Sunday, May 25, 2014

Some additional healings of St. John the Russian

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. John the Russian, the Wonderworker of Christ - Commemorated May 27 (source)
 
Some additional healings of St. John the Russian (amateur translations)
I. A family from Patras brought their baby into the world. What tragedy, however...The child's tongue was hanging outside of his mouth, was abnormally large, with the result that the child could not eat and his saliva ran from his mouth continuously. The mother froze when she saw this, along with the whole family. They began to run to doctors to do treatments, but they were all futile. They even reached Sweden, to a special medical center, but the results were zero: the child's tongue was still large and it was difficulty for him to eat. The bitterness and agony for the future, along with their depression had reached its limit. They struggled with treatments for three years, but did not find even the smallest benefit. Then (the evening as soon as they had returned from Sweden), and while all the relatives were gathered together, with one soul they decided to offer the child to St. John the Russian, and at the same time, to go all together to the church of [Panagia] Pantanassa to serve Paraklesis to the Saint, even though they were tired, thinking that prayer, especially prayer that is pained for others, brings results. In reality, they went and the Priest chanted the Paraklesis. When they returned to their home and turned on the light, what did they see? The tongue inexplicably had shrunk back into its place! That which the physicians and medical centers could not accomplish in at least three years, St. John the Russian did at once! What followed cannot be described. Speechless joy and tears of gratitude filled all their eyes for the help which the Saint so easily and speedily granted, as an end to their ordeal...

II. A. was married for eight years, and did not have children. She tried all those years, but a child did not come, despite how much they desired one. From a young age she would pray and believed, as her mother taught her. Many times, she had visited St. John the Russian and entreated him regarding this issue. She also told him that she was: "waiting for a response from the Heavens," but as time passed, it became more bitter, though her husband tried to console her, even with spiritual words. It was the winter of 1979 when she went again to the icon stand to pray, but she could not even gather her thoughts. She had been "patient" for all these years. She felt as if a knot was choking her, and she wanted to cry outt. In such a bad psychological state, she saw the icon of St. John the Russian, and she told him out loud: "It's over, what did I do to you, my Saint? Why did God not give me children? Why?  Do you hate me, my Saint?"

The next midnight, as she had fallen asleep with her husband, the two heard someone climbing the stairs, and they awoke. They thought that there was someone from the company that had made a mistake at that hours and for some reason came to the house. They heard a knock at the door (which was locked) and it opened straightaway, and within a radiance, appeared St. John the Russian, who told her sweetly: "Ah, what was that prayer that you made earlier? My child, the Saints don't hate anyone. It is not the will of God that you have children yet. Another two years will pass, and then this joy will come!"

In reality, two years passed, and in 1981, A. began to have the children that she so greatly desired...

III. In 2010, a pregnant woman was diagnosed with cancer, and the doctor advised her to terminate the pregnancy so that she could begin chemotherapy. She refused to kill her child, and prayed to God, saying: "Lord, is there no Saint to help me?" That night, she saw in her sleep that she had entered a church where there were four reliquaries. Straightaway, one of them opened, and she found a radiant youth who told her: "I am John from Prokopi, and I will make you well." In reality, the pregnancy proceeded smoothly, the cancer disappeared, and the couple came with their child to venerate and to thank the Saint."
(source)
 

Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Friday, May 23, 2014

St. Porphyrios: Do not be afraid of anything!

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, Who lays down His life for the sheep (source)
   
[St. Porphyrios], sitting below a pine tree on one summer afternoon, spoke to us on the limitless trust that we must have in the providence of God: "Do you know that which the Scripture says: 'and even the hairs of your head are numbered'? This is reality. This is how it is.

"Nothing in life is by chance. God provides for even the smallest details of our life. He is not indifferent towards us, we are not alone in the world. He loves us greatly, and He has us in His nous at every instant, and protects us. We must understand this and never be afraid of anything."

We asked [the Saint], after the invasion, what will happen with Cyprus, and he said: "Let God do His job." The same he said when there were great earthquakes occurring in Greece, and remained unswayed by the situation. He said: "Let us do good deeds, and God will do whatever He desires."

"Sometimes fears come to you, as you told me, because you do not love Christ very much. This is everything..."
 
(amateur translation of text from source)
 

Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Excerpts from the Homily on the Samaritan Woman by St. John Chrysostom

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Christ speaking with the Samaritan Woman (St. Photini) (source)
   

Today, Christ desires to proclaim the struggles of the Samaritan woman, and we must, with this poor word, sail the sea of her feats. I behold her faith, and I wish to tell of her word of praise, and with us join in the poor and rich, the harlot and apostle, the prodigal and faithful, the many-times-married and those very strong. For she who was defiled by many, was then healed and sanctified by the Only-begotten Word of God. For she who thirsted and desired living water, inherited the heavenly streams of grace...

Therefore, the Samaritan Woman went to draw water, and beheld Jesus as some stranger, a traveler, sitting by the well. She beheld a wearied man, and did not say a word to Him. But He, God, Who beholds all, even before their birth, beheld the treasure of faith, and told her: “Give me something to drink.” The Wellspring of Life, sitting beside the well, did not require drink, but desired to give. “Give me to drink, that I might give the water of incorruption to drink. I thirst for the salvation of men, not that I might drink, but that I may give them water. I imitated my Father, as God said to Abraham: 'Give me your son. Give me Isaac, your beloved and only son, as a burnt sacrifice upon the mountains that I shall show you.' But He did not desire his son, but desired to grant His own Son to the world. For the Son of Thunder, the God-inspired John writes: 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish, but have eternal life...'"
   
“And those who worship God, must worship Him in spirit and truth.” There are no longer whole-burnt offerings, and bulls, and rams. There is no longer circumcision, and the prison of the Sabbath. There is no longer the temple, and the altar, and the sheep gate, and the holy of holies. There is no longer the shadow, and services and false Sabbaths. "For your new moon celebrations and your Sabbaths", as God said through the prophet, "and your great day I cannot bear. Your fast and your rest and your feasts my soul hates. Those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth. They have all passed like a shadow, the ancient things have passed away, behold, all things have become new. Therefore, things have been transformed by grace. There is no longer according to the law one place where I will forgive those whom have gathered to worship God, but into all the world I wish the gifts of salvation to be poured. For their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." The woman then says to Him: “I know that the Messiah is coming, who is called the Christ, and when he comes he will show us all things.” O harlot, made wise spiritually! O harlot, bearing the divine Scripture on her mouth! Even though the body be baptized into uncleanliness, her soul was cleansed by the reading and meditating on the Scriptures...

“I, who am speaking to you, am he.” O great and paradoxical wonders! He did not reveal Himself to many of the Apostles, but to this harlot He reveals Himself clearly. He did not reveal Himself to Kleopas or the Apostles, but when He had opened their eyes, the Disciples said among themselves, “Did not our hearts burn within us when He opened to us the Scriptures?” He did not reveal Himself to them, but to the woman he said: “I, who am speaking to you, am he.” He lifted up Paul to the Third Heaven, and seized him into Paradise, where he heard unspeakable words, and therefore netted the world, the same He did with the Samaritan Woman. He truly revealed Himself to Paul from heaven, saying: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard to fight against the pricks.” Saul replied, saying: “Who are you, Lord?” He replied: “I am Jesus Christ whom you are persecuting.” He therefore says the same to the Samaritan woman, saying: “I, who am speaking to you, am he.” And the Disciples then came and found Him speaking with the woman. He Who is worshipped by the Angels, converses with a harlot. He Who rules together with the Father eternally, speaks one-on-one with the woman. But she, leaving her pitcher, entered the city. She left her pitcher, because she had been filled with living waters, and she went to her fellow citizens, crying out: “Come, behold a man Who told me everything I had ever done. Could this be the Christ? Come, behold the man.” She did not say: “Come, behold God among men” that she might flee the glory of men, that men might not say of her, “She is insane”...

O apostolic harlot! The harlot became stronger than the Apostles. For the Apostles, after all of the [Divine] Economy had been fulfilled, then became apostolic preachers, while the harlot, before the Passion and the [Divine] Economy, and the Resurrection, evangelized Christ. “Come, behold a man Who told me everything I had ever done. He posted my sins, that I might lead you to Him. That you might behold God Who had come to dwell among men, I proclaim my evil deeds. And let us worship Christ, Who does not disdain sinners. Come, behold a man Who told me everything I had ever done. Could this be the Christ?” Do you see the gratitude of the harlot? Christ told her one sin, of harlotry, and she then hastened to tell the city: “Come, see a man Who told me everything I had ever done.” She preached Him Who beholds all things, and more mightily than the Apostles. For she had not seen the dead being raised, she did not see Lazarus called back from the tomb after four days, she did not see the [gates] of death being shut, she did not see the sea being calmed by His word alone, she did not see Him Who fashioned Adam, refashion the Blind man, as He the Potter did in Eden...
   
(amateur translation of Greek text from source)
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

St. Porphyrios on the Pain of the Martyrs

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Saints suffering terrible tortures for Christ (source)
 
A short time before, someone asked me if the martyrs felt pain in their so many tortures. He said that God gave them patience and they endured so many tortures.

And I told him: Man, as a man [alone], cannot bear even the first pain that he comes across. Physiologically, he should faint immediately. But their nous and heart were fixated on Christ: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me," not "take away my pain". [Christ] knows the pain and allows it as much as is needed to heal your soul.

He gave you a canon instead of other canons. You should not say "take it back". God knows your pain. A pill or a cup of coffee aren't necessary. Cut them out. Of course, man has the right to say to God in his life: "My God, take away my pain". But I think that it is better to take up his pain. Perhaps I am wrong, but I love this error.

Do not ask that your canon be lessened. (In reality, I had the thought in those days to ask to do fewer prostrations, because I was tiring from the three hundred.) Struggle with whatever God has given you.

(amateur translation of text from source)

Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Monday, May 12, 2014

A prayer to St. Ephraim of Nea Makri for those suffering from drug or alcohol addition (or other needs)

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, the Newly-revealed Hieromartyr and Wonderworker of Christ - May 5 / January 3 (source)
   
(from the proskenetarion of the saint at The Canadian Orthodox Monastery of All Saints of North America)
O Holy Martyr Ephraim, look with compassion upon my distress and, as thou didst deliver the young man from his cruel addiction, so also pray for me that our Lord and Saviour, for Whom thou didst witness unto death, may deliver my soul from captivity to Satan. For I am in cruel bondage and suffering because of my weakness and sinfulness. Beseech our merciful Lord that, as He didst lead the Hebrews forth from slavery in Egypt and called His people out of Babylon, as He delivered the youth from the demon, and freed the daughter of the Canaanite woman, and healed the woman taken in adultery and restored the Samaritan woman, that He may also set me free and deliver me from the demon of addiction***. I confess that I have fallen into this evil through my own slothfulness and weakness, but have mercy and pray for me, 0 saint and martyr of God.

A short prayer to be said continually by one who is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol***:
O Lord, Jesus Christ, through the prayers of Thy Holy Martyr Ephraim, have mercy on me and deliver me from this cruel bondage.
   
***Note: that this could potentially be changed based on whatever one's specific need might be, e.g. depression, disease, passion, etc.
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Excerpt from the Commentary on the Healing of the Paralytic, by St. John Chrysostom, Part II

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Christ healing the Paralytic by the Pool of Bethesda (source)
   
Homily XXXVII.
John v. 6, 7
“Jesus saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered Him, Yea, Sir, but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool.”
[1.] Great is the profit of the divine Scriptures, and all-sufficient is the aid which comes from them. And Paul declared this when he said, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written aforetime for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” ( Rom. xv. 4, 1 Cor. x. 11.) For the divine oracles are a treasury of all manner of medicines, so that whether it be needful to quench pride, to lull desire to sleep, to tread under foot the love of money, to despise pain, to inspire confidence, to gain patience, from them one may find abundant resource. For what man of those who struggle with long poverty or who are nailed to a grievous disease, will not, when he reads the passage before us, receive much comfort? Since this man who had been paralytic for thirty and eight years, and who saw each year others delivered, and himself bound by his disease, not even so fell back and despaired, though in truth not merely despondency for the past, but also hopelessness for the future, was sufficient to over-strain him. Hear now what he says, and learn the greatness of his sufferings. For when Christ had said, “Wilt thou be made whole?” “Yea, Lord,” he saith, “but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool.” What can be more pitiable than these words? What more sad than these circumstances? Seest thou a heart crushed through long sickness? Seest thou all violence subdued? He uttered no blasphemous word, nor such as we hear the many use in reverses, he cursed not his day, he was not angry at the question, nor did he say, “Art Thou come to make a mock and a jest of us, that Thou asketh whether I desire to be made whole?” but replied gently, and with great mildness, “Yea, Lord”; yet he knew not who it was that asked him, nor that He would heal him, but still he mildly relates all the circumstances and asks nothing further, as though he were speaking to a physician, and desired merely to tell the story of his sufferings. Perhaps he hoped that Christ might be so far useful to him as to put him into the water, and desired to attract Him by these words. What then saith Jesus?

Ver. 8. “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”
Now some suppose that this is the man in Matthew who was “lying on a bed” ( Matt. ix. 2 ); but it is not so, as is clear in many ways. First, from his wanting persons to stand forward for him. That man had many to care for and to carry him, this man not a single one; wherefore he said, “I have no man.” Secondly, from the manner of answering; the other uttered no word, but this man relates his whole case. Thirdly, from the season and the time; this man was healed at a feast, and on the Sabbath, that other on a different day. The places too were different; one was cured in a house, the other by the pool. The manner also of the cure was altered; there Christ said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” but here He braced the body first, and then cared for the soul. In that case there was remission of sins, (for He saith, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,”) but in this, warning and threats to strengthen the man for the future; “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” ( Ver. 14.) The charges also of the Jews are different; here they object to Jesus, His working on the Sabbath, there they charge Him with blasphemy.
Consider now, I pray you, the exceeding wisdom of God. He raised not up the man at once, but first maketh him familiar by questioning, making way for the coming faith; nor doth He only raise, but biddeth him “take up his bed,” so as to confirm the miracle that had been wrought, and that none might suppose what was done to be illusion or a piece of acting. For he would not, unless his limbs had been firmly and thoroughly compacted, have been able to carry his bed. And this Christ often doth, effectually silencing those who would fain be insolent. So in the case of the loaves, that no one might assert that the men had been merely satisfied, and that what was done was an illusion, He caused that there should be many relics of the loaves. So to the leper that was cleansed He said, “Go, show thyself to the priest” ( Matt. viii. 4 ); at once providing most certain proof of the cleansing, and stopping the shameless mouths of those who asserted that He was legislating in opposition to God. This also He did in like manner in the case of the wine; for He did not merely show it to them, but also caused it to be borne to the governor of the feast, in order that one who knew nothing of what had been done, by his confession might bear to Him unsuspected testimony; wherefore the Evangelist saith, that the ruler of the feast “knew not whence it was,” thus showing the impartiality of his testimony. And in another place, when He raised the dead, He said, “Give ye him to eat”; supplying this proof of a real resurrection, and by these means persuading even the foolish that He was no deceiver, no dealer in illusions, but that He had come for the salvation of the common nature of mankind.

[2.] But why did not Jesus require faith of this man, as He did in the case of others, saying, “Believest thou that I am able to do this?” It was because the man did not yet clearly know who He was; and it is not before, but after the working of miracles that He is seen so doing. For persons who had beheld His power exerted on others would reasonably have this said to them, while of those who had not yet learned who He was, but who were to know afterwards by means of signs, it is after the miracles that faith is required. And therefore Matthew doth not introduce Christ as having said this at the beginning of His miracles, but when He had healed many, to the two blind men only.

Observe however in this way the faith of the paralytic. When he had heard, “Take up thy bed and walk,” he did not mock, nor say, “What can this mean? An Angel cometh down and troubleth the water, and healeth only one, and dost Thou, a man, by a bare command and word hope to be able to do greater things than Angels? This is mere vanity, boasting, mockery.” But he neither said nor imagined anything like this, but at once he heard and arose, and becoming whole, was not disobedient to Him that gave the command; for immediately he was made whole, and “took up his bed, and walked.” What followed was even far more admirable. That he believed at first, when no one troubled him, was not so marvelous, but that afterwards, when the Jews were full of madness and pressed upon him on all sides, accusing and besieging him and saying, “It is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed,” that then he gave no heed to their madness, but most boldly in the midst of the assembly proclaimed his Benefactor and silenced their shameless tongues, this, I say, was an act of great courage. For when the Jews arose against him, and said in a reproachful and insolent manner to him,

Ver. 10. “It is the Sabbath day, it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed”; hear what he saith:
Ver. 11. “He that made me whole, the Same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.”
All but saying, “Ye are silly and mad who bid me not to take Him for my Teacher who has delivered me from a long and grievous malady, and not to obey whatever He may command.” Had he chosen to act in an unfair manner, he might have spoke differently, as thus, “I do not this of my own will, but at the bidding of another; if this be a matter of blame, blame him who gave the order, and I will set down the bed.” And he might have concealed the cure, for he well knew that they were vexed not so much at the breaking of the Sabbath, as at the curing of his infirmity. Yet he neither concealed this, nor said that, nor asked for pardon, but with loud voice confessed and proclaimed the benefit. Thus did the paralytic; but consider how unfairly they acted. For they said not, “Who is it that hath made thee whole?” on this point they were silent, but kept on bringing forward the seeming transgression.

Ver. 12, 13. “What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place.”
And why did Jesus conceal Himself? First, that while He was absent, the testimony of the man might be unsuspected, for he who now felt himself whole was a credible witness of the benefit. And in the next place, that He might not cause the fury of the Jews to be yet more inflamed, for the very sight of one whom they envy is wont to kindle not a small spark in malicious persons. On this account He retired, and left the deed by itself to plead its cause among them, that He might not say anything in person respecting Himself, but that they might do so who had been healed, and with them also the accusers. Even these last for a while testify to the miracle, for they said not, “Wherefore hast thou commanded these things to be done on the Sabbath day?” but, “Wherefore doest thou these things on the Sabbath day?” not being displeased at the transgression, but envious at the restoration of the paralytic. Yet in respect of human labor, what the paralytic did was rather a work, for the other was a saying and a word. Here then He commandeth another to break the Sabbath, but elsewhere He doth the same Himself, mixing clay and anointing a man’s eyes ( c. 9 ); yet He doth these things not transgressing, but going beyond the Law. And on this we shall hereafter speak. For He doth not, when accused by the Jews respecting the Sabbath, always defend Himself in the same terms, and this we must carefully observe.

[3.] But let us consider awhile how great an evil is envy, how it disables the eyes of the soul to the endangering his salvation who is possessed by it. For as madmen often thrust their swords against their own bodies, so also malicious persons looking only to one thing, the injury of him they envy, care not for their own salvation. Men like these are worse than wild beasts; they when wanting food, or having first been provoked by us, arm themselves against us; but these men when they have received kindness, have often repaid their benefactors as though they had wronged them. Worse than wild beasts are they, like the devils, or perhaps worse than even those; for they against us indeed have unceasing hostility, but do not plot against those of their own nature, (and so by this Jesus silenced the Jews when they said that He cast out devils by Beelzebub,) but these men neither respect their common nature, nor spare their own selves. For before they vex those whom they envy they vex their own souls, filling them with all manner of trouble and despondency, fruitlessly and in vain. For wherefore grievest thou, O man, at the prosperity of thy neighbor? We ought to grieve at the ills we suffer, not because we see others in good repute. Wherefore this sin is stripped of all excuse. The fornicator may allege his lust, the thief his poverty, the man-slayer his passion, frigid excuses and unreasonable, still they have these to allege. But what reason, tell me, wilt thou name? None other at all, but that of intense wickedness. If we are commanded to love our enemies, what punishment shall we suffer if we hate our very friends? And if he who loveth those that love him will be in no better a state than the heathen, what excuse, what palliation shall he have who injures those that have done him no wrong? Hear Paul, what he saith, “Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” ( 1 Cor. xiii. 3 ); now it is clear to every one that where envy and malice are, there charity is not. This feeling is worse than fornication and adultery, for these go no farther than him who doeth them, but the tyranny of envy hath overturned entire Churches, and hath destroyed the whole world. Envy is the mother of murder. Through this Cain slew Abel his brother; through this Esau (would have slain) Jacob, and his brethren Joseph, through this the devil all mankind. Thou indeed now killest not, but thou dost many things worse than murder, desiring that thy brother may act unseemly, laying snares for him on all sides, paralyzing his labors on the side of virtue, grieving that he pleaseth the Master of the world. Yet thou warrest not with thy brother, but with Him whom he serves, Him thou insultest when thou preferest thy glory to His. And what is in truth worst of all, is that this sin seems to be an unimportant one, while in fact it is more grievous than any other; for though thou showest mercy and watchest and fastest, thou art more accursed than any if thou enviest thy brother. As is clear from this circumstance also. A man of the Corinthians was once guilty of adultery, yet he was charged with his sin and soon restored to righteousness; Cain envied Abel; but he was not healed, and although God Himself continually charmed the wound, he became more pained and wave-tossed, and was hurried on to murder. Thus this passion is worse than that other, and doth not easily permit itself to be cured except we give heed. Let us then by all means tear it up by the roots, considering this, that as we offend God when we waste with envy at other men’s blessings, so when we rejoice with them we are well pleasing to Him, and render ourselves partakers of the good things laid up for the righteous. Therefore Paul exhorteth us to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” ( Rom. xii. 15 ), that on either hand we may reap great profit.

Considering then that even when we labor not, by rejoicing with him that laboreth, we become sharers of his crown, let us cast aside all envy, and implant charity in our souls, that by applauding those of our brethren who are well pleasing unto God, we may obtain both present and future good things, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy [Spirit], be glory, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
   
   
Christ healing the Paralytic by the Pool of Bethesda (source)
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

St. Ephraim of Nea Makri heals a transplant patient

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
 St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, the Newly-revealed Hieromartyr and Wonderworker (source)
   
As the months were passing, my state was worsening, My faith, however, did not lessen, but was further strengthening. I began to not care whether I lived or whether I died, but only that if I died, at least that He take me near Him, or if I lived, that I be able to hymn Him where I am and where I stand.

Nearly a year passed when they informed me that there was found a compatible donor in America. It was Thursday morning. On Friday morning I left from the 401 for Evangelismos [Hospital in Athens] where Monday the transplant would take place. Thursday at 12 I fell into a coma. My head had filled with fluid, along with my lungs and my heart. They brought me with my bed to the ICU. I must have remained there for a few days.

At one point, I came to, but could not open my eyes, when I remember that I heard the sweetest melodies which I had ever heard in my life...full of peace and tranquility. I did not know where I was, but I understood that I was in the ICU. Over my head was my doctor, who was mentioning to my father and to my girl that: “Vasili had a strong constitution, but with fluid in his head, in his lungs and in his heart, with a platlet and white blood cell count of zero, no one in this state ever leaves the ICU.”

My father disagreed, telling him: “You don't know Vasili, he served in the Special Forces, he won't give up.”

The doctor pat me on the side and said: “I wish it would be so, but it would be a miracle if he makes it through tonight.”

They exited. My girl was holding my hand, crying. I was conscious, but I could not react. She also exited.

Then the place was flooded with an unbelievable light, and the melodies got stronger. I was not seeing a dream, I was awake and I had my senses. A very tall, divinely-appearing man with a very dark and long beard, and a had a large hat, who almost reached the ceiling, entered: it was St. Ephraim. He did not take his eyes from me, but approached me and with his hand touched my head...His fingers were very large. He told me: “Now, I will take you up.” [i.e. Take you upon my shoulders] and he left slowly, like he entered.

The next day, I opened my eyes in seclusion. I had left the ICU. All of my relatives were gathered around me. As soon as they saw me wake up, they began to embrace me and cry out...“Call the doctor, call the doctor!”

He entered and told me: “I don't believe in miracles, nor in God, but you had some Saint with you yesterday.” That evening the fluid in the lungs and the head and the heart disappeared, and the bone marrow began functioning normally, with all of the blood counts as if nothing had happened.

One week later I left the hospital, and this time, before I went home, I went to the Monastery of my Saint. I stood before his reliquary, and three times I heard an echoing sound beside me, like the striking of a rod or a cane. I shuddered totally, and began to cry out of gratitude.
   
(amateur translation of text from source)
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by dead, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life! Truly the Lord is risen!

St. John Chrysostom on the Myrrhbearing Women

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Christ appearing the the Myrrhbearing Women (The Theotokos, to Christ's right, St. Mary Magdalene, to His left) (source)
   
There is ever rejoicing among the church of Christ, but much more so on the present, lamp-bearing day of myriads of light, for on this day, Christ, the Master of all, the Sun of Righteousness, from the grave as from a bridle chamber, has shown forth through His resurrection, and before all, to womankind has shown his rays, saying to them: “Rejoice”. The first voice of the resurrection is “rejoice”, for fear has been dispelled and grace has been given.

The first voice of the resurrection is “rejoice”, and before all, He meets the women, and to them the Lord said: “Go quickly, tell my Disciples that I have risen from the grave, and I go before you to Galilee, there you will see me.” He met [womankind], among whom had sin been multiplied, and greatly multiplied grace. O, the wisdom of the Lord's deed! He did not send to the Disciples an angel, nor did He go Himself to them, but sent a woman. And not a simple woman, but a faithful woman, who was herself soldier-like. She sent them to the Disciples to bring joy, but also to censure. Joy, for He had risen from the dead and was "free among the dead", but censure, for the Disciples, though they were men, out of fear hid, while the women out of boldness, joyously evangelized the resurrection.
   
(amateur translation of text: "On Holy Pascha, and on the Myrrhbearers, and on the Newly-Illumined, and on the "In the beginning was the Word..." from source)
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by dead, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life! Truly the Lord is risen!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Miracles of the Archangel Michael the Taxiarch to Mother Stavritsa the Missionary

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The wondrous icon of the Holy Archangel Michael, Mantamados, Mytilene (Lesvos) (source)
   
Note: The Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearers is one of the major feasts of the Holy Archangel Michael the Taxiarch, Mantamados, Mytilene (Lesvos). This is because that church was consecrated on this day. Thousands of pilgrims flock to celebrate this feast, seek the intercessions of the great Taxiarch, and thank him for his prayer and his protection, for "Where your grace casts its shade, Archangel, there the devil’s power is chased away; for the fallen Morning Star cannot endure in your light." (source) May he intercede for us all and protect us!
   
Miracles of the Archangel Michael the Taxiarch to Mother Stavritsa the Missionary (+2000)
My name is Stavritsa Zachariou, and I am a Greek American. In 1969 I went to Africa as a missionary. I am 75 years old, and 15 years I spent in Africa, near our suffering brothers, sowing the seed of the Gospel. I stay by myself in Nairobi, Kenya, and from there I go to Kampala, Cameroon, and other places, where the seed of the Gospel of Christ needs to be sowed.

I am a missionary of the Archdiocese of America. With the help of God and of benefactors, we built 12 holy Churches in [Africa]. We built the 10th holy church in honor of the Archangel Michael, and I wanted to paint his icon from the prototype from the north gate of the Patriarchate. As I was finishing the icon, when I went to the post office, I received a letter from Fr. Soterios Trampa. I know Archimandrite Fr. Soterios, who was a missionary for many years in Korea, and who also served as a preacher of your Metropolis, along with Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Athens from 1968-1973. In his letter was a small booklet on the Taxiarch of Mantamados. Then I learned about Mantamados, and the bas-relief icon of the Archangel Michael. Fr. Soterios wrote: “I am sending you the information on the Taxiarch of Mantamados, that you might come to know his wondrous icon. Within this you will see one of his many miracles, which occur daily to the glory of God. I served there in the past, and I especially honor him...”

I began to read the booklet on the Taxiarch, including the miracle of the sword. As I continued reading, I reached the place regarding the passing of the sword from some unknown person to Mr. Diamante, when there was as if some marked commotion in the icon [that she had painted]. I turned around to see what was happening then and, O my God!!!! The Archangel of the icon began to come to life, to take on flesh and bones! I was astonished! I knelt before it and began to pray with tears and to ask for his help and his protection. After a short while, slowly the icon began to return to its natural state.

I was supposed to go for a trip to Kampala. I always thought that when I would go on some trip, that I should take with me the icon of some Saint from my icon corner. That time, I took with me the little icon of the Taxiarch of Mantamados.

We reached the border of Kampala and Kenya, and Kampala at that time (1988) had a military regime. When we speak about a military regime in the center of Africa, it means that human life is cheaper than the life of a blackbird!

As we were passing through, my driver (a Kenyan and my Koumbaro) did not notice that at one place there was a stop sign and he kept going. Five wild motorcyclists surrounded us. They got off their motorcycles, drew their weapons, and knelt, preparing to fire at us and to take our car and our possessions as spoil. That is what usually occurred there...

Then, I don't know what strength was within me, but I opened the door of the car..I exited with the icon of the Taxiarch in my hands, and approached them, crying out:
“For God's sake, stop! I have with me the Taxiarch of God, who is dark-colored like you, come see him!!!”

Automatically, it was as if someone grabbed them by the hands. They calmed down, left their weapons in the grass, and ran up to me, took the icon, like something holy and venerable, and began to examine it carefully and to shout. They bowed their faces to the ground and holding my hands, they asked for forgiveness. Then I saw that one of them was injured badly in the hand by a knife. I took my first aid kit from the car, nursed the wound and dressed it. We became friends! The most impressive thing is that, there was sown the word of God, and the five of them received Christ, and became Christians!

After all of this, I promised to the Archangel to come to Greece, to Mantamados, to thank him. And today, I feel very blessed that the Lord made me worthy to fulfill my promise. I thank Him from all my heart!

(Amateur translation of text, from Protopresbyter Eustratios Dessou, “The History and Miracles of the Taxiarch of Mantamados,” Volume II, pg. 158. http://antexoume.wordpress.com/2013/11/08
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by dead, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life! Truly the Lord is risen!