Tuesday, October 23, 2018

"Your spirit, O wise Martyr Demetrios..."

St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer (source)
  
Your spirit, O wise Martyr Demetrios, was taken up by God unto the heavenly mansions, for you became the defender of the Trinity, and manfully struggled as steadfast as a diamond in the stadium, and your spotless side was pierced, O all-honored one, imitating Him Who was pierced upon the Cross for the salvation of the whole world. And you were granted the power of working wonders, endlessly bestowing healings for those who suffer. Therefore, we who celebrate your repose today, rightly glorify you, who was glorified by the Lord.
-Doxastikon of the Litia for St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Elder Ephraim of Katounakia on making excuses

The Martyrdom of St. Demetrios the Great Martyr (source)
  
Making excuses is not written in the Scriptures. The Saints not only did not justify themselves, but they suffered willingly on behalf of others.
-Elder Ephraim of Katounakia
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Repose of Elder Gregory of Docheiariou (+2018)

Elder Gregory of Docheiariou (source)
   
Elder Gregory (Archipelagitis), the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Docheiariou on Mount Athos, reposed yesterday at the age of 76.

Elder Gregory was from the island of Paros, and for the last 41 years served and led in the Holy Monastery of Docheiariou on the Holy Mountain. Beforehand he had served as Elder of the Monastery of Panagia Prousiotissa in Karpenisi and also lived on the island of Patmos.

He was a spiritual child of the contemporary saintly Elders Amphilochios Makris and Philotheos Zervakos.

All knew of his simplicity and honorable life and personality. His burial occurred on Tuesday October 23rd at Docheiariou Monastery on Athos.
  
May the Lord grant him a blessed Paradise!

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

St. Porphyrios: God has everything

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior (source)
  
God has everything.*** When you are despairing, He sends you something that you did not expect...It is enough for you to believe in Him and love Him.
-St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia
  
(source)
  
***Note: The commonly used Greek phrase: «Έχει ο Θεός» is not easily translated. Literally it means "God has", but it signifies humility and trust in the Providence our Lord, Who holds us and all creation in the palm of His hand.
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, October 12, 2018

"Do not therefore be cast down..."

Christ calming the storm (source)
  
"Come now let me relieve the wound of your despondency, and disperse the thoughts which gather this cloud of care around you. For what is it which upsets your mind, and why are you sorrowful and dejected? Is it because of the fierce black storm which has overtaken the Church, enveloping all things in darkness as of a night without a moon, and is growing to a head every day, travailing to bring forth disastrous shipwrecks, and increasing the ruin of the world? I know all this as well as you; none shall gainsay it, and if you like I will form an image of the things now taking place so as to present the tragedy yet more distinctly to you. We behold a sea upheaved from the very lowest depths, some sailors floating dead upon the waves, others engulfed by them, the planks of the ships breaking up, the sails torn to tatters, the masts sprung, the oars dashed out of the sailors' hands, the pilots seated on the deck, clasping their knees with their hands instead of grasping the rudder, bewailing the hopelessness of their situation with sharp cries and bitter lamentations, neither sky nor sea clearly visible, but all one deep and impenetrable darkness, so that no one can see his neighbour, while mighty is the roaring of the billows, and monsters of the sea attack the crews on every side.
  
"But how much further shall I pursue the unattainable? For whatever image of our present evils I may seek speech shrinks baffled from the attempt. Nevertheless even when I look at these calamities I do not abandon the hope of better things, considering as I do who the pilot is in all this — not one who gets the better of the storm by his art, but calms the raging waters by his rod. But if He does not effect this at the outset and speedily, such is His custom — He does not at the beginning put down these terrible evils, but when they have increased, and come to extremities, and most persons are reduced to despair, then He works wondrously, and beyond all expectation, thus manifesting his own power, and training the patience of those who undergo these calamities. Do not therefore be cast down. For there is only one thing, Olympias, which is really terrible, only one real trial, and that is sin; and I have never ceased continually harping upon this theme; but as for all other things, plots, enmities, frauds, calumnies, insults, accusations, confiscation, exile, the keen sword of the enemy, the peril of the deep, warfare of the whole world, or anything else you like to name, they are but idle tales. For whatever the nature of these things may be they are transitory and perishable, and operate in a mortal body without doing any injury to the vigilant soul. Therefore the blessed Paul, desiring to prove the insignificance both of the pleasures and sorrows relating to this life, declared the whole truth in one sentence when he said — “For the things which are seen are temporal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 Why then do you fear temporal things which pass away like the stream of a river. For such is the nature of present things whether they be pleasant or painful. And another prophet compared all human prosperity not to grass, but to another material even more flimsy, describing the whole of it “as the flower of grass.” For he did not single out any one part of it, as wealth alone, or luxury alone, or power, or honour; but having comprised all the things which are esteemed splendid among men under the one designation of glory he said “all the glory of man is as the flower of grass.” Isaiah 40:6
 
"Nevertheless, you will say, adversity is a terrible thing and grievous to be borne. Yet look at it again compared with another image and then also learn to despise it. For the railings, and insults, and reproaches, and gibes inflicted by enemies, and their plots are compared to a worn-out garment, and moth-eaten wool when God says “Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings, for they shall wax old as does a garment, and like moth-eaten wool so shall they be consumed.” Isaiah 50:7-8 Therefore let none of these things which are happening trouble you, but ceasing to invoke the aid of this or that person, and to run after shadows (for such are human alliances), do thou persistently call upon Jesus, whom you serve, merely to bow his head; and in a moment of time all these evils will be dissolved. But if you have already called upon Him, and yet they have not been dissolved, such is the manner of God's dealing (for I will resume my former argument); He does not put down evils at the outset, but when they have grown to a head, when scarcely any form of the enemy's malice remains ungratified, then He suddenly converts all things to a state of tranquillity and conducts them to an unexpected settlement. For He is not only able to turn as many things as we expect and hope, to good, but many more, yea infinitely more. Wherefore also Paul says “now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 Could He not, for example, have prevented the three children at the outset from falling into trial? But He did not choose to do this, thereby conferring great pain upon them. Therefore He suffered them to be delivered into the hands of barbarians, and the furnace to be heated to an immeasurable height and the wrath of the king to blaze even more fiercely than the furnace, and hands and feet to be bound with great severity and they themselves to be cast into the fire; and then, when all they who beheld despaired of their rescue, suddenly, and beyond all hope, the wonder-working power of God, the supreme artificer, was displayed, and shone forth with exceeding splendour. For the fire was bound, and the bondmen were released; and the furnace became a temple of prayer, a place of fountains and dew, of higher dignity than a royal court, and the very hairs of their head prevailed over that all devouring element which gets the better even of iron and stone, and masters every kind of substance. And a solemn song of universal praise was instituted there by these holy men inviting every kind of created thing to join in the wondrous melody; and they uttered hymns of thanksgiving to God for that they had been bound, and also burnt, as far at least as the malice of their enemies had power; that they had been exiles from their country, captives deprived of their liberty, wandering outcasts from city and home, sojourners in a strange and barbarous land; for all this was the outpouring of a grateful heart. And when the malicious devices of their enemies were perfected (for what further could they attempt after their death?) and the labours of the heroes were completed, and the garland of victory was woven, and their rewards were prepared and nothing more was wanting for their renown; then at last their calamities were brought to an end, and he who caused the furnace to be kindled, and delivered them over to that great punishment, became himself the panegyrist of those holy heroes, and the herald of God's marvellous deed, and everywhere throughout the world issued letters full of reverent praise, recording what had taken place, and becoming the faithful herald of the miracles wrought by the wonder-working God. For inasmuch as he had been an enemy and adversary what he wrote was above suspicion even in the opinion of enemies.
  
"Do you see the abundance of resource belonging to God? His wisdom, His extraordinary power, His loving-kindness and care? Be not therefore dismayed or troubled but continue to give thanks to God for all things, praising, and invoking Him; beseeching and supplicating; even if countless tumults and troubles come upon you, even if tempests are stirred up before your eyes let none of these things disturb you. For our Master is not baffled by the difficulty, even if all things are reduced to the extremity of ruin..."
-Excerpt from St. John Chrysostom's letter to St. Olympia
  
Icon of Christ calming the sea (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Prayer for Peace and Unity in Ukraine

The Baptism of St. Vladimir and the Slavic People (source)
  
O Lord Jesus Christ our God, look down with Thy merciful eye upon the sorrow and greatly-painful cry of Thy children, abiding in the Ukrainian land. Deliver Thy people from civil strife, make to cease the spilling of blood, and turn back the misfortunes set against them. Lead unto sanctuary those bereft of shelter, feed the hungry, comfort those who weep, and unite the divided. Leave not Your own flock, who abide in sorrows on account of their kinsmen, to diminish, but rather, as Thou art benevolent, give speedy reconciliation. Soften the hearts of the unmerciful and convert them to the knowledge of Thee. Grant peace to Thy Church and to Her children, that with one heart and one mouth we may glorify Thee, our Lord and Savior, unto the ages of ages. Amen.
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"Abandoning fishing the deep, you took up the rod of the Cross..."

St. John the Theologian (source)
  
Abandoning fishing the deep, you took up the [fishing] rod of the Cross wisely in all things, and caught up the nations like fish, O all-praised one, and as the Lord spoke of you, He made you to be a fisher of men, drawing up towards piety. Therefore, you sowed the knowledge of the Word of God in Patmos and Ephesus, who bore fruit through your words, O Theologian Apostle. Intercede with Christ God that remission of offenses be granted for those who celebrate your holy memory with fervor.
-Kathisma for the feast of St. John the Theologian
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, September 14, 2018

"In Paradise formerly, we were stripped naked..."

The Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross of Christ (source)
  
In Paradise formerly, we were stripped naked through tasting of a tree, and death was brought about by the enemy. And now, by the tree of the Cross, the garment of life is brought to men upon the earth, and the whole world is filled with joy seeing it exalted, as the people all together cry out in faith to God: Your house is filled with glory.
-Kathisma from the feast of the Holy Cross
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Akathist to St. Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos

St. Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
 
Note: In honor of the upcoming feast of the Translation of the Holy Relics of St. Amphilochios of Patmos on September 19th (notably his primary feast is April 16th which often falls in Great Lent), and in honor of this great and newly-canonized Saint of the Orthodox Church, the following is my translation of the Akathist to the Saint from the Greek text here, 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. May St. Amphilochios intercede for us before the Throne of our Lord, to help all who suffer throughout the world, to help heal the wounds of Orthodox Christians, to guide our leaders towards peace, reconciliation, love and truth in these difficult times, and to especially protect his Monasteries and spiritual children!
  
Akathist to St. Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos
  
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. O Champion General.
To praise you as is right, O Amphilochios, we would need heavenly mouths and tongues, for similarly you appeared to the Bodiless Ones, but desiring to hymn your victorious struggles from defiled lips, therefore I cry out to you: Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

You appeared as an Angel, O Father Amphilochios, living righteously in the world (3), and having found the ancient beauty, you madly loved God, O venerable one, together with your neighbor, therefore you hear from us these things:
Rejoice, you through whom Christ is hymned,
Rejoice, you through whom the enemy is defeated.
Rejoice, the strengthening of the Orthodox fold,
Rejoice, the folly of heterodox rulers.
Rejoice, earthly angel of heavenly mind,
Rejoice, man translated to and ever dwelling in Eden.
Rejoice, for you stand before the throne of the King of all,
Rejoice, for you dissipate earthly pains.
Rejoice, river pouring forth healings,
Rejoice, spring watering forth wonders.
Rejoice, you through whom the Church now rejoices,
Rejoice, you through whom the island of Patmos rejoices together.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

Beholding you greatly shining like a radiant star with the glory of the Lord, we who have been darkened in mind have received the gifts of your wonders, O all-radiant one, and we therefore in gratitude cry out to God Who enlightened you: Alleluia.

The land of Patmos which formerly received John [the Theologian] as a prisoner, also received him as a fruitful sower, from which the Gospel took root. You, O Amphilochios, blossomed from this, as being full of myrrh from the Divine Spirit, and we cry out these things:
Rejoice, gladness for those who honor you,
Rejoice, protection for those who call upon you.
Rejoice, namesake of eternal life beforehand,
rejoice, fellow namesake of the mystic of Iconium.
Rejoice, verdant shoot from the pious Emmanuel,
Rejoice, God-planted child of the chaste Irene.
Rejoice, for you are the glory of the Patmians,
Rejoice, for you encircle the faithful like a tower.
Rejoice, light enlightening the whole world,
Rejoice, new song of praise of Greece.
Rejoice, the boast of Leipso and Patmos,
Rejoice, the most-radiant brightness of your homeland.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

Receiving the teachings, O Father, and written words, you learned knowledge and desired things divine, therefore your spiritual father and fellow namesake offered you guidance which you heard as a novice, becoming a descendent of the Fathers, who cry out: Alleluia.

You were filled with divine fervor from childhood, and you loved Christ your Bridegroom from your soul, and taking up His Cross on your shoulder, you traveled the narrow path of the monastery, through which you entered into Paradise, where you hear:
Rejoice, siren of the righteous life,
Rejoice, active educator.
Rejoice, confirmation of the life to come,
Rejoice, justification of Orthodox dogmas.
Rejoice, tree watered by the streams of the waters,
Rejoice, tree adorned with the fruits of virtues.
Rejoice, for through fasting you became like the Angels,
Rejoice, for through ascesis you became like the venerable Saints.
Rejoice, equal in honor to all the Saints,
Rejoice, fellow-dweller with the Bodiless ones.
Rejoice, for you diminished the might of the enemy,
Rejoice for you were filled with many wonders.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

Having godly zeal, you venerated the Holy Lands, where the feet of the Lord walked, and went to the holy city of Sion, as a deer thirsting for the spring of water, and as a bee gathering pollen, crying out to God: Alleluia.
 
St. Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
 
You came secretly to the city of the Great King, fleeing the grace of the priesthood, but perceiving this great calling upon the earth, you later received this, O conscientious priest, and were made worthy to serve the liturgy, hearing:
Rejoice, boast of sacred priests,
Rejoice, praise of chaste monastics.
Rejoice, representation of the sacred Scriptures,
Rejoice, imprint of the Fathers of old.
Rejoice, sacred mystic who blesses the faithful,
Rejoice, for you join rank with the liturgists on high.
Rejoice, for you were crowned with a God-plaited crown,
Rejoice, for you partook of astonishing gifts.
Rejoice, for you pillaged the land of the demons,
Rejoice, for you lifted up the ethos of the world.
Rejoice, the boast of righteous and sacrificing Saints,
Rejoice, you who dissolve the dread of the passions.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

The Monastery of the Son of Thunder [St. John the Evangelist], which was founded by St. Christodoulos, became the theater of your struggles and the stadium of your feats, for you did not shy away from struggles, and now together you cry out in Eden: Alleluia.

You followed the ways of St. Christodoulos, and with unapproachable fervor you struggled in asceticism, imitating him and honoring his precepts perfectly, therefore, O godly-minded one, you hear from your fellow monastics things such as these:
Rejoice, boast of the Monastery of the Theologian,
Rejoice, light of the choir of monastics.
Rejoice, affection of the ancient Fathers,
Rejoice, ready helper of the faithful who call upon you.
Rejoice, victory and foundation of the sacred one from Latrinou [St. Christodoulos],
Rejoice, boast and adornment of your fellow venerable Saints.
Rejoice, for you protect the monastery of your repentance,
Rejoice, for you dissipate the cloud of ignorance.
Rejoice, icon of godly monasticism,
Rejoice, for you ever partake in theosis.
Rejoice, innocent type of Christ,
Rejoice, dwelling-place of the Holy Trinity.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

Not knowing your labors, all the faithful people of the Dodecanese out of love came and were granted rest from their labors, for you liturgized in the Cave [of the Apocalypse], and you received them as your children, teaching them to cry out with you: Alleluia.

You were placed as a lamp upon a lamp stand, shining forth as the Abbot of the Monastery of the Theologian, which boasts in you, O Saint, the new one among the Fathers, crying out to you such things as these:
Rejoice, boast of wise abbots,
Rejoice, benefactor of the faithful who entreat you.
Rejoice, adornment of the ancient Monastery,
Rejoice, pride of the Kathisma of Kouvariou.
Rejoice, protector and deliverer against evil foes,
Rejoice, foundation of the faith against dangerous heresies.
Rejoice, for you trample upon the wiles of belial,
Rejoice, for you grant healing to those ailing.
Rejoice, divine protecting wall for the faithful,
Rejoice, protector of your monastery.
Rejoice, famed guide of women Eldresses,
Rejoice, the song of the Bodiless Angels.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

You protected your homeland like a great cloud during a time of slavery, which darkened the souls of the Orthodox, and you did not at all bend to the wiles of the tyrant, and in your soul you bore the marks of exile, crying out to Christ: Alleluia.
 
St. Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
   
Through divine command, you fled to famed Crete, which you became spiritually linked with, and through your prayers, the first church of St. Nektarios, the greatly-wondrous one, was built, and a philanthropic foundation was built by your children, who cry out:
Rejoice, divine vessel of grace,
Rejoice, container of every virtue.
Rejoice, most-tender father of your children,
Rejoice, winged eagle of virtue.
Rejoice, most-fervent defender of orphans and widows,
Rejoice, calm harbor for those troubled by the passions.
Rejoice, for you protect Crete through your prayers,
Rejoice for you protect the city of Chania through your intercessions.
rejoice, most-gladsome feeder of the poor,
Rejoice, for you had nothing of your own, O estranged one.
Rejoice, award of the honor granted you,
Rejoice, treasury of many wonders.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

Your philosophical life was strange to the world, as you founded many schools [of virtue] on Patmos, Rhodes, Ikaria and Aegina along with Kalymnos, and practically served as a most-tender Father, while the choirs of monastics cry out: Alleluia.

Having wholly spent your life in asceticism, you worshipped your Creator only, perceiving His finger working in creation, O all-wise one, as you worked and protected and taught those who now cry out:
Rejoice, shepherd of the rational sheep,
Rejoice, river of living waters.
Rejoice, the complete deliverance from afflictions,
Rejoice the granter of various wonders.
Rejoice, heavy-laded cluster of grapes granting joy,
Rejoice, root full of fruit which nourishes the faithful.
Rejoice, for you respected nature in practice,
Rejoice for you taught to protect creation.
Rejoice, spring rising from the earth,
Rejoice, deliverance from bitter circumstances.
rejoice, pinnacle of wise teachers,
Rejoice, you who worshipped with the Prayer of Jesus.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

Through your labor pains, you founded the virginal choir of nuns on Patmos named "The Mother of the Beloved", and you led them towards Paradise that is desired, where you join ranks together with the Angelic Armies, crying out to the Lord: Alleluia.

Through your godly-wise words as a staff, you strengthened everyone on the path, and you wrote epistles to your children near and far as an act of perfection, rousing them to cry out these things:
Rejoice, radiant adornment of monastics,
Rejoice, rhetor of the heavenly life.
Rejoice, sweet-voiced swallow of good things,
Rejoice, strong-voiced nightingale of gifts.
Rejoice, you who related the beauties of Paradise like Moses,
Rejoice, you who healed incurable pains with your prayer.
Rejoice, for you were a student on Halki,
Rejoice, for the nations have come to see your light.
Rejoice, tuneful harp of the Spirit,
Rejoice, songful ode of the venerable Saints.
Rejoice, steady staff of your children,
Rejoice, eternal intercession for your monastery.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

All of the world has been enlightened by the rays of light of your godly knowledge, therefore, God-loving souls dwelling in shadow you enlightened, guiding them to walk with the teachings of Orthodoxy, crying out: Alleluia.
  
St. Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
  
You became a dwelling-place of the Comforter, founded by the Word [of God], and you worked with pain of soul to receive and walk with God, as we who behold this are astonished, and cry out:
Rejoice, trumpet of dispassion,
Rejoice, cymbal of purity.
Rejoice, lightning dissolving clouds [of sin],
Rejoice, awesome thunder of theosis.
Rejoice, heavenly-breathed breeze that refreshes the faithful,
Rejoice, wine offered up to gladden the people.
Rejoice, flower adorning the heavenly house,
Rejoice, fragrant lily bearing the fragrance of graces.
Rejoice, mixing bowl of many wondrous things,
Rejoice, voice of bold sounds.
Rejoice, for you remove utter sadness,
Rejoice, for you grant gladness to the faithful.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

While awake, Mary, the Theotokos appeared to you, together with the Beloved Disciple John, informing you before your last Pascha of your coming repose, not fulfilling your fervent request [of delaying your repose]. This showed the love of your soul for your children even in death, crying out: Alleluia.

Being a friend and fellow-dweller with the Saints and all the prepared righteous ones on the earth, from above you look down on us and hasten to deliver from every danger through your divine intercessions, delivering those who cry out these things:
Rejoice, joyous dweller in Eden,
Rejoice, founder of your famed monastery.
Rejoice, imitator of the life of the Bodiless [Angels],
Rejoice, deposer of the boldness of the ancient enemy.
Rejoice, book inscribed by the finger of God,
Rejoice, most-true friend of the wondrous Nektarios.
Rejoice, for beforehand on earth you looked towards things above,
Rejoice, for your prayers sprinkle dew on those below.
Rejoice, canon of the perfect life,
Rejoice, quencher of the flames of passions.
Rejoice, the unsleeping protector of your monastery,
Rejoice, ever-flowing spring of wonders.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

As the Psalm says, grace pours forth from your relics, curing the weakening by illnesses and filling our senses with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit, O all--joyous one, inciting us to cry out to God: Alleluia.

Chanting these verses to you out of longing, and wishing to honor you with all fervor, protect from all kinds of dangers of the enemy through your speedy intercessions, O Amphilochios, you who ever hear from all:
Rejoice, faithful Levite of Christ,
Rejoice, fearsome fighter of the enemy.
Rejoice, the perfect interpretation of the Scriptures,
Rejoice, depiction beforehand of the life to come.
Rejoice, steady might and protection of the faithful,
Rejoice, protection of your monastery and of the choir of nuns.
Rejoice, for you enrich your monastery with your Relic,
Rejoice, for you gladden the Church with your light.
Rejoice, the boast of those who hymn you,
Rejoice the divine adornment of Patmos.
Rejoice, you who relieve pains of the flesh,
Rejoice, you who lead souls towards heaven.
Rejoice, O blessed Amphilochios.

O boast and pride of Patmos, Amphilochios, faithful healer of the Church (3), do not cease to entreat Christ that we might be granted to dwell together with Him in Eden, and that we might together join chorus to ceaselessly cry to God: Alleluia.

Then the Kontakion again straightaway.
   
St. Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Elder Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos is Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

St. Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos (+1970) (source)
 
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is gathering in the Phanar, under the leadership of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, has decided, according to sources, today (August 29th, 2018) to canonize Elder Amphilochios Makris of Patmos (1889-1970).

This new Saint of the Orthodox Church was a friend and spiritual child of St. Nektarios. He was a spiritual father to many people of the Church, both Greeks and foreigners.

He served as the Abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian on Patmos. Furthermore, he founded the women's Monastery of the Annunciation [of the Theotokos], the "Mother of the Beloved", in 1937.

Elder Amphilochios made his mark on Patmos with his great spiritual, ethnic and ecological service.

He became an inspiration for missionary work in Africa and many other places.

(source)
 
May we have his blessing and may he intercede for us!
 
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

"You shine with eyes sweet as the sun..."

The Holy Mandylion of Christ (source)
  
You shine with eyes sweet as the sun, and Your appearance is even sweeter still, O Christ***, for You enlighten both the physical and the noetic senses.
  
You Who created all things by Your word, and took on the form that was not Your own, you left to us Your appearance which we have received and rejoice in gladness.
-from the Canon for the Holy Mandylion
  
(amateur translation of text from source)
  
***See the Psalmic prophecy of David: "Thou art more beautiful than the sons of men: grace has been shed forth on thy lips" (Psalm 45:2)
  
The story of the Holy Mandylion (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Elder Nikon on the Theotokos

This is a beautiful talk on the Theotokos by Elder Nikon of New Skete. May Panagia help all those who need her comforting embrace throughout the world!
   
Most-holy Theotokos, save us!

Monday, August 13, 2018

St. John of Kronstadt on the Dormition of the Theotokos

The Dormition of the Theotokos (source)
 
(Refrain for the 9th Ode of the Canon)
Let us be happy, beloved brothers and sisters that we belong to the Holy Orthodox Church, worthily and rightly glorifying the Most Holy Sovereign Theotokos on this eminent day out of all the days of the year with special solemnity. There exists on earth many societies and entire governments that do not consider the need nor the obligation to call upon and glorify the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, and other saints and angels; to submissively serve Her lovingly, as the true Mother of God. Sadly in Russia nowadays we have heretics (among us) who actively dishonor the Mother of God, the saints, their icons, their relics and their festivals. O, if only they also unanimously with us glorified the worthy Queen of heaven and earth!
Today the Holy Church solemnly glorifies the honorable Dormition or translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven. A wonderful translation – she died without serious illness, peacefully. Her soul is taken up in the divine hands of Her Son and carried up into the heavenly abode, accompanied by the sweet singing of angels. And then, her most pure body is transferred by the apostles to Gethsemane where it is honorably buried, and on the third day it is resurrected and taken up to heaven. You see this on the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. On it is represented the life-bearing body of the Theotokos laying on a bier, surrounded by the apostles and hierarchs, and in the center of the icon the Lord holding in His hands the most pure soul of the Theotokos. The translation of the Mother of God is a paradigm of the translation in general of the souls of Christians to the other world.
We say that our dead have “fallen asleep” or “passed away.” What does this mean? This means that for the true Christian there is no death. Death was conquered by Christ on the cross. But there is a translation, i.e, a rearrangement of his condition, i.e. his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, eternal, without end, that is what is meant by “falling asleep”. It is as if it were a temporary dream after which, by the voice of the Lord and the fearful yet wonderful trumpet of the Archangel, all the dead shall live and come forth each to his place: either to the resurrection of life or to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29). This is what the Christian means by translation. We should be ready for this translation, for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this indescribable world event, recorded in the Holy Scriptures.
This preparation for the meeting of the heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the person’s preparation throughout the whole of his life. This preparation means a change in all his thoughts, and the moral change of all his being, so that the whole man would be pure and white as snow, washing clean everything that defiles the body and spirit, so that he is adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercifulness, abstention, spiritual contemplation, and burning love for God and neighbor.
Our preparation for meeting the heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things. The heavenly King desires souls adorned with immutable virtue, souls prepared so that the Very Lord Himself could abide in them. Do not marvel that the Very Lord wants to live in us. In fact the human soul is more spacious than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God. And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of all will settle in it and will fill it with Himself. “We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23), says the Lord about the souls who love Him.
And so, ye participants in the Christian feasts, and especially the present feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, ye who are brightly adorned with every virtue and translated to the heavenly kingdom, to Her Son and God, proclaim to each and every one about preparing their souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about the incorruptible adornment of Christian virtue. Let your death also be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the dread judgment seat of Christ. Amen.
 http://www.pravoslavie.ru/
The Dormition of the Theotokos (source)
   
Most-holy Theotokos save us!

Friday, August 3, 2018

"O, what a great and awesome sight that is seen today!"

The Transfiguration of Christ (source)
  
O, what a great and awesome sight that is seen today! He Who is from heaven is perceived, and upon the earth shines incomparably greater than the sun, as the noetic [Sun] of Righteousness, upon Mount Tabor.
-from the Matins Canon of the Transfiguration
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes on the Most-holy Theotokos

The Most-holy Theotokos and Christ (source)
  
Dear friends, humanity is the summit of earthly creation, and if God created nothing else, mankind would be enough to testify that there is a God, an all-wise God, omnipotent and benevolent. What an excellent creation man is! We see a beautiful statue and admire it, and no one dares to say the statue created itself without the sculptor. But, when compared to a human, what is a statue, even the most perfect one kept in a museum and considered a treasure of infinitive value? The statue is dead, inanimate, idle. It has eyes but does not see, ears but does not hear, feet but cannot walk. Man, however, is alive, with soul, and active and creative statue, which when studied more and more gains more and more admiration. Common sense says that, just as every statue was made by an artist, man was created by God.
  
Man is a marvelous creation of God, a little bit less than the angels, and is divided into man and woman. Man and woman are equal. They have the basic characteristics of human personality, reason, conscience, will and the rest. They do possess differences, but the differences between man and woman does not reduce, but rather enhance the admiration due to humanity. They add beauty and charm, making human life a pleasant thing. Since the first man until now, billions of people have been born. Of these billions of people, men and women, there have been some who have tried to destroy the grandeur of humanity by their criminal acts, they tried to degrade the human personality and put the human race to shame. Mankind fell from the lofty height of honor and dignity into the slime of dishonorable passions, and became like the wild beasts. Reading history and seeing contemporary reality, one shudders and is ashamed of mankind’s horrible crimes and shameful acts. Among billions of people, however, there are still some who, by their acts and virtues, have honored and continue to honor humanity, demonstrating that we were created for a higher purpose, making us aspire for heaven, for the blessed life which man lived in Paradise before the Fall.
  
 If someone should ask which human being of all the billions of human beings who have lived on earth reached the highest point of moral grandeur, in other words, who is the greatest of all Saints, we would answer not on our own authority, but would give the answer to the Church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth (II Tim.3:15). Our Church, having the Holy Scriptures as a foundation, answers that, after Christ, who is not a mere man, but the God-Man and a Saint in the absolute sense, comes a woman. She is the All-Holy Virgin Mary.
  
 The Virgin Mary, by God’s grace and through her virtues, came to such a high state of holiness that she surpassed not only every human being, but even the angels and the archangels. The spiritual height and depth of the Virgin, to use the word of the Akathist Hymn, are unattainable: “Hail Height insurmountable for the human mind; Hail Depth inexplorable to angelic eye.”
  
The Virgin, as our Church praises her, is ‘more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim’. If mankind is a miracle of divine creation then the Virgin Mary is the most exceptional miracle of divine grace.
  
 From the moment when the first woman, Eve, sinned and carried mankind along with her into the abyss of calamity, centuries and millennia had passed. In the midst of this terrible darkness, one hope warmed souls, namely, that the situation would one day be radically different. The ancient prophecy, the first prophecy after the Fall of the First Man and First Woman, the First Gospel as it was called, spoke about a woman, a woman whose son would fight and defeat satan, and would give the world new life. From careful study of this prophecy, it is apparent that this woman would not give birth in the usual way women give birth. This woman would give birth without knowing man. She would bear as a virgin. This prophecy about the virgin is repeated more precisely and with different symbols in the Old Testament. The Book of Isaiah gives the clearest prophecy: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Eight hundred years before the star of Bethlehem shone, Isaiah saw the Virgin and her son Emmanuel.
  
 The Virgin gave birth to her only-begotten son, our Lord Jesus Christ. But how did the Virgin give birth? Unbelievers of every century have argued against this and will continue to do so. What do we answer? We say: “which is a greater miracle – a Virgin to give birth or the world to be created from nothing?” Certainly, the greater is the creation of the universe from nothing, and if this greater one took place, why not a lesser miracle, the Virgin Birth?
  
 The all-holy Mother of God was a virgin before giving birth, during birth, and remained a virgin after giving birth. Our holy Lady is ever-virgin. Our Church preaches this as a revealed truth, and we proclaim this truth each time we recite the Symbol of Faith, saying: “and was incarnated by the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
  
 We Orthodox do not deify the Virgin, as some heretics like Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses accuse us. We do not believe that the Virgin is a Goddess, but we say that the Virgin is superior to the angels, and that is why we call her Most Holy – that God selected the Most holy Mother in order to take flesh and be born. For this reason we call her Theotokos, God-birthgiver. Because of her exceptional virtues she is the perfect example of Woman.
  
 But while the Holy Scripture and the Church in its teaching elevate the Virgin to ineffable heights, and angels and archangels bow before her, we have in our own country many nominal Christians who open their foul mouths and blaspheme her worse than heretics and unbelievers!
Dear Christians, let us all fight to stop this blasphemy and save ourselves from God’s wrath.
 
This chapter was taken from the book “ON THE DEVINE LITURGY – VOL.2” by Bishop Augoustinos N. Kantiotes.

Translation by Rev. Fr. Asterios Gerostergios 

(source)

The Most-holy Theotokos and Christ (source)

Most-holy Theotokos, save us!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

"Anna surpasses every word of praise..."

  
Anna surpasses every word of praise, for she gave birth to [the Theotokos] who surpasses every praise. Because of this, she takes pasture together with the choir of the Saints
-from the Matins Canon to St. Anna
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Elijah the Zealot, and emperor over the passions..."

The Holy Prophet Elias in the taken up into the Fiery Chariot (source)
  
Elijah the Zealot, and emperor over the passions, is taken up into the air today, bringing the message aforetime of universal salvation. O unalterable glory, which the exalted Prophet was made worthy of, he who is the awesome adornment of the Prophets! He was truly an angel in the flesh, and was shown to be a fleshless man by his accomplishments. As we praise him let us say: Deliver us, O wise one, on the Day of Judgment.
-Idiomelon of the Litia by St. Germanos
  
(source)
  
The Holy Prophet Elias with scenes from his life (source)
     
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Homily on St. Marina by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes

St. Marina the Great Martyr (source)
  
Excerpts from a Homily on St. Marina by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes, Bishop of Florina: "Christ honored the woman"
Today is a feast, the feast of St. Marina. The churches built in her name celebrate, as do the women who bear her name.

We are honoring a woman. But also the New Testament continuously speaks of women. The Gospel reading today speaks of the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:24-34), who was healed by Christ. The Apostle Paul says that between woman and man there is no difference in worth, men and women are equal, for whatever rights the man has, the same does a woman. "There is neither man nor woman", he says, "for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians e3:28). These words we should say more simply to make it clear.

I don't know how much men love Christ, but women must love Him even more. If men love Him once, women should love Him thousands of times. Why? There is a specific reason.

Do you know what woman was before Christ? Man did with her whatever he wished. He locked her inside and didn't let her go out. The children that she gave birth she had no say over, but the man did. If he wanted, he would just kill them. She herself was so poorly treated that he kept her like an animal. He kept her like an adornment until he threw her out. He took another one, and another, and another... as many as he wanted. Thus woman was truly unhappy. In some places this still occurs. In India, for example, where they don't believe in Christ, the woman has no worth. Did her husband die? They were required to bury her with him. She couldn't be allowed  to live, and they would bury her near her husband in the same grave.

This was the state of the woman. When did it change? Who honored her? Only Christ.

How did Christ honor the woman?

First, with her "side". The Holy Scriptures say that there is no difference in honor. Man was created by God from the dust (Genesis 2:7), but woman was not created from dust, but from the man. He took a piece of his body, to show that she is yoked with the man. But the piece that he took was neither the head, nor the feet. It wasn't from the head so that she would not think that she should rule over the man. Neither was it from the feet, so that she might not think that she is a slave to be trampled upon by the man. He took a piece from his side, which covers his heart, to show that the woman must be beside him, next to him, supporting the man throughout the whole of life, in both joy and sorrow.

Secondly, Christ honored woman with His incarnation. As God He could have chosen not to have been born of a woman. He could have been like the first man, Adam, for not even the Angels are born of a woman. He could have come into the world by some other way. However, He was born of a woman, the Most-Holy Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary. Why? In order to honor the woman. He was born of a virgin, in order to honor virginity. He was born of one betrothed in order to honor marriage.

Therefore Christ honored the woman. And because of this reason exactly, the women were with Him until the end, such as the Myrrhbearing women, St. Mary Magdalene and the others. And the greatest honor that He gave is that, after the Resurrection, the first "Christ is risen" was not heard by men. No, the woman was the first to receive this joyful news.

Thus did Christ honor the woman. Because of this, women loved Him greatly. One of those was St. Marina, whom we are celebrating today. Who was St. Marina? She was a beautiful and wealthy 15-16 year old girl. She could have found the finest husband. And a potential husband approached her, who had houses, fields and power. But she told him that she preferred Christ above men. And she remained faithful to Him until death.

This, therefore, is what the Apostle is speaking of: there is no difference between woman and man, they are one. And this is what was ordained by Christ, this is what our holy Church teaches.

Let's leave the past for the time being, my beloved, and let's come to today. Do we see woman today as Christ speaks of her, being equal to man? I doubt it.

Where do you want to go? To Athens, to Paris, to New York, to other great cities? There the opposite occurs. There, woman, not one of beauty but of corruption, exercises authority over man. You see a wise university professor or a general who strikes fear in the hearts of the world, and is overcome by a harlot. I'm not speaking of a specific person, I'm speaking generally. If you read history, you will see that many times corrupted women seized strong men by the nose and led them astray like the pied piper. Such women are the tools of the devil...

However, let's leave the big cities and return to the villages, there chaste women, are [unfortunately, sometimes] slaves of men. I had visited many villages as a preacher and I will offer some examples of what I saw.

Once, when I entered a village, I saw a man riding on a horse like a ruler, while behind him was walking his wife, overburdened on her back with wood and with a child in her arms...

Slavery of women, my beloved, and objects of terrible exploitation, either in marriage or outside of marriage. In marriage, regardless of how precious and hard working a woman might be, if she didn't have a good dowry, she couldn't be married off. But the corrupted and inglorious world doesn't even think about marriage. In a thousand satanic ways, such as the terribly "beauty pageants", the woman is prepared and her flesh is sold off like a butcher hangs his meat in the window.*** We have spoken against this, we have struggled against this, and because of this they called us crazy. But one prophecy says: When you see a woman walking naked outside, then the end of the world is coming.

Christ honored the woman, and the Church has shown forth holy women like St. Marina. And today's feast teaches women and men that we should all live with purity and honor.

+Bishop Avgoustinos
From a recorded homily in the Church of St. Marina, Florina, 7/17/1973
(amateur translation of excerpts of text from: source)
  
***Note: One wonders what the Bishop would have said about the terrible and tragic spread of abuse and exploitation of women, from internet pornography to human trafficking to women being abused by men in positions of power, many orders of magnitude worse than he is describing. May our Lord and His Mother deliver all women from such evil, and may His Saints, like St. Marina, both protect and heal those who suffer, and serve as an example of purity and sacrifice of body and soul for Christ!
  
St. Marina the Great Martyr (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"You the noetic swallow, and uncorrupted lamb..."

St. Marina the Great Martyr with scenes from her life and martyrdom (source)
  
You the noetic swallow, and uncorrupted lamb, and golden shining dove, were winged through your martyrdom, and flew to God to ever rest with Him, Whom we praise.
-from the Matins Canon to St. Marina
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

St. Paisios the Athonite: "A world may come..."

St. Paisios the Athonite (source)
  
A world may come [one day] when people will no longer reconcile themselves with God.
-St. Paisios the Athonite
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sermon by Saint Paisios on Humility and Life in Christ

This is a wonderful recorded sermon of St. Paisios the Athonite given to pilgrims during his life on various topics, but especially on humility and life in Christ. May we have his blessing and intercessions!
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

The voice of Elder Sophrony of Essex (+July 11th, 1993)

Here are two videos, the first with Elder Sophrony of Essex (+ July 11th, 1993) reciting the beloved Orthodox prayer (and a beloved of his) "O Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of truth..." (source)
 
The second is a short recording of Elder Sophrony speaking about Theology as a state of being. May we have his blessing and may his prayers and writings (along with those of St. Silouan) help those thirsty for salvation throughout the world! (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Homily by Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou on St. Paisios the Athonite

In anticipation of the upcoming feast of St. Paisios the Athonite, here is a wonderful talk by Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou (Cyprus) about St. Paisios the Athonite, where he talks about his life, example, and miracles witnessed by those near him. The talk is in Greek but has subtitles in English. May St. Paisios help all those who are sick and suffer throughout the world!
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, July 6, 2018

"That you might please Christ, your Immortal Bridegroom..."

St. Kyriake the Great Martyr (source)
  
That you might please Christ, your immortal Bridegroom, you have given yourself up to death, and fire and tortures, counting them as nothing, through which you were made worthy of immortal glory.
-from the Matins Canon of St. Kyriaki the Great Martyr
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Elder Ephraim of Katounakia: "Those who love more can understand the Lord’s sufferings more deeply."

The Crucifixion of Christ (source)
  
Like Christ’s love, His sufferings were so great that we can’t understand them, since we love the Lord so little. But those who love more can understand the Lord’s sufferings more deeply. There’s little love, average love and perfect love. The more perfect the love, the more perfect the knowledge.
-Elder Ephraim of Katounakia
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, June 29, 2018

"Bearing Your Cross as a rod of power..."

The Holy Twelve Apostles (source)
  
Bearing Your Cross as a rod of power, Your witnesses [the Holy Apostles], O Word, divided the sea of life, and as horses they trampled upon the waves of polytheism.

You shone forth, O radiant [Apostles], as all-joyous stars, that dispersed all of the clouds of error through your light-bearing lamps, shining with the radiance of the knowledge of God.

As the Friends of Christ, you ever receive your rest, and unfading crowns, and increasing divine theoria, therefore ever entreat Him that the Church be saved.
-from the Matins Canon to the Holy Apostles
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!