Thursday, June 27, 2019

"You both stand before the divine Throne..."

The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul (source)
  
Peter, the leader of the glorious Apostles, the rock of faith, and Paul most sublime, the rhetor and light of the Holy Churches, you both stand before the divine Throne, entreating Christ on behalf of us.
-Idiomelon of the Litia for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, by St. Germanos

(source)

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

"Even though I have died, yet am I alive! Grieve not, O ye people!"

St. John Maximovitch the Wonderworker (source)
  
Kontakion
Following Christ, the Chief Shepherd, thou wast shown to be most excellent among hierarchs; for thou didst save thy sheep from destruction by the godless, arranging a tranquil refuge for them; and exercising unceasing care for thy flock, thou didst heal the infirmities of their souls and bodies. Entreat Christ God now for us who fall down before thy precious relics, O father John, that our souls may be saved in peace.

Ikos
The heavens rejoice with us now, and the choirs of the saints receive a new and all-glorious adornment. The apostles greet a universal preacher; the ancient martyrs praise one who wondrously glorified their memory; holy hierarchs converse with their peer ineloquence and wisdom; the venerable marvel at a vigilant ascetic; holy kings honor an advocate for the restoration of Orthodox kingship; and the unmercenaries share their incorrupt and unapportioned reward with an unmercenary healer. As all-glorious as thy ministry was, O father John, so great was the multitude of wreaths fashioned for thee. Wherefore, with the choirs of the saints pray to Christ God in behalf of us who fall down before thy precious relics, that our souls may be saved in peace.

Exapostelarion
"Even though I have died, yet am I alive! Grieve not, O ye people!" Thus thou hast proclaimed after thy repose, illumining with mystic light those who hymn thee, O father John, all-wondrous and holy hierarch.

(source)
 
St. John Maximovitch the Wonderworker (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"You trampled upon the basest pleasures..."

Sts. Cyrus and John the Unmercenaries (source)
  
You trampled upon the basest pleasures, and clearly proceeded towards the divine height of martyrdom through grace, O Cyrus and John, lights for the whole world. Therefore, we entreat you that we be delivered from the darkness of sin and from afflictions, as you pray to the God of all.
-Kathisma from the Matins for the feast of Sts. Cyrus and John the Unmercenaries

(source)
  
St. Cyrus the Unmercenary (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"We entreat you to ever visit the glorious hospital which you founded, O Father..."

St. Sampson the Innkeeper and Unmercenary (source)
  
We entreat you to ever visit the glorious hospital which you founded, O Father, in which you ceaselessly stand serving among us, relieving pains with great compassion, and lightening the woes and the pains of our souls.
-from the Matins Canon for St. Sampson the Innkeeper and Unmercenary.

(source)

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

St. Paisios the Athonite: "How have men become like this! Like animals!"

St. Paisios the Athonite (source)
   
Someone told me: "They say that Athens is a 'jungle', but no one leaves from there! They all call it a 'jungle' and everyone gathers in the jungle." How have men become like this! Like animals! Do you know what animals do? In the beginning they enter a stable, and soil it with dung and urinate...Afterwards, the dung begins to break down. As soon as it breaks down, it feels warm. And their hearts can't bear to leave the stable, they are comfortable. Thus people, I want to say, sense the warmth of sin and it makes their heart not want to flee. They understand that it wreaks, but from that warmth their heart does not want to leave. Yes, if one were to go now into the stable, he couldn't stand the stench. Another who is continuously in the stable is not bothered by it, he has gotten used to it.
-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!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Akathist to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (source)

Akathist to Saints Peter and Paul

Kontakion I
 
The Lord Who said of Himself: I am the good Shepherd, said unto thee, O first-enthroned Peter: If thou lovest Me, feed My sheep.  And He Who said: I am Jesus, said of thee, O preeminent Apostle Paul:  He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the gentiles.  And likewise to all your colleagues, His apostles, He said: As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you; go ye, and teach all nations.  And ye, receiving such grace from your good Chief Shepherd, as the foremost shepherds and teachers of all the world, from all misfortunes preserve ye us on the pasture of salvation, that we may cry out to you:  Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Ikos I
 
Blessed art thou, Simon, son of Jonas! said Christ, the Son of the living God, unto thee, O right glorious Apostle Peter.  How then can we worthily call thee blessed who hast been called blessed by God Himself?  Yet drawn faithfully, by a debt of love alone, we cry out to thee thus:
Rejoice, first among the apostles, foundation of the holy Church;
Rejoice, mighty pillar and ground of the Orthodox Faith!
Rejoice, ardent lover of the teaching of Christ;
Rejoice, first-seated among the council of the apostles!
Rejoice, good gate-keeper of the kingdom of heaven;
Rejoice, renowned physician for them that repent of their sins!
Rejoice, thou who spurned the vanity of the world and loved the spiritual life;
Rejoice, thou who didst forsake corruptible nets and didst fish the whole world with incorruptible ones!
Rejoice with Peter, O Paul, for ye both shone forth like two great beacons;
Rejoice, O ye who like a pair of steeds were harnessed by God to His chariot of noetic light!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, beholders of God, for ye are the light of all the world;
Rejoice, for through you the Faith which saveth us hath shone forth from Christ in every place!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion II
 
O teacher of the gentiles, who received thy title wondrously from on high, thou didst believe when Jesus said unto thee:  Saul, why persecutest thou Me Who cannot be touched by unbelief?  Yet believe thou henceforth; for, lo! contrary audacity darkeneth thee, but I have chosen thee to be a witness to My judgments before the rulers, the nations and the children of Israel.  And thou, O Apostle Paul, called such things by God, didst cry out: Alleluia!

Sts. Peter and Paul the Holy Apostles (source)
    
Ikos II
 
Hearing a voice from heaven, O Saul, thou wast thereafter unable to see; for thou hadst adversely persecuted the Inaccessible One and didst receive blindness of thine eyes in return for thy zeal for the law; but, guided to the font, thou didst attain unto divine baptism, where, having been immersed with faith, the sight of thy bodily and spiritual eyes was restored.  Wherefore, mindful of thy miraculous calling, we cry out to thee:
Rejoice, O apostles called by God, sent forth to preach to all the nations;
Rejoice, chosen vessel which pourest forth the sweetness of the Faith of Christ upon all men!
Rejoice, beholder of the divine Light which illumineth from on high;
Rejoice, thou who more than others wast enlightened by grace after the shadow of the Old Covenant!
Rejoice, thou who on earth didst converse with the Lord Jesus Who appeared to thee;
Rejoice, thou who with His strength didst dare to denounce them that were adamant in their unbelief!
Rejoice, thou who hast enlightened the whole world with thy divinely wise writings;
Rejoice, thou who, following Christ, didst labor more than others for the salvation of man!
Rejoice with Paul, O Peter, for ye overshadow the holy Church as the two cherubim did the ark;
Rejoice, ye who stand before the throne of the Most High like two seraphim!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, for ye are like the heavens which proclaim the glory of God;
Rejoice, for ye are the stars which crown the Church, the Bride of Christ!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion III
 
Thou wast struck with horror, O holy Apostle Peter, beholding the sheet descending from on high, filled with all manner of living creatures, moreover with unclean beasts, wherein was set forth a parable of God's love for man, signifying that it is not fitting to reject them that from all the nations desire to believe in Christ Jesus.  And understanding this mystery, thou didst cry out to God: Alleluia!

The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (source)
  
Ikos III
 
Naught that is vile or unclean hath ever passed my lips! thou didst say, O most blessed Apostle Peter.  But divine Providence answered thee with a voice from heaven, saying:  What God hath cleansed, that do thou not revile, calling it unclean; for the Savior cameth not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance!  And we, knowing what was revealed to thee, cry out:
Rejoice, O apostle, who mercifully openest the kingdom of heaven;
Rejoice, thou who not only watchest over men, but over the affairs of all the nations!
Rejoice, thou who with thy love coverest the multitude of our sins;
Rejoice, thou who perfectest our meager repentance with thy mercy!
Rejoice, speedy helper for them that call upon thee amid spiritual tribulations;
Rejoice, thou who by thy supplication raisest up those dead of body and soul!
Rejoice, thou who strengthenest with the Holy Spirit the faithful who hearken unto thy word;
Rejoice, thou who woundest the unbelieving with thy words, as with darts!
Rejoice with Peter, O Paul, in that ye are as the two eyes of the Church, endued with divine sight;
Rejoice, ever-vigilant guides watching over the new Israel!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, for ye are as a guard upon the walls of Jerusalem;
Rejoice, O our instructors, who keep watch over the souls of Christians!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion IV
 
To the Jews living in Damascus didst thou begin to preach, O apostle Paul, enlightened of God, that they might believe in Christ Jesus the Son of God; and they were astonished at how one who before had persecuted them that believed in the name of Christ had - O, the wonder! - himself been transformed into a believer!  Wherefore, they took counsel together to slay thee; but knowing their intent and the hardness of their hearts, thou didst leave them in the blindness of their unbelief and, let down over the wall in a basket by the faithful, thou didst cry out to God:  Alleluia!
  
Sts. Peter and Paul (source)
  
Ikos IV
 
With great zeal, O holy Paul, thou didst preach to turn away from the prescriptions of the old law and circumcision and to make haste to the font of divine baptism, proclaiming this not only to the Jews, but also to the gentiles whose most loving teacher thou wast.  Wherefore, we exclaim unto thee thus:
Rejoice, preacher sent by God to announce repentance unto sinners;
Rejoice, teacher of piety with thunderous voice, denouncer of ungodliness!
Rejoice, merciful inviter of them among the gentiles that are astray, yet hasten to the Faith of Christ;
Rejoice, true guide to the straight path!
Rejoice, ship which keepest the faithful from drowning in sin;
Rejoice, helmsman who guidest us to the haven of the pleasing of God!
Rejoice, quickly interceding comforter of the sorrowful;
Rejoice, healer who acceptest no recompense for curing ailments of body and soul!
Rejoice with Paul, O Peter, for ye are like two wings furnished unto the Church by Christ, the great Eagle;
Rejoice, for ye are like two wings given to her, the dove, by the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, who are whole as doves and through hope have been furnished with wings like eagles;
Rejoice, for where Christ was in the body, there were ye gathered together!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion V
 
Sweating from thine earthly labors and providing for thyself by fishing, O holy Apostle Peter, thou wast called to be an apostle and didst believe in Christ Who nurtureth abundantly, Who fed a thousand people with five loaves; and thou didst follow Him, laboring for food which perisheth not, but abideth unto everlasting life; and thou didst cry out to Him as God:  Alleluia!
  
The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (source)
  
Ikos V
 
Forbidden by the chief priests and elders of the Jews to teach the name of the Lord Jesus, O blessed Apostle Peter, arming thyself with steadfast faith, thou didst answer:  We ought to obey God rather than man!  And having endured imprisonment and stripes for this, thou didst depart from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of the Lord.  Wherefore, we also offer to thee exclamations of joy, saying:
Rejoice, thou who didst put the council of the Jews to shame by the writings of the prophets concerning Christ;
Rejoice, thou who didst rend asunder the false threats of the Pharisees and Sadducees like a spider's web!
Rejoice, thou who didst work many miracles through the grace of the Holy Spirit;
Rejoice, thou who grantest sight to the blind and the ability to walk to the lame!
Rejoice, thou who by thy shadow didst raise the sick from their beds of pain;
Rejoice, thou who didst heal them that suffered from many unclean spirits!
Rejoice, thou who summonest fishermen to a wondrous catch;
Rejoice, thou who drawest the unbelieving to faith as if they were voiceless fish!
Rejoice with Peter, O Paul, for ye are like two breasts of the Church, the Bride of Christ, our Mother;
Rejoice, for ye are like two grapes of the voice, which nourish us and make us glad!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, for ye are branches of Christ, the true Vine;
Rejoice, for ye are good husbandmen of the vineyard of Christ!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion VI
 
An Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee according to the law, a persecutor of the Church of God in thy zeal, didst thou call thyself, O holy Apostle Paul, not hiding thy former hot temper against them that believed in Christ Jesus; but as thou didst greatly persecute the Church of God and didst strive to destroy it, so now, gloriously adorned by thee, and made steadfast in might by thy mellifluous teachings, it crieth unto God:  Alleluia!
  
The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (source)
  
Ikos VI
 
Who shall separate us from the love of God?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or like things? thou didst say, O Apostle Paul, preacher of the Word beloved of God, bringing all to the love of Christ Who sincerely believe in Him, that with boldness and thanksgiving we may endure tribulation for God's sake.  Wherefore, we lovingly exclaim to thee these things:
Rejoice, thou who wast a zealot for the law named Saul;
Rejoice, lover of Christ, named Paul, perfected in grace!
Rejoice, light of divine knowledge, illumining them that are in the darkness of unbelief;
Rejoice, star guiding them that languish in the depths of iniquity!
Rejoice, thou who betrothest the souls of the faithful to Christ and summonest them to the heavenly bridal chamber;
Rejoice, thou who didst endure many tribulations and hast made others also steadfast to endure them!
Rejoice, thou into whose hands God placed mighty powers;
Rejoice, thou whose sweat-soaked kerchief healed the sick!
Rejoice with Paul, O Peter, for ye are like the two pillars which uphold the Church of the heavenly Solomon;
Rejoice, ye who, like two lilies on its pillars, adorn the sanctuary of God!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, for like flowers do ye impart fragrance to all the world;
Rejoice, ye who through your fragrance dispel the stench of all iniquity!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion VII
 
On thine arrival in Lydda, O blessed Apostle Peter, thou didst amaze the people living there when by the name of Jesus Christ thou didst raise up ├ćneas, who had lain abed, sick of the palsy, for eight years, and didst cause him to walk; in Joppa thou didst likewise, by thy supplication, return to life the dead Tabitha; and, summoned to Caesaria, thou didst enlighten with divine baptism Cornelius the centurion with all in his household.  Wherefore, we all straightway cry aloud to God in unity of soul:  Alleluia!
  
Sts. Peter and Paul (source)
  
Ikos VII
 
Simon Magus thought to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit with silver; but thou, O blessed Apostle Peter, didst condemn him to inherit damnation with his silver and didst sternly forbid both the avaricious practice of simony and the theft of sacred things.  Wherefore, we exclaim unto thee thus:
Rejoice, thou who enriched the Church of Christ with the grace of the Spirit;
Rejoice, thou who didst forbid the reception of recompense for holy things in the Church!
Rejoice, thou by whom avarice was cut off, as the root of all evils, through the grace of the Spirit;
Rejoice, thou by whom covetousness is cast away by sanctity as a type of idolatry!
Rejoice, thou who didst lead a hard life for the sake of Christ;
Rejoice, thou who didst fulfill well the commandment of Christ:  ye cannot serve God and Mammon!
Rejoice, thou who didst sternly punish the sacrilege of Ananias with death;
Rejoice, thou who didst likewise commit Sapphira, who was guilty of that sin, to the same punishment!
Rejoice with Peter, O Paul, for ye are like two olive trees which pour forth mercy;
Rejoice, for ye are like two lamps radiating wisdom!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, as tender olive shoots;
Rejoice, for because of you is all like a fruitful olive tree in the house of God!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion VIII
 
Having attained unto the third heaven because of thy sanctity of body and soul and been enriched with ineffable benefactions, thou didst descend from thence, O divinely blessed Apostle Paul, and didst astonish all, filling those of the Jews and of the gentiles who believed in Christ with thy teachings of the knowledge of God.  And together with them, all we, the faithful, who have a share of thine heavenly teaching, cry out to God:  Alleluia!
  
The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (source)
  
Ikos VIII
 
A model for the faithful, thou didst joyfully endure many stripes, beatings and stonings of thy body for the sake of sweet Jesus, O Apostle Paul, called by God, manifestly indicating that it is the part of them that believe in Christ Jesus to undergo all manner of tribulations thankfully, for His sake.  Wherefore, we also cry out to thee, using such exclamations as these:
Rejoice, thou who didst joyfully bear the wounds of the Lord on thy body;
Rejoice, adamant firm of body and soul, who mightily endured all manner of tribulation!
Rejoice, insuperable confessor of Christ before the nations and their rulers;
Rejoice, teacher invincible in the face of the Israelite teachers of the law!
Rejoice, luminous star which shone forth from the third heaven;
Rejoice, greatly fruitful branch which buddest forth from paradise, full of spiritual food!
Rejoice, thou who by thy teaching hast illumined all the earth as with an unwaning light;
Rejoice, thou who hast fed the faithful throughout the world with the produce of thy works as with most comely fruits!
Rejoice with Paul, O Peter, for ye are as two trees in the midst of the garden of the Church;
Rejoice, ye who put forth the fruit of life and good understanding!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, who are like noetic palm trees and cedars;
Rejoice, ye who have been transplanted to heaven as the garden of the heavenly Father!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion IX
 
Thou wast possessed of an all-embracing concern for all who came to the Faith of Christ, O blessed Apostle Peter, that their heart and soul become one.  Wherefore, thou didst appoint for their needs a minister, the chaste Stephen, and six other deacons; and thou thyself, together with the rest of the apostles, didst dedicate thyself to prayer and the preaching of the Word, instructing all the faithful, who cried out with oneness of mind to God:  Alleluia!
  
The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (source)
  
Ikos IX
 
Aflame with zeal for thy Lord, thou didst cut off the ear of Malchus, for he seemed to thee as one disinclined to heed the writings of the prophets concerning Jesus Christ. But, reproved for such audacity by thy Teacher, O blessed Apostle Peter, thou didst thankfully bear His reproach and all its contrary results.  Wherefore, mindful of thy zeal, we cry aloud to thee thus:
Rejoice, thou who didst surpass the rest of the disciples in thy zeal for Christ;
Rejoice, manful sword-bearer of Christ in the garden!
Rejoice, thou who didst follow Christ, Who was being led to His suffering, even to the house of Caiaphas;
Rejoice, thou who wast prepared for prison and death for the sake of thy Lord!
Rejoice, thou who with bitter lamentation didst heal thy weakness in denying thy Master;
Rejoice, thou who after the Lord's resurrection wast summoned to thy former dignity!
Rejoice, thou who hast provided a model of repentance for the rest of us sinners;
Rejoice, thou who didst vow to forgive the weakness of the penitent many times over!
Rejoice with Peter, O Paul, for ye are like the tables of the law of the Lord;
Rejoice, teachers of love for God and neighbor!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, who perfectly kept all the commandments of the Lord;
Rejoice, ye who left all and followed after Christ, and found all in Him!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion X
 
Great testimony didst thou produce from the sayings of the prophets concerning Christ in the face of the leaders of the Jews, and before the Procurator Festus and King Agrippa, O Apostle Paul, who wast called of God, and all were utterly set at naught; for many of the Jews quoted books to thee in their frenzy, and thou wast answered by both Festus and Agrippa falsely, and wast condemned to be sent to Rome.  But, enduring everything with thanksgiving, thou didst cry out with the faithful to God:  Alleluia!
  
Sts. Peter and Paul (source)
  
Ikos X
 
O Apostle Paul, who wast led to proclaim the life-creating Trinity in the third heaven, most elect vessel of the great mysteries of God:  declaring the good news before the gentiles, the judges and rulers, thou didst promise salvation unto them that desire to believe in Christ Jesus and receive holy baptism in the name of the Trinity.  Wherefore, all we the faithful, being of good hope concerning that salvation, cry out to thee thus:
Rejoice, mystagogue of great understanding of the revelation of the Lord;
Rejoice, confessor of the one God in three Persons!
Rejoice, thou who didst proclaim Christ to be the one Foundation of the faithful;
Rejoice, thou who hast made all the pious steadfast in that confession!
Rejoice, thou who didst endure raging reproaches from the unbelieving Festus;
Rejoice, thou who didst utter words of truth and chastity in his presence!
Rejoice, thou who didst most clearly recount thine heavenly vision to King Agrippa;
Rejoice, thou who didst manifestly denounce his error which is not consonant with the Faith of Christ!
Rejoice, O Paul, with Peter, for ye are like two silver trumpets of Moses;
Rejoice, ye who call those of earth and beneath the earth to battle against evil!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, who have suffered cruelly as valiant warriors of Christ;
Rejoice, ye who have vanquished the kingdoms of the earth by faith and have received heavenly things!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion XI
 
Having slain Iakovos, the brother of John, Herod went on to seize thee as well, O divinely blessed Apostle Peter; and he placed thee under heavy guard in prison to await execution.  Yet while fervent prayer was being offered up by the Church for thy deliverance, the angel of the Lord loosed thy bonds and led thee through the gates, which opened of themselves, and thou didst think that thou wast beholding a dream.  But when the angel departed, thou didst come to thy senses and didst truly realize that thou hadst been freed; and thou didst cry out to God in thanksgiving:  Alleluia!
  
The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (source)
  
Ikos XI
 
That which had been asked by Philip:  Lord, show us the Father! didst thou come to know, O blessed Apostle Peter, on Mount Tabor, whereon, beholding the all-glorious transformation of the countenance of the transfigured Lord, thou didst hear the voice of God the Father say of Him from heaven:  This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him!  And we cry out to thee who wast counted worthy of such a revelation:
Rejoice, reliable witness of the transfiguration of Christ;
Rejoice, renowned one who heard the divine voice of the Father from heaven!
Rejoice, thou who didst behold the countenance of the Son of God illumined like the sun;
Rejoice, thou who didst most splendidly receive the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit in the cloud!
Rejoice, thou to whom the most exalted mystery was disclosed upon the mountain;
Rejoice, thou to whom the majestic glory of the all-holy Trinity was made manifest!
Rejoice, thou who heardest that the departure of Christ was to take place in Jerusalem;
Rejoice, thou who, following Christ, didst accomplish thy departure on a cross in Rome!
Rejoice with Peter, O Paul, for ye are two noetic mountains like Tabor and Hermon;
Rejoice, ye who from the east and the west revealed the promised land in heaven!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, like the mountains of Sion;
Rejoice, ye who let the sweetness of salvation fall upon us!
Rejoice, ye holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion XII
 
We hymn thee who standest on equal footing with the cherubim, O most blessed Apostle Paul, who wast enlightened by divine wisdom in the third heaven; for, hearing ineffable words there which it is not lawful for a man to utter, thou didst travel the whole world therewith, teaching all to believe in the crucified Christ, the Son of God, and to chant unceasingly unto Him as the true God:  Alleluia!
  
The Great Deisis: Christ, entreated by the Most-holy Theotokos, the Precious Forerunner, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and Sts. Nicholas, George, Timothy and Mavra (source)
  
Ikos XII
 
Full of the great revelation of divine mysteries, O chosen vessel of Jesus, all-wise Apostle Paul, thou didst diligently bear forth the name of God Who hath appeared in the flesh and saveth them that believe in Him; and having converted many of the gentiles and fought the good fight, in the city of Rome thou didst finish thy course most gloriously for the name of thy Lord, and didst then receive therein a crown of righteousness.  Wherefore, we cry out to thee thus:
Rejoice, great lover of the name of Jesus, who suffered greatly for Him;
Rejoice, thou who bore witness before those of heaven, of earth and beneath the earth, concerning His name!
Rejoice, for thou didst bear witness well concerning the Lord in Jerusalem;
Rejoice, thou who thus wast commanded by Him to bear witness also in Rome!
Rejoice, thou who denounced the Emperor Nero and converted his consort to the Christian Faith;
Rejoice, thou who in the same Rome didst bow thine head beneath the sword, executed with Peter, who was crucified head downward!
Rejoice, for at the severing of thine honored head milk flowed forth;
Rejoice, for this great wonder drew many soldiers to the Faith!
Rejoice with Paul, O Peter, for ye are like two rivers of living water gushing forth from the wellspring of the Holy Spirit;
Rejoice, ye who were shown forth by the confluence of the two rivers named Jor and Dan!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, like torrents of rivers which gladden the city of the Church of God;
Rejoice, for ye are like streams of sweetness which give all the faithful to drink from the cup of salvation!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion XIII
 
O most glorious and laudable disciples of Christ, Peter and Paul, first-enthroned and equally enthroned holy Apostles, who have enlightened all the universe with the holy Faith and will come with Christ to judge the whole world!  Your proper dignity is not on earth, but is the glory and praise rendered in heaven.  Accepting now our unworthy entreaty, by your worthy supplications preserve us from all misfortunes, and beseech Christ, the just Judge, to be merciful to us at the last judgment, that, saved by your mediation, we may chant unto God our Savior:  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! (Thrice).
(Kontakion 13 is chanted thrice in its entirety;
whereupon Oikos 1 and Kontakion 1 are repeated as below;
then follows the Prayers to Ss. Peter and Paul.)
  
Sts. Peter and Paul (source)
  
Ikos I
 
Blessed art thou, Simon, son of Jonas! said Christ, the Son of the living God, unto thee, O right glorious Apostle Peter.  How then can we worthily call thee blessed who hast been called blessed by God Himself? Yet drawn faithfully, by a debt of love alone, we cry out to thee thus:
Rejoice, first among the apostles, foundation of the holy Church;
Rejoice, mighty pillar and ground of the Orthodox Faith!
Rejoice, ardent lover of the teaching of Christ;
Rejoice, first-seated among the council of the apostles!
Rejoice, good gate-keeper of the kingdom of heaven;
Rejoice, renowned physician for them that repent of their sins!
Rejoice, thou who spurned the vanity of the world and loved the spiritual life;
Rejoice, thou who didst forsake corruptible nets and didst fish the whole world with incorruptible ones!
Rejoice with Peter, O Paul, for ye both shone forth like two great beacons;
Rejoice, O ye who like a pair of steeds were harnessed by God to His chariot of noetic light!
Rejoice, all ye holy apostles, beholders of God, for ye are the light of all the world;
Rejoice, for through you the Faith which saveth us hath shone forth from Christ in every place!
Rejoice, O holy first-enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
 
Kontakion I
 
The Lord Who said of Himself:  I am the good Shepherd, said unto thee, O first-enthroned Peter:  If thou lovest Me, feed My sheep.  And He Who said:  I am Jesus, said of thee, O preeminent Apostle Paul:  He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the gentiles.  And likewise to all your colleagues, His apostles, He said: As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you; go ye, and teach all nations.  And ye, receiving such grace from your good Chief Shepherd, as the foremost shepherds and teachers of all the world, from all misfortunes preserve ye us on the pasture of salvation, that we may cry out to you:  Rejoice, O holy first enthroned Peter and Paul, with all the holy apostles!
  
Sts. Peter and Paul (source)
  
PRAYERS TO THE HOLY PRE-EMINENT APOSTLES PETER & PAUL
 
I
O most glorious Apostles Peter and Paul, who laid down your lives for Christ and beautified His pasture with your blood! Hearken unto the prayers and sighs of your children which are now offered up with contrite heart.  For, lo! we have darkened ourselves with iniquities, and for this cause have we been covered with misfortunes as with showers; and we have become exceeding poor in the oil of a good life, and we cannot fend off the ravening wolves which boldly strive to lay hands on the inheritance of God.  O ye mighty ones! bear ye our infirmities and separate yourselves not from us in spirit, that we not depart utterly from the love of God; but with your mighty assistance defend us, that the Lord have mercy on us all for the sake of your prayers, that He rend asunder the handwriting of our countless sins, and that He vouchsafe us with all the saints the blessed kingdom and the wedding feast of His Lamb, to Whom be honor and glory, thanksgiving and worship, unto the ages of ages.  Amen.
 
II
O holy Peter, chief of the apostles, rock of faith fixed firmly upon Christ, the chief Cornerstone, through thy confession!  Pray thou that, unmoved by the imaginations of my mind and carnal lusts, I, too, may through faith be fixed firmly upon this same Christ, the Rock living, chosen and precious; that through love I may be made perfect as a temple of the Spirit, wherein I may offer up spiritual sacrifices unto Jesus Christ our God.  O holy Paul, chief of the apostles, chosen vessel of Christ, overflowing with grace and the glory of God!  Entreat thou the Creator, Who hath authority over creation, that He make of me, who am now a vessel of perdition, a vessel of honor for Himself, sanctified and fitting, ready for every good work, unto the ages of ages.  Amen.
 
III
O ye foremost of the apostles:  Peter, steadfast exponent of the Faith of Christ, and Paul, melodious swallow of the teaching of the Lord!  We perceive you to be a much-flowing river recounting the words of Christ, gushing forth from the breast of the Lord, disclosing to us the depths of the well of divinely revealed truths.  We see you to be lamps which make things clear for us with streams of the fervor of divine love from heaven.  We bless you, for ye endured tribulation and pain to sow the seed of divine teaching, and with your footsteps went round all the ends of the earth.  With compunction we entreat you, O holy Apostles: cause us, in our sinful foolishness, to fall prostrate before the Lord, our Teacher; cause ye that the head of our pride be cut off, and haste ye to raise us up by your unceasing supplications, that there, with the choir of the angels and the apostles, we may glorify the Father of all, Who is wondrous in His saints, Who sent our Lord Jesus Christ into the world, and the Holy Spirit, Who is one in essence with Them, unto the ages of ages.  Amen.
  
The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (source)
  
IV
O holy Peter, chief of the apostles, rock of faith steadfast in thy confession, foundation of the Church immovable in Christ, pastor of the rational flock of Christ, keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven, fisherman most wise who from the depths of unbelief dost draw forth men!  Thee do I humbly entreat, that the net of thy divine draught encompass me and draw me forth from the abyss of perdition.  I know that thou hast received from God the authority to loose and to bind; release me who am bound fast with bonds of sin, show forth thy mercy on me, wretch that I am, and give life to my soul which hath been slain by sins, as before thou didst raise up Tabitha from the dead; restore me to the good path, as before thou didst restore the lame man at the Beautiful Gates, who had been lame from his mother's womb; and as thou didst heal all the infirm by thy shadow, may the grace given thee by God overshadow me, healing my ailments of body and soul.  For thou canst do all things, O holy one, through the power of Christ, for Whose sake thou didst forsake all to follow in His steps.  Wherefore, pray thou to Him in my behalf, wretch that I am, that by thy supplications He may deliver me from all evil and teach me with a pure heart to send up glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.
 
V
O holy Paul, eminent among the apostles, chosen vessel of Christ, recounter of heavenly mysteries, teacher of all the nations, clarion of the Church, renowned orator, who didst endure many misfortunes for the name of Christ, who didst traverse the sea and didst go about the land, and didst convert us from the deception of idolatry!  Thee do I entreat and to thee do I cry: disdain me not, defiled as I am, but raise me up who have fallen through sinful sloth, as in Lystra thou didst raise up the man who had been lame from his mother's womb; and as thou didst give life unto Euthyches who lay dead, so also raise me up from my dead works; and as at thine entreaty the foundation of the prison once quaked and thou didst loose the bonds of the prisoners, so draw me out of the snare of the enemy, and strengthen me to do the will of God.  For thou canst do all things by the authority given thee by God, to Whom is due all glory, honor and worship, with His unoriginate Father and His allholy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.  Amen.
  
Sts. Peter and Paul (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, June 21, 2019

St. Iakovos of Evia who planted a forest

Photograph of St. Iakovos of Evia before his Monastery of St. David, with the vibrant surrounding forest that he helped plant clearly visible (source)
  
St. Iakovos of Evia said: "When I went to the Monastery, because of the former fires, the mountain around the Monastery was naked and only a few pine trees and olive trees remained from the dires and it was very dry. As I would go on my various errands, I had in my pocket seeds from the cones of pine trees, that I would cast around the whole surrounding area." Thus, slowly, with this prototype care and especially with his prayer, the forest came to life again, little pine trees sprouted and the area around the mountain is covered in green from these fragrant pine trees. "I made a special prayer," St. Iakovos said, "That the forest especially might be protected from fires that occur as a cause of the wrath of the devil, who brings out his weapons in order to destroy the forests."
-from the book, The Monastery of the Venerable David, "A Holy Elder, Blessed Father Iakovos"


(source)
  
St. Iakovos of Evia (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Demetrios: How much love he had for Christ!

St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer (source)
  
"St. Demetrios was an only child and remained an orphan from a young age. He did not commit any sins of the flesh and never shed his seed upon the earth! Do you understand what a good disposition he had and how much love he had for Christ!


Even though he was a military governor of Thessaloniki, he lived humbly with utter asceticism. He was taught by God, he had the gift of prophecy, and is the greatest myrrh-streamer of Orthodoxy!


Scientists in Paris did a chemical analysis of the myrrh which streams from St. Demetrios, and revealed that the myrrh is made up from 33 components which do not exist anywhere else on the planet Earth!!! The myrrh is a heavenly "essence", and is a gift of the Holy Spirit.


St. Demetrios had revealed that, when he stops to stream forth myrrh, then the sins of the people of Thessaloniki will have exceeded every limit..."
-Elder Ephraim of St. Andrew Skete


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

"I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh..."

The Great Feast of Pentecost (source)
  
Rejoice then and be glad, ye children of Sion, in the Lord your God: for he has given you food fully, and he will rain on you the early and the latter rain, as before. And the floors shall be filled with corn, and the presses shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will recompense you for the years which the locust, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, and the cankerworm have eaten, even my great army, which I sent against you. And ye shall eat abundantly, and be satisfied, and shall praise the name of the Lord your God for the things which he has wrought wonderfully with you: and my people shall not be ashamed for ever. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and that there is none else beside me; and my people shall no more be ashamed for ever. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. And on my servants and on my handmaids in those days will I pour out of my Spirit. And I will shew wonders in heaven, and upon the earth, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
-Joel 2:23-32, Read at the Great Vespers for the Feast of Pentecost
  
The Holy Prophet Joel, holding a scroll with his famous prophecy: "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh..." (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Archimandrite Nicholas Pekatoros (+1996)

Fr. Nicholas Pekatoros (+February 13th/26th, 1996), among the Russian parishioners of Athens (source)
  
Archimandrite Nicholas Pekatoros (+1996): The last of a generation with greater experiences of life!
(written by Demetrios and Ioanna Mpoumpa, photographs from Nikolaos and Marias Pashalidis)
   
"There was a certain man in the land of Ausis, whose name [was] Job; and that man was true, blameless, righteous, [and] godly, abstaining from everything evil. And he had seven sons and three daughters...While he is yet speaking, another messenger comes, saying to Job, While thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking with their elder brother, suddenly a great wind came on from the desert, and caught the four corners of the house, and the house fell upon thy children, and they are dead; and I have escaped alone, and am come to tell thee.  So Job arose, and rent his garments, and shaved the hair of his head, and fell on the earth, and worshipped, and said, I myself came forth naked from my mother᾿s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, the Lord has taken away: as it seemed good to the Lord, so has it come to pass; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all these events that befell him Job sinned not at all before the Lord, and did not impute folly to God."
-Job 1:1-22
  
In 1992 at the Russian Cathedral of St. John the Forerunner in Washington DC (ROCOR, on Shepherd St. near the Greek Church of Sts. Constantine and Helen on 16th St.), the Russian parish celebrated 70 years of priestly service of Fr. Nicholas Pekatoros. The participation was significant, and many people came from the Greek communities of the area. After the Divine Liturgy, in the Archontariki of the Church, they served coffee and a reception. And instead of Fr. Nicholas offering a speech, he sought to bring to mind the first chapter of the Book of Job, quoting verses 1-22 which we included above. Having his eyes constantly lifted on high, we sensed the intensity of his person, which most clearly depicted that the trials of Job were his as well. 22 years after his venerable repose in America, we sense the blessing of our generation for having the opportunity to know and be numbered with Elders with experiences of life "greater than life itself."
Fr. Nicholas Pekatoros, the offspring of a Cefalonian of the diaspora (Gerasimos) and a Russian (Maria) was born on January 10th, 1899 in Odessa, Russia to a merchant family. In the home they would frequently give hospitality to monks from Mount Athos. He studied at the law school, but quickly discerned his priestly calling, also encouraged by his relative who was a professor of Theology and the Theological Academy of St. Petersburg, Ivan Georgievitch. His graduation coincided with the October Revolution of 1917, and quickly his family saw that their income was shrinking, as they began to sell all their precious possessions so they would not die from hunger.His father could not bear this trial and died from typhus in 1919, leaving the young Nicholas as the protector of his mother and his sister.
Through this trial, and despite the advice of the local bishop Alexios of Teraspol that he should get married, he was ordained a deacon and a priest on the day of the Dormition of the Theotokos on August 22nd, 1922. Seeing these persecutions, imprisonments, exiles, and executions of priests and monks, the Bishop, in his address at his ordination, placed him under the protection of Panagia.
  
Fr. Nicholas celebrating Pascha in the Church of the Holy Protection, Odessa. Fr. Nicholas is in the center holding the Cross (source)
  
Fr. Nicholas loved quiet and few words, and withstood the continual threats of those in power as a newly-ordained priest. We remember that he described the following event characteristically: The police called him to take steps to curtail "religious propaganda". In the questioning of the policeman, he said: "I've learned that you teach that the government is not from God", in order to compel him to answer. Fr. Nicholas responded: "No, sir, it is not so. God have you authority in order to punish us for our sins." We still remember the dispassion in his face as he related this. Because the city of Fr. Nicholas was not "upon the earth but in the heavens" Living in the Russian community of the diaspora, so burdened by the terrible October Revolution, he was never heart once to talk politics. However, his judgment of the Bolsheviks and of the Russians raised under their regime was relentless. He did not trust them, perceiving them to be men without traditional Russian values of piety, respect and humility, love of truth and honor.
Living continually under the threat of persecution, he did not abandon his flock, and in 1928 he was forced into exile on the pretext that he was a Greek citizen, and he was forced to leave his beloved Russia to live in Greece. It was sure that this citizenship preserved him those years from other exiles, imprisonment and certain death. Therefore, he came to Athens during the period of the refugees of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, when they tried to rebuild homes, and he went to serve in the refugee neighborhood of Tampourion, and later in Agios Artemios, until he was made to serve at the Church of the Russian Parish in Athens on Odos Philellinon in 1939. There, he gave hospitality to Elder Sophrony of Essex, while he was waiting for his visa to transfer to the United Kingdom.
Elder Sophrony of Essex (left) with Fr. Nicholas Pekatoros (center) in Athens, before the former left for England (source)
  
Regarding his pre-war years in Greece, his teacher and compatriot Ioannis Metaxas noted his efforts to imbue love for their country in the youth. This was because Fr. Nicholas may have had his homeland in the heavens, but he perceived love for the homeland as very important, especially for the youth. Furthermore, we remember that on national holidays, his face grew lively singing hymns and songs having to do with the struggle for Independence.
In Athens, his supporter was both the Russian-educated Archbishop of Athens Chrysostomos Papadopoulos, but also Fr. Ieronymos of Simonopetra, the latter of whom he had as his Elder. He spoke with fervor of the city of Athens: "I heard [in the Salutations of the Theotokos]: 'Rejoice, you who rent the webs of the Athenians...', but I couldn't believe that I lived in that city." And his joy was incomparable when he saw the sun "Glory to Him Who showed forth the light", and when when he saw shining above the "famed star" in vigils at the Metochion of the Ascension. Among his spiritual children in Athens were the Athonite Fr. Cherubim (founder of the Holy Monastery of the Paracletos, Oropos, and Nun Christonymphi (Abbess of the Holy Monastery of Panagia Phaneromeni, Salamina).
Fr. Ieronymos of Simonopetra, Fr. Nicholas's spiritual father in Greece (source)
  
The German occupation afflicted them like all Greeks, as they suffered a bombing of the second husband of his sister, a surgeon, who was killed trying to heal those injured. That which afflicted him the most however was the Civil War and the "Decembrists", which brought back nightmares from communist Russia.
Having the sense of duty to his mother, his sister and to her orphan son, he decided to travel to America over the ocean in 1952. The trip took many days, and on the journey he served Divine Liturgies on the boat, bringing consolation to the refugees and while he preached to them during their period of exile that was beginning.

In America, he began to serve as a priest in a Greek parish. Seeing however their worldly spirit, he did not stay there but returned to Greece. When Archbishop Michael sought to uproot him from his roots as requested by his parishioners, he responded boldly "let us be uprooted together, my Elder!" At one Parish Council meeting, one "hot blooded" council member lifted his hand and struck him, but soon he was lost in an accident.

He returned to Greece but left again for America, this time for good, when he received a request from the Archbishop of the Russian Church to found the Church of St. John the Forerunner in Washington DC. Initially, he served in a basement chapel of the National Cathedral in Washington, while they were completing the property on Shepherd St.

Despite tough economies, he managed to build the church, the priest's house and the Archontariki. "As soon as the dome was placed they told me that we didn't need one there", he mentioned regarding the push back that the priest received and he was forced to move to a small house that he bought with his funds in Virginia on Sportsman Drive. He occasionally served at the Greek Church of St. Catherine, and even less often at the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Washington and Sts. Constantine and Helen. There at St. Sophia on Massachusetts St., we met him the first time as he gave out blessings after the Divine Liturgy.

Regarding his life and achievements, Fr. Moses the Athonite wrote a book analytically with great love: "Fr. Nicholas Pekatoros: The Elder of America", published by Tinos press.

Please allow us to offer some of our experiences along with those of his spiritual children:

If there was one thing that characterized Fr. Nicholas the most, it was a spirit of freedom and his condescension. "This is a free country, my child", was one of his characteristic phrases when he sensed opposition.
  
Archbishop Nikon (left) and Archimandrite Nicholas Pekatoros (source)
  
"May God enlighten you". He never forced, never threatened, and did not show any resentment. This was his condescension, which he had as a sign of his fiery prayer after redemption and with a father's blessing which softened even the hardest hearts.

A man of few words, wisely held-back anger and a man of essentials. "While we are in this life, do not forget" was one of his common phrases. "Everyone comes to me saying that they met a good girl. Where do the bad women come from?" Or another time: "They asked me if they should get married or become a monk. I told them to get married, because if they wanted to become monks they wouldn't have asked me."

We remember our blessed mother who told him her pain regarding her daughter who became a monk. Fr. Nicholas had the unique ability to sense the mother's pain while at the same time honoring the girl's choice. He was condescending with the youth, even in cases when "their blood is boiling, but will calm down with time". He was wounded by the anger of his sister regarding the masses of people that fled to their house: "You are a monk, what do you know about life?" And she related this with a sweet complaint, without him judging her however.

We will never forget the azaleas which he planted at the entrance to his home, how he cared for them. He felt as him his whole life was like one butterfly caught by a child which died in its hands. He liked very much to walk through his neighborhood with his little dog Mindy.

He ate little and was ascetical, confessing also his weakness for skordailia [Greek garlic dip] of Mrs. Popi, "Skordalia is my favorite!"

Enflamed with a unique sense of humor, in one visit of Fr. Moses, he saw that the shrimp that he brought for dinner had "grown in size", and Fr. Nicholas mentioned in a Cephalonian manner: "Mrs. H., with the visit of Mount Athos, the shrimp have grown as well." He disliked greed (bearing in mind his experience during the German Occupation), thanklessness and the compromise of faith and principles.

He saw with great disbelief hierarchs in Russia that compromised with the Communist Government, "They are the Communists, the true priests were snuffed out in the prisons."

He attracted, magnetized and netted everyone. We remember the little animals in his garden that came to him for some bread and whom he took great care for. We remember our "lively" first-born, five-year-old son T. sitting for hours silently at his feet playing with silver wrappers from "Hershey kisses" that he kept in his house that were more delicious than others.

For doctors, nurses and those who worked in hospitals, he would stop to greet them offering a smile and a "God bless you" sister or doctor. We saw serious doctors and nurses turn to sheep before him, letting out goodness that they did not expect. We saw the compassionate nurse and pastor Mr. Herbert stand like a child before Fr. Nicholas in order to honor his faith, seeing him as a person, not as a protestant pastor. "Herbert, when I die, will you remember me?" "Of course Fr. Nicholas, you come to speak to me and I will answer you." But he retorted, "I will come Fr. Nicholas, but don't speak to me because I'm afraid!"
He spoke continuously of his mother whom he loved, in order to help his pastoral work. Parishioners would come for confession, and Mrs. Maria "redeemed" the time of the refreshments giving out advice before they went in for confession, what they should expect.

When he served Divine Liturgy, he came drenched, not being able to stop the rivers of his tears. His
subtlety, his cultivation, his love for the poetry of ancient Russia was proverbial. Near him many found rest: the ancient Russian aristocrat and the mercenaries, Russians from Russia and America, Greeks from Greece and America. His silent presence in the liturgies of the Greek churches magnetized the new generations in America who did not speak Greek well in order to help strengthen his little flock for the years after his repose. He nursed them, wedded them, and restored them to work with his prayer when they were going through difficult circumstances, censuring at the same time strictly but with love for their "deviations", especially those who wounded their fellow men who lived near them. He cautiously mentioned the "miracles" which occurred through Fr. Ieronymos of Simonopetra or St. John Maximovitch, Bishop of Shanghai, that "he did not stand upon the earth" when he served Divine Liturgy", but offered the phrase "they say that it occurred, though I did not see it myself."

St. John Maximovitch visiting the Church of St. John the Baptist, Washington, DC, with Fr. Nicholas Pekatoros to his right (source)

Regarding St. John, he frequently invited him to his parish in Washington from San Francisco in the Western USA, saying that he set a bed for him, but he never laid down in it, while they always found the check that they would give him behind them icons in his home [i.e. he never took their donations]. After his formal canonization, he said that he was a "great saint", and he distributed little icons of the Saint with icons of the Holy Protection of the Theotokos, the feast of which he first served in Greece at Agios Artemios, and later, after his request to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, moved to October 28th in order to coincide with their national holiday [Oxi Day].

About a decade before his venerable repose, he began to have problems with his health and for several years he needed to have nephrostomy tubes which needed to be changed every 6 months. The pain was unbearable, but he remained until the morning [in prayer] in order to not burden us at night. His patience, both before and after his surgery, was indescribable. His only fear was that he would not loose his mind from uremia, like his blessed mother. Ultimately, he did not pass from uremia, but left with will lucidity of spirit until the end. God allowed him to have a helper at night until his dormition in one of his spiritual children, which the Elder took great rest in, while during the day, he was helped by the sweet Mrs. Tania, a former protestant whom he baptized, together with her family. All the years of her service, Father did not speak to her of Orthodoxy with words, but with his example.

He reposed and was buried in Rock Creek Cemetary in Washington on a cold February day (2/26/1996), on Clean Monday. He constantly told us that he would want to die in winter because the soil is wet and "I will freeze." His funeral was festive, even resurrectional one would say. We all had the sense that all the Greeks, Russians and Americans had a Father who was reposed in the "dwelling-places of the righteous." Since then, 22 years have passed since his repose and once a year his spiritual children gather for his memorial service.

In short, the greatly astonishing life of Fr. Nicholas knew two world wars, two Civil Wars (i.e. in Russia and Greece), and fleeing for America, where he continued to live as he did in his youth in Russia, steadfast in the Orthodox Faith, but serving his flock with discernment, which had changed roots.

He offered characteristically: "A Russian Bishop once told me that in the old days, a shepherd went first and the flock followed him. Now, the flock runs forward and the shepherd hastens behind them trying to catch up with them." We still feel his "companionship" during our lives, so discerning and radiant. Fr. Nicholas, with ascetic experiences, witness against atheism and wordly mindset, amidst wars, death and famine, can cultivate in Russia, Greece and America a flock close to Orthodox rulers, without fanaticism and zealotism, not giving way to pressure from those in power but also neither wielding to corrosive secularization, uniting, there where and how it should be, his pastoral service.
  
The grave of Fr. Nicholas Pekatoros, in Rock Creek Cemetary, Falls Church, VA (source)
  
A “Local Saint” – Archimandrite Nicholas Pekatoros (+ Feb 13/26, 1996)
The royal Psalmist wrote, The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance, and this can certainly be said of Archimandrite Nicholas Pekatoros, who departed this life on 13/26, February, 1996, the first day of Great Lent. He had reached the venerable age of 97, having served for many years as rector of the Saint John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington DC before his retirement in 1980. Altogether, he served in the priestly rank for seventy-three years. His meek and quiet spirit, cultivated by his lifetime devotion to God, was an inspiration for many -- Greeks and Russians -- who will forever cherish his memory.
 Fr. Nicholas was born in Russia in 1899. Under the influence of an uncle, a well-known professor at the St Petersburg Theological Academy, he decided to become a priest, undaunted by the fact that the Church -- clergy in particular -- was at that time enduring severe persecution. He was ordained in 1922, and the following year was assigned to assist Archbishop Alexander and Bishop Onouphry (who died in 1938 as a New Martyr). However, because his father was Greek, Fr. Nicholas was considered a Greek subject, and in 1929 the civil authorities forced his dismissal from this position. That same year he left for Greece, where he soon received the monastic tonsure. He served for a number of years at the church of the former Imperial Embassy in Athens, before emigrating, in 1952, to the United States at the invitation of Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko). Appointed rector of the newly-formed parish of St John the Baptist, Fr. Nicholas worked selflessly, spiritually guiding and nourishing his flock, as well as directing the construction of a church and church house. In recognition of his exceptional service to the Church, the Synod of Bishops awarded him two gold pectoral crosses and the right to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with the Royal Doors open, as in a hierarchal service. In 1969 Ir. Nicholas was elected to become Bishop of Brisbane in Australia, but he had to decline this honor because of his weak health and responsibilities towards his invalid sister, who was living with him at that time.
For the last ten years of his life, Fr. Nicholas suffered with cancer. When someone asked how he
was enduring his illness, he replied with his habitual meekness, "God gave me this trial so that I
would think over and remember better my sins from birth and repent of them, so that by this very
means I would prepare myself to answer before the Lord God.'
One of Fr Nicholas' most treasured possessions was a signed photograph of Bishop Onouphry, a
gift from the New Martyr, who had inscribed it: "To a dear and esteemed pastor of God's Church as a
blessing for further service to the Orthodox Church.... A faithful and diligent Orthodox pastor is a
great acquisition for God's Church. Kharkov 1926." And indeed, over the succeeding seventy years
Fr. Nicholas proved himself worthy of the bishop's confidence.
  
Hieromartyr Onufry (Gagalyuk) (+1938) (source)
  
Among those American converts fortunate to have met Pr. Nicholas is the author of the following
account, Elizabeth Baranova, who has drawn for us a more intimate portrait, based on her personal
acquaintance.
I first met Father Nicholas Pekatoros when I was staying with the family of Father George and Matushka Deborah Johnson in Washington DC. They were talking about some man who had been quite holy, and Father George remarked, "He looked almost transparent when he died." Then he added, "Father Nicholas is looking similarly transparent," This was the first I had heard of Father Nicholas. 

When Father George said that many people went to him for advice, I felt a strong desire to meet him.
Later that week, Matushka Deborah and I decided to visit Father Nicholas. He lived on a suburban
street in one of several identical small brick houses. Letting us in, he excused himself and shuffled over to a table to take his medicine. The room was cluttered: an old couch, various chairs, a large dining table. Lining the walls were pictures of priests and parishioners, and of old relatives in black and white. In a corner was a burning vigil lamp and three icons of the Mother of God with the Christ Child.
Over his faded black cassock, Father Nicholas wore a gray sweater-vest of the type that priests often wear. Hobbling to his hollowed armchair, he told us to pull close two fold-up chairs, and we
talked for a while in a smattering of his broken English and Russian. He showed us pictures of his
relatives, speaking lovingly about each of them. Then suddenly his eyes lit up as he said, "Glory to
God." And from then on he spoke only of spiritual matters. He mentioned how he pitied those who are without Christ. He looked at us, "such as those who do not like the company of old priests." He held up a piece of paper which cut off his eyes, and said, "Such people put a newspaper in front of their faces."
"Father Nikolai," Matushka asked, "do you fear death?" "I do not fear death, I fear nursing homes, and operations, and hospitals -- not death. When death comes, I'll already be gone." Matushka
persisted: "But don't you fear the tollhouses after death, the demons throwing at us our sins?" He replied, "I believe in God's love for mankind. He came to earth and suffered on the Cross for our sins:
'Who for us men, and for our salvation...' and through this He has washed away our sins. As Saint
John Chrysostom said in his Paschal Sermon: Christ has taken away the sting of death."

I was deeply troubled by the question of what happens to people who are not baptized. Father Nicholas answered, "I don't know," He motioned upwards: "God knows. But I believe that in the Lord nobody will fall by the wayside."

At that time I was struggling to decide whether to get married. "Were you ever married,' I asked.
 
"No," he said. "Is it possible to become close to God when you are married?" "Yes, if you are with the right person. Pray to God: 'O Lord, and Queen of Heaven, send me a good person.' Marriage is a mystery. In it God's grace comes down like in an ordination. Saint John of Kronstadt lived with his wife like brother and sister, and she helped him." I told him about a friend in Russia, whom I wanted possibly to marry. "Go to Russia and come back," he advised, "Go two, three, four times before you marry him, to be sure that this is a person whom you can trust, who also wants to know God. I was chased out of Russia for being a foreigner (my father was a Greek) and a priest. Children made fun of me and the Komsomol destroyed icons and churches. There were great books people used just for paper. And people were so hungry that they would eat such books. Five people in my family died of hunger. There are good people in America, and there are bad people in America. There are good people in Russia, and there are bad people in Russia. They say that the people who destroyed the churches are the same ones now building churches. Welt, maybe it is for real -- if it lasts. May God help them. If not, well... Be careful."
   
The Russian Orthodox Chapel of the Iveron Icon of the Theotokos in Rock Creek Cemetary, Falls Church, VA, built by parishioners by St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church, and many of the icons donated in memory of Fr. Nicholas Pekatoros (source)
  
After we had talked for a while, he led us into his cell. Matushka Deborah and I stood there,
speechless for a long time. The room had the most powerful feeling of prayer I have ever felt. It was
as if we had stepped into a beating heart. The walls were covered with icons, from floor to ceiling.
The focus of the room was an enormous icon of the Protection of the Mother of God. Finally we spoke a few words and then followed Father Nicholas back into the living room. "Why," I asked, "do we pray to the saints?" Father Nicholas looked sharply into my eyes as if to see whether I was mocking the faith, and when he was assured that I was serious, he explained so simply that I have never struggled with this question again, "We pray to saints because they are close to God.'

We sat down to talk more, and this time Father Nicholas spoke more directly and looked us in the eyes. He spoke about love, and about laughing and crying with people. He spoke about God's power, and as he said the word he shook with intensity. Several times he interrupted our talk to shuffle back to his rooms to bring us gifts. He gave us each an icon of Saint John the Baptist, the poem "Angel" by Lermontov, and a copy of Derzhavin's poem, "God." "This is the best poem ever written about God,"he declared emphatically. "It is very deep. A lot is said in a few lines. You must read it slowly, very slowly. What I love most is how it describes how great God is, and how small I am -- and yet I can become great through God's light in me. We are all created in the image and likeness of God. We are not created for our own selves, but to be like God."
  
When Father Nicholas was in the back rooms, there came in a friendly American woman holding a vacuum cleaner. She had greying hair and spoke with a plain, rural American accent. "Isn't Father great? My son is Greek Orthodox and goes to him for advice. My husband is Greek, and my son learned Greek and went off to Mount Athos a few years back. When he came home, he decided to become a priest. I'm not baptized, but now, after being around Father, I'm planning to get baptized in a couple of months. The Greeks all think Father Nikolai is our local saint." 
When at last we got up to leave, Father Nicholas blessed us many times, and prayed for my travels. He kissed me on the forehead, held my hand close, and said, "When you go to Russia, pray for me, for the Russia of old. Go to the icons and light a candle for me. I left the New Russia, but I believe in the Russia of old.'

I did in fact go to Russia, and my friend Volodya and I became engaged, and yet I felt I could not give my final word until we had the blessing of Father Nicholas. With trepidation we traveled to see him. He was ninety-four. In the unchanged dark house, he was sitting hunched over in his chair; his brown cassock hung loosely over his sunken chest. He blessed us, smiled, and asked, "Is it Liza?" He was almost blind. When we had sat down, he asked us directly, "So, what advice do you need?"

"'We both want to get married. And we want to know if this is a good thing, and also when we should."
After coming half-way around the world for the answer, I was not prepared for his, “Well, that is your decision.” We simply looked at him, dumbfounded. He repeated, "That's your decision. I cannot tell you what to do."* Finally Volodya found words. "Well, Batiushka, will you at least pray for us?" We began to talk. His Russian was old fashioned, as if retained from the last century. After a while, he asked met ''Where are you from?" I explained that I was not Russian, but an American from New Jersey. 
He was surprised and his eyes lit up. "No Russian relatives? Going to Novosibirsk? How did you end up there?" I told him. "That is God's will." Volodya caught my eye and smiled. There was a knock at the door. A Greek man entered with his two curly-haired daughters. The older one was shy and hid, but the little one went up to Father Nicholas, who gave her a big smacking kiss on the forehead. His eyes shone.
St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral (ROCOR) in Washington, DC, where Fr. Nicholas served as a priest for 28 years (source)
We gave Father Nicholas some small framed icons as a gift, explaining that they were from St. Sergius-Trinity Lavra. "From Saint Sergius,' he said. His eyes were watery, and seemed especially so when I said I had lit a candle for him as he had asked, before the relics of Saint Sergius. 


We returned one last time to see Father Nicholas before Volodya, my future husband, returned to Russia. Volodya asked him about his health. "Bad," he replied. "On Saturday I had a problem with my heart, and I could hardly breathe." He panted to illustrate. He gave us little prayer books, miniature Bibles and books of Saints' lives to take to people in Russia.
 
When my questions had at last ceased, Father Nicholas said plainly, 'I am going to die Soon, and I
will not see you again. Let me give you my card in remembrance of me." He went to his room and I burst into tears as I realized what he had said. Returning, he gave us two pictures of himself. On the back of one he had written, in old (i.e., pre-Revolutionary) orthography: 7/9/1993 Dear Vladimir and Elizaveta in the Lord. For prayerful memory and in blessing. Unworthy Archimandrite Nikolai.”

"Come," he said, "I will bless you." I thought he meant at the door, but he headed for his prayer room. He told us to come in and we stood, just inside the doorway. He put on a faded epitrachilion,
turned around and prayed, "Lord Jesus Christ and Queen of Heaven..." He carefully spoke the prayers:
"O Heavenly King..." Then he went to his cabinets and pulled out two tiny icons of the Protection of the Mother of God. He blessed them three times over his large icon of the Protection of the Mother of God, and then gave one to each of us. "This is the powerful protection of the Mother of God." He blessed each of us with the icons. "Live in peace, and the blessing of Jesus Christ and the Heavenly
Queen will be upon you."

The Greeks who loved him insisted that he undergo an operation to prolong his life. So he did not die as soon as he thought he would. He suffered for two more years. The last time I saw him he did not get up from his chair, and breathed with effort. He said he was waiting to die, but -- he raised his hands heavenward -- "as God wills."
Father Nicholas died on February 13/26, 1996. At a memorial service we had in Siberia, the priest
concluded, "By the prayers of Father Nikolai, may we too be saved."

So at last Father Nicholas has gone to the land of his beloved poem:
  
The Angel
At midnight an angel was soaring on high,
And his chant seemed to rival the hush of the sky.
The stars and the moon and the clouds in a throng listened enrapt to the heavenly song.
He sang of the souls that are stainless and white,
Who in gardens of Paradise dream in delight;
His music rose high like a jubilant flame,
A luminous hymn to the Holiest Name.
He carried a soul to the portals of birth,
Down to the vales of the grief-harrowed earth;
But the sound of his chant the new soul had caught,
And forever retained its wondrous, great Thought.
And long that soul languished amid earthly woe,
Yearning for the song it had heard long ago,
And no weary earth-song could for it blight
The long-cherished chant of the angel in flight.
-- Mikhail Lermontov
  
The Holy Protection of the Theotokos, the beloved feast of Fr. Nicholas Pekatoros, which he also helped to return to celebration in Greece (source)
  
Additional quotes from Archimandrite Nicholas Pekatoros:
-"Prayer should be from the heart, not with a cast down face...Prayer like Peter when he was sinking in the sea...Prayer which occurs while you're falling asleep is not pleasing to God."

-"The Lord sees the disposition of man and does not love it when we do something like a 'chore'."

-Remarking about the Parable of the First and Second Workers, he said: "God is our landlord, do not mess up work for God."

-"The Lord desires our salvation and shed His blood for us. Because of this, we should not hesitate to seek His help, nor should we be indifferent."

-"You should live in accordance with the commandments of God."

-"He who sows in the flesh will reap corruption in the flesh, he who sows in the spirit will reap eternal life."

-"The great loneliness of life in our final years, with all kinds of terrible afflictions and difficulties serve as a great preparation for man for his exit from this life to meet the Master Christ. Difficulties and afflictions become a "fount of regeneration", and become an "electroshock" treatment in order for final sins to flee."

-He frequently and greatly stressed that men should never be ungrateful. "Ultimately in life we must leave everything to the will of God. Things have come like this so that many times we don't have an explanation and this occurs according to the directive and goodness of God, that we might be humbled before His mighty will, for our good."

-"The deeds of men have worth before God when they are the result of patience, when they occur with purity and unselfish motives. The Lord sees the heart of man and his disposition, and if something that he does is "forced" out of duty with a heavy heart, or it occurs from love and philotimo and freedom."

"God gave me many long years of illness that I might think upon my sins."
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!