Sunday, October 20, 2019

Four New Athonite Saints soon to be Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Four New Athonite Saints Canonized (source)
The numbering very soon among the Saints of the Church of the Athonite Fathers Daniel of Katounakia, Ieronymos of Simonopetra, Joseph the Hesychast and Ephraim of Katounakia was officially announced today on October 20th, 2019 by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on his trip to Mount Athos. The Athonite Fathers in attendance received this news with tears in their eyes, and received this as a great blessing from the Patriarch.

Two of these Saints have biographies previously posted on this site and linked to above. For the other two I include brief biographies below:
Elder Ieronymos of Simonopetra (source)
Elder Ieronymos of Simonopetra was born John Diakogiorgis in 1871 in Reis-Dere of Asia Minor (near Cesme). He entered the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra on Mount Athos on October 28th, 1888 and was tonsured a monk on March 21st, 1893, on Palm Sunday. On April 11th, 1920 he was ordained a deacon, and on April 12th the same year a priest. On April 20th, 1920, the Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearers, he was enthroned as the Abbot of the Monastery of his repentance (Simonopetra). On June 15th 1931 he was exiled to the Holy Monastery of Koutloumousiou and in three months he was sent to the "Metochion" ("Dependency") of Simonopetra in Athens named after the Holy Ascension of Christ. In 1937 he was re-elected Abbot of Simonopetra, but he declined this, and he remained at Holy Ascension for twenty more years, until he reposed on January 7th 1957 (the feast of Christmas on the Old Calendar). Therefore, he lived 17 years in his homeland of Asia Minor, 43 years in the Monastery of Simonopetra and 26 years at Holy Ascension in Athens.
Elder Daniel of Katounakia (source)
Elder Daniel of Katounakiaknown in the world as Dimitrios Dimitriadis, was a monk, the founder of Danielaioi brotherhood at Mount Athos.

Born in 1846 in a family of a armourer in Smyrna, he was the youngest child in the family and was characterized by outstanding abilities. In his teenage years Dimitrios knew by heart almost all Philokalia. At the island of Paros, he met Saint Arsenius of Paros who blessed Dimitrios to go to St. Panteleimon monastery at Mt. Athos. 
In St. Panteleimon monastery, he was tonsured a monk with the name of Daniel. Later he lived in Vatopaidi monastery. For 10 years he suffered with nephritis and on August 31, when the Vatopaidi monastery celebrated the feast of Holy Belt of the Mother of God, he was suddenly healed. After 5 years in Vatopaidi he moved to Katounakia where lived alone for 3.5 years. Starting from 1883, other monks started to settle there, so that Danielaioi brotherhood was formed. Elder Daniel was offered to be a bishop but considered himself to be unworthy of it.
Elder Daniel had a gift of spiritual counsel and consolation in sorrows. He guarded or cured many monks and lay persons. He was in spiritual friendship with St. Nectarios of Pentapolis. Also he was in correspondence with Philotheos (Zervakos) of Paros and other monks from the monastery of Longovarda at the island of Paros. Elder Daniel guarded them from the heresy of theologian A. Makrakis. About 200 letters to the abbess Theodosia from the monastery at the island of Tinos and 70 other writings of elder Daniel are available until now.
Kostis Marmaras, a lay person, was interested in spiritualism. He wanted to know whether it comes from the electric forces of from the spiritual forces. Then he found out that it was from the spirit and in his opinion, from the Holy Spirit. So Kostis practiced spiritualism for 30 years, reading thoughts, speaking with "saints", "spirits of reposed people" etc. After that he found a book of elder Daniel against spiritualism and started to doubt about holiness of the participating spirit. He started to write letters to the elder asking about it. The elder succeeded in convincing Kostis that spiritualism was a delusion. But it took a very long time for Kostis to be healed completely. When Kostis started to read the prayers of exorcism of St. Basil the Great, the demons beat him unmercifully in the night. Then he started to see demonic visions and thought that it comes from grace. In the end, Kostis managed to get out of the net of demonic tricks, but that happened only with help of Divinely wise elder Daniel. 
Fr. Callistratus in the end of his life fell into prelest. During the Divine service, he started trembling and was thinking that this is an action of grace. But he was not absolutely certain and decided to write to elder Daniel. The elder replied with an extensive letter "On noetic prayer. Letter of elder Daniel to Callistratus" (1916, In: "Angelic Living"). Elder Daniel analyses in detail the actions of grace and the trembling that comes from God and the one that comes from the evil side. He writes that no one of the Saints was trembling as Fr. Callistratus. He also tells about another similar case of trembling that was coming from the evil forces with monk Alipius who did not notice that was praying with unnoticeable vainglory. And the elder showed with convincing arguments that the trembling for Fr. Callistratus was coming from the same force. In a reply, Fr. Callistratus is amazed at the action of the elder Daniel's letter, the meekness of the elder and the way how he showed the delusion.
In a letter "Reply of monk Daniel to Markianus, a monk of Iveron skete, about rejection of dreams" (1918, In: "Angelic Living"), elder Daniel writes about a man of great learning by the name of Nicolaus who thought of himself that he had received a gift of unceasing heart prayer from the icon of the Mother of God and then started to see visions. He asked God to receive the same visions as the Prophets of the Old Testament. Then the Devil offered him many other heretic superstitions: at the feast day of St. Spyridon, this "saint" appeared in front of Nicolaus and told him to "sacrifice" his hand to Christ and to burn it with candle; the man even took baptism for the second time from the protestants because the demons told him that only protestants keep proper baptism from the times of Apostles. When elder Daniel asked whether this man confessed everything, he replied that "Christ" told him that it is not necessary and there are no true confessors now. After listening for 6 hours about different delusions, it took elder Daniel 2 hours to bring that person to reason based on many places in the Divine Scriptures and reasonable arguments. The man was convinced and started to resist the visions, though the traces of delusion were seen to the end of his life.
In September of 1929, the elder fell ill with a cold. He was foreboding his death and asked to take the Holy Communion. On September 8 (21), 1929, on the day of the Nativity of the Mother of God, after the Divine Liturgy and the Sacrament of Anointment of the Sick, elder Daniel reposed.

The New Choir of Athonite Fathers, including left to right: Saints Joseph the Hesychast, Ephraim of Katounakia, Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia and Paisios the Athonite (source)
Apolytikion of the Holy Fathers in the Fourth Tone
O God of our Fathers, always act with kindness towards us; take not Your mercy from us, but guide our lives in peace through their prayers.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, October 18, 2019

St. Porphyrios on Prayer for Children

An Orthodox Family (source)
St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia once gave advice to a mother regarding her child:
"Your child has an internal problem, that's why he is acting this way. The child is good, he doesn't want what he is doing but he is being forced, he is bound by something. He is not corrected with logic, and you can't force him with advice, nor with threats. This will work the opposite.
He may get worse, he may remain as he is, or he may be changed for the better. But for him to change, his mother must be sanctified. For him to be freed, he wants a holy person to be near him, who, with much love, will teach him, not to strike fear in him, but to live with holiness, and the child that sees him will be zealous to imitate him.
More than anything, the child needs near him a person of much and fervent prayer. Prayer works wonders. The mother is not sufficient with her physical caress of her child, but should struggle to spiritually caress him with prayer.
When a mother goes to caress without prayer, the child reacts and pushes away the hand of his mother. When, however, without caressing him, she mystically does so with her prayer, then his soul senses something unexplainable, and this spiritual caress attracts him to his mother.
The mother in her prayer for her child must melt like a candle. She should pray silently and with her hands lifted up high to Christ, so that she might mystically embrace her child.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Service of the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries

The Synaxis of the Holy and Wonderworking Unmercenaries (source)
Note: This is an in-progress translation of a liturgical service in praise of the Holy Wonderworking and Unmercenary Physicians. This is a translation of a Greek text, which places their feast on October 17th (that of Sts. Cosmas and Damian from Arabia, along with their brothers and fellow unmercenary martyrs Sts. Leontios, Evtropios and Anthimos). The traditional 20-numbered band of Holy Unmercenaries in the Greek tradition of course is by no means exclusive. There are of course female Holy Unmercenaries (Sts. Philonilla, Zenaida, Hermione, and even St. Anastasia Pharmakolytria in some traditions. There are other Saints not necessarily known as physicians in their lifetimes, but are known for many wondrous cures and therefore are sometimes numbered with the Unmercenaries (such as Sts. Vlasios, Spyriodon, Artemios, etc.) Finally, there have been later additions to the holy band of Unmercenaries through the passage of time, most notably St. Luke the Surgeon of Simferopol, who reposed in the 20th century. As a result, let this not serve as a fixed or exclusive service, but one in prayer to our Lord to heal our many physical, psychological and spiritual afflictions with His mighty arm, through the intercessions of His healing Saints, who left behind every earthly repose, "placing all their hope in heaven" (from the Idiomelon to the Holy Unmercenaries), while giving their lives in love for their fellow men.

Also note, a vespers text exists from the Russian tradition which places this feast on the first Sunday of November (likely in proximity to the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor who celebrate November 1st). As such, I have begun by translating the Matins text and may proceed to the Vespers and the Matins Canon at some point. Finally, note that the translation is not set to the Byzantine meter of the Prosomoia. May the Saints pray for us all and heal our world!

Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (source)
After the First Stichologia, the Kathisma in the First Tone. Your tomb, O Savior.
Let us celebrate, O godly-minded ones, the divine and joyous memory of all the sacred Unmercenaries, who are our patrons, and let us praise them out of duty, for they have become the common protectors and saviors of all those in dangers, who speedily deliver all those who hasten to them in faith.

Glory. Both now. Theotokion.
O unwedded and Pure One, Theotokos Maria, the only protection and covering for the faithful in dangers and trials and terrible circumstances, deliver all of those who place their hope in you, having you, O Lady, as a savior for our souls through your divine intercessions.

After the Second Stichologia, the Kathisma in the Third Tone. The beauty.
Unemptying wealth of sympathy and goodness is poured out upon us by the divine Unmercenaries, and no mind of mortals, nor mellifluent tongue can tell of the surpassing ocean and the true streams of their many wonders. Therefore we cry out to them: Rejoice, O eternal springs.

Glory. Both now. Theotokion.
At the beauty of your virginity, and the resplendency of your chastity, Gabriel stood amazed and cried to you, O Theotokos: What are the appropriate words of praise to present to you? What name shall I call you by? At a loss and perplexed am I. And so as I was ordered I cry to you: rejoice, O you Who are full of grace!

After the Polyeleos, the Katisma in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. The wisdom.
Paradoxically you received from Christ the gifts of heavenly wonders, and you heal all of our passions freely, for within you has shown forth the grace of the Spirit, working the power of divine healings. Therefore, you have inherited incorruptible good things through your unmercenary minds, O God-bearing Unmercenaries. Intercede with Christ God, that forgiveness of offenses be granted to those who celebrate you holy memory with fervor.

Glory. Both now. Theotokion.
Let us all praise the Queen and Mother of the Creator of all, and let us magnify her with our voices and cry out to her in hymns: O Virgin and All-hymned cause of joy, save those who honor you, and protect all those in temptations of all kinds and illnesses and trials through your intercessions, for, as the Mother of God, you have boldness. Entreat that healing of afflictions be granted to those who cry out to you. Intercede to your Son and God that your servants might be granted forgiveness.

Then the Hymns of Ascents in the Fourth Tone, followed by the Prokeimenon:
To His Saints who are in His earth, the Lord has been shown wondrous.
Verse: God is wondrous in His Saints.
Matins Gospel of the Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries Sts. Cosmas and Damian (November 1st)
Psalm 50.
Through the intercessions of the Unmercenaries, O Lord of mercy, wash away my many personal offenses.

Both now.
Through the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Lord of mercy, wash away my many personal offenses.

Then the Idiomelon in the Second Tone.
Verse: Have mercy on me, O God...
The choir of the Saints rejoices unto the ages, for their have inherited the Kingdom of the heavens, while the earth that has received their Holy Relics breathes forth fragrance, for they became the servants of Christ, and have come to dwell in eternal life.

Then the Priest says the, "O God, save Your people..." Followed by the Canons to the Theotokos and the Holy Unmercenaries (to be translated at a later time).
Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (Source)
Kontakion in the Second Tone.
You have received the grace of remedies, spread strength over those in need, glorious, wonderworking Physicians; but by your visitation, cast down the insolence of enemies, healing the world by wonders.
The Oikos.
The word of the wise Physicians surpasses all understanding and wisdom; for having received grace from the Most High, they invisibly bestow strength on all; therefore on me too they have bestowed the grace of narration, to sing their praise as God-bearing, well-pleasing to God and healers, who grant multitudes of cures; for they rescue all from pains, healing the world by wonders.
On this day (October 17th) we honor the Synaxis of all the Holy and Wonderworking Unmercenaries (twenty in number).

I ever honor together the Unmercenaries,
Being gathered here in their church.
The twenty-numbered band of the Unmercenaries,
O choir, save those you entreat you.
Twenty, therefore, Unmercenaries, I ever hymn.
Then, the Katavasies of the Theotokos, followed by the 9th Ode.
Exaposteilarion in the Third Tone. In the Temple in Spirit.
Receiving the grace of healing from God, blessed Unmercenaries, you cure diseases and heal all those who faithfully have recourse to your divine shrine, and therefore with one voice, we worthily call your holy memory blessed.
Another for the Saints in the Fourth Tone. The Disciples gathered.
Together with Saints Kosmas, let us hymn Sampson, Panteleimon, the Damians, Ermolaos, Cyrus and John, Thalelleos, Aniketos, Tryphon, Diomedes, Leontios, Eutropion, Anthimos, with Mokios, Julian, and let us praises the Twenty and celebrate their joyous memory in a godly manner.
Theotokion in the same tone.
Let us hymn with a godly mind the Mountain of God, the Palace, and Lamp-stand, and Container, and Ark, and Altar, the Rod and fiery divine Throne and Gate, the Temple and Bridal Chamber, the Pure Virgin, from whom God became incarnate without change and in a manner surpassing nature, and deified our fallen nature, uniting it with the ineffable.
Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (source)
Then, the Praises, followed by the Prosomoia in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
What shall we call you?
What shall we call you, O Unmercenaries? Heaven, for you related the glory of God. Liturgists, for you ceaselessly glorified Him. Bodiless, for you put off the flesh. Stars, for you shine upon the ends of the earth. For many are your names, and even more are your accomplishments. Intercede that our souls be saved.
What shall we call you, O glorious ones? Physicians, for you heal the afflictions of mortals. Rivers, for you fill the earth with wonders. Saviors, for you save everyone from dangers. Lights, for you enlighten many. Many are your graces, and even greater are your awesome deeds. Intercede that our souls be saved.
What shall we name you, O wise ones? The uprooters of passions or the sower of virtues, noetic paradises, or fruitful plans, sending forth gifts, and nourishment, and granting incorruption to all. Many are your graces, and unemptying are your healings. Intercede that our souls be saved.
Your temple has been shown to be a river as from Eden, which surrounds the world, pouring forth and watering healings for the faithful, granting grace freely to those who cry out to you with fervor and in faith: Many are your wonders, O all-blessed Unmercenaries. Intercede that our souls be saved.
Doxastikon of the Praises in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
(Modeled after the Doxastikon: "The Choir of the Holy Fathers", from the Sundays of the Holy Fathers)
The multitude of the Holy Unmercenaries, who have been gathered from the ends of the earth to rejoice on this joyous day, and whom we hymn harmoniously today together at their sacred shrine, in which they stand invisibly, together with Christ Who crowned their sacred heads, and grants to them the unending grace of wonders. To them let us cry out melodiously: O divine assembly, hoplites inspired by God, in the Lord's army, ever-shining stars of the noetic firmament, the unassailable towers of mystical Sion, the fragrant flowers of Paradise, the fervent physicians of the sick, the boast of the Martyrs, the pride of the Righteous, ceaselessly intercede on behalf of our souls.
Both now. Theotokion.
O Lady, do you receive from your servants their entreates, and deliver us from every danger and trial.
Then the Great Doxology, followed by the Apolytikion of the Saints in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
O Holy Unmercenaries and Wonderworkers, visit our infirmities. Freely you have received, freely give to us.
The Epistle and Gospel from the feast of the Holy Unmercenaries Kosmas and Damian (see November 1st).
Megalynarion for the Holy Unmercenaries.
You received the gift from God of healing the afflictions of the faithful, and speedily delivering from the gravest passions those who call upon you, O Unmercenaries.
The Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (Source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

St. Porphyrios on the Expectation of God

Icon of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (source)
When you desire and wait to be united with God, when you force God, He does not come. But He comes "at a day that is not expected, and at the hour that you do not know." It is a most-holy way, but you cannot learn it from outside.
-St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Elder Sophrony of Essex on the Holy Fathers

St. Gregory Palamas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Thessaloniki (source)
In our age, we need, more than any time before, the teaching of three Fathers: St. Gregory Palamas, St. Maximos the Confessor, and St. Symeon the New Theologian.
-Elder Sophrony of Essex

Sts. Maximos the Confessor and Symeon the New Theologian (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, October 11, 2019

St. John Maximovitch on Struggle and Victory in Christ

Jesus Christ crucified (source)
God’s grace always assists those who struggle, but this does not mean that a struggler is always in the position of a victor. Sometimes in the arena the wild animals did not touch the righteous ones, but by no means were they all preserved untouched.
What is important is not victory or the position of a victor, but rather the labor of striving towards God and devotion to Him.
Though a man may be found in a weak state, that does not at all mean that he has been abandoned by God. On the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ was in trouble, as the world sees things. But when the sinful world considered Him to be completely destroyed, in fact He was victorious over death and hades. The Lord did not promise us positions as victors as a reward for righteousness, but told us, “In the world you will have tribulation — but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
The power of God is effective when a person asks for the help from God, acknowledging his own weakness and sinfulness. This is why humility and the striving towards God are the fundamental virtues of a Christian.
+ St. John Maximovitch

St. John Maximovitch the Wonderworker (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Symeon the New Theologian on Faith in Christ

St. Symeon the New Theologian (source)
“To have faith in Christ means more than simply despising the delights of this life. It means we should bear all our daily trials that may bring us sorrow, distress, or unhappiness, and bear them patiently for as long as God wishes and until He comes to visit us. For it is said, ‘I waited on the Lord and He came to me.'”
— St. Symeon the New Theologian


Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!