Friday, January 17, 2020

Excerpt from St. Athanasios the Great's "On the Incarnation"

The Nativity of Christ (source)
  
"For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father's Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled. He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death.

"All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt.

"Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire."
-St. Athanasios the Great, excerpt from "On the Incarnation"
(source)
  
The Resurrection of Christ (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Sophrony of Essex on the Building of Churches

Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow (source)
  
"It is difficult to built a church today. It will rouse up all the demons," said St. Sophrony of Essex, as he proceeded to tell a parable that he had heard in Russia: "Once, someone went to Hell, but there, he wanted a church so he could pray. Despite his sinfulness, he loved God and wanted to pray. He began to measure the space to lay the foundations. A demon asked him what he was doing, and he replied: 'I want to build a holy church in order to pray.' The demon responded that it was impossible to build a church in Hell, and he tried to hinder him. He then called other demons, and they were unable as well. They mentioned it to their leader, and then they gathered many demons and threw him out of Hell so that he might not build the church." And St. Sophrony continued: "Thus, we as well build churches in order to transform Hell into Paradise, and even if we are unsuccessful with this, we will succeed in the devil not accepting us in Hell."
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Theophan the Recluse on Humility, Fear of God, Repentance and Love

Jesus Christ the Son of God the Savior (source)
  
God is everywhere. And when He finds a heart that isn’t opposed to Him, a humble heart, He enters it and fills it with joy. The joy of the heart which has God within it is so great that it attaches itself to Him and never wants to separate from Him. The Lord doesn’t approach a heart puffed up with egotism. Such a heart is deeply sad, shrivels and slowly dissolves. It wallows in ignorance, sorrow and darkness.
 
No matter how sinful we are, as soon as we turn to the Lord in repentance and desire, the door of the heart opens to Him. Our inner uncleanness drains out and makes way for purity, virtue, the Savior Himself, the great Visitor of the soul, the Bringer of joy, light and mercy. This blessed state is a gift of God, not something we ourselves have achieved. And since it’s a gift, we ought, in humility, to thank the giver.
 
Humility! The basis of all the virtues and the fundamental requirement for spiritual fruition. Do you have humility? You have God, You have everything! You don’t have humility? You lose everything! So retain the feeling of humility in your heart. Our natural and normal relationship with God requires a heart which is impassioned, contrite and entirely devoted to Him, a heart which cries mystically at every moment: ‘Lord, You know all things; save me!’ If we surrender ourselves into His hands, He’ll do with and for us whatever’s best for our salvation, according to His wise and holy will.
 
The task of unceasing prayer is not only for hesychasts, but also for all Christians, whom the Lord enjoins, through His holy apostle, to ‘Pray without ceasing’. There are various stages of prayer before it becomes unceasing. They’re all the work of God, Who watches over the hearts of all of us to the same degree, be we monastics or lay people. And whenever a heart, whoever’s it may be, turns to Him, He approaches it with love and unites with it.
 
How fear of God is retained in the heart.
The fear of God is begotten from faith and is a requirement for spiritual progress. When it settles in the heart, then, like a good householder, it puts everything to rights. Do we have fear of God? If so, let us thank the Lord Who gave it to us and let us guard it as we would a valuable treasure. And if we don’t have it, let us do whatever we can to acquire it, in the knowledge that the reason for our lack is our own inattention and negligence.
 
From fear of God are begotten repentance, contrition, and lamentation over our sins. May this feeling, the precursor of salvation, never be absent from our heart. If we’re to retain the fear of God within us, we must keep in mind the whole time the remembrance of death and of the judgment, along with a sense of the presence of the Lord: God is always with us and in us, seeing, listening and knowing everything, even our most hidden thoughts.
 
When this triad- fear of God, remembrance of death and a sense of the divine presence- settles within us, then prayer surges from the heart spontaneously- then the hope of salvation becomes firm. It’s not so much the fear of God that preserves it; more the memory of the dread judgment. This remembrance, however, mustn’t produce dejection, but should rather inspire combativeness and repentance.
 
Let us try to remain unsullied by the filth of sin. And if, on occasion, we do sin, let us purify ourselves through confession. Trusting in God’s mercy in this way, we won’t lose heart. In any case, our Judge is merciful and loves us. He won’t be looking for something to condemn us for. On the contrary, he’ll try to find even the slightest reason to exonerate us.
 
God and the conscience.
If you decide, with all your heart, to always submit to the Lord and to please Him alone through the whole of your way of life, and if, in every predicament and need you turn to Him alone, in faith and devotion, then you can be sure that everything in your life, things spiritual and secular, will turn out successfully. It’s a great thing to realize that, without God, there’s nothing you can do about anything and, having come to understand this, to then have recourse to His assistance in full confidence. The conscience must direct the soul properly and inform it infallibly as to what is the right thing in every situation. It can’t do this, however, if it’s not pure and illumined.
 
So let’s clean it through ascetic efforts and observation of the Lord’s commandments, which liberate the heart from the passions, and let’s illumine it with the divine light by studying the Gospel. From there we’ll draw wise rules by which we will guide our conscience in the holy will of God.
  
St. Theophan the Recluse (source)
 
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Forty-Day Memorial of Elder Ephraim of Arizona

Elder Ephraim of Arizona (source)
 
The Forty-Day Memorial of Blessed Elder Ephraim of Arizona will be celebrated in conjunction with the patronal feast of the Monastery he founded and where he is buried (in honor of St. Anthony the Great). The services will be broadcast live on Youtube:
 
 
 
May the Lord grant the Elder a blessed Paradise, and may we have his blessing!
 
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Innocent of Moscow: "Do not follow other sinners, how they live..."

Lot fleeing the destruction of Sodom (source)
  
"Do not follow other sinners, how they live. Their condemnation will not save you."
-St. Innocent of Moscow

(source)

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

St. Anthony the Great: "Our life and our death is with our neighbor..."

St. Anthony the Great (source)
  
"Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ."
-St. Anthony the Great

(source)

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Paraklesis to St. Ephraim of Nea Makri

St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
 
Paraklesis to St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, the Newly-revealed Hieromartyr and Wonderworker
translated from the Greek text written by Elder Gerasimos of Little St. Anne's Skete, the Hymnographer of the Great Church of Christ

The Priest says the "Blessed is our God...", followed by the Psalm "Lord hear my prayer, give ear to my supplication..."

God is the Lord and He revealed Himself to us, blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord. (x 4 with verses)

Fourth Tone.
Ever grant deliverance to those who approach your sacred Relics, and who entreat your fervent intercessions, delivering them from temptations and dangers, and all trials and terrible afflictions, O Hieromartyr Saint Ephraim, as a most-fervent healer of the Savior.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Same Tone.
The finding of your sacred Relics has filled the hearts of the faithful, and has multiplied gladness for your Monastery, in which we take refuge, crying out to your grace: You are my refuge, and my fervent deliverer, O Venerable Martyr Saint Ephraim, therefore deliver me from terrible circumstances.

Both now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
O Theotokos we shall never be silent...
  
Sts. Nektarios and Ephraim the New Wonderworkers of Christ (source)
   Then Psalm 50 "Have mercy on me O God according to Your great mercy...", followed by the Canon in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. The Greek acrostic reads: "Gladden us, our Father, with your glory. Gerasimos."
   
Ode I. Crossing the waters.
O Saint of God, intercede on our behalf.
Like a lily of springtime, your sacred Relics have appeared from the earth, granting heavenly fragrance, and driving away the stench of the passions, O Ephraim.

O Saint of God, intercede on our behalf.
From on high you oversee your Monastery, and below you are honored in reverence. Do grant us the blessing of your incorrupt grace, O all-blessed Ephraim.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
With the light of your holy intercessions, dissolve the multitudes of my passions, and the night of temptations, O Father, for we have taken refuge in your divine Relics in faith.

Both now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Theotokion.
Deliver me from every assault of the bodiless enemy through your sacred intercessions, and strengthen me, O only Theotokos, that I might hymn your unspeakable glory.

Ode III. Of the vault of the heavens.
O Saint of God, intercede on our behalf...
You have shown forth in these latter days like an all-radiant star throughout the revealing of your divine Relics, O Father, which wondrously shine and illumine the hearts of those who entreat your help, O Saint.

Cease the burning of all kinds of afflictions and terrible trials with the dew of your divine intercessions. Therefore we entreat you: quench our pains through the rain of the Divine Spirit, O Saint.

O Father, grant healing for those who speedily hasten to your divine Body, and deliverance from every evil, for you grant grace and mercy to all as one compassionate.

Theotokion.
You have appeared as a noetic Throne and a golden dwelling-place for the King of glory and Pantocrator, O Spotless Virgin, therefore, show me to be a house of pure deeds of divine grace.

Deliver those who hasten to your divine protection from every danger and illness and trial, O Great Martyr of the Lord, and godly-minded Ephraim.

Look down on me...
   
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
  
The Priest says the entreaty, followed by the Kathisma.

Tone II. A fervent prayer.
You have lately shown forth as a fervent protector, O Saint, revealing to us your holy Relics, to which we take refuge with fervor along with your intercessions, O Ephraim, blessed by God. Therefore, we cry out to you in faith: intercede with Christ for all of us.

Ode IV. I have hearkened and heard O Lord.
In a multitude of ways, O blessed one, you appear to those who call upon your divine help, and you grant our requests unto salvation, O Venerable Ephraim.

Grant healing from Heaven for those afflicted, and greater joy for those in sorrows, for those who hasten to your protection, O Saint Ephraim.

Preserve your Monastery unharmed from the assaults of the enemy, O Saint Ephraim, for she boasts in your Relics.

Theotokion.
From your womb has dawned the Sun of Righteousness, O Pure One, and with your light, illumine my darkened mind.

Ode V. Illumine us.
With the mighty staff of your intercessions, drive away the unseen enemy from us, O Ephraim, for he prowls around us like a lion.

Your struggled well and were lately revealed to us through the shining forth of your Holy Relics, sanctifying our souls, O blessed one.

You have appeared as a great defender of your Monastery, O Saint, that is enriched with your fragrant and holy Relics as with a divine treasure.

Theotokion.
O Spotless and Pure Theotokos and Ever-virgin, grant healing to my soul, sick from the passions, making me worthy of your grace.

Ode VI. My entreaty do I pour out.
You have appeared to us as a physician of bodies and souls through the grace of the Spirit in these latter days, O all blessed one, as your divine Relics have been uncovered from the depths of the earth.

You strengthened the members of the paralytic, and showed him forth to be healthy, O Father, having taken refuge in your Holy Relic, and having acquired the fear of the Lord. Therefore, he departed in joy, magnifying your wonderworking power.

You appeared to the Abbess [Makaria], revealing to her where you were buried, but you also often appear to those who desire you, O Father, revealing your holy and radiant face. Do fill us with heavenly joy, O Ephraim, glorified by God.

Theotokion.
You were seen to be a radiant Vessel of the Most-high, and a luminous Temple, for from your pure blood, O Virgin, He came to earth as a Man, out of His great mercy, and because of this, you are glorified.

Deliver those who hasten to your divine protection from every danger and illness and trial, O Great Martyr of the Lord, and godly-minded Ephraim.

Spotless One, who by a word did bring to us the Word eternal...
  
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
  
Then the Priest says the entreaty, followed by the Kontakion.

Kontakion in the Second Tone.
Through the revealing of your divine Relics, you were made known to all with radiance, and you ever pour forth healings, and deliver from dangerous circumstances, those who call upon your help, O Ephraim.

Prokeimenon.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Holy One. (2)
Verse: To His Saints that are on the earth, the Lord has been shown wondrous.

The Gospel according to St. Matthew (11:27-30)
The Lord said to his disciples, "All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
At the intercessions of the Venerable One, O Lord of mercy, wash away my many personal offenses.

Both now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
At the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Lord of mercy, wash away my many personal offenses.

Verse: Have mercy on me, O Merciful One, according to Your great mercy, and according to the multitude of Your compassions, blot out my transgressions.
  
Prosomoion in the Plagal of the Second Tone. Having placed all their hopes in Heaven.
You endured steadfastly the attacks of barbarians, and you shown forth as an invincible Martyr of the King of All, O Saint Ephraim, and you grant greater joy to the faithful through the finding of your Relics, through which you drive out every assault of Belial, and heal afflictions and the traumas of the soul. Therefore, we cry out to you: do not cease to entreat Christ, that we all be granted forgiveness and a peaceful life.
  
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, bearing the flame of Christ burning in his heart (source)
     
Then the Priest says the "Save, O God, Your people, and bless Your inheritance...", followed by the remainder of the Canon.

Ode VII. Once from out of Judea.
From Heaven, O godly-minded one, you ever look down upon your divine Monastery, and paradoxically you appear to many people, granting their requests, O Venerable Martyr Ephraim, for those who hymn you.

In a strange manner, you appear asleep and awake, O blessed one, granting joy and gladness, and every other gift, O Saint Ephraim, for those who praise your holy life.

Your holy Monastery is enriched with your divine Relics as a spring of holiness and a holy gift, O Ephraim, and she is sanctified through your grace, and people from all places approach her with faith.

Theotokion.
Through the uncreated sowing of your sacred intercessions, O you who are graced by God, make to sprout for me soul the fruits of repentance, O Theotokos, and make me worthy of the life on high after my end.

Ode VIII. The King of Heaven.
Gladden, O Father, through your joyous protection, those who are groaning with sorrows and needs, and deliver them from every bitterness, O Ephraim.

Rain down with your divine intercessions, O godly-minded one, on those who are aflame with pains in soul, and quench all of their burning, granting them divine rest.

As you joined the pastures of the Saints, O Father, entreat together with them, O God-bearer, on behalf of those who honor your divine Relics.

Theotokion.
Save me, O Lady, from the schemes of the enemy, and cleanse my nous that has been darkened by sinful thoughts and deeds.

Ode IX. Saved through you, O Theotokos.
Heal, O all-blessed one, every weakness of those who hasten to your divine Relics, O Venerable Martyr of the Lord and blessed Ephraim.

Ceaselessly protect your holy Monastery through your wondrous intercessions, O Saint, keeping it from the assaults of Belial and every trial.

The new one among the Saints, who has appeared lately, O wonderworker Ephraim worthy of praise, deliver me from the mania of him who wars against us.

Theotokion.
Show my nous, O Theotokos, to overcome base thoughts of the enemy, and fill my heart with divine radiance.
  
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
  
Then, "Truly it is right to call you blest...", followed by the Megalynaria of the Saint.

Rejoice, you who formerly struggled with steadfastness, and lately were made known to the Church of Christ through the revealing of your divine Relics, O Hieromartyr Ephraim worthy to be praised.

You appeared, relating your calling and your sacred end, O Father. Therefore, those who venerate your sacred Relics, O Venerable Martyr Ephraim, receive grace.

Though you lain unknown for many years, through the revealing of your sacred Relics, you have shown the world the richness of your grace, and the energy of wonders, O blessed Ephraim.

Rejoice, communicant with the Venerable Saints, rejoice, you who were zealous for the virtues of the Martyrs, rejoice, you who lived on Mount Amomon, O Great Martyr Ephraim, and were granted dual rewards.

You pour forth grace in divine streams for those sick, healing them through your Relic. Therefore, for those who hasten to your Monastery, grant the fruit of health of soul and body.

As one having boldness before Christ, O God-bearer Ephraim, ceaselessly entreat on behalf of your Monastery in which you lie, and grant your help to all those who ask of you.

All the ranks of Angels...

Then, the Trisagion, followed by the Apolytikion of the Saint.

Apolytikion of St. Ephraim the Great-martyr of Nea Makri in the First Tone.
On Amomon Mountain, you shown forth like the sun, and O God-bearer, you left for God by martyrdom, you endured barbarians’ attacks, Ephraim O Great-martyr of Christ, because of this you ever pour forth grace, to those who piously cry out to you, glory to Him who gave you strength, glory to Him you made you wondrous, glory to Him who grants through you, healings for all!

Then the Priest says the entreaty, followed by the Apolysis. And as the Faithful venerate the Icon of the Saint, the chanters finish the following hymns:

Prosomoion in the Second Tone. When from the tree.
All those who fall down before your fragrant Relics with faith, O blessed Ephraim, protect and save from every trial, and grant them remission of offenses, and healing from all kinds of afflictions, through your intercessions to Christ God. Grant them your blessing, and to your sacred Monastery, O godly-minded one, for we have taken refuge in your intercessions.

Lady, do you receive...

My numerous hopes are placed...
  

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers...
(source)
  
  
A flyer for the Fellowship of St. Ephraim. May the Lord bless their endeavors, and may St. Ephraim help all those who are sick and suffering in body and soul! (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

St. John the Forerunner: The Wild Flower that adorns the World

St. John the Forerunner (source)
  
Behind the Prophet, see the ascetic.
Behind the Baptist, see the virgin.
Behind the Great, see the humble.
Behind the Saint, see John.
Behind every Saint of the Church, there is a whole life of struggles, efforts, tears. There is hidden a life of prayer and asceticism, simplicity and obscurity.
It is not that which we know of St. John the Baptist and the Forerunner of our Lord. It is that which we do not know about him that contributes to making him Great before men and Saints. It is all that our Triune God knows of him.
This fascinates me about St. John...that he is an incredible wild flower that adorns the world, and that the world does not know...
-by Fr. Pavlos Papadopoulos
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!
 

St. Porphyrios: "There is no such thing as distances for Christians..."

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
  
"There is no such thing as distances for Christians," said St. Porphyrios.
(source)
  
"I want to speak with people, even if they come out of curiosity. I want to listen to them, for as they are speaking, I see into their souls, and as I am praying, the Grace of God affects them."
(source)
  
"Say the Jesus Prayer continuously, and you will not find the Gate of Paradise closed. I greet you all with love in the Lord."
(source)
  
-Excerpts from a recent Greek book on St. Porphyrios: "It is difficult to live with a Saint"

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

St. Porphyrios: "You should speak to your soul..."

St. Ephraim the Syrian prostrating in prayer (source)
  
"You should speak to your soul," said St. Porphyrios once.
"And how should I speak to her?" He was asked by a spiritual child.
"With prayer! We direct it to God, but the words return again to our soul and influence her. God knows what we are thinking. We have need to learn them, however."
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. John of Damascus on Eternity and God's Goodness

Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior (source)
  
"In eternity, God gives good things to everyone, because He is the source of good things. Every person, therefore, partakes of the goodness of God according to the manner that he formed himself in this life, receptive to this goodness...God even continuously gives good things to the Devil, but he does not want to receive them."
-St. John of Damascus
  
(Source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Porphyrios on Spiritual and Mental Health

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
  
"They tell us to work together with Psychiatrists. Psychiatrists accept Confession, but as regards everything else they are deniers. Thus, we can't [fully] work together with them. I am not saying that they have nothing to offer people. They do offer. The medicines that they give sick people, in some manner, calm the sick person so they do not harm themselves or others. The medicines, however, do not approach the passions of the soul. The passions of the soul are very adhesive. And behind every illness of the soul are hidden the demons.***"
-St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia
  
(source)
  
***Note: Of course St. Porphyrios is speaking in very general terms, as there are always a wide spectrum of scenarios and of course believing physicians besides those who do not believe in the soul and its healing through the Lord. St. Porphyrios, however, is beautifully outlining how spiritual healing is just as important as medical or psychiatric care for patients who are suffering in body and soul. And the temptations and influence of the demons can only be remedied with Christ in His Church.
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, January 10, 2020

St. Gregory of Nyssa: "Which faith we guard as we received it, word for word, in purity..."

Christ Pantocrator (source)
  
” …and that we might receive the teaching concerning the transcendent nature of the Deity which is given to us, as it were, ‘through a glass darkly’ from the older Scriptures,—from the Law, and the Prophets, and the Sapiential Books, as an evidence of the truth fully revealed to us, reverently accepting the meaning of the things which have been spoken, so as to accord in the faith set forth by the Lord of the whole Scripture, which faith we guard as we received it, word for word, in purity, without falsification, judging even a slight divergence from the words delivered to us an extreme blasphemy and impiety.”
— St. Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista: "What does Christmas mean to us?"

This is a beautiful recording of a Greek talk with English subtitles from Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista of blessed memory (who reposed almost a year ago exactly, on January 13th, 2019) on the meaning of Christmas and on finding Christ in the feast as the source of our true joy. May he have a blessed Paradise, may we have his blessing, and may our newly-born and baptized Lord save His children! Amen! (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

"O Forerunner and incarnate Lamp of the Savior..."

St. John the Forerunner (Source)
  
O Forerunner and incarnate Lamp of the Savior, the offspring of a barren woman, and friend of Him Who was born of a Virgin, who leaped for joy to worship Him as a babe in the womb, and who baptized Him in the waters of the Jordan, entreat Him, we pray you, O Prophet, that we might escape from the coming storms of this life.
-Doxastikon of the Stichera from the Feast of the Synaxis of St. John the Forerunner

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

Selected hymns to St. Ieronymos of Simonopetra

St. Ieronymos of Simonopetra (Source)
  
Selected hymns to St. Ieronymos of Simonopetra,
translated from the Greek service in his honor, written by Metropolitan Joel of Edessa
(note, hymns not set to match the meter)
  
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone.
The adornment of the Athonite Fathers, and the root of the Sacred Cenobium of Simonopetra, you have been shown to be in these latter days, O Ieronymos, for you have risen as a light in the city of Athens, illumining the multitudes of the faithful, and do not cease to intercede on behalf of us who hymn you.
  
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
As a most exact imitator of the Venerable Saints, and Abbot of Athos, Ieronymos, the faithful praise you from their heart, for you lived in Athens like an angel, and guided many to the Savior. Therefore, we cry out to you: Rejoice, O all-famed Father.
  
Oikos.
You shown as an angel on Athos, O Ieronymos, in the latter days, O God-bearer, as the Abbot of the Monastery of our Blessed and Venerable Father Simon, and you illumined both monastics and those in the world, who cry out to you:
Rejoice, the vessel of many graces,
Rejoice, member of the choir of the Saints.
Rejoice, boast of the Cenobium of Simon,
Rejoice, hymn of praise of the whole of Athos.
Rejoice, for you humbled yourself for Christ,
Rejoice, for you conquered the unseen enemy.
Rejoice, for you shown forth amidst the Athenians,
Rejoice, for manfully you ruled over your passions.
Rejoice, the boast of unmarried men,
Rejoice, boldness for chaste married people.
Rejoice, staff for many living in the world,
Rejoice, healing of the afflictions of mortals.
Rejoice, O all-famed Father.
  
Synaxarion
On the 9th of this month (May), the memory of our Venerable Father Ieronymos of Simonopetra, who reposed in Athens on the 6th of January, and as this day is the glorious feast of Theophany, his feast is transferred to this day [the translation of his Holy Relics.]
  
Verses
O Ieronymos, remember all of those,
Who praise your memory in hymns.
  
This, our new Venerable Father Ieronymos of Simonopetra, was born in 1871 in Reis-Dere of Asia Minor to pious parents  Nicholas and Maria, who raised him, teaching him the law of the Lord. At a young age, he entered the cenobium of Simonopetra on Mount Athos, and was discerned there for his humility, his prayer and his obedience. He was made Abbot of this uplifted Monastery of the Venerable Simon. He was known for his asceticism and his virtue of discernment. When he later resigned the Abbacy, he was placed at the Metochion of the Divine Ascension in Vyrona of Athens. He was a man of prayer, worship and almsgiving. He showed signs of the prophetic charism. He reposed in the Lord venerably in Athens on December 24th of the Old Calendar, and January 6th of the New Calendar in 1957. He showed forth many signs of holiness, both to those asleep and awake. His feast is translated to the 9th of May, which was the day of the translation of his Holy Relics.
  
Megalynarion
Rejoice, you who underscored asceticism, the pride of Athos, the joy of the Athenians. Rejoice, the radiant vessel of the Venerable, and the Abbot of the Monastery of Simon, O Ieronymos.
(source)
  
The Sacred Icon and Relics of St. Ieronymos of Simonopetra, treasured by the Holy Dependency of the Ascension of Christ, Vyrona, Athens, where the Saint served for many years and later reposed (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored..."

Naaman the Syrian washing in the waters of the Jordan, from the Monastery of the Life-giving Spring, Dunlap, CA (source)
  
So Na'aman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the door of Eli'sha's house. And Eli'sha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean." But Na'aman was angry, and went away, saying, "Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper. Are not Aba'na and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, "My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
-II Kings 5:9-14, read at Great Vespers for Theophany

(source)
  
Naaman the Leper washing in the waters of the Jordan (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, January 3, 2020

St. Porphyrios on Finding Joy

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
  
Once, a woman asked St. Porphyrios why he was happy, even though his health had been seriously endangered. To this, he responded:
"Read the Holy Scriptures, go to Church, have a father confessor, partake of the Holy Mysteries--in one word, become a good Christian--and then, you will find the joy that you are seeking. You see that I am sick now, but I am joyful. Thus you, when you come a bit closer to Christ, will find joy in your life."
(source)

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

"Then he took the mantle of Eli'jah that had fallen from him, and struck the water..."

Prophet Elias ascending in the fiery chariot, and Prophet Elisha striking the Jordan with his mantle (source)
  
Then Eli'jah said to him, "Tarry here, I pray you; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan." But he said, "As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Eli'jah took his mantle, and rolled it up, and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Eli'jah said to Eli'sha, "Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you." And Eli'sha said, "I pray you, let me inherit a double share of your spirit." And he said, "You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if you do not see me, it shall not be so." And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Eli'jah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Eli'sha saw it and he cried, "My father, my father! the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces. And he took up the mantle of Eli'jah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Eli'jah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, "Where is the LORD, the God of Eli'jah?" And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other; and Eli'sha went over.
II Kings 2:6-14, read at Great Vespers for Theophany

(source)
  
Prophet Elias striking the Jordan with his mantle (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Paraklesis to St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (in Greek)

This is a video with the recording of the Paraklesis (Supplication Service) chanted by the Nuns to St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, the Newly-revealed Hieromartyr and Wonderworker, including icons of the Saint and pictures of his Monastery. It also includes the Greek text. May the Saint help all who are sick and suffering in soul or body throughout the world! (source)
 
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"You offered to Christ your life of asceticism and steadfastness in martyrdom..."

St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
  
In proper righteousness, you spotlessly served God as a priest of grace fervently, O Venerable One, and as a pure sacrifice, and a perfect offering, you offered to Christ your life of asceticism and steadfastness in martyrdom. And at the hands of barbarians, you did not spare this passing life, but hastened to eternal life, having been arrayed in the martyrical radiance, as you fled to the Bridegroom of glory on high, O Venerable Martyr Ephraim. Therefore, entreat that those who celebrate your memory might be granted forgiveness, and great mercy.
-Idiomelon of the Praises from the feast of St. Ephraim of Nea Makri

(source)

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

Thursday, January 2, 2020

"When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan..."

The Ark of the Covenant parting the waters of the Jordan, from the Monastery of the Life-giving Spring, Dunlap, CA (source)
  
And the LORD said to Joshua, "This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And you shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, 'When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'" And when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap far off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zar'ethan, and those flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off; and the people passed over opposite Jericho. And while all Israel were passing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.
-Joshua 3:7-8; 15-17, read at Great Vespers for Theophany
  
(source)
 
Prophet Joshua being anointed by Prophets Moses and Aaron (source)
     
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Akathist to St. Kosmas Aitolos, the New Hieromartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles

St. Kosmas Aitolos the New Hieromartyr (source)
  
Akathist to St. Kosmas Aitolos, the New Hieromartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles, New Enlightener of Greece
  
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
The all-praised and valorous one among the New Martyrs, and the God-inspired root of Aitolia, let us hymn Kosmas, crying out with one voice: Through your intercessions before the Compassionate One, deliver those who honor you from dangers, that they might cry to you: Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
You appeared to be an Angel guiding all of Greece, revealing things divine, O Kosmas, (3) and through your preparation in a godly manner, you made the teachings of the Hagarenes to disappear. Therefore, we offer to you this graceful ode, and cry out these things:
Rejoice, through whom Christ is glorified,
Rejoice, through whom the enemy is deposed.
Rejoice, the all-glorious son of Aitolia,
Rejoice, the thrice-joyous nourisher of piety.
Rejoice, multicolored crown of pious priests,
Rejoice, unfading rose of holy athletes.
Rejoice, treasure of impoverished Greeks,
Rejoice, you who dissipate faithless foreigners.
Rejoice, you who fight against the armies of atheists,
Rejoice, you have joined the choirs of the Saints.
Rejoice, through whom the multitudes are made to remember,
Rejoice, through whom the faith is strengthened.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
You loved the life of virginity and purity from a young age, and you hastened to Panagia's Mountain [Athos] with insatiable desire for asceticism, O Kosmas, ever crying out with joy: Alleluia.
  
Truly, the divine darkness seized your nous from the things of the earth in an awesome manner, O Kosmas, and desiring the life pleasing to God, you dwelt in the Monastery of Philotheou. Therefore, you became a type for all those who cry out these things:
Rejoice, teacher of chastity,
Rejoice, mystic of hesychia.
Rejoice, the most-sacred canon of earthly and heavenly things,
Rejoice, radiant robe of virgins.
Rejoice, high hard to climb of mystical visions of God,
Rejoice, voluminous tome of ineffable thoughts.
Rejoice, you who deprived yourself of comforts,
Rejoice, you who rent slavery for those upon the earth.
Rejoice, whose way of life equaled the Angels in all things,
Rejoice, divine spouse of poverty.
Rejoice, merchant of purity,
rejoice, fighter against evil.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
You poured forth your holy prayer which served as an antidote against teachings and thoughts of sin, and against the dishonorable assaults of the passions filled with stench, and, O godly-minded one, you proceeded as a sword against them, crying out to the Savior: Alleluia.
  
Though you brought joy to the ranks of the bodiless Angels, who beheld the height of your godly knowledge, how could the multitudes of the people not hasten to praise you with words, O Champion? For they gather today to honor your memory and to cry out to you, O God-bearer:
Rejoice, grape-cluster of reverence,
Rejoice, shield of manliness.
Rejoice, possessor of heavenly streams,
Rejoice, you who fill with amazing graces.
Rejoice, deposer of the passions of the demons,
Rejoice, you who sought the repose of the Bodiless.
Rejoice, you who partake of the desirable things for those who love God,
Rejoice, you who stood against pleasures in a manly manner.
Rejoice, radiant chosen one of the Trinity,
Rejoice, tiller of the Holy Mountain.
Rejoice, perfect knower of love,
Rejoice, you who obtained eternal life.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.

Living upon the Holy Mountain in the divine Spirit, you tasted of heavenly gifts, and became a light shining upon a stand, driving away the darkness of passions that afflict the soul, O all-blessed one, as you cried out in mind the hymn: Alleluia.
   
St. Kosmas Aitolos (source)
  
They came as lions with terrible cries upon the human-minded people under the yoke [of slavery], and you arose and went to them, bringing the voice of Paul, as you in all things were poor like him. Therefore, we cry out to you:
Rejoice, the adornment of the Angels,
Rejoice, the foundation of orators.
Rejoice, you who corrode enemy tyrants,
Rejoice, beloved one of the greatly-pained Greeks.
Rejoice, for you dispersed the bonds of faithlessness,
Rejoice, for you warm the souls of those in bonds.
Rejoice, eternal shame for those who deny Christ,
Rejoice, heavenly peace of the Orthodox.
Rejoice, vessel of manliness in soul,
Rejoice, joyous diadem of the Venerable.
Rejoice, you who exalt the horn of the faithful,
Rejoice, you who rout the ranks of the enemies.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
As God-slaying beasts, many were enraged by you, O God-bearer, but through your asceticism, you became like sparrow, O divine Kosmas, being arrayed with beauty in soul, and with fasting and prayer, you cried out with your voice ceaselessly: Alleluia.
   
Your divine inspiration to deliver from mania, aroused the children of Hagar to slay you, as you bore the prayer of [Christ] the Arch-Sacrifice, while the manly race of Greeks cries out:
Rejoice, offspring of Aitolia,
Rejoice, adornment of Macedonia.
Rejoice, divine hyacinth of Epirus,
Rejoice, fragrant narcissus of Illyria.
Rejoice, you who fortified Nafpaktos and Agrapha with gifts,
Rejoice, you who honored Skiathos and Skopelos with teachings.
Rejoice, lyre of Corfu,
Rejoice, trumpet of Parga.
Rejoice, unassailable wall of Zitsa,
Rejoice, godly boast of Konitsa.
Rejoice, moon-bearing lamp of Cheimarras,
Rejoice, pride of all of Greece.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
O Father, through your preaching of piety and the dogmas of the Fathers, you condemned the lynching by atheism, boldly chanting against those who deny Christ and drying up their currents, while you honored the Holy Trinity, teaching them to cry out: Alleluia.
  
Having been withered by the grace of your words, the children of Hagar cast their webs to catch you like a spider, O Kosmas, and you were shown to be perfect to the ranks of other faiths, and to you we cry out in song:
Rejoice, light of Ioannina.
Rejoice, pasture of theologians.
Rejoice, you who changed the mindset of thieves,
Rejoice, you who revealed the fall of the murderer.
Rejoice, equal of Paul and radiant type.
Rejoice, newly-founded surrounding wall of Venerable Champions.
Rejoice, for you foretold of the deliverance of the Ionian,
Rejoice, for you foresaw the fall of the tyrants.
Rejoice, for you spoke beforehand of the rising of Klada,
Rejoice, for you told of the deposition of many.
Rejoice, you who cast to the ground the storm of the enemies,
Rejoice, you who hated earthly wealth.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
The Greek people gathered from the multitude of your words as dripping honey, as they were shown the way of salvation through your words chosen by God, for you spoke to mankind, O one blessed by God, who now chant along with you: Alleluia.
  
St. Kosmas Aitolos (source)
  
You appeared as a new Paul in these latter years, and through your journeys and struggles, O Champion, you dissolved the godless army of the Hagarenes, as you directed your nous to the things of Heaven, as we cry out to you:
Rejoice, theologian and preacher,
Rejoice, soul-nourishing teacher.
Rejoice, deliverer of the woman from the demons,
Rejoice, censurer of bitter adulterers.
Rejoice, greatly-beloved flower that gives fragrance to the faithful,
Rejoice, unassailable wall that drives back the enemies.
Rejoice, you who sowed the word of piety,
Rejoice, you who brought light to those in the shadows of sin.
Rejoice, eternal spring of graces,
Rejoice, true and calm harbor.
Rejoice, O Kosmas, adornment of priests,
Rejoice, O Kosmas, divine adornment of the whole world.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
A truly strange sight by men working evil, as they saw the choir of the faithful listening to your words, O all-joyous one, and their souls were transformed, as they were compelled to cry out with you, O wise one: Alleluia.
  
The God-bearing Prophet, in the land of Epiros, spoke the word of the Lord, seeing beforehand that the mountains of Levkados would be a perfect refuge for people, as you blessed the ends of the world, while the multitudes cry out to you these things:
Rejoice, astonishment of those of other races,
Rejoice, deliverance of our race.
Rejoice, boldness for the leaders of the Greeks,
Rejoice, pain for those Hebrews who hate Christ.
Rejoice, for you wondrously cut off the storm at Souliou,
Rejoice, for you speedily cast out the pride of the atheists.
Rejoice, for you hasten to the prayers of the pious,
Rejoice, for you shake the thrones of the impious.
Rejoice, radiant knowledge of grace,
Rejoice, chaste vessel of faith.
Rejoice, fellow mouth of the poor,
Rejoice, tongue of enslaved peoples.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
Breathing rage, the God-killers fell upon you, the offspring of Aitolia, and Champion Kosmas, while you revealed Christ to them, and they spoke in whispers, while the faithful cried out: Alleluia.
  
You poured forth the waters of piety through your newly-granted graces, granting the sweetness of healings, and watering all, O ever-memorable one, who hymn your glorious memory, and cry out to you:
Rejoice, waves of gifts,
Rejoice, protector of sacred dogmas.
Rejoice, you who lifted up well-adorned women,
Rejoice, you who cast down men who are lovers of wealth.
Rejoice, for you made to triumph the fighters for unity,
Rejoice, for you made foolish the leaders of the world powers.
Rejoice, for you healed the burdens of the poor,
Rejoice, for you made the wealthy nation disappear.
Rejoice, all-perfect sacrifice of Christ,
Rejoice, our ready defender.
Rejoice, the deliverer from all trials,
Rejoice, savior from incomparable dangers.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
You blew the new trumpet of salvation, revealing the Kingdom of Christ. For through your abundant teachings, you made to wither the fires of passion, teaching those who heard you to ceaselessly cry out: Alleluia.
  
St. Kosmas Aitolos (source)
  
You desired to die amidst the pains of martyrdom more than anything, O Hieromartyr, as you sought to be hung on behalf of Christ, O Father of Champions, and you were made crimson through your precious blood, O Kosmas graced by God, and therefore we all cry out to you:
Rejoice, God-bearing Martyr,
Rejoice, great trophy-bearer.
Rejoice, you who were zealous willingly for feats [of martyrdom],
Rejoice, you who willingly desired to wrestle [the enemy].
Rejoice, you who joyously were baptized in fire and water,
Rejoice, you who astonished the enemy through the Holy Spirit.
Rejoice, for you showed the way of endurance,
Rejoice, for you dissipate the choir of the lawless,
Rejoice, stranger to the ways of the [worldly] life,
Rejoice, mighty worker, causing trembling in the demons.
Rejoice, defender of many pregnant women,
Rejoice, victory of Orthodox peoples.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
You guide us all to offer up hymns of doxology, in honor of your precious head, as you say, along with the Prophet David: "We have passed through the fire of the lawless, and have come to repose", and to the Lord you cry out: Alleluia.
  
You enlighten the multitudes with light, as you were shown to be a pillar and our teacher through your martyrdom, and through the streams of your blood, you watered the ranks of other peoples, who are astonished at your deeds, and who cry out along with us:
Rejoice, fellow-traveler of the Righteous,
Rejoice, Saint of the Greeks.
Rejoice, you who gladdened the ranks of the Venerable Saints,
Rejoice, you who increased the feast of the Martyrs.
Rejoice, for you have blessed the ends of the earth,
Rejoice, for you given thanks to the Giver of life.
Rejoice, all-fragrant pasture of Priests,
Rejoice, all-praised pride of Champions.
Rejoice, free healer of the sick,
Rejoice, ever-flowing stream of wonders.
Rejoice, unemptying spring of miracles,
Rejoice, you who partake of the pastures of freedom.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
Through the grace of the Paraclete [the Comforter], your Body was taken up from the waters by Mark, who rejoiced as one who found gold tried in the furnace, and which was then hidden within the earth by your children, O one blessed by God, as they cried out in reverence the hymn: Alleluia.
  
As we chant to you melodiously, we praise your end, as ones who are lovers of Martyrs, for you willingly were sacrificed for Christ like a lamb, and through your faith poured forth your blood, astonishing us all, as we cry out to you these things, O God-bearer:
Rejoice, radiant founder of crowns,
Rejoice, new guide of the Venerable Saints.
Rejoice, august Temple of the Trinity,
Rejoice, wise teacher of men.
Rejoice, divine adornment of Orthodox Monastics,
Rejoice, height hard to climb of supreme virtues.
Rejoice, for you adorned the earth of Illyria,
Rejoice, for you watered the gardens of Greece.
Rejoice, ode chanted to Christ,
Rejoice, dwelling-place of the pure life.
Rejoice, partaker of eternal nourishment,
Rejoice, joiner in the table with the Angels.
Rejoice, O all-glorious Father.
  
O all-praised Father, the adornment of the Orthodox, and Hieromartyr of the Lord, Kosmas, (3) we who cry out from the depths of our heart, entreat you to never cease to intercede for us, strengthening those who hymn you, and who cry out to the Savior: Alleluia.

And again, the Kontakion.  
(source)
 
St. Kosmas Aitolos (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!