Thursday, May 31, 2012

St. Dymphna the Virgin Martyr

St. Dymphna the Virgin Martyr - Commemorated May 15 (http://www.rel.gr/photo/displayimage.php?album=128&pos=30)
  
ISLE OF SAINTS has long been a title popularly given to the island evangelized by St. Patrick, which nestles in the blue waters of the Atlantic. And appropriately it is so called for the names of the Irish saints would more than fill the Church’s calendar. Yet it is to be regretted that Catholics for the most part are entirely unfamiliar with so many of these glorious saints, yes, even ignorant of their very names. One such forgotten or unknown saint, who, on account of her spotless virtue and glorious martyrdom, is sometimes referred to as the “Lily of Fire,” is St. Dymphna. True, the records of the life and martyrdom of this holy virgin are for the most part meager and unsatisfactory, but sufficient is known regarding the principal faces of her life and of her many well-authenticated miracles to attest to an exalted sanctity.
St. Dymphna was born in the 7th century, when Ireland was almost universally Catholic [=Orthodox]. Yet, strange to say, her father, a petty king of Oriel, was still a pagan.
  
Her mother, a descendant of a noble family, was, on the other hand, a devout Christian, who was remarkable both for her piety and her great beauty. Dymphna was, like her mother, a paragon of beauty, and a most sweet and winning child, the “jewel” of her home. Every affection and attention was lavished upon her from birth. Heaven, too, favored the child with special graces. Dymphna was early placed under the care and tutelage of a pious Christian woman, who prepared her for baptism, which was conferred by the saintly priest Father Gerebran. The latter seems to have been a member of the household, and later taught little Dymphna her letters along with the truths of religion. Dymphna was a bright and eager pupil, and advanced rapidly in wisdom and grace. When still very young, Dymphna, like so many other nobel Irish maidens before and after her, being filled with fervor and love for Jesus Christ, chose Him for her Divine Spouse and consecrated her virginity to Him and to His Blessed Mother by a vow of chastity.
  
It was not long, however, until an unexpected cloud overshadowed the happy childhood of the beautiful girl. She lost her good mother by death. Many were the secret tears she shed over this bereavement, but at the same time she found great comfort in the Divine Faith which, though she was still of a tender age, already had taken deep root.
  
Dymphna’s father, too, greatly mourned his deceased wife and for a long time continued prostrate with grief. At length he was persuaded by his counselors to seek solace in a second marriage. So he commissioned certain ones of his court to seek out for him a lady who would be like his first spouse in beauty and character. After visiting many countries in vain, the messengers returned saying that they could find none so charming and amiable as his own lovely daughter, Dymphna. Giving ear to their base suggestion, the king conceived the evil design of marrying Dymphna. With persuasive and flattering words he manifested his purpose to her. Dymphna, as may be expected, was greatly horrified at the suggestion, and asked for a period of forty days to consider the proposal. She immediately betook herself to Father Gerebran, who advised her to flee from her native country, and since the danger was imminent, he urged her to make no delay.
  
With all speed, therefore, she set out for the continent, accompanied by Father Gerebran, the court jester and his wife. After a favorable passage, they arrived on the coast near the present city of Antwerp. Having stopped for a short rest, they resumed their journey and came to a little village named Gheel [or Geel]. Here they were hospitably received and began to make plans for establishing their future abode at this place.
  
The king, in the meantime, having discovered Dymphna’s flight, was fearfully angry, and immediately set out with his followers in search of the fugitives. After some time, they were traced to Belgium and their place of refuge was located. At first, Dymphna’s father tried to persuade her to return with him, but Father Gerebran sternly rebuked him for his wicked intentions, whereupon he gave orders that Father Gerebran should be put to death. Without delay, his wicked retainers laid violent hands upon the priest and struck him on the neck with a sword. With one blow of the steel, the head was severed from the shoulders and another glorious martyr went to join the illustrious heroes of Christ’s kingdom.
  
Further attempts on the part of Dymphna’s father to induce her to return with him proved fruitless. With undaunted courage she spurned his enticing promises and scorned his cruel threats. Infuriated by her resistance, the father drew a dagger from his belt and he himself struck off the head of his child. Recommending her soul to the mercy of God, the holy virgin fell prostrate at the feet of her insanely raving father. Thus the glorious crown of martyrdom was accorded to St. Dymphna in the fifteenth year of her age, on the fifteenth day of May, between 620 and 640. The day of her death has been assigned as her feastday.

[Note: Another Saint who bore a similar situation in her life and martyrdom is St. Markella, the Virgin Martyr of Chios. She also works many wonders throughout the world (http://orthodoxwiki.org/Markella_of_Chios)]
   
The records of Dymphna’s life and death say that the bodies of the two martyred saints lay on the ground for quite some time after their death, until the inhabitants of Gheel removed them to a cave, which was the customary manner of interment in that part of the world at the time of the martyrdoms. But after several years had elapsed, the villagers, recalling their holy deaths, decided to give the bodies a more suitable burial. When the workmen removed the heap of black earth at the cave’s entrance, great was their astonishment to find two most beautiful tombs, whiter than snow, which were carved from stone, as if by angel hands. When the coffin of St. Dymphna was opened there was found lying on her breast a red tile bearing the inscription:
  
“Here lies the holy virgin and martyr, Dymphna.”
  
The remains of the saint were placed in a small church. Later necessity obliged the erection of the magnificent “Church of St. Dymphna,” which now stands on the site where the bodies were first buried. St. Dymphna’s relics repose there in a beautiful golden reliquary.
  
Miracles and cures began to occur in continually increasing numbers. Gradually St. Dymphna’s fame as patroness of victims of nervous diseases and mental disorders was spread from country to country. More and more mentally afflicted persons were brought to the shrine by relatives and friends, many coming in pilgrimages from far-distant places. Novenas wer made, and St. Dymphna’s relic was applied to the patients. The remarkable cures reported caused confidence in the saint to grow daily. At first the patients were lodged in a small annex built onto the church. Then gradually it came about that the patients were place in the homes of the families living in Gheel. From this beginning Gheel developed into a town world-famed for its care of the insane and mentally afflicted. An institution, called the “Infirmary of St. Elizabeth,” which was conducted by the Sisters of St. Augustine was later built for the hospital care of the patients. Most of the latter, after some time spent in the institution, are placed in one or other of the families of Gheel, where they lead a comparatively normal life. Every home in Gheel is proud to welcome to its inmost family circle such patients as are ready to return to the environment of family life. Generations of experience have given to the people of Gheel an intimate and tender skill in dealing with their charges, and their remarkable spirit of charity and Christlike love for these afflicted members of society gives to our modern-day world, so prone to put its whole reliance on science and to forge the principles of true Christian charity, a lesson the practice of which would do much to restore certain types of mentally afflicted individuals to an almost normal outlook on life.
  
Renowned psychiatrists are in full agreement with this statement, and testify that a surprisingly large number of patients could leave mental institutions if they could be assured of a sympathetic reception in the world, such as the people of Gheel take pride in showing. In fact, psychiatrists state that institutions can help certain cases only to a given extent, and when that point is reached, they must have help from persons outside the institution if the progress made in the institution is to have fruition. Gheel is the living confirmation of this statement and an exemplar of the Gospel teachings on charity.
  
The Holy Relics of St. Dympna, treasured in the Saint's Church in Gheel, Belgium (http://www.preguntasantoral.es/2012/05/santa-dimpna/gheel-belgica/)
  
The remains of St. Dymphna were placed in a small church dedicated to her at Gheel which was destroyed by fire in 1489. In 1532, another church was erected on the site, much more magnificent than the previous one, which still stands today. The relics of St. Dymphna are kept within this church in an ornate silver reliquary (pictured below). Her veneration rapidly spread all over Europe, and she became the patroness of the mentally ill, of epileptics and of abused children.
  
The following Saints are also noted to work many wonders and greatly help those afflicted with mental illness, and other afflictions: St. Anastasia (October 12), St. Gerasimos of Cephalonia (more specifically, the possessed) (August 16), St. Naum of Ochrid (June 20), and St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (May 5).
  
Christ healing the body and soul of the Paralytic brough to Christ by his friends (http://www.srpskoblago.org/Archives/Decani/exhibits/Collections/Miracles/CX4K3065_l.html)
  
Orthodox Prayer for Mental Health
O Master, Lord my God, in Whose hands is my destiny: Help me according to Thy mercy, and leave me not to perish in my transgressions, nor allow me to follow them who place desires of the flesh over those of the spirit. I am Thy creation; disdain not the work of Thy hands. Turn not away; be compassionate and humiliate me not, neither scorn me, O Lord, as I am weak. I have fled unto Thee as my Protector and God. Heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee. Save me for Thy mercy's sake, for I have cleaved unto Thee from my youth; let me who seeks Thee not be put to shame by being rejected by Thee for mine unclean actions, unseemly thoughts, and unprofitable remembrances. Drive away from me every filthy thing and excess of evil. For Thou alone art holy, alone mighty, and alone immortal, in all things having unexcelled might, which, through Thee, is given to all that strive against the devil and the might of his armies. For unto Thee is due all glory, honor and worship: To the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen
  
   
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O Lord Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Holy Monastery of Panagia Dobra, and St. Luke the Surgeon

The Holy Monastery of Panagia Dobra, Veria (http://www.veriorama.com/images/collection-images/img_1.jpg)
  
The Holy Monastery of Panagia Dobra (all amateur translations below)
Location: Dobra, Beroia (Veria) [Northern Greece, around 70km from Thessalonica]
Abbot: Archimandrite Panteleimon Korphiotakes
A total of 30 enrolled monks, with 19 inhabiting the Monastery
Telephone: 2331027599
Address: Ι.Μ. Παναγίας Δοβρά, Τ.Θ.241, Τ.Κ. 591 00, Βέροια
Hours of operation: Daily, after communication with the Monastery.
History of the Monastery
The Monastery honors the Dormition of the Theotokos, and was founded in the 12th century, according to a document which mentions the Monastery and which is dated to the 12th century, in the National Library of Athens. The Monastery liturgized non-stop until 1822.

During the period of the Greek Revolution, it was one of the most important national and relogious centers of the region. It was here that the actions of chief Karatassos were developed, and it was here, unfortunately, that the Turks authorities were successful in dealing with them. The Monastery was burned in 1822, and her abbot, Hieromonk Gerasimos, was hung. The Katholikon which remains to this day was built in 1844.

The Monastery was reformed in 1995 as a Cenobitic Monastery for Men. In the area of the Monastery also are the ecclesiastical camps and educational center of Byzantine Arts (iconography, mosaics, woodworking, and preservation).

In the year 2005, the brotherhood of the Monastery became acquainted with the newly-revealed Saint of the Russian land, St. Luke the Surgeon and Wonderworker, the Bishop of Simferopol. The holy Monastery preserves a portion of the Holy relic of the Saint.

The many miracles and the palpable presence of the Saint in the Monastery and in the surrounding region immediately made the Saint known, and at the initiative of Metropolitan and through the support of pious Christians, was founded the first large church in honor of St. Luke the Surgeon, at least in Greece, on the grounds of the Holy Monastery. Every Saturday Divine Liturgy is served, and every Tuesday evening Vespers and Paraklesis is served in the Holy Church of the Saint under construction, and each of the faithful has the opportunity to venerate his grace-flowing relics.

Litany on the Feast of the transferral of the Holy Relics of St. Luke to the Monastery (celebrated annually and festally on May 29th), before the large church of the Saint still under construction, at Panagia Dobra, Veria. See the following link for many more pictures from this feast: (http://imverias.blogspot.com/2012/05/blog-post_8137.html)
  

Video on the Monastery of Panagia Dobra: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhVf9gRcyF0.
  
For another video, showing the Feast of Zoothochou Pigi at the Monastery, see: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/04/video-feast-of-panagia-dobra-in-beroia.html.
  


St. Luke of Simferopol the Surgeon (http://imverias.blogspot.com/2012/05/blog-post_8137.html)
  
Three miracles of St. Luke of Simferopol at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Dobra, Veria

  1. An eight-year-old son of a physician of the region broke his hand in an accident. The radiographs showed many fractures along the length of the bone. In the first attempt, the physicians and friends of the child's father placed his hand in a splint, until they could attempt further therapeutic interventions. They did not advise surgery without warning of deformity of the hand. The family learned of the wondrous healings of St. Luke from one of their relatives. Immediately, the child asked his father to venerate the relics of the Saint. When they crossed the injured hand of the child with the holy relics, he felt a burning sensation, and moving of the bones beneath the sprint, the sound of which was of course perceived by the child himself. The immediate sensation of the uniting of the traumatized bones was enough to prove to them, while that X-rays confirmed later, what was certain in the soul of the young child: the miracle had occurred.

  2. Another time, a father of five children had a tumor appear on his shoulder. The pains were great, and the physicians suggest that he proceed with removal of the tumor surgically. Things became more worrisome when a second tumor appeared in the maxillary region. The hardening of the first tumor made the need for surgery more urgent. However, the pious father, together with his spiritual father, asked from the Abbot of Dobra Monastery to venerate the relics of St. Luke and to serve his Paraklesis. After several days, the following wondrous event occurred: At night, as he was sleeping next to his wife, he sensed a wetness on his pillow. He arose a short time later, and saw the pillow covered in blood. He brought his hand to his shoulder, and sensed that the tumor had disappeared. He woke his wife, and their astonishment became greater, as they observed at the location of the tumor, a small surgical incision. The second tumor had disappeared in the mean time, without giving any indication of his previous location.

  3. Archimandrite Sosipater Pitoulia related a miracle of St. Luke the Surgeon which occurred for his little nephew. Fr. Sosipater, obviously moved, began to relate the wondrous event: “Little Elias was several months old, and the doctors diagnosed him with leukemia. I, together with Fr. Gregory Maza, took shifts at the hospital where he was. The day before the feast of the dormition of St. Luke (June 10th), Fr. Gregory left late from the hospital to rest, and he left me at his post. After a short time he called me, and with a terrified but joyous voice he said: “Fr. Sosipater, St. Luke again worked his miracle!” What had happened? When he left the hospital, he took a taxi to go to his house. A short time before they reached his house, the unknown taxi-driver asked Fr. Gregory: “Father, is everything alright?”
    Fr.. Gregory responded awkwardly: “Everything is well...”
    The taxi driver, however, insisted and asked again: “Father, is everything alright?”
    Fr. Gregory, not wishing to go into a long conversation with the unknown taxi driver, responded curtly: “Everything is well...”
    Then the taxi driver asked him again: “Fr. Gregory, that child that you are watching over, but who is not yours, will become well!”
    Fr. Gregory was confused at that instant, and asked how the taxi driver knew the child, knew him, knew all those things. And the taxi driver responded: “Don't ask a lot, Father...the child that you are looking over, but that is not yours, will become well!”
    With these words, the taxi driver stopped, and Fr. Gregory, who was astonished, paid the driver who knew everything. The taxi driver took the money, gave him change, and disappeared. I don't know if this taxi driver was St. Luke, or if St. Luke spoke through this man, but that which I know is that little Elias became well!”
  4.   
Little Elias, who was healed by St. Luke (http://imverias.blogspot.com/2012/05/blog-post_8137.html)
  
For the Paraklesis to St. Luke of Simferopol, chanted by the Fathers of the Monastery of Panagia Dobra, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lug3f_UEX7E.
  
For the life of St. Luke the Surgeon, see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2008/10/st-luke-archbishop-of-simferopol.html.  
The Holy and Wonderworking Relics of St. Luke the Surgeon treasured by the Monastery of Panagia Dobra, Veria (http://imverias.blogspot.com/2012/05/blog-post_8137.html)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Akathist to Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene the Newly-revealed

Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene the Newly-revealed - Commemorated on Bright Tuesday (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-b7qXR0uv81M/T4zJ4o_OWFI/AAAAAAAAFUA/f2Q0ynfxvS8/s1600/untitled.jpg)
  
Akathist to the Holy Hieromartyrs Raphael and Nicholas, and the Virgin Martyr Irene, who were martyred in Thermi, Mytilene (to be read in the case of any need)
by Fr. Gerasimos Mikragiannanitou

Note: The following is an amateur translation from the Greek, and as such, I request reviewing the translation before any public / liturgical use. Also note that the meter of this translation is not set to match the original music.
  
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Raphael, the wondrous Hieromartyr, with Nicholas and Irene let us hymn, who were richly glorified by the Lord. For in Thermi they appeared like stars for us, and ceaselessly shine with divine wonders for those who cry out: Hail, O Athletes of Christ.

The triad of martyrs suffered their blessed struggle with unyielding hearts, (3), Raphael, with Nicholas and Irene, shamed the tyrants, therefore we praise them, and cry to them with one voice:
Hail, O triad of steadfast Champions,
Hail, village of healers of Christ.
Hail, O God-bearer Raphael, inspired by God,
Hail, O victory-bearer, godly-minded Nicholas.
Hail, O Martyr of the namesake of peace, and the radiance of virginity,
Hail, O three-membered assembly, and athletic triad.
Hail, band of thrice-shining Champions,
Hail, boast and glory of the Orthodox faithful.
Hail, three-part divine system,
Hail, godly boast of the faithful.
Hail, choir of Martyrs three in number,
Hail, equal in honor to all the Saints.
Hail, O Holy Martyrs.
  
Having a divine life, a shame to the faithless, you persevered with willing heart. And you were hidden for many years, until you were paradoxically revealed, O Athletes three in number, astonishing those who cry out: Alleluia.
  
Being manly in mind, O Raphael you endured the furious evils of the enemies, and you were beaten in many ways, and you were made worthy of the call to martyrdom. Therefore, being amazed by your steadfastness, we cry out:
Hail, pillar of steadfastness,
Hail, fall of the impious.
Hail, most-holy root of Ithaca,
Hail, you who shared the way of the Martyrs in all things.
Hail, most-divine mystic of the love of Christ,
Hail, most-sure pillar of the godly-minded people.
Hail, for you totally dedicated yourself to the Lord,
Hail, for you roused the world to joy.
Hail, most-fervent healer of Christ,
Hail, unassailable shelter of the faithful.
Hail, container of the virtuous life,
Hail, receptacle of heavenly Light,
Hail, O renowned Raphael.
  
Through power from heaven, you hearkened to the word of the Gospel of Christ, as full of the divine in-breathing, and you were made a great teacher, O all-famed Raphael, and roused us all to cry out: Alleluia.
  
Through the illumination of piety, you received the words of Raphael within your heart, O Nicholas, and served him as an icon of the Church, who brought you to Christ. Therefore, we bless you, and cry out to you:
Hail, you who fed on the love of Christ,
Hail, you who accepted all things with a godly mind.
Hail, radiance of holy Deacons,
Hail, wondrous adornment of Champions.
Hail, type and planting of the holy Raphael,
Hail, righteous Deacon of the Church of Christ.
Hail, most-fervent son of Thessalonica,
Hail, most-fragrant flower of incorruption.
Hail, you who surpasses every corruption,
Hail, joiner of the choir of the Martyrs.
Hail, most-holy sacrifice of Christ,
Hail, most-speedy suffering of the enemy.
Hail, O Martyr Nicholas.
  
Having lived a godly life as a divine deacon, you endured the attack of the barbarians, and struggled well in Thermi, and athletically were glorified, O Nicholas, by Him Who strengthened you, and you, O Martyr, cry out with the Champions: Alleluia.

You struggled with steadfastness of soul, as a godly-minded youth, O blessed Virgin Irene. And through the vicious tyranical pride, you were offered to the Lord as a willing sacrifice, hearing from us these things:
Hail, alabaster box of purity,
Hail, casting down of evil.
Hail, namesake of eternal peace,
Hail, fellow-dweller with the holy Champions.
Hail, fragrant lily of the Love of Christ,
Hail, two-edged sword against the haughtiness of the enemy.
Hail, divine adornment of youths,
Hail, most-fragrant violet of virginity.
Hail, glorious virgin and lamb of Christ,
Hail, you who were filled with bodiless Light.
Hail, all-spotless bride of Christ,
Hail, triumphant victory of the faithful.
Hail, O all-chaste Irene.

You were offered as a sacrifice, O Martyr, during the barbarian's siege, in a delicate body, and before your father, you endured a terrifying martyrdom, and were made worthy of a martyrs end, crying out: Alleluia.
  
The tyrant was filled with impudence, and facing your steadfastness, O Raphael, ordered your death through the terrible sawing through of your jaw, which you endured, O all-honored one, astonishing those who beheld you, and strengthening those who cry out:
Hail, pride of Priests,
Hail, honored gift of Monastics.
Hail, wondrous example of endurance,
Hail, diagram of spiritual boldness.
Hail, most-radiant lamp of the Monastics at Thermi,
Hail, God-given support of the faithful in dangers.
Hail, for you endured unspeakable tortures,
Hail, for you deflected the godless tyrants.
Hail, teacher of perfect virtues,
Hail, igniter of many graces.
Hail, spring of saving wonders,
Hail, stream of soul-befitting waters.
Hail, O renowned Raphael.

You came to be hidden in Thermi for many years below the earth, O God-bearer, but wondrously were made known to the faithful in visions and the working of signs, astonishing all through your wonders, for those who cry out: Alleluia.

You were seen to be shining with godly piety, O Nicholas, when with glory your tomb was found, O Martyr, giving praise to God, and pouring forth grace, as we cry out with joy to you:
Hail, deacon of the Lord,
Hail, opponent of the deceiver.
Hail, you who were enriched with the radiance of the Angels,
Hail, immovable Martyr of Christ the King of all,
Hail, fall and unnerving of the evil enemy.
Hail, for you traveled the road of the Martyrs,
Hail, for you magnified the word of the Lord.
Hail, God-given boast of the faithful,
Hail, our divine diadem.
Hail, you who were awarded with the choirs of the Martyrs,
Hail, you who partake of the joy of the Saints.
Hail, O Martyr Nicholas.

You traveled the road of martyrdom, O godly-minded one, and remained below the earth for many years in Thermi, O blessed Nicholas, until you were wondrously revealed. Therefore, we approach your relics, faithfully crying out: Alleluia.

You were killed by a violent death, O Irene, but moved towards eternal glory, and beheld the radiance of the Bridal Chamber of Life of the Savior. Intercede for us who cry to you, O godly-minded one:
Hail, holy youth of Christ,
Hail, blessed virgin.
Hail, you who endured burning in the fire,
Hail, you who deposed the objections of enemies.
Hail, all-spotless bride of Christ the King of all,
Hail, noetic myrrh of the life of virginity.
Hail, for you reached the struggles of the Martyrs,
Hail, for you ascended towards the glory of the Angels,
Hail, all-fragrant scent of purity,
Hail, you who shared the same hearth as the noble Martyrs.
Hail, you who received divine nourishment,
Hail, you who commune with the holy Life.
Hail, O all-chaste Irene.

Estranging yourself from the things below, O blessed Irene, you joined the choirs of the Angels through completing the good fight with steadfastness, O comely virgin, and with Raphael and Nicholas, sing to the Lord: Alleluia.

Fully glorified, you were seen in dreams paradoxically in Thermi, O Raphael, together with Nicholas and Irene, and worked wonders everywhere, healing those who suffer, and helping those who cry out:
Hail, the great one in wonders,
Hail, the glorious one among the Saints.
Hail, you who formerly struggled with steadfastness,
Hail, you who were later revealed in a godly manner.
Hail, you who works supernatural wonders everywhere,
Hail, you who hearken to the entreaties of all wondrously.
Hail, you who are seen by day and by sleep,
Hail, for you were beheld by the worthy and godly.
Hail, you who heals many of the passions,
Hail, our protector and defender.
Hail, supporter of the Monastery of Karyes,
Hail, divine adornment of Thermi.
Hail, O renowned Raphael.

You were seen, O Father, to fulfull a multitide of entreaties, and to pour forth godly joy. Therefore, the faithful from every place gather around your relics in Thermi, hymning you, O Raphael, and crying to the Savior: Alleluia.

Having divine glory, O Nicholas, you lawfully endured the pit of martyrdom, and were glorified by the Lord, when your body was revealed in Thermi, while we praise you fervently, and readily cry out to you:
Hail, divine Deacon,
Hail, Martyr among the Champions.
Hail, equal in honor with the ancient Martyrs,
Hail, sharer in the glory of all the Saints.
Hail, glorious Nicholas, the victory of all the faithful,
Hail, foundation and support of pious Christians.
Hail, for you received the crown of incorruption,
Hail, for you bestow life on those who honor you.
Hail, you who drank the cup of Christ,
Hail, our divine refuge.
Hail, you who plucked out the teeth of the enemy,
Hail, you who enlighten the minds of the faithful.
Hail, O Martyr Nicholas.

Fellow-dweller with the Angels and the Martyrs, you were granted to be, together with Raphael and Irene, O Martyr of Christ Nicholas, and with them, ever entreat that we be delivered from dangers, who cry out with one voice: Alleluia.

You behold the spotless beauty of your Bridegroom in the heavenly mansions, and together with the sacred ones who gave you birth, O unconquerable Virgin Martyr Irene, entreat on behalf of those who cry out:
Hail, lily of piety,
Hail, vessel of virginity.
Hail, treasury of divine fragrance,
Hail, flowering of comely virgins.
Hail, many mixed fragrances of a chaste life,
Hail, heavenly aroma of athletic grace.
Hail, for you were granted the divine glory above,
Hail, for you fought the great haughtiness.
Hail, seal of the fragrance of Christ,
Hail, sacred and holy seal.
Hail, chaste nightingale of Truth,
Hail, radiant lamp of incorruption.
Hail, O all-chaste Irene.

We hymn your struggle, O Martyr and Champion Irene, with hymns of victory, for with a delicate body, you deposed the ancient dragon, and were crowned by the Lord with the diadem of victory, as you chant: Alleluia.

You were lit as light-bearing lamps on Lesvos, when you lately appeared to the world, with the rays of wonders, with which you shine upon the requests of the faithful, O Champions three in number, therefore with faithfully cry out:
Hail, three-part choir of Martyrs,
Hail, enlightenment of Lesvos.
Hail, three-member choir of Champions,
Hail, you who censure every impiety.
Hail, communicants with the Savior three in number,
Hail, band gathered by God to be the guides of the faithful.
Hail, provider of the three-sunned illumination,
Hail, God-bearing choir of divine Martyrs.
Hail, triad of defenders of the Trinity,
Hail, most-honored lights for the faithful.
Hail, Raphael with Nicholas,
Hail, Irene, the beauty of womanhood.
Hail, O glorious Martyrs.

Rejoicing in the heights, Raphael and Irene, together with the divine Nicholas, and all those of Karyes, through your martyrdom, you shamed the enemy. Intercede for all of us who cry out: Alleluia.

As you ceaselessly chant the thrice-holy hymn with the Angels to the Holy Trinity, intercede on behalf of us, who are in dangers and trials, O Martyrs, that we might be delivered from them all, and cry out with one voice:
Hail, glorified choir,
Hail, you who were joined with the Angels.
Hail, most-holy Champion Raphael,
Hail, victorious and godly-minded Nicholas.
Hail, Martyr and namesake of peace, O wondrous Irene,
Hail, gathering three in number of protectors of Mytilene.
Hail, group of three Champions,
Hail, tripling of victorious Athletes.
Hail, three-floored dwelling place of Christ,
Hail, three-membered band of Martyrs.
Hail, O triad, our rejoicing,
Hail, gathering of three Champions.
Hail, O glorious Martyrs.

O blessed triad of noble Champions: Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, ever intercede to the Holy Trinity, that at our end, we be granted the things above, we who cry out: Alleluia.

Once again, the Kontakion.
Raphael, the wondrous Hieromartyr, with Nicholas and Irene let us hymn, who were richly glorified by the Lord. For in Thermi they appeared like stars for us, and ceaselessly shine with divine wonders for those who cry out: Hail, O Athletes of Christ.
  
For the life and revelation of Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2012/04/sts-raphael-nicholas-and-irene-newly.html.
  
Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, together with their fellow martyrs of the hill of Karyes, Thermi, Lesvos (Source: www.eikonografos.com)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, May 28, 2012

St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ


St. Andrew the Fool for Christ (Feast Day - October 2 in the Slavic Churches and May 28 in the Greek Churches) (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s0181/s0181001.jpg)
   
The brief life of the Saint by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Andrew was a Slav by birth. As a young man, he was enslaved; and was bought by Theognostus, a wealthy man in Constantinople, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise (son of Emperor Basil the Macedonian).

Andrew was handsome in body and soul. Theognostus took a liking to Andrew, and allowed him to become literate. Andrew fervently prayed to God, and with love attended church services.

Obeying a heavenly revelation, he adopted the ascesis of foolishness for Christ.

Once, when he went to the well for water, he tore off his clothes, and slashed them with a knife, feigning insanity. Saddened by this, his master Theognostus bound him in chains and brought him to the Church of St. Anastasia the Deliverer from Potions, so that prayers would be read for him. But Andrew did not improve, and his master freed him as mentally ill.

Andrew pretended insanity by day, but prayed to God all night long. He lived without shelter of any kind. He even spent the nights outside, walked around half-naked in a single tattered garment, and ate only a little bread when good men would give it to him. He shared all that he received with the beggars, and would mock them-to avoid being be thanked by them-for holy Andrew wanted all his reward to come from God. Therefore, the great grace of God entered into him and he was able to discern the secrets of men, perceive angels and demons, exorcize demons from men, and correct men from their sins.
   
St. Andrew and his disciple Ephiphanios behold the vision of the Theotokos (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s0181/s0181002.jpg)
   
Andrew had a most beautiful vision of Paradise and the exalted powers of heaven. He also saw the Lord Christ on His throne of glory; and he, with his disciple Epiphanius, saw the Most-holy Theotokos in the Church of Blachernae as she covered the Christian people with her omophorion. This occurence is celebrated as the Feast of the Protection of the Most-Holy Theotokos (October 1). In a vision he also heard ineffable, heavenly words that he dared not repeat to men.

After a life of almost unparalleled harshness of ascesis, Andrew entered into rest in the eternal glory of his Lord in 911.
   
St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (http://days.pravoslavie.ru/jpg/ih4290.jpg)
 
A Vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (1)

A monk in Constantinople was distinguished as an ascetic and spiritual father, and many people came to him for prayers. But this monk had the secret vice of avarice. He collected money and gave it to no one. St. Andrew met him on the street one day, and saw a terrible snake coiled around his neck. St. Andrew took pity on him, approached him, and began to counsel him: "Brother, why have you lost your soul? Why have you bound yourself with the demon of avarice? Why have you given him a resting place within yourself? Why are you amassing gold as though it will go to the grave with you, and not into the hands of others? Why are you strangling yourself by stinginess? While others hunger and thirst and perish from cold, you rejoice looking at your heap of gold! Is this the path of repentance? Is this the monastic rank? Do you see your demon?" At that, the spiritual eyes of the monk were opened, and he saw the dark demon and was greatly horrified. The demon dropped away from the monk and fled, driven by Andrew's power. Then a most radiant angel of God appeared to the monk, for his heart was changed for the good. Immediately, he went about distributing his hoarded gold to the poor and needy. From then on, he pleased God in everything and was more greatly glorified than before.
   
St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ, with the demons fleeing him (http://i259.photobucket.com/albums/hh319/antonios13/antonios11/st-andrew-fool-for-christ.jpg)
   
A Vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (2)
Once, St. Andrew was sitting with his disciple Epiphanius, talking about the salvation of the soul. Just then, a demon approached Epiphanius and began setting traps to distract his thoughts, but did not dare to approach Andrew. Andrew cried out: "Depart from here, impure adversary!" The devil drew back and replied maliciously: "You are my adversary, such as no other in all of Constantinople!" Andrew did not drive him away immediately, but permitted him to speak. And the devil began: "I feel that the time is coming when my work will be finished. At that time, men will be worse than I, as children will be even more wicked than adults. Then I will rest and will not teach men anything anymore, since they themselves will carry out my will in everything." Andrew asked him: "In what sins do your kind rejoice the most?" The devil replied: "The service of idols, slander, malice against one's neighbor, the sodomite sin, drunkenness and avarice-in this we rejoice the most." Andrew further asked him: "And how do you tolerate it when someone who first served you rejects you and your works?" The devil replied: "You know that better than I do; we find it difficult to tolerate, but we are comforted by this: we will probably bring them back to us-for many who have rejected us and turned to God have come back to us again." After the evil spirit had said this and much more, St. Andrew breathed on him and he disappeared.
   
 
A Vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (3)

Holy Andrew, walking one day along the streets of Constantinople, saw a great and splendid funeral. A rich man had died, and his cortege was magnificent. But when he looked more closely, Andrew saw a host of little black men capering merrily around the corpse, one grinning like a prostitute, another barking like a dog, a third grunting like a pig, a fourth pouring something filthy over the body. And they were mocking the singers and saying: "You're singing over a dog!" Andrew, marveling, wondered what this man had done. Turning round, he saw a handsome youth standing weeping behind a wall. "For the sake of the God of heaven and earth, tell me the reason for your tears", said Andrew. The young man then told him that he had been the dead man's guardian angel, but that the man had, by his sins, greatly offended God, casting his angel's counsel from him and giving himself over utterly to the black demons. And the angel said that this man was a great and unrepentant sinner: a liar, a hater of men, a miser, a shedder of blood and a dissolute man who had turned three hundred souls to immorality. In vain was he honoured by the Emperor and respected by the people. In vain was this great funeral. Death had caught him unrepentant, and the harvest had come without warning.
   
   
A Vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (4)
St. Paul was not the only one to be caught up into Paradise and hear "unspeakable words" (II Cor. 12:4). Over eight hundred and fifty years after St. Paul, this happened to St. Andrew. One winter night, holy Andrew was lying among the dogs on a dunghill, to warm his frozen body. An angel appeared to him and caught him up to Paradise (whether in the body or out of the body, Andrew himself was unable to explain) and kept him for two weeks in the heavenly world, bearing him to the third heaven. "I saw myself clad in shining garments like lightning, with a wreath of flowers on my head and girt with a kingly girdle, and I rejoiced greatly at this beauty, and marveled in mind and heart at the unspeakable loveliness of God's Paradise, and I walked around it with great gladness."

After that, Andrew writes of how he saw Christ the Lord: "And when a flaming hand drew aside the curtain, I saw my Lord as the Prophet Isaiah saw Him aforetime, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up and surrounded by seraphim. He was clad in a red garment, His face shone and His eyes rested on me with great kindness. Seeing Him, I fell down before Him, worshipping before the awesome throne of His glory. I have no words for the joy that gripped me at the sight of His face; and now, remembering this vision, I am filled with unspeakable joy. And I heard my most merciful Creator speak three words to me with His most sweet and pure lips, which so sweetened my heart and inflamed it with love for Him that I melted as wax at such spiritual warmth." When St. Andrew asked also after this if it would be possible to see the Most-Holy Mother of God, it was said to him that she was for the moment not in heaven, but had gone down to earth to be of help to the poor and needy.
   
St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s0181/s0181005.jpg)
   
HYMN OF PRAISE:
Saint Andrew the Fool-for-Christ
Fool-for-Christ Andrew stood at night
Under the starry firmament, praying:
"O Most-High God, three Persons in one Essence,
Salvation and Revival of souls that slumber!
O sweet Jesus, sweeter than life,
Treasury of joy and eternal beauty,
Cleanse the shepherds, enlighten the kings,
Console the troubled and sanctify the whole world.
Do not separate even me, the sinner, Andrew the Fool-for-Christ,
From Thy holy people, O Lord!"
O Saint Andrew, full of God's wisdom,
You who taught the world by words of foolishness-
With the language of the world you spoke to the world,
And by feigned foolishness you glorified Christ.
Men despised you for your foolishness,
And their dogs rose up from their lairs and chased you!
You were God's altar on the rubbish heap of the world.
You censed the world with your prayers-
And the world is not worthy of this marvel.
Glory to you, Andrew, holy Fool-for-Christ!
   
St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (http://days.pravoslavie.ru/Images/ii180&204.htm)
   
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

Thou didst choose foolishness for the sake of Christ and didst make the crafty one foolish. Thou didst persevere with thy struggle in the midst of turmoil, and Christ has brought thee to paradise. Intercede with Him, O Andrew for those who honor thee.
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
For Thy sake, O Christ, Thy servant Andrew became a fool on earth. He heard the Apostle Paul proclaiming, 'We are fools for the sake of Christ.' As we now honor his memory we pray Thee to save our souls.
Kontakion in the First Tone
Thou didst finish thy life in piety, O godly-minded Andrew, thou wast a pure vessel of the Trinity and a companion of the Angels. May peace and forgiveness be granted, through thine intercession, to those who honor thee.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Of thine own free will thou didst become a Fool, O Andrew, and utterly hate the lures of this world. Thou didst deaden carnal wisdom through hunger and thirst, through heat and bitter frost. By never avoiding the hardships of weather thou didst purify thyself as gold in the furnace.
   
The full service to St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (in Greek) is available here: http://voutsinasilias.blogspot.com/2009/05/28.html.
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

St. Modestos Bishop of Jerusalem


St. Modestos Bishop of Jerusalem - Commemorated on variably on December 16 or 18 (http://lib.pstgu.ru/icons/images/stories/base/orig/00001803.jpg)
   
Note: Thanks to information from Fr. Gregory, I have come to understand that there are two Saints Modestos, Bishops of Jerusalem that are honored by the Church. The first was born in Sebastea in 298AD, and the second reposed in the Lord in 634AD. The life of this second Saint Modestos is included below, along with the prayer to Christ for the health of animals, written through his voice (by St. Nikodemos).
   
Brief life of the Saint
Saint Modestus, Archbishop of Jerusalem, was born into a Christian family in Cappadocian Sebasteia (Asia Minor). From his youth he felt a strong attraction towards strict monastic life. St Modestus accepted monastic tonsure. Afterwards, he became head of the monastery of St Theodosius the Great in Palestine. At this time (the year 614), military forces of the Persian ruler Chosroes fell upon Syria and Palestine, killing ninety thousand Christians and destroying Christian churches. Patriarch Zacharias of Jerusalem and a multitude of Christians were taken into captivity, along with the Cross of the Lord. St Modestus was entrusted to govern the Jerusalem Church temporarily as locum tenens of the patriarchal cathedra.

With the help of Patriarch John the Merciful of Alexandria (November 12), St Modestus set about restoring devastated Christian shrines, among which was the Sepulchre of the Lord. He reverently buried the murdered monks from the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified.

After fourteen years, Patriarch Zacharias returned from captivity with the Cross of the Lord, and after his death St Modestus became Patriarch of Jerusalem. St Modestus died at age 97 in the year 634.

(Life of the Saint)
   
St. Modestos Patriarch of Jerusalem, a great Protector and Healer of Animals (source)
 
Protector and Healer of Animals (amateur translation)
Once, there was a poor widow who had five pairs of oxen, which were her only means of support, and which, unfortunately, at one point turned greatly sick. The woman was greatly worried, and mourned inconsolably. She took refuge in the Church, and entreated all of the Saints to help her in her time of need. Having not found any help, she called upon the Holy Unmercenaries Sts. Kosmas and Damian, to have mercy on her, the sinner, for because of her sins, her oxen were in danger of being lost. In her sleep, Sts. Kosmas and Damian appeared to her, and told her that to them was not granted the grace to heal animals, for this Grace was granted by God to the great Bishop of Jerusalem Modesos, and if she would go to him, her oxen would be healed. She awoke, and hastened straightaway, seeking St. Modesos, but did not find him, because he lived far from Jerusalem. She prayed with fervent faith for this Wonderworking physician to be revealed...

One night, the woman saw the Saint in a dream, who asked her why she was weeping so, and revealing to her that he was the Modestos that she was seeking, and that he had heard her prayer, and had come to heal her oxen! He advised her to cut off a portion of her iron tools, and to go to a place called "Lagenas", where there was a Church of the Archangel Michael. There, in front of the Church, there lived a good artist named Eustathios, and with her iron, he would make a cross that she should bring to her home. In the morning, when the priests would be serving liturgy, she should take the cross, dip it in some oil, and anoint her oxen straightaway in the name of Christ, and this supplication would heal them from their sickness.

The woman did as the Saint advised, and her oxen were healed, and again she was able to work without any problem, while all gave glory to God, Who gave such Wonderworking power to His servant Modestos. Since then, the art of the faithless and magicians could not affect the houses of faithful Christians, for they could not approach the wondrous power of that Cross. And even today, whoever celebrates the memory of Saint Modestos with faith, preparing a cross as mentioned above, his animals remain unharmed, through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, from every diabolic energy and danger by men.
(http://iereasanatolikisekklisias.blogspot.com/2011/12/blog-post_16.html)

   
Note: The following prayer (similar to those of St. Mamas (also for animals) and St. Tryphon (for gardens) are said by the Priest following the Blessing of the Water service, specifically for those whose animals are sick or in any kind of danger. It is a beautiful prayer, and as I had mentioned previously, we can see the humility, faith and love of the Fathers, who would always take refuge in the Lord in every need or trial in their lives (and if livestock were one's means of sustenance, as was demonstrated above, then this truly becomes a great need indeed). May Christ heal all of His creation that suffer throughout the world, through the prayers of His Saints. Amen.
   
Prayer of Saint Modestos Bishop of Jerusalem, said in the case of every fatal sickness and danger  to oxen, horses, donkeys, mules, sheep, goats, bees, and any other animals. Written by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain (amateur translation)
O Lord Jesus Christ my God, Who are merciful and All-good, Who in wisdom created every visible and invisible creature, Who pours out His compassions upon all that He has created, Who through Your all-good Providence foresees and troubles over for all Your creatures: bodiless, physical, rational, irrational, soul-bearing, soulless, from the first to the last. For nothing is not foreseen by You, neither is anything abandoned by You, the Creator and Foreseer of all. For You are He Who opens His hand, and fills all living things with goodness. You are He makes grass to grow for the cattle, and green herb for the service of men. You are He Who once, through the herd of Israel, preserved them from above from the fatal wound of the first-born of the Egyptians. You are He Who, through the compassion of Your incarnation, deposed he who had the might of death: that is, the devil, and by Your death, You put death to death.

You are He Who, through myself Your unworthy servant, puts to death the serpent, that Your spring of water might not be corrupted. Those that drink from it, both the living and the dead, through Your life-giving power, you resurrect. And if a demon draws near to it, and prepares to make itself apparent, seize it, that it might never dare to approach the place in which, I the sinner, call upon Your name. To You, therefore, I pray, O All-good Master and Creator of all, and I entreat You, the cause of all life, hearken to this my entreaty, and drive away every fatal sickness and danger from the oxen, horses, donkeys, mules, sheep, goats, bees, and any other animals in true need to the life of Your servants who call upon You, the giver of every good, and of my name. And grant, O Lord, to all those who celebrate my name, and with faith hasten to my relics, permanent peace, multiplication of animals, uncorrupted wheat, wine and oil, and above all, remission of sins, health of bodies, and eternal salvation of souls.

Yes, O Lord Jesus Christ, for the descendants from Your very loins, grant compassion on the suffering animals, whose herd is being afflicted by the sickle of death. And not having any word besides bleating, and bitter and random noises, in Your mercy, take away their passion and suffering. For if You even call rational beings to this sympathy: "A righteous man has compassion upon his animals", as is written,  how much more do You show compassion on these, Who are their Creator and Foreseer? For You, O compassionate, preserved the animals in the Ark, as Your goodness and compassions won out. That by the wellness and multiplication of the oxen, and the remaining four-legged animals, the earth might be worked, and fruit might be harvested, and Your servants who call upon my name might be preserved without any corruption, and partake of their very harvest. And that these, having all things that are necessary, might be increased in every good work, and glorify You, Who grants every good thing. And grant me me also, Your servant and most-fervent entreater, the honor of Your all-governing Kingdom, for to You belong all glory, honor and worship, with Your beginningless Father, and Your All-Holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
(http://www.saint.gr/30/texts.aspxευχήν)
   
St. Modestos Patriarch of Jerusalem (http://days.pravoslavie.ru/jpg/im3884.jpg)
   
Apolytikion in the Third Tone (amateur translations below)
Through the demonstration of your divine works, you gladdened everyone, and you enriched holy Sion with the radiance of the Apostles, and you righteously served the Savior as a priest, and lived a radiant life as a hierarch. O Father Modestos, entreat Christ God, that He grant to us the great mercy.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
You were shown to be a Hierarch among the righteous, O Father, and you served Christ as a priest on Sion as an angel, therefore, you were glorified, O Modestos, adornment of Patriarchs.

Megalynarion
Hail, O radiant star of the Church, and divine protector of holy Sion, hail, O God-bearing hierarch Modestos, our most-fervent intercessor towards the Master.
 
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!