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.
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
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 


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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos on Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles

Sts. Peter and Paul the Holy Apostles (source)
5th Sunday of June (June 29th, 2014)
Some main points in the life of the leaders of the Apostles.
   “For when I am weak, then I am strong” :  Behold the great, indomitable, and mysterious power of the Apostle Paul. The spirit of our age is entirely opposite. People think that money, rank, titles, wisdom, and worldly science, are power. The example of the Apostle persuades us that human works are finite, fleeting, sinful and vain, whereas those which are accomplished by divine power are true and everlasting. Divine power resides in people who are insignificant by the world’s standards. But it always works miracles so that the Christian who possesses this power, even while he is poor, he makes rich many others, and even though he has nothing, he possesses all things.
    Let us recall the answer of the Apostle Peter, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You” , when the Lord asked him for the third time: “Peter, do you love me?” Peter was saddened, but his answer is amazing: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”  And he answers without hesitation, while he should have started to doubt. To say, “For the Lord to ask me again and again, maybe…” Peter, however, doesn’t waver. Peter is true.
    Now let’s you and I stand before God and imitate in some way Peter’s love in our relationship with God. Let’s have this same certainty within ourselves: knowing that the true God, who is entirely loving and compassionate, wants to save each one of us. And let’s approach Him without even the slightest doubt or reservation as to His holiness, goodness, and love for mankind, in which we can have complete trust.
    But maybe the temptation comes that God doesn’t love us. We don’t say it, but deep down our soul lives like this and there we find complaints, reservations, whining. We don’t understand how many things we ruin with God when we adopt such a stance. God wants us to completely believe in His goodness, to completely believe that He doesn’t hold any prejudices; He doesn’t ever show discrimination. This is a fact. And so we too, then, can say: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”  And we can have the trust that the Apostle Peter had, to whom the Lord finally said: “Feed My lambs, Feed my sheep.” 
Transcribed talks by Archimandrite Symeon Kragiopoulos
 From: Holy Hesychasterion “The Nativity of Theotokos” Publications.
Translated by fr. Matthew Penney
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Elder Nikon on Missionary Work

Here is another wonderful talk (in Greek but with English subtitles) by Elder Nikon of New Skete, on the subject of "Missionary Work" and the Orthodox way (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

"The great Forerunner shines forth today..."

The Nativity of St. John the Forerunner (source)
The great Forerunner shines forth today, from fruitless loins, coming forth from Elizabeth, he who is the Prophet greater than all the Prophets. There is none like him, nor will there come another after, for after the light of the lamp that is the Forerunner follows the surpassingly radiant voice of the Logos, and the Bridegroom of the Bride, the Lord Who prepares a people for Himself, and cleanses them beforehand by the Spirit through the water. [John is] the root of Zacharias, and the beautiful fruit of the desert, the preacher of repentance, the cleansing of offenses, he who preaches to those in Hades of the Resurrection from the dead, and who intercedes on behalf of our souls.
-Idiomelon of the Stichera for the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner, by St. Andrew of Crete
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Elder Ephraim of Katounakia: "The Jesus prayer gives you so much sweetness..."

Jesus Christ the Son of God the Savior of the world (source)
The Jesus prayer gives you so much sweetness, so much joy. It’s short, but it’s got so much power. So much, that you say: ‘Even if I go to hell, I’m not afraid. I’ll just say the prayer there, as well’.
-Elder Ephraim of Katounakia
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Gabriel of Georgia: The Human Conscience is a little God

St. Gabriel of Georgia (source)
Once, some Priests had visited St. Gabriel of Georgia and mentioned how they were loosing hope regarding the state of the world and they began to complain:
"The world has changed a lot, people have no interest in the faith and we don't know how to preach to them."

He replied to them: "On the ethical decline of Georgia***! Speak to them about this. The conscience is a little God."
(from the book by Nana Merkvilatze: "St. Gabriel the Fool-for-Christ and Confessor, source)
***Note: Of course the ethical decline that the Saint is speaking of can apply to any society in moral decline.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

"O greatly-suffering New Martyrs, you stand before the Protomartyr Christ God..."

The all precious Choir of the Holy Neomartyrs since the Fall of Constantinople, celebrated the third Sunday after Pentecost (source)
O greatly-suffering New Martyrs, you stand before the Protomartyr Christ God, together with the Martyrs of the former times in the heavens, arrayed with the white robe of blessed glory, holding in your right hands the Cross, and in your left the palm branch as a symbol of victory for having endured tyranny. And upon your heads, you wear the royal and unfading crown. O gods and kings by grace as He is God and King by nature, you became united with Him unto the ages, and you ceaselessly intercede on behalf of us, who with fervor celebrate your memory.
-Matins Idiomelon for the Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs since the Fall of Constantinople
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Elder Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos (+1970)

Elder Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos (+April 16th, 1970) (source)
Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (Makris) was a priestmonk who lived on Patmos (Greece).
The future elder was born on December 13, 1889 to Emmanuel and Irene Makris and named Athanasios. He was born into a large family of simple, country folk. Even as an infant, Athanasios was devout, even observing the fasting rules regarding milk products while still an infant. When Athanasios was five, he convinced his newly-engaged godmother to spend the rest of her days in virginity. Athanasios, having preserved himself from worldly temptations, decided to enter a monastery at the age of seventeen. He asked his parents' blessing, which they were happy to give.

St. Nektarios, depicted with two of his spiritual children: Elders Amphilochios and Philotheos Zervakos (source)

In March, 1906, he entered the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Patmos; in August, having earned the love of the aging brotherhood, he was made a rassophore and given the name Amphilochios. To fight the passions and temptations, Amphilochios would employ strict fasting - ten mouthfuls of food at each meal on standard days, with seven or eight olives on fast days.

In 1911, the abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian sent Amphilochios to Mount Athos in order to learn wood-carving; in March 1913, he was tonsured to the Great Schema by Elder Antoniadis. Two months later, the abbot had the agreement of the brethren of the monastery to ordain Amphilochios; but, because of a self-perception of inadequacy, he asked his traveling companion (and ordinand) to continue while Amphilochios went to Egypt and the Holy Lands.
Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
Amphilochios asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to receive him as one of the caretakers of the Holy Sepulchre. While the Patriarch was willing to do this, the Monastery insisted that he return, where they "punished" him by sending him to the hermitage of Apollo, alongside Elder Makarios, which made Amphilochios very happy as he was better able to pray.
However, in 1919, Fr Amphilochios was ordained to the diaconate and, soon after, to the priesthood. He was assigned to the monastery's dependency on the island of Kos, also serving as confessor throughout the Dodecanese. In 1926, he was sent to the Cave of the Apocalypse, Patmos. He spent much time with students of the Ecclesiastical Academy, which produced numerous elders and abbots.

Elder Amphilochios traveling in prayer (source)

In 1935, the occupying powers of the Dodecanese were the Italians, who influenced the Church by forcing a system of governance that made it easy to manipulate the Church. However, the Patriarch of Constantinople demanded that this situation be rectified for the new abbot. In response, the brotherhood elected Elder Amphilochios as abbot. Soon after, the seeds of the future female Monastery of the Annunciation began to be planted: the first building housed a training workshop for knitting and weaving, a guise under which to teach children Greek. In response, in 1937, the Italians exiled Elder Amphilochios to mainland Greece, where the Elder received hospitality from the Zoe brotherhood in Athens, from whence he traveled throughout Greece; after which he traveled to Crete, where he became spiritual father of the island.
Elder Amphilochios in prayer (source)
His exile ended in 1939, and Elder Amphilochios returned to Patmos, being received with great joy. He did not, however, reassume his abbacy, but rather, focused on dependencies and the female Monastery of the Annunciation. The changeover of power in 1942, from the Italians to the Germans, did not greatly impact on the Elder's life. In 1947, Elder Amphilochios organised a small group of nuns to assist the orphans of Rhodes (at that time, extremely poor) by establishing an orphanage, along with a unit for pregnant women.

At Easter, 1968, Elder Amphilochios received a forewarning of his coming repose, and was given two years to prepare himself and his children for his repose. Anxious for his spiritual children, he asked God with tears for more time to develop his children, after which the Mother of God and St. John the Theologian appeared to him and informed him that his request was denied. Soon after this, he received a bout of flu. Having made his final preparations, he reposed on April 16, 1970.
Elder Amphilochios Makris, protector of the Monasteries of Patmos and beyond (source)

Spiritual Counsels of Elder Amphilochios
      -When you cultivate prayer, the Tempter's blusterings will not trouble you. Prayer diminishes his strength; he cannot do anything to us.
      -The end of my life draws near I ask you to live a holy life, to walk along holy paths, so that you may help both our Church and Greece.
      -Remaining faithful to Monasticism is considered to be a martyrdom.
      -Christ often comes and knocks at your door and you invite him to sit in the living-room of your soul. Then, absorbed in your own business you forget the Great Visitor. He waits for you to appear and when you are too long in returning, he gets up and leaves. At other times, you are so busy that you answer him from the window. You don't even have time to open the door.
      -You are royalty, destined for the heavenly bridal chamber.
      -When you see a person who is spiritually tired do not burden him any further, because his knees won't be able to bear it.
      -Love the One, so that even wild beasts will love you.
      -True wealth, for me, is to see you in the Kingdom of Heaven.
      -When the flame of love exists, it consumes whatever evil approaches.
      -The person who loves spiritually feels prayerful, so that he can be found within God and his brother.
Elder Amphilochios Makris (source)
      -He is saddened when his brother is not advancing well and prays for his progress.
      -Whoever has Christian love never changes.
      -Hold the banner of Christ up high, so that you've always got your elder's telephone number, no matter where you are.
      -Christ is the same, yesterday and today, but we have closed our eyes and look into the darkness.
      -It is because we carry on like this that some fall in the mud and others are killed.
      -All those things that we hear about: war, earthquakes, catastrophes, thunder, also expect rain.
      -We must be ready for our defence and our martyrdom.
      -I beseech the Lord to sanctify you, so that I may see you in Paradise. This is the dowry which I seek from the Lord for you.
      -For God's Grace to come during the Liturgy, you must be concentrated and untroubled.
      -The more a person loves God, the more he loves other people. He loves them with holiness, respect and refinement, as images of God.
      -When a person lacks inner warmth, he will be frozen and cold, even in summer.
      -When your heart does not have Christ, it will contain either money, property or people instead.
      -Please put this commandment into practice:  Cultivate love towards the Person of Christ to such an extent that, when you pronounce His name, tears fall from your eyes. Your heart must really be aflame. Then He will become your teacher. He will be your Guide, your Brother, your Father, and your Geron (Elder).
      -Love your Bridegroom Christ with all your heart and then everyone will love you and take care of you.
Elder Amphilochios of Patmos, with signs of thanksgiving from many of the faithful who have been helped through his prayers (source)
      -I desire the rebirth of Monasticism, because in my opinion, monasticism is the “evzone” [=Greek, elite military unit] battalion of the Church.
      -God's protection diminishes temptation.
      -Because of widespread corruption, people cannot understand that spiritual love exists.
      -Worldly people tire you, because whatever is stored up inside them comes at you like waves of electricity. We must be people of grace so much so that whoever comes to us may find rest.
      -Let us look upon everyone as our superiors, however weak they may appear. Let us not be harsh, but always bear in mind that the other person also has the same destination as us.
      -We must have Love, even if they do us the greatest harm, we must love them. We will be able to enter Paradise only with love.
      -Cultivate the Jesus Prayer and a time will come when your heart will leap with joy, just as it does when you are about to see a person who you love very much.
      -Do not neglect evening prayer. Pray with eagerness like those who are going to a feast. They are awake and feel joy alone. Thus, since you are going to speak with your Bridegroom, do not listen when the Tempter tells you various things in order to hinder you, because you know there is someone who cares for you.
      -Question: "Elder, how must we picture Christ?" Answer: "We must always bring to Christ to mind with love. We could be holding the photograph of someone in our hands, but since we do not know them, we do not love him, we are not moved. Whereas, when we pick up a photograph of our mother, our soul immediately leaps and cries out with love.”
-A person can be raised up above the earth by two wings, one is simplicity and the other is purity of heart. You must be simple in your actions and pure in your thoughts and feelings. With a pure heart you'll seek God and with simplicity you'll find Him and be glad.
      -A pure heart passes through Heavens gate with ease.
Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
      -Self-denial must be cultivated with discernment; otherwise we may reach the point of suicide.
      -We are on the high seas of life, sometimes there are storms and at other times calm. God's grace does not leave us. Otherwise, we would have sunk, if he had not held us up.
      -The saints always look to the other life. It is the grace of the remembrance of death.
      -God guards us from temptation. He does not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength; He allows everything, for our own good.
      -When spirituality increases, even sleep will have been fought off.
      -Prayer is grace. God gives it when zeal and humility exist.
      -Fight the Hater of Good, who envies you, bravely suffer whatever befalls you with fortitude, patience and faith.
      -Do not allow your soul's enemy to wage war against you. He appears in sheep's clothing, supposedly wanting your soul's benefit.
      -Trust in the Lord always and he will nourish you in time of hunger.
      -With a good word for your neighbour, supporting him, you buy paradise.
      -Repentance must occur, not from fear of punishment but because we have sinned before God.
      -Sweeten your thoughts with words of consolation and hope. Warm your words with the warmth of your love towards your Bridegroom and remember His Passion, which he underwent for you, so that you would remain firm, devoted and humble.
      -Give your whole self completely over to the protecting veil of the Panagia.
      -Love giving hospitality, my child, for it opens the gates of Paradise. In this you also offer hospitality to angels. "Entertain strangers so that you won't be a stranger to God."
      -The saints submitted to whatever God sent them, with childlike simplicity, "That's the way You want it. Let Your will be done."
      -Hospitality... the greatest of virtues. It draws the grace of the Holy Spirit towards us. In every stranger's face, my child, I see Christ himself.
      -Sorrow is pleasing to God, in as much as it doesn't take away our courage to fight. 
      -It is necessary and beneficial for a general self-examination to take place from time to time, remembering all former sins.
      -Leave all your concerns to the hands of God. Ask for whatever you want, like a child asking from its father.
      -Prayer is a gift from God. Always ask with hope.
      -Our deeds, dear sister, will not save us; God's infinite mercy will.
      -Spiritual bonds become unbreakable when they come across a child-like spirit, innocence and sanctity.
      -Everything seems dark and difficult to a person without Christ.
      -Every day I pray that I may see you amongst the ranks of women saints.
      -I don't want to be in Paradise without you, my children.
Elder Amphilochios Makris (source)
      -Question: How do you manage to have such patience and perseverance in everything? Answer: The grace of God helps. I always believe in the power of God, my child, Who alters and adjusts everything for the benefit of our soul.
      -The person who gets agitated doesn't think straight, logically.
      -When I see a person who is irritated, I don't listen to what he is saying, but pray for God to pacify him. That's why I don't get distressed. When they calm down, when the time is right, I talk to them because they are then in a position to comprehend their foolishness.
      -The Grace of God and spiritual union with Him transform a person Fears and suspicions go away, he doesn't fear death, and views this life, however good it may be, as slavery.
      -God is visiting you when tears come during prayer.
      -When a person is simplified, he is deified. He becomes innocent, humble, gentle, free.
      -Never ever give importance to anything earthly and fleeting. Take care of your spiritual union with God instead.
      -When you hear your name being criticized act as if you didn't hear. This is Paradise, this is perfection.
      -Our religion slays the passions, not the body.
The grave of the Blessed Amphilochios of Patmos, it reads: "We are translated from death to life when we love the brethren" (I John 3:14), "Amphilochios the Hieromonk Makris, Brother of the Holy Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Founder of the Holy Montastery of the "Annunciation, Mother of the Beloved", who reposed on April 16th of the year of salvation 1970." "Love towards God and your neighbor is the foundation of the Law and the Prophets, fulfilling the cornerstone.", from the service to St. Savvas the Sanctified." (souce)
      -Where there is fear of God, wisdom is given.
      -I want you to be calm so that we can meet. When you're tired the wireless doesn't work.
      -The Christian is a true human being He is courteous and polite. He doesn't want to sadden anybody.
      -Innocence is greater than genius.
      -A person who suffers from egotism attracts no-one. And if he does attract someone he will soon go away. When one comes across a childlike spirit, innocence and holiness the bond becomes unbreakable.
      -The spiritual life has great pleasures. You fly, you leave the world, you don't consider anything. You become children and God dwells in your heart.
      -The Grace of the All-Holy Spirit makes a person send out rays. However, other people must have a good receiver in order to realise this.
      -We must have our gaze fixed on heaven. Then nothing will shake us.
      -Take communion regularly, pray warmly, be patient and you will see a strong hand holding you.
      -Christ is near us even if we don't see Him. Sometimes, from his great love, He gives us a slap too. You should be glad. Jesus holds an artists’ chisel in His hands. He wants to make a statue of you, for the Heavenly Palace.
      -The person who shouts has no strength.
Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
Apolytikion in the First Tone. The citizen of the desert.
The pillar of piety and example for Priests, the friend of the Beloved, and new righteous one of Christ, O faithful, let us honor the divine Amphilochios with sacred hymns, crying out: O offspring of Patmos, intercede on behalf of us to Him Whom you stand before. Glory to Him Who granted you strength, glory to Him Who sanctified you, glory to Him Who grants to us through you, all greater things.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. Though You descended into the grave.
You abandoned worldly things, O Father, in order to struggle and gain Christ, and you rose above the things of the earth, and headed as a victor towards the heavens, having trampled upon the devices and wiles of satan. Therefore, do not cease to entreat on behalf of us who honor you, O wise Amphilochios, to the Compassionate One.

The Prophet David prophesied in the book of the Psalms: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His venerable one." Therefore, we find this fulfilled in you, O divine Father Amphilochios. For you pleased your Master with divine words and good deeds, giving glory to Him instead. Therefore, we who have gathered today, honor you harmoniously, as the founder of Churches, Monasteries and Hermitages, as a precious vessel of sacredness and a soul-nourishing benefactor of Christians by your teachings and instructions. But, as the boast of the famed island of Patmos, as the follower of the Venerable Christodoulos, and the close friend of the missionary Evangelist and Virgin Disciple and man equal-to-the-angel [John the Theologian], you ceaselessly entreat on behalf of us to the Compassionate One.

On the 16th of this month [April], the memory of the Venerable Amphilochios of Patmos

He shined with the radiant light of the priesthood,
Being righteous to God by word and deed.
On the sixteenth, Amphilochios departed upwards in the spirit.

Rejoice, the sacred offspring of the island of Patmos, O Father and Priest Amphilochios, who spoke of God, you showed forth the desert places to be full of the fruit through your divine virtues and your struggles.
The icon and holy relics of the Blessed Amphilochios, treasured by the Monastery he founded of the Annunciation, "The Mother of the Beloved", on Patmos, awaiting his official canonization as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate at some point in the future, and as hinted at recently by Patriarch Bartholomew. (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!