Homily on St. Paraskevi by Metropolitan
Avgoustinos Kantiotes (+2010)
"A Bedrock of Virtue"
St. Paraskevi was not an ordinary
woman. She was a spiritual meteor, a bedrock of virtue, unshakable
amid the ocean of the corrupt community.
She implemented that which Christ said,
that: “He who hears my words and keeps them resembles a house built
upon the rock, and though the rains came and the winds and the rivers
fell upon it, the house was not shaken.” (Matthew 7:24-25) And St.
Paraskevi was a bedrock of virtue. Foamy waves fell upon her, the
greatest waves of life.
First, the wave of corruption fell upon
her. She was not born in a small village. She was born in the most
corrupted city, which in the Holy Scriptures is called the Babylon of
the world due to its corruption (Revelation 17:5). She was born in
Rome, in a suburb of Rome. But however, she remained uplifted. She
was a lily among the dung of her community.
Let us all hearken to this, for when we
see some woman being led astray, we say: “The community is
responsible.” Yes, the community is responsible, I don't deny this.
But she herself is also responsible. Give me a woman who loves Christ
like St. Paraskevi, and throw her into the most corrupted community,
and no wave and no devil could shake her.
As soon as one wave left, a stronger
wave fell upon her: the wave of orphanhood. This wave is terrible.
St. Paraskevi was orphaned of her father and her mother. Because of
this she is a protector of orphans. She was orphaned at that age when
children could become prey to unscrupulous traffickers who try to
exploit them. But she stood tall even while an orphan. She had within
her a great fervor for holiness, the life of virginity and grandeur.
Woe to the woman who does not have
these great desires. No matter how high she climbs, no matter how
many qualifications she has, she is deplorable. It is better to be an
unlettered villager, which is like a lily, like the flowers that grow
in the crags of the rocks of our homeland.
Therefore, the waves of corruption and
orphanhood fell upon her, but she remained untouched. Because of this
I call her a rock. Furthermore, another rock fell upon her, that of
money, of wealth. After the death of her pious parents, she remained
the sole inheritor of their vast property, which they left to her.
Every other girl would think
differently. One might buy silken clothes, one might go to dances and
gatherings, one might run right and left, would go on trips, would
experience the spirit of the sinful life. St. Paraskevi however did
Money is a great temptation. It is
better to be a blessed poor person. Thrice-blessed are little huts,
more than great homes. Because in huts dwell diamonds, while in the
palaces and the large homes dwell many times prideful souls, who do
not love Christ.
Money fell into the hands of St.
Paraskevi. But she did what St. Anthony did, who had also inherited
vast property. He went into church one day. His ear hearkened to the
Priest who was reading the Gospel: “Sell your goods and give them
to the poor.” (Matthew 19:21) Sell everything and give them to the
poor. Anthony heard this. And he did not say that Christ was saying
this to others. He distributed his property to the poor. As he
hearkened to the words of Christ, so did St. Paraskevi. She kept only
a small amount, and with this she founded a small sisterhood of
orphan women virgins, who were dedicated to preaching, to
enlightenment and to philanthropy.
So many foamy waves fell upon St.
Paraskevi. Finally, the red wave of blood fell upon her! It was a
time when only one would be heard to be a Christian, and one would be
put in prison. They seized her at that hour when she had gathered the
girls together to teach them. They led her before the judge. They
asked her: “Are you a Christian?” She responded: “I boast that
I am a Christian.” “We give you,” they said, “three days time
to deny Christ.” “No,” the Saint responded, “I don't need
time to decide. From this instant I dedicated to sacrifice my life
for Christ. Do whatever you wish.”
And her martyrdom began. They threw her
in a dungeon in the prison. They whipped her with bullwhips. They
threw her to the wild beasts. They threw her into a cauldron with
burning tar and oil. She endured many forms of martyrdom, but all of
these she conquered through the power of Christ.
At the end, her hour came. They took
her to a temple of the idols with statues of the false gods. She
knelt, closed her eyes and made a mystical prayer to God.
Immediately, there was an earthquake. The statues fell to the earth
and became dust.
They couldn't stand it anymore.
Thousands of barbarous hands of the idolaters seized her, took her
outside and to the place of execution. Her face was shining like the
sun. She knelt, prayed and thanked God. Finally, she was beheaded by
a Roman soldier. And while her precious head fell down, and her blood
watered the earth, her soul, white as a dove, flew to the heavens.
Since then, how many years have passed!
But as long as the world will exist, the name of St. Paraskevi will
remain unto eternity. For: “The memory of the righteous is unto
eternity.” (Psalms 111:6)
My brethren, St. Paraskevi is an
example for all of us. But foremost, she is an example of a virtuous
life and faith for women and young people. In this age of great
corruption, she is the example and the mirror for virtue for
We live in a time of Babylon, a time of
the Apocalypse, when the devil is roaring. He tries to strike the
whole world. But most of all, he rabidly fights to strike and to soil
girls and women. He wants not a single girl to remain unsoiled.
He fights we terrible magazines and
newspapers. He soiled our girls with terrible brochures, with movies,
with TV shows, which are schools of crime and dishonor. He soils them
with mixed baths, with terrible photographs, with corrupting dances,
with parties. The day will come when you will not find a pure girl.
What will we do?
To arms, my brethren, to arms! Not to
physical weapons, but to spiritual ones. Fathers, mothers, look
towards the honor of your girls.
I'm finished, but rather, I'm not yet
finished, because I want to be paid. What payment? Money? I am a monk
and I leave that to you. I will not finish my homily unless my soul is
Do you want your homes to be blessed
and your girls to be secure? Today, the feast of St. Paraskevi, I
entreat you all to do three things. First, go straightaway to your
home, and look everywhere to find terrible articles and pictures, and
gather them to light them with a holy fire to burn them all. Second,
I recommend to all of you to go buy the life of St. Paraskevi and an
icon of hers to hang in your home, and speak to your children: “My
daughter, my child, become like St. Paraskevi.” And the third
thing? Having done the first two, light a candle for the wayward
women, those who live in filth and dishonor, and say to St.
Paraskevi: “St. Paraskevi, you who are a lily of heaven, help these
women of Greece, the women of the whole world to return near the
Panagia, near to God, near to Greece, so that we might all have the
protection of the Holy Trinity”, Whose blessings I pray might be
with you all. Amen.
(homily delivered in Chaidari, Athens,
Sts. Joachim and Anna, with the Most-Holy Theotokos (source)
As we observe this memorial of Christ's
ancestors, * of Joachim and Anna * who were saintly and blameless, *
we glorify our tenderly merciful Lord and Redeemer unceasingly; * for
He has herefrom translated them unto life * indestructible and aging
-Prosomoion of the Praises, Feast of the Dormition of St. Anna
St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary (source)
Note: The following is my amateur translation of the third canon (in the third tone) in a series of eight canons in the eight tones written by St. Joseph the hymnographer to honor the great martyr and healer of Christ, St. Panteleimon. These are very beautiful and compunctionate hymns, and rightly praise such a great wonderworker of Orthodoxy. For the full texts of the canons in Greek, see here. If I am not mistaken, these are used around the feast of the Saint (i.e. either in the days leading up to or following his feast) in his Monastery on Mount Athos to more fully celebrate this great feast, the feast of the Russian Monastery of the Holy Mountain. May St. Panteleimon intercede for us all, and grant us healing of the passions of our souls and bodies! Amen!
Canons in the Eight Tones to St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary
Written by St. Joseph the Hymnographer (+883AD)
Canon in the Third Tone
Truly, you have been shown to be a
Martyr of the Savior, O glorious Panteleimon, as all of the faithful
piously know you to be, and to your fervent protection we hasten and
cry out: deliver us from every evil, through your intercessions.
You deposed the lawless King, and found
the Kingdom not of this world, and on behalf of Christ you suffered
pains, O unconquerable Martyr. Ever entreat Him, that every pain
might be driven out of our hearts, O glorious one.
With rejoicing, you set off for
tortures, O glorious Panteleimon, and you destroyed all the
soul-corrupting power of the enemy. Deliver us from this danger, and
strengthen us all through your intercessions, O blessed of God.
Daniel beheld you once as a mountain, O
Lady who gave birth to God, from which a stone was cut, which truly
was made to shatter all the idols of delusion, while refashioning us.
Through calling upon God, you raised
the dead man, O wise one, and rejoicing, you offered to Christ your
unwavering mind, O Martyr worthy of praise.
Deliver us from the stupor of sins and
afflictions and dangers, O Martyr of Christ, we who are ever enriched
by you, our unshakable intercessor.
You have blunted the evil arrows of the
tempter, O Martyr, through your holy pains. Deliver us from him, we
who call upon you with faith.
The Almighty Lord desired to dwell
within your womb, O Theotokos, and gave himself to be born, for our
Heal, O Christ, our souls and bodies,
through the prayers of Panteleimon, your beloved healer, O Word, and
grant us Your good things, O only greatly-merciful One.
You have been shown to the world to be
the boast of champions, for you rejoiced in the wounding of your
members, O Panteleimon, empowered by the grace of the
Bestower-of-Crowns, therefore we praise you.
Deliver us from worldly scandals
through your intercessions, entreating for the forgiveness of all
kinds of sins, O all blessed one, and the correction of life, for we
have been enriched by you, our great protector.
You alone among women remained
incorrupt after childbirth, you alone nursed the Nourisher of all
with milk, O Virgin-Mother, therefore we glorify you, and out of
necessity bless you with faith.
You were reborn as a sanctified Temple
of the All-Holy Spirit, and cast down the temples of the idols to the
ground, O all-blessed Panteleimon, therefore, we hymn your
intercessions with fervor in your divine temple, and we are saved.
Having been pierced in the flesh and
lit aflame by torches, O blessed one, you received refreshment from
Christ the Lord Who appeared to you, O Panteleimon, and He
extinguished the flame of fire, while lighting the eros of your
Those who were darkened by delusion,
beholding your wondrous deeds, O Martyr, were led towards the light
of godly knowledge, therefore, shine upon me, who am darkened by
sins, and through your prayers, lead me towards the paths of
You were shown to be an all-radiant
palace of the King, O All-Spotless One, and a fiery throne on which
He sat, while lifting up mortals from their ancient prostration, who
out of contrition glorify you.
Your blood ran upon the earth,
therefore drying up the rivers of impiety, and watering the hearts of
the faithful, O all-famed one, who honor your sacred gifts.
You stopped the mouths of beasts by
calling upon Christ, O all-honored one, escaped being food for the
lions. Deliver me from this evil, through your prayers, O holy one.
The evildoers bound you to a wheel,
while your intellect was bound to Christ, and thus you were
unshakable, O ever-memorable one, equal-in-honor to the Angels.
We honor you with hymns in a godly
manner, we who are saved through you, and we pray to you, O Lady
Theotokos, to intercede on behalf of all, that we might find your
Your nous was mystically radiant and
aflame, O ever-memorable Champion, as you hastened to dark tortures,
chanting: blessed are You, O God.
O Champion, you rejoiced enduring being
boiled, receiving therefore divine refreshment. But entreat that we
might be delivered from eternal fire through your prayers.
Chanting unto Holy God, you completed
the contest. But we entreat you, O holy one, that we who have
gathered unto the glory of God and to honor you, might be delivered
from every danger.
As one wider than the heavens, you have
birth to God, Who is uncontainable by everything. Entreat Him, that
we be delivered from every sadness, O Birth-giver of God.
You were thrown into prison, while you
rejoiced in the spirit, O Martyr, and you kept the commandments of
Christ, while unbinding through your shackles, the evil of the enemy,
crying out: Bless the Lord, all you His works.
Having been set aflame by the fire of
divine love, you were not afraid of the fire that ever burns, O wise
one, but you ceaselessly cried out to Christ in joy: Blessed are You,
O God of our Fathers.
O Martyr who once enlightened the eyes
of the blind man, open the eyes of my heart, through your prayers, O
Panteleimon, that I might see the divine light and live.
The Lord took on flesh from your, O
All-Spotless One, and appeared to men upon the earth, delivering from
ignorance and shining upon all with the light of knowledge. Entreat
Him, O Virgin, for those who now bless you.
You finished the contest in holiness,
having moved the people who beheld your wonders, O every-memorable
one, and you took refuge in God, and received the crowns of the
Martyrs in the Spirit. With Him we honor you, O Panteleimon, and
magnify you with faith.
As your zeal for the faith was fervent,
O adornment of Champions, you quenched the fire of impiety, and
appeared to the world as a light, shining forth with the rays of
healings, O Panteleimon, for those who ever take refuge in your
In imitation of Christ, you became a
spring of compassion, showing mercy on those who hasten to you, O
Champion. But I entreat that you might become a helper to me in my
infirmity, helping me to lighten the burden of my sins through your
The day of my death is approaching, O
my soul, put off laziness and cry out to Christ in contrition: on
that coming day, deliver me, O Word, from condemnation, through the
sacred supplications of Your Champion Panteleimon.
You were made to be a most-awesome
dwelling place of the Lord and God, a most-holy home, O All-Spotless
One, for Him Who dwelt within you. Entreat Him ceaselessly, that all
of us might be delivered from the danger of the enemy, and from the
condemnation of the fire of Gehenna.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!
In this portion of a letter, Elder Sophrony writes regarding holy oil and how to use it. Specifically, he refers to Holy Unction, but this could apply to all holy oil as well:
"I am glad that your cheek is better. You should anoint it with the oil that you have now. And you should do so in the following way:
You should take some oil on the tip of your finger, and make the sign of the Cross on the sick body part and say: 'In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…O Lord, heal my spiritual and bodily afflictions, and save me, in the manner that You know.'
Then, you should rub it into the sick body part. This you should do to every bodily member that is suffering. Regardless of whether you are healed or not, you should do this to be sanctified.
I have experienced, however, a multitude of cases of astonishing healing. This holy oil [i.e. the Sacrament of Holy Unction] is especially sanctified. It is sanctified on Wednesday or Thursday of Holy Week…" From the book: Letters from Russia, by Archimandrite Sophrony Sacharov, published by the Holy Monastery of the Precious Forerunner, Essex, England. (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!
The Church of the Prophet Elias (Elijah) in Chernobyl (source)
The only church in Chernobyl dedicated to the Old
Testament Prophet Elijah is first mentioned by chronicles
in the 16th century. Following the accident at
the Chernobyl nuclear power station in April 1986 the
church was closed. Services in it were resumed in 2001.
The church contains the revered icons of “The
Saviour of Chernobyl” and of St. Nicholas the
In April 2011, on the 25th anniversary of the
Chernobyl catastrophe, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All
Russia visited Chernobyl. The head of the Russian Orthodox
Church served a funeral service (panikhida) there for the
repose of the accident victims. The Patriarch then noted
that the containment and stoppage of the nuclear power
station accident “became a great moral feat for
thousands of people” and called upon the gathered
people not to forget the Chernobyl disaster victims.
The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant happened on
April 26, 1986, due to an explosion in the fourth
power-generating unit. As a result of the disaster 19
Russian regions with a total area of about 60,000 square
kilometers (23,166 sq. mi.) and a population of 2.6
million people, and 46,500 square kilometers (17,954 sq.
mi.) of the neighboring territory of Belarus (23% of its
total area) suffered from the radioactive fallout. The
overall area of radiation pollution in the Ukraine was
50,000 square kilometers (19,305 sq.mi.) in 12 regions.
Icon of Christ "The Savior of Chernobyl", with the Theotokos and the Archangel Michael, the cross-shaped tree, the Star mentioned in the Revelation, and personifications of the victims and the first aid workers (source)
icon “The Saviour of Chernobyl,” in Prophet
Elijah Church, painted (written) after the disaster,
has a unique history. According to the web site of the
Church of St. Theodosius in Kiev, the icon’s
prototype appeared several times in dreams to Yuri
Andreev, an atomic energy worker who received an
enormous dosage of radiation at the time of the
accident. Andreev dismissed the visions as simple
dreams, or even heresy, but eventually decided to ask
Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev (now recently-reposed) if
it would be possible to have an icon made showing the
Saviour, together with the people of Chernobyl who
risked or sacrificed their lives to save others from
the radiation. Metropolitan Vladimir gave his blessing.
The icon depicts The Saviour, the Mother of God, and
the Archangel Michael at the top of the icon. At the
bottom left are the souls of the victims who died from
the accident; on the bottom right are the workers who
knowingly stayed in the deadly radiation in order to
contain the accident. Between them is a pine tree,
shaped like a trident, that stood at Chernobyl.
“Workers of the Chernobyl nuclear plant were all
non-believers,” said Andreev, as reported by
The Voice of Russia,
“until they witnessed something which can only be
interpreted as the power of God. In the very first
seconds after the explosion on the fourth reactor a
cloud with uranium particles moved towards the
neighboring town of Pripyat,” only 1800 meters (1
mile) away. “A pine stood in the way of the
radioactive cloud. Before it reached the tree, the
cloud broke into two halves and instead of covering the
town, it passed it by a mere several meters from
residential areas. No one can explain this to this
During WWII, the pine had been used by fascists to hang
Russian soldiers on.
The Icon has been the source of miraculous healings,
according to the St. Theodosius Church web-site. During
the consecration of the icon, a miracle occurred witnessed
by thousands of people: a dove flew over the icon, a
rainbow appeared in the sky in the shape of a halo (though
there had been no rain), and then an Orthodox Cross
appeared in the sky, with the sun in the center of it.
The tree in the shape of the Holy Cross at Chernobyl (source)
20 April 2011, 18:33
The only church open in Chernobyl zone
shows the minimum radiation level
Kiev, April 20, Interfax - During 25
years from the date of Chernobyl accident the radiation level in the
area of St. Elijah Church, the only church operating in the exclusion
zone, was well below the level across the zone, Chernobyl disaster
"Even in the hardest days of
nineteen eighty six the area around St. Elijah Church was clean (from
radiation - IF), not to mention that the church itself was also
clean," president of the Ukrainian Chernobyl Union Yury Andreyev
said in a Kiev-Moscow video conference on Wednesday.
Now the territory adjacent to the
church has the background level of 6 microroentgen per hour compared
with 18 in Kiev.
Andreyev also said many disaster
liquidators had been atheists. "We came to believe later
after observing suchdevelopments which
could be explained only by God's will," he says.
In particular, according to him, a few
seconds after the explosion in the fourth unit of the Chernobyl PP
the cloud containing uranium particles started moving in the
direction of Pripyat, a city located about 1,800 meters from the
plant. There was a pine-tree on its way (it is featured on a
on Chernobyl's Savior.)
"The cloud stopped short of this
pine, divided into two parts by some unknown reason and
continued moving to the left and right
sides of the city instead of covering its residential areas.
The radiation level in contamination
areas was four or five roentgen per hour, and the city showed only
half a milliroentgen," Andreyev said.
St. Paisios the Athonite (+1994) said: "There, in the Revelation, St. John the Theologian mentions that he saw a great star, burning, fall from heaven, polluting, making bitter, and fatally poisoning the water and the springs of the waters...
And the name of the star is Wormwood! (in Ukranian, Chernobyl)!" (Revelation 8:11)
The Holy Prophet Elias (Elijah) the Tishbite (source)
Elias the Prophet, whose thoughts were in heaven, when he saw all Israel prostituting itself from God and clinging to idols, on fire with zeal he drew in the clouds, dried up the earth and shut the heavens with a word, saying: There will be no drop upon the earth, except at my bidding. He is now our host, for ungrudgingly he grants inexpressible grace to us who honour him with faith. -Prosomoion of the Aposticha, Fouth Tone
(source) Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God have mercy on us and save us! Amen!
Here is a video clip of the Divine Liturgy from the recent vigil (7/11/15) in celebration of the first feast day since the canonization of St. Paisios. The video is of the service from the Monastery of Souroti outside of Thessaloniki, which treasures the holy and wonderworking grave of St. Paisios. At the feast was present the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, along with many other bishops, clergy, monks and nuns, and thousands of the faithful. In the video one can see beautiful shots of the church, excellent chanting from the nuns at Souroti, and video of the long line of people waiting to venerate the tomb of St. Paisios. May he continue to intercede for all those who suffer and who need his help throughout the world!
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth...And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." John 1: 14, 16-17
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages! Amen!
"As the Prophets saw, as the Apostles taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers express in dogma, as the inhabited world understands together with them, as grace illumines, as the truth makes clear, as error has been banished, as wisdom makes bold to declare, as Christ has assured, so we think, so we speak, so we preach, honouring Christ our true God, and his Saints, in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in churches, in icons, worshipping and revering the One as God and Lord, and honouring them because of their common Lord as those who are close to him and serve him, and making to them relative veneration.
This is the faith of the Apostles; this is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the Orthodox; this faith makes fast the inhabited world." Excerpt from the Synodikon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy (http://www.anastasis.org.uk/synodikon.htm)
By the Grace of God, here are presented a few true stories of the Saints, sayings of the Holy Fathers, sacred icons, and many other things so that, maybe in a small way, we may remind ourselves that (though we might not be ready to accept it) Jesus Christ is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE, and that the Holy Orthodox Church is full of Christ's GRACE and TRUTH, and is no less than the Kingdom of God on earth.
I must say that I am not a part of the clergy, so I hope to primarily put forth quotations from the Gospel, Saints and Holy Fathers, and not my own opinions. But if you see my own words or opinions, keep in mind that they are my opinions or comments and they have little weight, as opposed to the quotations from Christ, the Saints and the Fathers which do.
I ask forgiveness if in this site any of my passions are acting, hindering the Grace of the Holy Spirit because of my sins. I apologize for any errors of mine, mistakes, problems with translations, etc. due to my ignorance and conceit. If anyone notices any mistakes or can suggest a better translation, please let me know. I try to post all of my sources. Please also let me know if I am violating any copyrights or other laws, and I will do my best to comply.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!
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