Wednesday, November 20, 2019

"Today, the All-Spotless Virgin is led to the Temple..."

The Entrance of the Theotokos to the Temple (source)
  
Today, the All-Spotless Virgin is led to the Temple to become the dwelling-place of God, the King of All, Who is the nourishment of our life. Today, the most pure Holy One, as a three year old calf, enters the Holy of Holies. Let us cry out to her like the Angel [Gabriel]: Rejoice, O only blessed one among women.
-Doxastikon of the Praises in the Second Tone, by Leo the Master

(source)
 
Most-holy Theotokos, save us!

Elder Ephraim of St. Andrew Skete: "God is everywhere present..."

Christ Pantocrator (Source)
  
"God is everywhere present. Wherever God is, there also is His Uncreated Light. The Uncreated Light of our Triune God fills all things. Therefore, no place is a place of darkness. All is all-bright with the Uncreated Light of our Triune God, Who shines with His Light and with his incomparable Divine Love. In other words, God bombards us with incomparable tons of His Divine Love. And woe to him who does not accept this Love, for he will experience it as incomparable hell, as incomparable hate and incomparable darkness in the other life.

"With this teaching, all of the thoughts of modern man are put into order, that say that, if God is incomparable love, how is it possible for us to go to hell for all eternity with so many torments? God neither condemns to hell, nor is hell His creation. God out of love made all things, and whatever He created is wholly light and love. Darkness and punishment were not created by God. We have created them with sin and with death, we have created darkness and hell. Therefore, God, does not condemn us to hell, but we self-condemn ourselves on our own.

"It is like the sun which shines wholly bright, and there are eyes of men who desire to go blind and do not wish to see the light of the sun, even forever. In this eternal self-blinding, one remains in darkness even though he was given the chance to see. Every human being has this pure choice and is free, and God honors this and does not intervene. And man lives his life and works his sins and God does not stand in his way, but unless he turns in repentance and chooses to follow His righteousness, then he can't condemn God for the hell that he will experience in the next life."
-Elder Ephraim of St. Andrew Skete, Mount Athos

(source)

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Recent Repose of Two Contemporary Elders of Greece

Blessed Eldress Styliani (Karatzogianni) of the Holy Monastery of Christ Pantocrator, Ntaou Penteli (+ October 8th, 2019) (source)
  
Gerontissa (Eldress) Styliani, Abbess of the Holy Monastery of Ntaou Penteli (+ October 8th, 2019)
On October 8th, 2019, the blessed Eldress of the Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ, Ntaou Penteli, reposed in the Lord.

Eldress Nun Styliani was born on September 14th 1933 as Angeliki Karatzogianni, in Neochorion, Mesolongi. She completed elementary school in Neochorion, Masolongi, and Middle School in Nicea. At the age of 21, she became a novice at the Holy Monastery of Ypapanti (the Meeting) of the Lord in Kalamata under the guidance of Blessed Elder Joel Giannakopoulos and in September 1958, she entered the Holy Monastery of St. Patapios in Loutraki. There she became a rasophore nun on Palm Sunday 1950.

On March 9th 1963, through the activities of the then Archbishop Chrysostomos of Athens and All Greece, her Eldress, Styliane Gousopoulos, together with five other nuns from the Holy Monastery of St. Patapios, rebuilt the Holy Monastery of Christ Pantocrator Ntaou Penteli in the Holy Archdiocese of Athens.

On the feast of Theophany, 1963, the enthronement of the first Eldress Styliani occurred, but also the tonsure to the great-schema of the later Abbess by the blessed Archbishop Ieronymos I of Greece. The repose of the first Abbess occurred on September 6th, 1974, and on October 15th of the same year, blessed Eldress Styliane Karatzogianni was elected unanimously as the new Abbess of the Monastery. Her enthronement occurred under the blessed Archbishop Seraphim of Athens and All Greece.

During the period of her Abbacy, the Holy Monastery of Christ Pantocrator Ntaou Penteli came to know great spiritual flowering. It gathered a great sisterhood of young nuns, and the Monastery was rebuilt from the foundations.
(source)
  
See here for more on the Blessed Abbess Styliani's relationship with St. Porphyrios at the Monastery of Ntaou Penteli.
  
Picture of St. Paisios the Athonite (center), together with blessed Elder Gregory (right) and Eldress Euphemia (left), at the Holy Monastery of the Precious Forerunner, Metamorphosi, Halkidiki (source)
  
Elder Gregory (Papasotiriou), spiritual father of the Holy Monastery of the Precious Forerunner, Metamorphosi, Halkidiki (+ November 19th, 2019)
After many years of struggle, Elder Gregory (Papasotiriou), the spiritual father and founder of the Holy Monastery of the Precious Forerunner, Metamorphosi, Halkidiki, reposed in the Lord. He was a spiritual child of St. Paisios the Athonite.

The blessed Elder was ordained a deacon and a priest by the blessed Metropolitan Synesios of Kassandreias (Visvine), and was placed as a preacher of the Holy Metropolis of Kassandreias.

In 1977, with the blessing of Metropolitan Synesios, and through the spiritual guidance of St. Paisios the Athonite, he founded the women's hesychasterion of the Precious Forerunner, in Metamorphosi, Halkidiki, with the first nuns, Eugenia and Maria Choriataki, Sophia Kenanidou from Metamorphosi, Halkidiki, and nuns Tsaprazolou from Vatopedi, Halkidiki.

The blessed Elder Gregory was a spiritual child of St. Paisios the Athonite, and under his spiritual guidance, he received the angelic schema, and under his direction and blessing, he became the spiritual father of the Holy Monastery of the Precious Forerunner, which today includes 50 nuns.
(source)
  
Elder Gregory (left) (source)
  
May the Lord grant them a blessed repose and a blessed Paradise, and may we have their blessings!
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Iakovos of Evia on the Saints

St. Iakovos of Evia holding Holy Relics during a procession (source)
  
"My children, God walks on the earth through His Saints."
-St. Iakovos of Evia

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

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Akathist to St. Philoumenos the New Hieromartyr of Jacob's Well

St. Philoumenos the Cypriot, the New Hieromartyr of Jacob's Well (source)
  
Akathist to the glorious New Hieromartyr Philoumenos the Cypriot of Jacob's Well
  
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. O Champion General.
Let us praise the newly-shining star of the Church of Christ, who dawned with the rays of martyrdom and the light of wonders in the latter days as a newly-revealed and sacred Champion, whose body the Most-High preserved incorrupt, as we cry out with fervor: Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.

You now dance together in Heaven with the Angels, as one angelic in mind, O Philoumenos, (3) and you ever partake of the beauty of Christ God, and you fulfill all the righteous entreaties, O Saint, for those who cry out to you these things in faith:
Rejoice, the friend of the Giver-of-Life,
Rejoice, sword against the ancient evil one.
Rejoice, pinnacle of godly priests,
Rejoice, example of newly-struggling men.
Rejoice, most-fragrant flower of mystical fragrance,
Rejoice, vessel greatly shining full of the pure way.
Rejoice, for you were lawlessly put to death in church,
Rejoice, for you lawfully were crowned for your struggle.
Rejoice, new adornment of faith,
Rejoice, terrible deposer of the faithless.
Rejoice, through whom the pious faithful are strengthened,
Rejoice, through whom the enemies are conquered.
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.
  
You were the beautiful and adorned offspring of Orountos, and the fragrance of your chaste way of life filled your island of Cyprus from the years of your youth, O Father, the boast of Champions, which has been sensed by the faithful, who are roused to properly cry out: Alleluia.
  
Your island of Cyprus boasts in your sacred swaddling clothes, O Philomenos, and steadfast new martyr, and the Monastery of Stavrovouni, which nourished you to seek the life to come, is compelled to cry out to you with melodious songs these things:
Rejoice, instrument of asceticism,
Rejoice, divine lyre of counsel.
Rejoice, you who were zealous for the feats of the Venerable Fathers,
Rejoice, for you denied every worldly thing mindfully.
Rejoice, for you proceeded to Heaven in a wondrous manner,
Rejoice, for you were made pleasing to God through proper asceticism.
Rejoice, for through your struggle you are praised as is proper.
Rejoice,  for you put to rest the racing of the flesh,
Rejoice, for you lifted up your nous to your Lover.
Rejoice, deposer of the delusion of the enemy.
Rejoice, O blessed Philomenos.

You received power from heaven and were numbered among the choirs of the Virgins, and appeared as the adornment of obedience and wisdom of God, radiant from your youth throughout your life, while you ceaselessly chanted to the Lord: Alleluia

You shown among the ranks of the Brotherhood of the All-Holy Tomb of Christ, in a venerable way pleasing Him, O Father, condensing virtues and struggles, O Philoumenos, and therefore we cry out to you in faith:
Rejoice, lamp of meekness,
Rejoice, type of chastity.
Rejoice, you who gladdened the ranks of the faithful,
Rejoice, you who trampled upon the boldness of the faithless.
Rejoice, for your life was seal with deeds of struggle,
Rejoice, for your very blood was spilled in your Monastery.
Rejoice, for you were put to death at the hands of the lawless,
Rejoice, for you endured the mania of barbarians.
Rejoice, lamp-lighter of the godly life,
Rejoice, vessel of greater love.
Rejoice, joy and pride of Samaria,
Rejoice, he who Belial curses at and rages against.
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.

Having fervent desire to be joined with Christ your King unto eternity, you were lifted up above everything corrupt and vain, O Father, and image of virtue, O Philoumenos, ever zealously desiring the things of Eden, crying out: Alleluia.
  
St. Philoumenos the Cypriot (source)
  
O Philoumenos, through your godly asceticism, you deposed Belial, serving in Samaria at the sacred Monastery of Jacob's Well in these latter days, and from God you drew the waters of strength. Therefore, we are made bold to cry out to you:
Rejoice, Levite of Samaria,
Rejoice, mystic of the Church.
Rejoice, you who lived a life equal to Heaven,
Rejoice, you who partook of the fruit of incorruption.
Rejoice, golden woven crown of the Well of Jacob,
Rejoice, ever-verdant tree that blossomed in Sion.
Rejoice, you who lived with soul-nourishing virtue,
Rejoice, you who loved Christ with all your heart.
Rejoice, you who partook of the water of salvation,
Rejoice, sweet flower of love.
Rejoice, you who gladden the ranks of the faithful,
Rejoice, you who support our faith.
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.
  
O divine healer of the Creator, you beheld the Uncreated Light, O Philoumenos, as a zealous one among Venerable Men, and you became a new and unassailable treasure of the Martyrs. Therefore, we who honor your memory, cry out to the God of all: Alleluia.
  
You were shown to be equal to the Martyrs who had shown forth in ancient times, O New Martyr Philoumenos, as you were put to death by lawless hands in these latter days, showing that Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever, as we are compelled to cry out:
Rejoice, you who destroy him who corrupts everything,
Rejoice, deliverance of the people of the Lord.
Rejoice, fellow cause of heavenly joy,
Rejoice, fellow bearer of godly wisdom.
Rejoice, for you mystically sanctify those who call upon you,
Rejoice, for you ceaselessly bless those who hymn you.
Rejoice, newly-founded tower of the Church,
Rejoice, newly-planted tree of chastity.
Rejoice, namesake of friendship with Christ,
Rejoice, worm that afflicts the terribly dangerous enemy.
Rejoice, divine lamb of the faith,
Rejoice, new lamp of love.
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.
  
O Philoumenos, you were offered to Christ as a new and spotless burnt sacrifice among the New Martyrs, and from Him you received the golden crown of the incorrupt life, O Saint, and you ever chant unto Him together with the Angels: Alleluia.
  
O blessed Philoumenos, you shine as a new lamp filled with heavenly light, and you enlightened Samaria with the rays of your spotless and steadfast way of life, O glorious one, and they joyously now hymn your struggle with things like these:
Rejoice, moon of righteous pains,
Rejoice, horn of new martyrs.
Rejoice, newly-illumined lamp of virtue,
Rejoice, radiant adornment of the Church.
Rejoice, supporting stone of ascetical struggles,
Rejoice, for you lately were unjustly slaughtered.
Rejoice, for you gloriously were translated to the Lord,
Rejoice, for you grant joy to those who take refuge in you.
Rejoice, you whose feast gladden the faithful,
Rejoice, you whose soul shines forth with manliness,
Rejoice, you ho disperse the mania of the enemy.
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.
  
As we celebrate your sacred martyrdom, O Philoumenos, we cry out fervently: Do not neglect to entreat Christ ceaselessly that your entreaters be protected from every mania of the enemy, as they ever cry out to the Redeemer: Alleluia.
     
The Holy Hieromartyr Philoumenos the Cypriot (source)
  
O new Hieromartyr, your all-sacred Body was kept incorrupt by Christ, and is venerated in your Monastery in Sion with fervor, as we cry out with boldness: O glorious Champion, sanctify your refugees, who cry out to you with melodious hymns:
Rejoice, grape-cluster of good ethos,
Rejoice, dissolver of despondency.
Rejoice, God-given healing for those in afflictions,
Rejoice, speedy deliverer of those trials.
Rejoice, you who pour forth the aroma of grace from God,
Rejoice, body of chastity and love for Jesus.
Rejoice, for you joined the Priesthood with Martyrdom,
Rejoice, for you shown forth with strength and deliverance among the Champions.
Rejoice, cinnamon of spotless ethos,
Rejoice, canon of life equal to the Angels,
Rejoice, harbor of the God-pleasing life.
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.
  
You work strange wonders, O God-bearer Philoumenos, for those who take refuge in you and you venerate your sacred Body in Sion, O Saint, pouring forth to all the rivers of healings, to those who cry out: Alleluia.

Wholly radiant with divine beauty, you stand among the Saints of the Holy Lands, and you ever grant your incorrupt grace to the faithful, O all-precious Champion Philoumenos, to those who cry out to you with fervor and contrition:
Rejoice, radiance of Priests,
Rejoice, light of Monastics.
Rejoice, treasure of uncreated magnificence,
Rejoice, pasture of heavenly wisdom.
Rejoice, height of vigilance in nepsis and prayer,
Rejoice, depth of humility, and steadfast in patience.
Rejoice, new slaughterer of murderous spirits,
Rejoice, divine lily of spiritual Champions.
Rejoice, you whose soul radiated manliness,
Rejoice, radiance of sacred struggle.
Rejoice, you who trampled upon the lawless serpent,
Rejoice, you who pour forth a spring of wonders.
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.
  
Intercede with the Lord on behalf of all  those who honor you, O Philoumenos, keeping your all-precious memory, and do fulfill our righteous requests of those who in faith venerate your Body, chanting to [Christ] the Gift-giver: Alleluia.
  
With the rivers of your prayers to the Lord, quench the fiery pain of my soul, and grant me divine consolation, O newly-shining Champion of the faith Philoumenos, as I cry out to you full of reverence:
Rejoice, you who bear the glory of the Martyrs,
Rejoice, you who share the full radiance of the Priests.
Rejoice, unsleeping protector of Samaria,
Rejoice, fellow-dweller with the choir of the Angels.
Rejoice, for you strengthen all those suffering unflinchingly,
Rejoice, for you speedily and wondrously console those in trials.
Rejoice, you who dissolve the kingdom of lawlessness,
Rejoice, you who cease every base passion.
Rejoice, cornerstone of many wonders,
Rejoice, precious diadem of the faithful.
Rejoice, adornment of chaste Levites,
Rejoice, icon and radiance of Champions.
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.
  
Save from all forms of delusion the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, and all those who venerate your Body, and blossom for the faithful a wondrous river of healings, O perfect Champion Philoumenos, through your intercessions to the Lord, Whom you behold, crying out: Alleluia.
     
St. Philoumenos the New Hieromartyr (source)


Incline your divine hand and bless all those who are honoring you, O blessed Philoumenos and steadfast new martyr of Christ, and godly vessel of sacred gifts, that they who praise your struggle might loudly cry out:
Rejoice, myrrh vessel of graces,
Rejoice, white flower of wonders.
Rejoice, fragrant cedar of dispassion,
Rejoice, beautifully-smelling cypress of incorruption,
Rejoice, for you offered your sweat to Christ,
Rejoice, for through your divine words who cast down the enemy.
Rejoice, you who work strange wonders after your repose,
Rejoice, divine lily blossoming with healings,
Rejoice, you who soothe the burning of souls,
Rejoice, you who grant us gifts.
Rejoice, our defender in life,
Rejoice, you who ever bestow on us healings.
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.
  
You were taken up to the height of dispassion, O Champion Philoumenos, rejoicing to have received an unspeakable multitude of wounds, and the breaking of you jaw, and the plucking out of your eye, and a terrible death, as you simply cried out: Alleluia.
  
Protect the Fathers of the All-Holy Sepulcher, and all the faithful of your homeland of Orounta in Cyprus, O wise one, and deliver them from every mania of the enemy and terrible trial, O all-glorious Philoumenos, that they may cry out with joy:
Rejoice, unapproachable tower of the faithful,
Rejoice, you who trample upon the boldness of enemies.
Rejoice, most steady defender of Samaria,
Rejoice, unsleeping protector of the Church.
Rejoice, God-given foundation of pious Orthodox,
Rejoice, glorious boast of humble pilgrims.
Rejoice, for you bestow grace on those who venerate you,
Rejoice, for you grant strength to those who hymn you.
Rejoice, you who shine with the glory of God,
Rejoice, you who shame the senselessness of the enemy.
Rejoice, sacred hospital of Sion,
Rejoice, you who quench the fires of the passions.
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.

Your incorrupt Body pours forth grace and divine exaltation to all who venerate it with reverence, and our bodies are sanctified, who in faith hymn you and chant unto [Christ] the Giver of Life: Alleluia.

While chanting fervently of your sacred feats, we hymn the grace given to you, and we stand around your sacred Body, which stands as our divine consolation, O Saint, and we cry out to you that you might grant to those who cry out with faith:
Rejoice, divine revealer of sacred things,
Rejoice, new protector of the faithful.
Rejoice, dweller in the heavenly bridal chamber,
Rejoice, you who were filled with divine radiance of the Three-Sun [Trinity].
Rejoice, newly-founded support of your fellow struggler,
Rejoice, unapproachable defender of the pious faithful.
Rejoice, you who loved Christ along with Elpidios [your brother],
Rejoice, you who together with your brother desired Him.
Rejoice, deliverer from dangerous passions,
Rejoice, our refuge in sorrows.
Rejoice, fervent one who stands beside the faithful,
Rejoice, my protector amidst dangers,
Rejoice, O blessed Philoumenos.

O blessed Philoumenos, the newly-shining star of Christ in the all-radiant Church, (3) the rays of your wonders shine everywhere, and do grant the entreaties of those who ever hasten to your grace in faith, and who joyously hymn you, crying out: Alleluia.

And the Kontakion again.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

"He couched, he lay down like a lion..."

Icon of Christ and the Theotokos "O Anapeson", echoing the prophecy that mystically foreshadows the astonishing and paradoxal wonder of God sleeping in the flesh, both in gentleness as a babe, and in death through His Passion (source)

And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and saw Israel encamping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, and he took up his discourse, and said, "The oracle of Balaam the son of Be'or, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, how fair are your tents, O Jacob, your encampments, O Israel! Like valleys that stretch afar, like gardens beside a river, like aloes that the LORD has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters. Water shall flow from his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. God brings him out of Egypt; he has as it were the horns of the wild ox, he shall eat up the nations his adversaries, and shall break their bones in pieces, and pierce them through with his arrows. He couched, he lay down like a lion, and like a lioness; who will rouse him up? Blessed be every one who blesses you, and cursed be every one who curses you." I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab, and break down all the sons of Sheth. Edom shall be dispossessed, Se'ir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed, while Israel does valiantly.
-Numbers 24:2-3, 5-9, 17-18, read at Great Vespers for the Nativity of Christ
  
(source)
  
Icon of Christ "Anapeson" (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"The serenity of the Athonite world of monks..."

An Athonite service (source)
  
The serenity of the Athonite world of monks, on the slopes of Athos that neighbors Heaven, that is constantly spoken of by the world, continues to reply with silent messages to turn to one's self and reconstitute the spiritual powers of man towards repentance and the sacramental life.
-Elder Prodromos, Abbot of Great Lavra Monastery, Mount Athos

(source)

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