Sunday, January 13, 2019

Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista (+2019): "I love you because you are you"

Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista (+January 13th, 2019) (source)
Suddenly today, Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista, reposed in the Lord. He was a very beloved and respected hierarch of the Church of Greece and a spiritual child of St. Iakovos of Evia. His words, example and advice carry great weight and his talks are filled with true love and wisdom. Below are a brief biography and a wonderful recent talk of his with English subtitles. May he have a blessed Paradise, and may we have his blessing!

Brief Biography of Metropolitan of Pavlos of Siatista
He was born in Halkida in 1947. After his cycle of studies he entered the Theological School of Athens and graduated in 1971.

In 1973 he was ordained a Deacon by Metropolitan Nikolaos of Halkida, Istiaias and Northern Sporades and appointed to serve in Mantoudi.

In November 1974 he was ordained a priest and received the position of Archimandrite from Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Halkida and served the parish of Mantoudiou for 25 years.

In that area he became the Hierarchical Representative and was a respected preacher and pastoral guide. For over thirty years he focused on the youth and their problems, as a priest, spiritual father, catechist and educator, while at the same time he was called to speak to schools of parents, religious and youth gatherings in many Metropolises in Greece and Cyprus.

On February 28th, 2006, he was elected by the hierarchy of the Church of Greece as Metropolitan of the Holy Metropolis of Sisaniou and Siatistis, his ordination taking place on March 4th, 2006 in the Holy Metropolis of Athens.
Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista with his beloved St. Iakovos of Evia (source)
He took special care to cultivate the ranks of priests and monastics in his Metropolis.

In his 14 years of shepherding the Holy Metropolis of Sisaniou and Siatistis, he built and consecrated many holy churches, founded new parishes and ordained new clergy.

He was the author of books and had circulated many religious articles.
His last night he spent in the Monastery of St. David of Evia and St. Iakovos, which he loved so much, and until noon of his last day he was near there in Rovies, serving his final Divine Liturgy on Sunday January 13th next to the Precious Skull of St. David.
In his home town of Halkida there will be a viewing on Monday January 14th in the Church of St. Paraskevi. There will be a vigil that evening served by Metropolitan Chrysostom of Halkida. On January 15th, the body of the blessed Metropolitan Pavlos of Sisaniou will be brought to Siatista where there will be another viewing. His funeral will be served on Wednesday January 16th at noon in the Metropolis Church of St. Demetrios in Siatista.
Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista in a recent talk on the popular but meaningful song: "I love you because you are you." (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Prayer of Elder Sophrony for Difficult Times

Christ enthroned Deisis (source)
In difficult times, when all my efforts have failed to conform the events of my life towards the Gospel teaching, I would pray in the following manner:
"Come and make Yourself one with my will. Your commandments do not fit within my narrow heart, and my finite nous does not comprehend their content. If You are not well pleased to come and dwell within me Yourself, then I will inevitably be led towards the darkness. I know that You do not work through force, so I entreat You: Come and take charge of my house, and wholly renew me. Transform the hellish darkness of my pride into Your humble love. Transfigure with Your Light my corrupted nature, that no passion might be able to remain within me that would prevent Your coming with Your Father (John 14:21-23). Make me a dwelling place of that holy life which You Yourself have allowed me to taste of here in part...Yes, O Lord, I entreat You, do not deprive from me this sign of Your goodness.
-Elder Sophrony of Essex
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, January 4, 2019

"The waters saw You, O God..."

The Baptism of Christ, Holy Theophany (source)
The waters saw You, O God, the waters saw You and were afraid. For towards Your glory the eyes of the Cherubim are not able to gaze, nor are the Seraphim able to approach You. But they stand around You in fear, the former bearing You up, and the latter glorifying Your power. Together with them, O Compassionate One, we tell of Your praise, saying: "O God Who has appeared, have mercy on us."
-Idiomelon from the Aposticha for the Holy Feast of Theophany
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

"You who equaled the former Righteous Ones and Martyrs..."

St. Ephraim of Nea Makri the Newly-revealed and Wonderworker (source)
You who equaled the former Righteous Ones and Martyrs, and were a sharer in their struggles, and partook of their grace, as a spotless gift, being glorified by the Comforter, O all-blessed Ephraim, and true healer of God. Therefore, you hasten to work wonders wherever you are called upon, and by sleep and awake you paradoxically appear, granting your saving help to those in danger. But, intercede, O Saint, that your monastery might be kept unharmed, and that those who honor you might be granted the forgiveness of offenses.
-Idiomelon of the Litia from Great Vespers for the feast of St. Ephraim of Nea Makri
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Excerpt from the Encomium on St. Basil the Great by St. Gregory the Theologian

St. Basil the Great (source)
The following is an excerpt from the lengthy and moving encomium that St. Gregory the Theologian wrote in honor and memory of his close friend, St. Basil the Great. May we have their blessings and witness throughout the world!

"But what are these to his renown for eloquence, and his powers of instruction, which have won the favour of the ends of the world? As yet we have been compassing the foot of the mountain, to the neglect of its summit, as yet we have been crossing a strait, paying no heed to the mighty and deep ocean. For I think that if any one ever has become, or can become, a trumpet, in his far sounding resonance, or a voice of God, embracing the universe, or an earthquake of the world, by some unheard of miracle, it is his voice and intellect which deserve these titles, for surpassing and excelling all men as much as we surpass the irrational creatures. Who, more than he, cleansed himself by the Spirit, and made himself worthy to set forth divine things? Who was more enlightened by the light of knowledge, and had a closer insight into the depths of the Spirit, and by the aid of God beheld the things of God? Whose language could better express intellectual truth, without, as most men do, limping on one foot, by either failing to express his ideas, or allowing his eloquence to outstrip his reasoning powers? In both respects he won a like distinction, and showed himself to be his own equal, and absolutely perfect. To search all things, yea, the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) is, according to the testimony of St. Paul, the office of the Spirit, not because He is ignorant of them, but because He takes delight in their contemplation. Now all the things of the Spirit Basil had fully investigated, and hence he drew his instructions for every kind of character, his lessons in the sublime, and his exhortations to quit things present, and adapt ourselves to things to come.
"The sun is extolled by David for its beauty, its greatness, its swift course, and its power, splendid as a bridegroom, majestic as a giant; while, from the extent of its circuit, it has such power that it equally sheds its light from one end of heaven to the other, and the heat thereof is in no wise lessened by distance. Basil's beauty was virtue, his greatness theology, his course the perpetual motion reaching even to God by its ascents, and his power the sowing and distribution of the Word. So that I will not hesitate to say even this, his utterance went out into all lands, and the power of his words to the ends of the world: as St. Paul says of the Apostles, (Romans 10:18) borrowing the words from David. What other charm is there in any gathering today? What pleasure in banquets, in the courts, in the churches? What delight in those in authority, and those beneath them? What in the hermits, or the cenobites? What in the leisured classes, or those busied in affairs? What in profane schools of philosophy or in our own? There is one, which runs through all, and is the greatest — his writings and labours. Nor do writers require any supply of matter besides his teaching or writings. All the laborious studies of old days in the Divine oracles are silent, while the new ones are in everybody's mouth, and he is the best teacher among us who has the deepest acquaintance with his works, and speaks of them and explains them in our ears. For he alone more than supplies the place of all others to those who are specially eager for instruction.
"I will only say this of him. Whenever I handle his Hexaemeron, and take its words on my lips, I am brought into the presence of the Creator, and understand the words of creation, and admire the Creator more than before, using my teacher as my only means of sight. Whenever I take up his polemical works, I see the fire of Sodom, (Genesis 19:24) by which the wicked and rebellious tongues are reduced to ashes, or the tower of Chalane, impiously built, (Genesis 11:4) and righteously destroyed. Whenever I read his writings on the Spirit, I find the God Whom I possess, and grow bold in my utterance of the truth, from the support of his theology and contemplation. His other treatises, in which he gives explanations for those who are shortsighted, by a threefold inscription on the solid tablets of his heart, lead me on from a mere literal or symbolic interpretation to a still wider view, as I proceed from one depth to another, calling upon deep after deep, and finding light after light, until I attain the highest pinnacle. When I study his panegyrics on our athletes, I despise the body, and enjoy the society of those whom he is praising, and rouse myself to the struggle. His moral and practical discourses purify soul and body, making me a temple fit for God, and an instrument struck by the Spirit, to celebrate by its strains the glory and power of God. In fact, he reduces me to harmony and order, and changes me by a Divine transformation...
"This is my offering to you, Basil, uttered by the tongue which once was the sweetest of all to you, of him who was your fellow in age and rank. If it have approached your deserts, thanks are due to you, for it was from confidence in you that I undertook to speak of you. But if it fall far short of your expectations, what must be our feelings, who are worn out with age and disease and regret for you? Yet God is pleased, when we do what we can. Yet may thou gaze upon us from above, thou divine and sacred person; either stay by your entreaties our thorn in the flesh, (2 Corinthians 12:7) given to us by God for our discipline, or prevail upon us to bear it boldly, and guide all our life towards that which is most for our profit. And if we be translated, do thou receive us there also in your own tabernacle, that, as we dwell together, and gaze together more clearly and more perfectly upon the holy and blessed Trinity, of Which we have now in some degree received the image, our longing may at last be satisfied, by gaining this recompense for all the battles we have fought and the assaults we have endured. Such are our words on your behalf: who will there be to praise us, since we leave this life after you, even if we offer any topic worthy of words or praise in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be glory forever? Amen."
St. Gregory the Theologian (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Icon of Jesus Christ "The Bethlehemite"

15th Century Icon of Jesus Christ "The Bethlehemite" from Kastoria (source)
"One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite*, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” 
-1 Samuel 16:18
*Here, David, the Son of Jesse, is foreshadowing another Son, Jesus Christ, Who would later also come from Bethlehem
Another view of this famous icon (source)
"Seeing Christ’s healing temple opened, and how health streams from Him to Adam, the devil suffered and was stricken. Then he wailed as if in mortal danger and to his friends raised a bitter howl: what shall I do to the Son of Mary? The Bethlehemite is killing me, Who is everywhere present and fills all things."
-Oikos from Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
A modern rendering of Jesus Christ "The Bethlehemite" by Hadjimichael (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"Come, let us hymn the Mother of the Savior..."

Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Icon "All Creation Rejoices in Thee" (source)
Come, let us hymn the Mother of the Savior, who after giving birth, remained a Virgin. Rejoice, O animate City of our King and God, in whom Christ dwelt, having worked our salvation. Together with Gabriel we hymn you, together with the Shepherds we cry out: O Theotokos, intercede with Him Who took on flesh from you, that we be saved.
-Idiomelon of the Praises from Matins of Christmas
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!