repose you were shining,
Rejoice, for you shine upon the minds of those approach you.
Rejoice, fellow-converser with the uncreated light,
Rejoice, joyous inheritor of the bridal chamber,
Rejoice, our light-bearing guide.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
  
All the multitudes of the Orthodox offered hymns of victory, and divine fragrance, having gathered at your divine body, together with the Hierarchs and Leaders, and their life was filled with fragrance, for those who glorified you, crying out: Alleluia.
  
You were nourished truly by the uncreated light, as the Lord gladdened your grave in glory like a green pasture, giving fragrance to the ranks of the faithful, and giving immaterial gifts towards the healing of those who cry out:
Rejoice, fragrance of Christ,
Rejoice, shameful stench to the enemy.
Rejoice, for you pour forth immaterial fragrances,
Rejoice, deliverance from every passion.
Rejoice, fragrant peace of heavenly mercies,
Rejoice, mystical deliverance against soul-corrupting pollutions.
Rejoice, for you pour myrrh into the hearts of the faithful,
Rejoice, for you cleanse the bosoms of their souls.
Rejoice, our fervent refuge,
Rejoice, steadfast defense against enemies.
Rejoice, famed defender of Christ,
Rejoice, fervent protector of those who cry out.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
  
Your pour forth the grace of peace, O Mother, truly as another life-giving spring, for you drown hateful bitterness as drowning waters against this wretchedness, cleansing those who cry out: Alleluia.
 
While hymning your pains, we praise you, O Mother, as a bride of the Savior, O Venerable one, for through your pure life you approached Christ as a spotless one. Therefore, make Him to dwell with us, for those who cry out with fervor:
Rejoice, divine chosen one of Christ,
Rejoice, ethical myrrh honored by God.
Rejoice, communicant with immaterial radiance,
Rejoice, treasure of godly goodness.
Rejoice, flowered crown of pious Nuns,
Rejoice, glorious boast of pure Ascetics.
Rejoice, utter deposer of bitterness,
Rejoice, guide towards total peace.
Rejoice, through whom we are delivered from evil,
Rejoice, through whom we are filled with love.
Rejoice, the harmony of these odes,
Rejoice, the healing of my soul.
Rejoice, O Mother, equal to the Angels.
  
O All-hymned Mother, who has found the Word Who is holier than all the Saints, (3) receive these our salutations, and deliver from every evil of the devil, and save from all trials, those who cry out: Alleluia.
  
Again, the Kontakion.
        
(source, and source)
  
St. Irene Chrysovalantou (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos: Are we recipients of God’s compassion?

Icon of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (source)
  
Are we recipients of God’s compassion?

The prodigal son from the first moment realised his mistake, his failure, but he did not immediately return to his father. Instead, he tried managing to live far away from him. Stubbornly, he tried to justify himself. But when he ends up in dire need, this causes him to come back to himself, to think correctly, to repent, and to take courage, the courage to go to his father and to confess everything he feels he did against him. There is always a tendency in man to want to appear honourable before God, having the conviction that he is something. Man must be hit hard, to feel that he is unworthy of salvation.  Man ought to rely οn God, οn the Father’s compassion. Every sinner is saved by the sacrifice of Christ and not by any human virtue of his.
  
When someone passes through the misfortune of the prodigal, when he is vanquished like this and is later found in the arms of God and enjoying his love, he will never leave no matter what. He is happy, because he has found the Father. He stays and tastes of his mercifulness.
  
No matter how much we have fallen, God is waiting for us to return without justifying ourselves, so as to give us all his goods. Today’s parable shows that he who fell greatly, very greatly, is saved, because he repented. He repented and was saved.
  
And so I wonder, are we the recipients of God’s compassion?
  
Archimandrite Symeon Kragiopoulos
Holy Hesychasterion “The Nativity of Theotokos” Publications
  
Icon of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!