Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Excerpts from Photios Kontoglou on Christmas

The Nativity of Christ (source)
  
Excerpt from Photios Kontoglou on Christmas, from his book "Aivali, my Fatherland"
The spiritual joy and heavenly exaltation which the Christian senses at Christmas cannot be sensed with any other approach, such as he who celebrates it as only a moving occurrence, which is associated with other common joys of the world, with winter, with snow, with a warm cup of tea.

Only the Orthodox Christian celebrates Christmas spiritually, and from his soul he passes the season with sanctified feelings, and we are warmed with a paradoxical warmth which comes from another world, the warmth of the Holy Spirit, according to the Hymn of Ascent which says: "By the Holy Spirit, every soul is given life, and cleansed and exalted and made shining by the Three-fold Monad, in a hidden manner."

Soul and body celebrate together, exalting with divine joy which cannot be sensed by one who is separated far away from Christ. While in the heart of the Christian, these holy days are full of the fragrance of hymnody, full of a most-sweet spiritual radiance, which covers all creation, the mountains, the sea, every rock, every tree, ever stone, every creation. Everything is sanctified, everyone celebrates, everyone chants, everyone rejoices, all creation is "as an olive tree filled with fruit in the house of God". No one can sense such joy in his heart except only he who...loves God and who lives these days of his life together with God, because no one else other than God can give such joy, such peace, according to the word which the Lord said at the Mystical Supper: "My peace I give to you, I do not give you peace like the world gives."

The joy of Christ and peace is transformational by the joy and from the peace of this world. Because of this, the man who rejoices when he goes to church in order to...drink from that immortal spring of joy and peace, says together with the Prophet David: "Send forth, O Lord, Your light and Your truth, they will lead me and take me to Your holy mountain, and to Your dwelling places, and I will go towards the altar of God, to God Who makes glad my youth."

Let us also therefore celebrate, my brethren, the Nativity of Christ "in spirit and truth, in psalms and hymns and spiritual odes", and then everything else will be "added unto us", we will be seen with joy in our home, in our family, in nature, in our social interactions, in pure conversations, because everything will be sweetened by the love of Christ, and will be warmed by the warmth of Him Who is the giver of life.

My brethren, the Nativity of Christ is a great lesson for us on humility. Where was he born? In a manger, more properly in a crib, that we might more deeply sense the unspeakable condescension of God, because the ancient words are made to our eyes to appear rich, and poor things. His mother, the Most-holy Theotokos, far from her house, a stranger in a strange land, went and gave birth in a pen. The ox and the ass warmed Him with their breath. Shepherds were His friends. Together with the newborn lambs was numbered the Lamb of God, Who came to this world to save man from the curse of Adam. What man could be born with a greater humility?

St. Isaac the Syrian writes, in his Word on Humility, the following remarkable words: "I want to open my mouth, my brethren, and speak about the most exalted notion of humility, and I am full of fear, like that man who knows how he will speak of God. Because humility is the cloak of the godhead. Because the Word of God Who became man, became clothed in her, and came in contact with her, taking on a body like ours. And whoever is clothed in her truly becomes like Him, Who descended from the heights, and Who covered with His virtue His grandeur and His glory with humility. And He became like this that creation might not be consumed by beholding Him. Because creation could not gaze upon Him, if He were not to take a part of it and spoke through it. He covered His greatness with flesh, and with this came to dwell with us, with the body which He took from the Virgin and Theotokos Maria. Therefore, as we see how He is of our race and how He speaks like a man, let us not be afraid of His throne. Because of this, whoever puts on the robe that the Creator wore (in other words, humility), He clothes himself in Christ".

The manger is the humble heart, and only within her can Christ come to be born.

Our Church radiantly shines within the darkness of winter, celebrating the Nativity of the Lord. From within her is heard a hymn that surpasses this world, like that which was chanted by the angels the night when the Lord was born, "a sound of pure celebration".
(source)
  
Children singing Christmas carols (source)
  
Note: And the following is is a beautiful short story that paints the picture of a cold cave in the wintertime in Asia Minor, nonetheless warmed and permeated with love for Christ and the humble celebration of the Incarnation by simple shepherds, sailors and monks.
  
A short Christmas story from Aivali, Asia Minor, by Photios Kontoglou, a rendering by Costas and Helen Dedegikas
Christmas Eve, Christmas and snow come together. But this year the weather was extraordinary. Snow did not fall. The atmosphere was angry, blowing a harsh northern wind with freezing rain accompanied by lightning. Within a week the weather became mild and the sea was so calm that you could travel; but by Christmas Eve the weather turned. From the morning the sky was black like lead and wet snow started to fall. In a place named Skrofas by the side of the mountain, which overlooked the sea there was a corral with sheep. This spot was wild and barren with lots of beautiful evergreen bushes and red berries. The corral was enclosed by a primitive dry stonewall.


The shepherds were sitting in a cave set further up the side of the mountain. The cave was large and separated in three or four partitions with a height of three men. The animals were resting under low harnesses so that one had to bend low to enter the cave. Piles of manure were scattered here and there giving off a strong sulphuric odor. However, the earthen floor was swept clean because the shepherds were good-spirited and they had the children sweep the cave often with brooms made of bushes.

The master shepherd was Yianni Barbakos, a half wild man who was born amongst the flocks of goats and sheep. He was dark and hairy with a beard as black as a crow and as curly as a rams fleece. He was wearing breeches to the knee, a leather belt around his waste, a wide sash and heavy boots on his feet. His head was wrapped in a wide bandana like a turban, with lots of fringes - an ancient man! He had two “paragious” (young men who were a combination of apprentices and adopted sons) with him, Alexi and Odysseas, who were no more than 20 years of age. He also had three other boys who cleaned and tended the animals.

These six souls were living in that wild place all alone –hidden from God, seldom seeing another person. The cave was covered in soot and the rock above it was blackened from the smoke that emanated from the mouth of the cave. Their beds were made from animal skins. The walls of the cave were lined with poles that shelved their food, knives and guns. It almost seemed like it was a den of thieves.

Guarding the cave were their dogs, as wild as wolves. The seashore was a cigarette’s distance (the time is takes to smoke a cigarette) from the cave. The sea was calm and day and night you couldn’t hear anything other than the crashing of the waves. Sometimes depending on the weather a ship would pass by, but other than that you wouldn’t see a thing. From the corral you could barely see the mountains of Mytilini between the trees.

On Christmas Eve, as we stated before, the weather had turned for the worse and wet snow was falling. The shepherds started a large fire and gathered around chatting. The boys butchered two lambs and were skinning them for the meal. Alexis had fetched unsalted cheese from storage and some yogurt as well. Odysseas had pulled out an old Church book and because he could read a little as well as the fact that he had limited knowledge of hymns, he read from the Christmas Eve vespers.

At about the time for vespers they heard a rifle shot in the woods. They assumed it was some hunters. All the dogs started barking loudly and leaped out of the corral. Earlier one of the boys, while bringing firewood on his donkey, had heard gunshots in the morning coming from the water towards Hagia Paraskevi.

Within a short time, two men with rifles appeared above the cave shouting at the shepherds to round up their dogs that were surrounding them. Skouris, one of the guard dogs, turned his attention from the hunters to one of their hounds and attacked it. One hunter shot at the dog, hurting it with buckshot forcing it along with the other dogs to retreat. Barbakos, the master shepherd, then appeared with the other shepherds and tied down Skouris and chased away the other dogs.

“Good Afternoon” shouted Panagis Kardamitsas wrapped up in his cartridges and carrying a bag of game (birds he hunted).

The other hunter with him was his son Dimitrios.

“Welcome. Welcome.” Exclaimed Barbakos and his party.

They then led the hunters into the cave.

“My God, what is this place? A Palace! A palace with princes.” Exclaimed Panagis, pointing at the cheeses that had been prepared for dinner.

They asked the hunters to sit down and prepared coffee. The hunters, in turn, offered the shepherds brandy.

“My brother”, exclaimed Panagis, “who would think that we would celebrate Christmas in the cave where Christ was born! Just yesterday we passed Hagia Paraskevi to hunt a little. We figuredwe could sleep at the monastery, but due to the bad weather we couldn’t get there with old man Manolis’ boat. So here we are at your palace. What a dog you have! What a beast! Look what he did to my hound”!

Then he turned to the corner of the cave where his dog was lying, still shivering from fear.

“Come here Flox! Flox! Flox!”

Flox however was still afraid and receded further back.

After a little too much drink, Panagis started to sing in a mellow tone. Later Odysseas started to sing the hymn “Christ is born, rejoice”. At that point they started to hear the dogs begin to howl again. They sent the young boys to see what was happening. Outside it was unbearably cold with frozen rain.

The dogs stopped barking as the boys had reentered the cave with more company. They were three men who looked like sailors accompanied by a couple of monks. They were drenched and shivered with the cold. The shepherds welcomed the men and asked them to sit.

As soon the first guest, the captain, approached the light of the fire, Barbakos recognized him and joyfully greeted him. It was Captain Konstantis Biliktsis who was making his way to Constantinople. He had visited the cave in Scrofa before and they had become good friends. The other two were part of the ship’s crew.

One of the monks, a handsome man with a black beard, was Father Sylvestros Koukoutsos. The monk was very thin with little hair on his beard like Saint John the Kalivitsi. His name was Arsenio Sgouri.

Captain Konstantis had come from Constatinople and brought along Father Sylvestros, who was visiting the city. He was from Mount Athos and he had wished to return home to celebrate Christmas.
Father Arsenios, a Thessalian, was traveling with Father Sylvestros from the Monastery of Pantokratorous to Mount Athos.

They were traveling just fine until they had reached the Cape of Baba when the weather took a turn for the worse. The sky went black and the seas became violent making the journey back to their homeland to celebrate Christmas impossible.

So the captain decided to set anchor where it was safe and he then remembered Barbakos’s cave. Thus he, his crew and passengers made their way to the cave.

As they approached they sawPanagis with Dimitro (his son) and joyful commotion ensued.

“Look” said Panagis, “we were just singing the hymn of Jesus’ birth and right when we were talking about the Three Kings bearing gifts, you three wise men arrived with gifts because I see wine, caviar, breads and sweets (baklavades).

“Myrrh, gold and Frankincense”

‘Ha, Ha, Ha”, Panagis was laughing hard, drunk and slurring his words, he was rubbing his stomach as he liked to eat well.

At that time Father Arsenio Sgouris came alive, smiling and rubbing his hands he said “Thank Jesus Christ who saved us from the violent waves!” as he did the sign of the cross.

Father Silvestos then asked everyone to stand up and pray:
“Christ is born”.

Then they sat to eat. Such a table so blessed and lively had never existed in any palace. They sang and chatted. Their table even had bird’s milk, well done lamb, cheese, foods from Constantinople and other wild game, even wine.

Outside snow was blowing, and the trees and sea were moaning in the wind. In the cave, between the whistling and moaning wind you could hear the bells of the animals ringing in the distance. The cave was emanating a red glow from the flames of the fire and echoing with the singing and happy chattering.

Panagis dozed off from time to time and when awaken by his own snoring he again took part in the
singing.

Truly the scene of the nativity scene was complete. The cave, the shepherds, the wise men with presents and even Jesus himself with his two students, who blessed the food and wine.
  
The Nativity of Christ (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes: Are we ready for Christmas?

The Nativity of Christ (source)
  
Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes: Are we ready for Christmas?
Beloved in Christ, I would like to ask you a question; I ask it of myself and I ask it of you. Are we prepared to celebrate the great feast of Christmas?
  
There are two kinds of preparation; material and spiritual. Our material preparation is more or less finished. Housewives have cleaned their houses, husbands have finished – or have almost finished – their shopping, and children await their presents. Everyone has written their Christmas cards, signing them with the customary, ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy New Year’. This is worldly preparation; I am not interested in this. What I am interested in is spiritual preparation, the kind of preparation which makes us ready to celebrate the great event of the Incarnation of the Divine Word as is proper. Only a small number have properly prepared themselves. Of a thousand Christians, I doubt if even one celebrates Christmas truly. Does my estimate seem exaggerated? Let us see.
  
How is Christmas celebrated today? A portion of Christians will celebrate it ‘typically’, let us say. Hearing the bells on Christmas Eve, they will go and take part in the service out of habit. This is certainly better than being absent altogether; it is something at least.
  
Others will imitate foreign customs and practices, forgetting the ecclesiastical celebration altogether; in other words, they will pass Christmas Eve without the scent of Christ. For Orthodox Christians, Christmas is meaningless if it is celebrated without church services, without prayer, without confession, without Holy Communion, without forgiveness, without almsgiving. Indeed, the devil has sown a new seed in our homeland, and it is sprouting up everywhere like mushrooms grow in manure. On Christmas Eve people put on these reveillon – a foreign custom and a foreign word – they put on parties in luxurious hotels and other such places, far from the Church, far from hymns, far from the Divine Liturgy, where people gather and amuse themselves with worldly music, with food, with drink and whatever follows from these things. Such a practice is a thorn in the field of our homeland. If it continues to spread, the spirit of secularization will overtake the Christian feast altogether.
  
Some, then, celebrate Christmas ‘typically’, others put on these reveillon and trade in the Church feast for something altogether worldly. And still others, what do they do? They leave. They are not satisfied here. Greece is not enough for them. They have money to spare so they take trips and go on tours. On Christmas Eve when the bells are ringing, these people will be far from their homes in different places, and not only in our country. They aren’t satisfied here, so they hop on an airplane and go celebrate Christmas in Rome, in London, in Paris, in different places.
  
These, beloved, and anyone else who has openly denied the faith, have cast Christmas out of their hearts. For a large number of people, then, Christmas is nothing but another chance to dull their boredom; the actual content of the feast holds no appeal for them. Yes! That day you will have it all! You will have your great salons, your ornate rugs, your curtains, your fancy cutlery, your drinks, your meals, your music, your trips. You will have everything! You will be missing one thing, however. Your will be missing the most valuable thing; the thing which gives the feast meaning! Lacking this thing, what kind of Christmas can you expect to have? Your Christmas will be a Christmas without Christ!
  
But why? How did this happen? How did things get to this point? This is the age which the Prophet Isaiah foresaw. There will come a day, he said, when men will be drunk without wine. This day has arrived. Contemporary man is, “…drunk, but not with wine.” (Isaiah 29:9) For one to be drunk with wine during these days in undoubtedly a sin, for, drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:10) There is, however, a worse kind of drunkenness: woe to those who are drunk without wine, says Isaiah.
  
What, then, is contemporary man drunk on? One is drunk on the love of glory. Another is drunk on the love of money; another is drunk on women and indecent sights; another is drunk on card playing, on games of chance; another on an obsession with sports teams; another on plays and films; another on enjoyments and luxuries. I have particularly noticed that a good many are drunk on politics, something which has become a passion only for us in Greece alone. I say this as one who keeps himself out of party politics. Were you to open my heart you would find nothing but my homeland and my Christ. Here in Greece there is a pathological attachment to politics. Even on Christmas Eve, the feast will be overshadowed by discussions of politics. Nowhere else can one find such a phenomenon.
  
I have also noticed of late that many have become drunk on that strong wine described in the Apocalypse; that wine which the noetic Babylon will give the rulers and the people to drink. This wine, the commentators say, is the pagan spirit, the moral depravity of the world. This wine is so strong that if you were to drink just a few drops, it will cause you to lose your faith, you will forget everything. The strongest wine, then, is not money, or women, or shameful lusts, or other sensual pleasures; it is the cosmopolitan spirit of modern life, it is the emancipation from devotion, knowledge infused with pride, the science of the atheist, the atheistic rebellion, the denial of God and the divinization of man. It is this wine which has made many in our age drunk.
  
Men are drunk, then, on various wines offered to him by the ruler of this age in his golden cup. Do you know what these men are like? I will show you by means of an example.
  
I try, with God’s help, to be a teacher. So I travel to a village where I find someone and try to teach him something about Christ, about the faith, about the mysteries. He listens, but the others tell me, “Don’t waste your time, he’s drunk! Don’t bother sitting with him and taking to him!” This is how the world is today…it is drunk without wine! Is it worth speaking to such men?
  
But I appeal to you, my brothers. I am not speaking to drunks, to those made dizzy by the idols. It is my hope that I speak to the faithful who know but one kind of drunkenness, that holy drunkenness described by the Psalmist who exhorts us to, “…taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 33:8) I hope that you have you ears open for, “Blessed is he that speaketh in the ears of them that will hear.” (Sirach 25:9)
by Metropolitan Avgoustinos (Kantiotes) of Florina,
Translated by fr. John Palmer (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen! 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou: The Raising of Children According to Contemporary Saints

   
This is a wonderful talk from a great Metropolitan of Cyprus, and spiritual child of St. Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia. Here, he uses the words and example of many contemporary Orthodox Saints from Greece and Cyprus to give good advice about the blessed marital relationship, pre-conception counseling, pregnancy, delivery, nursing, and the raising of children. This video has English subtitles. Please note that this does not negate or replace the personal pastoral care and advice of your parish priest / spiritual father who knows you and your family situation in a much more detailed and personal way. But may some of the words from these great Saints, including St. Porphyrios, St. Paisios, St. Iakovos and Elder Sophrony, inspire and encourage in this great task. 
   
“Let everything take second place to our care of our children, our bringing them up to the discipline and instruction of the Lord. If from the beginning we teach them to love true wisdom, they will have great wealth and glory than riches can provide."
-St. John Chrysostom
      
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos: God sees into the heart of every man


The Parable of the Wedding Feast (Luke 14:16-24) (source)
  
Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos: God sees into the heart of every man
(On the Sunday of the Forefathers, The Parable of the Great Supper)
Man goes about his business, minds his family and does not take heed of what God says. All the people who refuse to respond to God’s invitation are not ignorant of God. They are, on the whole, honest people, but their heart is stuck on the things of this world; it’s not given to God. That is why man, right away, responds negatively to God’s invitation. And he does not wonder why the negative attitude, why the negative intention. Being christian, we tend to rest on our laurels but deep down in our heart the old man lives together with his rights, in his own “establishment”, in his own kingdom; under no circumstances does the old man surrender to God. And we let the old man be, and we nourish him.
  
God becomes man and dies of love to us, and still, we despise this love. There is nothing worse than that. This world exists for the salvation of those who wish to be saved. And God lets the world be, until his “house may be filled”[1].
  
And God “forces” some people to enter his house. But how can it happen that God “forces” people? That is not difficult to understand. Don’t we often see it happen with people who had no idea of who God is, who had no plan or intention to find God or believe in God, let alone, reach communion with God? Regardless of these, God who sees into the heart of every man and knows what every man intends to do, finds a way to reach man. So, God meets up with the most indifferent person or even the most negatively disposed one at some crossroads: He allows for something to happen to him and as this person finds himself in a difficult situation, as he is shaken up, he realises that this is God calling for him. As a result, man is “made” to follow the path of repentance, is “forced” to humble himself and respond to God’s call. And he is saved.
  
May God find a way for all of us to be saved. And let this happen whichever way God wants, as long as we are all saved.
[1] Luke 14: 23
   
Transcribed talks by Archimandrite Symeon Kragiopoulos
From: Holy Hesychasterion “The Nativity of Theotokos” Publications.
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"You work strange and awesome wonders throughout the earth..."

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker (source)
  
You work strange and awesome wonders throughout the earth, and upon the sea far off, speedily delivering those in dangers, becoming the physician of the ailing, and the nourisher of the poor, and bearing the name of victory of the people, as you were shown to be the victory of the faithful against enemies.
-from the Matins Canon to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Akathist to St. Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia (+1991)

St. Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia (+1991) (source)
  
Note: The following is an amateur translation from the Greek text, offered for the many who love the Saint and who benefit from his speedy help. Also note that the meter of this translation is not set to match the original music.
  
Akathist to our Venerable Father Iakovos, who lately shown forth in Evia,
translated from the Greek text written by Dr. Charalampos Bousias  
  
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. O Champion General.
In Evia you lived practically, and were adorned with the pure roses of virtues, giving fragrance to your fellow refugees in these latter days, O Father, you who equalled the feats of the sacred David [of Evia] and the most sympathetic deliverer of those who suffer, therefore we cry out: Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
   
You were shown forth to be a light-bearing angel to us in our days, O Iakovos, lover of God (3), for you ceaselessly directed your nous towards God, having also trampled upon the enemy through asceticism, therefore we cry out to you:
Rejoice, O pillar of chastity,
Rejoice, O lamp of spotlessness.
Rejoice, dwelling-place of the Three-Sun Godhead,
Rejoice, offspring of Livisiou of Makri.
Rejoice, newly-illumined light of God-bearing ascetics,
Rejoice, abyss of humility and canon of mindfulness.
Rejoice, you who granted heavenly gifts to those who came to you,
Rejoice, you who watered them with mystical rain.
Rejoice, icon of the wisdom of the Creator,
Rejoice harbor of love of the age to come.
Rejoice, radiant ray of sympathy,
Rejoice, standard of prayer and fasting.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
   
You followed the steps of the former desert ascetics in these days, O Father, and showed forth the Monastery of St. David to be a strong valve of the steadfast, O Iakovos, who ceaselessly cry out to God at your struggles, Alleluia.
   
O holy one, you were an offspring of Livisiou, and from your childhood days you traveled paths as a refugee, tasting bitterness, and were deprived of bread for your food, while the faithful you made fully fed, who therefore cry out to you these things:
Rejoice, bread of the hungry,
Rejoice, lighthouse of those storm-tossed.
Rejoice, you who granted the water of salvation to all,
Rejoice, you who trampled upon the enemy who hates good.
Rejoice, fruitful tree distributing fruits,
Rejoice, most radiant star of divine sympathy.
Rejoice, for your made full the hearts of those hungry,
Rejoice, for you cast out every tribulation for those close to you.
Rejoice, you who grant joy to the faithful,
Rejoice, corruption, casting away the demon.
Rejoice, image of the life in Christ,
Rejoice, standard of the modest life.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
   
Having received divine power, you escaped the traps of childhood, and kept the robe of your soul chaste and white, ever casting out evil words far from you, O venerable Iakovos, and we cry out with fervor: Alleluia.
   
You hastened to the Monastery of the Venerable David as a deer to the springs of waters, and you were filled with true asceticism as a gift from God, O venerable one, watering with the streams of joy those who cry out to you in faith:
Rejoice, the well of steadfastness,
Rejoice, the nectar of gladness.
Rejoice, example of the monastic way,
Rejoice spiritual pillar of beauty.
Rejoice, most fragrant myrrh of the truly pure life,
Rejoice, star shining with the rays of grace to the faithful people.
Rejoice, for you quench the fires of the flesh,
Rejoice, for you pour forth gifts of healing.
Rejoice, ever-flowing river of wonders,
Rejoice, fierce striker of the demons.
Rejoice, through whom evil is conquered,
Rejoice, through whom every mortal is strengthened.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
   
Having a burning faith, you gave yourself to a multitude of struggles, and softened your flesh as wax, O ascetic, that your nous might be winged towards our Lord and God, O all wondrous Iakovos, to Whom you chanted in a spotless tongue: Alleluia.
   
The godly-minded David heard your fervent prayer, O divine Iakovos, and not only made you to serve in his monastery, O Father, but made you the sacred Abbot, O Iakovos, to whom we cry out:
Rejoice, the might of young chastity,
Rejoice, the boast of divine fasting.
Rejoice, you who were zealous for the deeds of the Fathers,
Rejoice, you who trampled upon the roaring of the enemy.
Rejoice, earthly angel, communicant with the Venerable,
Rejoice, heavenly man, guide on the monastic way.
Rejoice, for you lately lived ascetically on Evia,
Rejoice for you rightly were granted the crown of glory.
Rejoice, paintbrush of the graces of the Spirit,
Rejoice, newly-radiant lamp of purity.
Rejoice, deposer of shameful passions,
Rejoice, imitator of God-bearing men.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
   
Wishing to imitate the ways of the divine David, you approached him man-to-man every evening, O wise one, and throughout the whole night, O Father Iakovos, you chanted to the Creator, and mystically chanted, crying out: Alleluia.
   
St. Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia (source)
   
Dawned from amidst the dark clouds of winter, O Iakovos, a light-bearing star truly lit your path towards the sacred cave of the venerable David, which through prayer became your palace, therefore we cry out these things:
Rekoice, equal in honor to the Angels,
Rejoice, equal in deeds to the Venerable.
Rejoice, radiant workshop of prayer,
Rejoice, treasury of the divine life.
Rejoice, for you enlightened Greece with your rays,
Rejoice, for you watered them with your pious teachings.
Rejoice, the radiant guide towards poverty.
Rejoice, the God-loving practitioner of righteousness.
Rejoice, never-ending river of tears,
Rejoice, unconquerable flailing of the demons.
Rejoice, the new pride of the faithful,
Rejoice, the radiant vessel of grace.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.

You became an inhabitant of perfect love towards your neighbor, ceaselessly praying on behalf of those near you, and for those who are terribly suffering, O Father. Speedily hasten to the aid of those who approach you in faith, and cry out loudly: Alleluia.

  
Shining in Evia as a newly-illumined moon, you enlightened with the rays of your simple words the rational flock dwelling in the dark and moonless night of ignorance, O all-precious one, therefore we who have been radiantly illumined cry out these things:
Rejoice, the healing of the sick,
Rejoice, the support of the storm-tossed.
Rejoice, most-radiant light of poverty,
Rejoice, most-bright lamp of fasting.
Rejoice, for you gladdened the choir of the faithful,
Rejoice, for you saddened the enemy who hates the good.
Rejoice, the newly-built foundation of the Church,
Rejoice, the one in extreme piety.
Rejoice, sweet nourishment of my soul,
Rejoice, present boast of my heart.
Rejoice, appearance of the heavenly light,
Rejoice, river of many kinds of wonders.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.

The island of Evia magnifies your painful struggles with much endurance, O Iakovos, and everyone perceives you to be the protector of those who are sick, and takes boast in you, O Elder and leader of the Monastery of St. David, and in response to your sacred intercessions, cries out: Alleluia.
  
You purified your nous with vigil, fasting, and utter humility, and were lifted up to the heights of virtues of all kinds that are difficult to gaze upon, O spotless priest Iakovos, and you move your refugees to cry out ceaselessly:
Rejoice the chisel of dispassion,
Rejoice, the foundation of chastity.
Rejoice, the partaker of unspeakable grace,
Rejoice, the beloved of Christ the Master.
Rejoice, for you neglected earthly and passing things,
Rejoice, for you desired the wondrous things of heaven.
Rejoice, all-radiant lamp enlightening those in darkness,
Rejoice, unassailable pillar making firm the storm-tossed.
Rejoice, foundation of meekness,
Rejoice, ruler of humility.
Rejoice, you who beheld the beauty of God,
Rejoice, you who ever behold His radiance.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
  
Truly a strange hearing! How you trampled upon scorpions, O wise one, and through your prayer were unmoved by the assalts of the enemy, O Elder and Father, and remained glorifying the King of all with spotless lips, chanting: Alleluia.
  
You were shown to be wholly sanctified in our days, O all-blessed Iakovos, for you renounced every vile and dark pain and with prayer shown as the sun with goodness. Therefore, we cry out to you these things:
Rejoice, divine preacher of simplicity,
Rejoice, trumpet of modesty to all.
Rejoice, heavy-laden vine of piety,
Rejoice, the great teacher of the spiritual life.
Rejoice, undiminished type of the ancient ascetics,
Rejoice, very precious boast of monastics in asceticism.
Rejoice, for you endured deprivations upon the earth,
Rejoice, for you trampled upon the conceit of the enemy.
Rejoice, canon of righteous asceticism,
Rejoice, icon of love and watchfulness.
Rejoice, famed leader of your monastery,
Rejoice, radiant lamp of virginity.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
  
You were shown to be a newly-founded tower of chastity and perfect love, O Iakovos, and therefore we have come to know you to be a divine and joyous myrrh-container of discernment, O precious one, and we cry out to you mystical hymns: Alleluia.
  
You watered the all-sacred monastery of the venerable David with rivers of your sweat, and in it bore as fruit steadfast monastics who desire to see the Lord, O Iakovos, and who now cry out these things:
Rejoice, fragrance of asceticism,
Rejoice, lyre of the faith.
Rejoice, swallow of the godly mindset,
Rejoice, lamp of eternal resolve.
Rejoice, golden crown of heavenly virtues,
Rejoice, golden cloud richly granting healings.
Rejoice, most-precious shield of goodness,
Rejoice, shelter from the delusion of the crooked-mouthed enemy.
Rejoice, perfect fragrance of asceticism,
Rejoice, you who turn away shameful delusion.
Rejoice, sower of fruit of much prayer,
Rejoice, planter of God-pleasing plants.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
    
The ranks of the Orthodox gathered from all ends of creation to bury your joyous and wondrous body, and the people seeing you blessed you, O venerable and blessed Iakovos, and were moved to faith, crying out: Alleluia.
  

St. Iakovos of Evia, "O Me Sychoreire", or "The 'Forgive me'" (source)
  
You are a sheltering wall for the people of Evia in truth, and a most-fervent protector of those who approach you, and your intercessions to God which you offer daily, O ascetic. Therefore, we hasten that we might be protected through your grace, crying out to you in reverence:Rejoice, vessel pouring forth healings,
Rejoice, attacker of the error of the enemy.
Rejoice, divine bouquet of asceticism,
Rejoice, newly-built foundation of watchfulness.
Rejoice, new support of the faith of Christ,
Rejoice, pillar of purity and the monastic way.
Rejoice, for you sanctified the forests of Evia,
Rejoice, for you beautified the choirs of your monastery.
Rejoice, the divine adornment of the faithful,
Rejoice, our defender in dangers.
Rejoice, deliverer of your refugees,
Rejoice, the consolation of all the faithful.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
  
You did not give rest to your eyelids, or repose to your divine head, O Father, until your spirit proceeded to the hand of God, O new beloved one among ascetics, and you gave up your spirit, joining the chorus that sweetly hymns the Creator: Alleluia.
 
You were shown to be a true friend of Christ, the height of things desired, Whom you desired from childhood, O Iakovos. Therefore, you have become a divine word and sacred deed, a prototype of chastity, and therefore, the ascetics cry out:
Rejoice, the adornment of the unmarried,
Rejoice, the protection of mankind.
Rejoice, lifting up towards the deeds of the venerable,
Rejoice, imprint of the wisdom of God.
Rejoice, holy communicant with the heavenly armies.
Rejoice, blessed man and director towards God.
Rejoice, divine manna that nourishes the hungry,
Rejoice, comely mouth that drives away evil.
Rejoice, unwaning light that shines like fire,
Rejoice, adornment of the faithful people.
Rejoice, you who burn up the brushwood of nature,
Rejoice, fire that quenches delusion.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
  
You impart grace to all from the uncreated Trinity, for you were made worthy to see things aforetime, and to guide the faithful towards eternal life, and perfect joy, O Iakovos, therefore we piously hymn you, crying out: Alleluia.
  
You taught to chant with contrition unto the Savior of all, O Iakovos, and all entreat your help, that we receive grace richly from on high. Therefore, the faithful hasten to cry out to you things like this:
Rejoice, container of asceticism,
Rejoice, myrrh-vessel of simplicity.
Rejoice, adornment of Northern Evia,
Rejoice, guide towards the perfect life.
Rejoice, unassailable wall of love for Christ,
Rejoice, sword that cuts apart the roaring of the evil enemy.
Rejoice, for you spoke to the Saints as to friends,
Rejoice, for you now dwell with them in the heavenly mansions.
Rejoice, fellow-dweller with the divine David,
Rejoice, new enemy of satan.
Rejoice, shield against the invisible foe,
Rejoice, sweetness in the soul of your entreater.
Rejoice, O blessed Iakovos.
  
O fervent defender of those who hasten to you, and river of many kinds of wonders (3), with the clouds of your intercessions, rain upon us peace, and grant us your blessing, O Iakovos, that we might chant unto you: Alleluia.
  
Sts. Porphyrios, Paisios and Iakovos the New Venerable Wonderworkers (source)

And again the Kontakion.
      
Apolytikion of St. Iakovos Tsalikis in the Plagal of the First Tone.
The prototype of discernment and modesty, the wonderworking leader of the Monastery of David the venerable, who plowed and sowed love in the hardened hearts of the God-bearing people, O Father Iakovos. Do not neglect to intercede with Christ on behalf of those who call upon you in faith.
     
Sts. David and Iakovos of Evia (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Video on the Life and Miracles of St. Iakovos Tsalikis: "A Saint of our Days"

Video on the Life and Miracles of St. Iakovos Tsalikis: "A Saint of our Days" - with English subtitles (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Elder Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia (+1991) Canonized a Saint

St. Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia, with the Monastery of St. David where he lived and reposed (source)

Today, Monday November 27th, together with breaking news of Romfea.gr, Elder Iakovos Tsalikis was canonized by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, under the leadership of Patriarch Bartholomew.
It should be noted that the memory of St. Iakovos Tsalikis will be celebrated on November 22nd.
   
Apolytikion to St. Iakovos Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. David (+1991)
(written by Charalampos Bousias)
Plagal of the First Tone.
The prototype of discernment and modesty, the wonderworking leader of the Monastery of David the venerable, who plowed and sowed love in the hardened hearts of the God-bearing people, O Father Iakovos. Do not neglect to intercede with Christ on behalf of those who call upon you in faith.
   
Note***: The official service of St. Iakovos has not been released yet so the commonly used apolytikion may change in the future.
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Elder Joseph of Vatopedi: "Now we are on our way to venerate the Nativity of our Christ..."

The Nativity of Christ (source)
 
"Now we are on our way to venerate the Nativity of our Christ. What shall we tell Him? What will show our worth to Him? Now is truly the hour to gather a little care, a little painful work, a little self-denial, a little humility, a little self-reproach, so that we might say with fervor before the Infant: 'O All-Good One, have you come for me? Receive me the poor one! I don't have anything!" This He desires. He desires nothing else."
-Elder Joseph of Vatopedi

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