Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord

The Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord - Commemorated on August 1 (02846_hires.jpg)

The Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: In the Greek Horologion of 1897 the derivation of this Feast is explained: "Because of the illnesses that occur in August, it was customary, in former times, to carry the Venerable Wood of the Cross through the streets and squares of Constantinople for the sanctification of the city, and for relief from sickness. On the eve (July 31), it was taken out of the imperial treasury, and laid upon the altar of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia (the Wisdom of God). From this Feast until the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, they carried the Cross throughout the city in procession, offering it to the people to venerate. This also is the Procession of the Venerable Cross." 

In the Russian Church this Feast is combined also with the remembrance of the Baptism of Rus, on August 1, 988. In the "Account of the Order of Services in the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Great Church of the Dormition," compiled in 1627 by order of Patriarch Philaret of Moscow and All Rus, there is the following explanation of the Feast: "On the day of the Procession of the Venerable Cross there is a church procession for the sanctification of water and for the enlightenment of the people, throughout all the towns and places." 

Knowledge of the day of the actual Baptism of Rus was preserved in the Chronicles of the sixteenth century: "The Baptism of the Great Prince Vladimir of Kiev and all Rus was on August 1." 

In the present practice of the Russian Church, the Lesser Sanctification of Water on August 1 is done either before or after Liturgy. Because of the Blessing of Water, this first Feast of the Savior in August is sometimes called 'Savior of the Water." There may also be a Blessing of New Honey today, which is why the Feast is also called "Savior of the Honey." From this day the newly gathered honey is blessed and tasted.


The Elevation of the Precious Cross (00817_hires.jpg)

by St. Nikolai Velimirovitch
The Honorable Cross of Christ
Before it, all honorably prostrate,
By the power of the Cross of Christ
From temptation, we are redeemed.
The Holy Cross is mightier than the demons
And from every earthly king,
From sickness, the Cross saves
And from the assaults of barbarians.
Prince Andrew, by the power of the Cross
Enslaved lands, saved,
King Manuel, by the power of the Cross
The Saracens, gloriously destroyed.
From the armies of pagans,
From the tyrannical conquerors,
From all evils demonstrated that
The power of the Cross is mightier.

Stichera of the precious Cross. Tone 4. As noblest of Martyrs.
As general protection, as source of sanctification, let us embrace the precious Cross; for it calms sufferings, brings an end to diseases and delivers sufferers from pains of every kind. More than the great deep it forms a sea with streams of wonders for those who faithfully venerate and reverence its image.

We mortals, who sail among the waves of life and are storm-tossed by a tempest of sufferings, let us with faith take refuge in the precious Tree as a vessel of salvation, and it will silence the waves and the winds and break the passions, and we will reach in joy the haven of salvation without storms.

The all-holy Cross has shone more brightly than the sun, shedding wonders like sunbeams and healings like flashes of lightning. Let us mortals, ever held fast by the darkness of dread dangers, draw near and we shall receive the light-bringing grace of healings as we magnify the God who was nailed to it in the flesh.

Doxastikon of the Aposticha of the Cross in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
The saying of your Prophet Moses has been fulfilled, O God, which said, ‘See your life hanging before your eyes.’*** Today the Cross is exalted and world is freed from error. Today the Resurrection of Christ is consecrated, and the ends of the earth rejoice as with David’s cymbals they offer you their hymn and say, ‘You have wrought salvation in midst of the earth, O God, good and the lover of mankind: the Cross and Resurrection, through which you have saved us. All-powerful Lord, glory to you.’

[***"καὶ ἔσται ἡ ζωή σου κρεμαμένη ἀπέναντι τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν σου" (Deuteronomy 28:66)]

Canon of the Cross. Ode 9. Heaven was amazed.
Once fixed to the Cross with nails through feet and hands, pierced in the side, your thirst quenched with vinegar and gall, you healed my wounds, O King of all, supremely good, the joy, the sweetness, glory and eternal redemption of all.

Fair beyond sapphire and gold, bright as the sun you are, divine Cross, lying circumscribed by place and ever manifestly surrounded by spiritual Powers, yet enlightening every part of the inhabited world with rays of the divine power.

The Cross is the harbour of the storm-tossed, guide and support of the wandering, glory of Christ, strength of Apostles and Prophets, boast of Champions, refuge of all mortals. As we all see it set fourth in the midst, we greet it with loving devotion.

When you are about to come on earth to judge the world which you fashioned, Lord, with the Angelic hosts marching ahead and the Cross shining out more brightly than the beams of the sun, take pity on me by its power and save me who fallen more than all mortals.

‘Without corruption I gave birth to you from the womb, whom the Father begot before the ages; how do corrupt mortals rend you, my Son, and inhumanly gouge your side with a lance, your hands and feet with nails?’ cried the All-pure, whom we fittingly magnify.

During the veneration of the Cross, we sing the following Idiomel Sticheron.
Tone 2.
Come, believers, let worship the life-giving Tree on which Christ the King of glory willing stretched out his hands and raised up to the ancient blessedness us whom of old the foe, luring us through pleasure, had made exiles from God. Come, believers, let us worship the Tree though which we have counted worthy to crush the heads of invisible enemies. Come, all you families of nations, let us honour with hymns the Cross of the Lord. Hail, O Cross, the complete redemption of Adam. In you our faithful Sovereigns boast, as by your power they mightily defeat the people of Ishmael. We Christians, as with fear we now lovingly greet you, glorify God who was nailed to you, as we say, ‘O Lord, who were nailed upon it, have mercy on us as you are good and love mankind’.

All texts and translations on this page are copyright to
Archimandrite Ephrem ©
This page was last updated on 10 May 2009 

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sickness and Pain Are A Gift of God: Saint Panteleimon Comes to the Aid of Monk Daniel

St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary (

Sickness and Pain Are A Gift of God: Saint Panteleimon Comes to the Aid of Monk Daniel
In the Kalyva of Saint Chrysostomos of the Skete of Koutloumousiou of the Monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Mount Athos, there lived years ago Monk Daniel who for 20 years was sick and had headaches and backaches, kidney and heart problems, leg problems and pain sometimes throughout his entire body.

Many times he travelled to doctors and received numerous X-ray examinations and radiographies, but the outcome was always the same. The doctors could not find any physical explanation for his sickness. Yet Monk Daniel continued to suffer his sicknesses and there was not a physician or scientist to be found that could help him.

One 27th of July, during the vigil of Saint Panteleimon, brother Daniel prayed with tears in his eyes and pleaded with Saint Panteleimon saying: "Saint of God and protector of our Skete, you who are a physician and for the love of Christ was martyred and spilled your blood, show your love and plead to the Master Christ to grant me health, so that with health I could glorify His name and psalmodize during the vigils."

Having said this, Monk Daniel grew a bit tired and took some sleep. He then in a vision saw Saint Panteleimon kneeling before the throne of God pleading for the health of Daniel. Monk Daniel heard the Master Christ say to Saint Panteleimon: "My brother Great-Martyr Panteleimon, do you think you are more compassionate than me? Do you think you love humanity more than me? I understand that out of love for me you spilled your blood, but did I not also spill mine and daily spill my blood for the salvation of people's souls? Learn that it is my will in which it happens many times for the body to suffer in order for the soul to be saved. This is how I want many people to be saved."

When brother Daniel heard this he awoke and glorified the name of God, thanked Saint Panteleimon for his effort and mediation, and immediately, as the same monk related, a great burden was lifted off of him and related that we must endure with patience, joy and thanksgiving the cross and situation of our sicknesses.
St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

St. Mary Magdalene the Myrrh-bearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles

St. Mary Magdalene the Myrrh-bearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles - Commemorated on July 22, and with the Holy Myrrhbearers on the Second Sunday after Pascha (ΑΓΙΑ+ΜΑΡΙΑ+ΜΑΓΔΑΛΗΝΗ+-+ST.+MARIA+MAGDALINI.jpg)

Mary Magdalene was one of the myrrh-bearing women and "equal to the apostles". She was born in the town of Magdala along the shore of Lake Gennesaret and was from the tribe of Issachar. She was tormented by seven evil spirits from which the Lord Jesus freed her and made her whole. (***See note below) She was a faithful follower and servant of the Lord during His earthly life. Mary Magdalene stood beneath the Cross on Golgotha and grieved bitterly and mourned with the All-Holy Birth-giver of God. After the death of the Lord she visited His sepulchre three times. When the Lord resurrected she saw Him on two occasions: once alone and the other time with the other myrrh-bearing women.

The Resurrected Christ appearing to St. Mary Magdalene, telling her: "Do not touch me" (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

[While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the sepulchre (tomb) carrying the ointments. (For this reason the Church calls her "Myrrh-bearer".) Coming close she saw that the large stone that had been placed at the entrance of the tomb had been rolled away. She thought that perhaps someone had already come and taken the Body to another place. Hurrying back to Jerusalem she told the apostles Peter and John: "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, 'and we know not where they have laid Him." Together with them she went again to the tomb and stood there weeping. When they had left she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre. There she saw two angels who asked why she was crying. She told them and then,. turning around, she saw Jesus, but in her grief she did not recognize Him, and thinking -He was the gardener, told Him also the reason for her weeping. It was only Then He said her name: "Mary!" that she recognized Him as her beloved Lord. Not believing her own ears, she cried out with joy, [Rabboni] "Master! Then quickly following his His instructions, she ran quickly to announce the good news to the disciples: “Christ is risen!” (Because she was the first, sent by the Lord Himself, to proclaim the Resurrection, the Church also calls her "Equal-to-the--Apostles"). (]

Christ appearing to the Myrrhbearers after His Resurrection, and their announcing the Resurrection to the Apostles (

She traveled to Rome and appeared before Tiberias Caesar and presenting him with a red colored egg, greeted him with the words: "Christ is Risen!" At the same time, she accused Pilate before Caesar for his unjust condemnation of the Lord Jesus. Caesar accepted her accusation and transferred Pilate from Jerusalem to Gaul where, this unjust judge, in disfavor with the emperor, died of a dread disease. After that, Mary Magdalene returned from Rome [and having passed through all of Italy and France, along with Egypt, Phoenicia, Syria and Pamphylia preaching Christ, she returned to Jerusalem, where she stayed for a period of time with the Theotokos. ( She returned] to Ephesus to St. John the Theologian whom she assisted in the work of preaching the Gospel. With great love toward the resurrected Lord, and with great zeal, she proclaimed the Holy Gospel to the world as a true apostle of Christ. She died peacefully in Ephesus and, according to tradition, was buried in the same cave in which seven youths were miraculously put to sleep for hundreds of years and, after that, were brought to life and then died (August 4). The relics of St. Mary Magdalene were later transferred to Constantinople. There is a Russian Orthodox convent dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene near the Garden of Gethsemane.

***Note: "Although it is sometimes said that Saint Mary Magdalene was the "sinful woman" of the Gospel, this is nowhere stated in the tradition of the Church, in the sacred hymnology, or in the Holy Gospels themselves, which say only that our Lord cast seven demons out of her [Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2], not that she was a fallen woman." ( See the following site for a full discussion of this issue, along with a fuller life of the Saint (in Greek):

St. Mary Magdalene with the red egg symbolizing Christ's Resurrection (

Another icon of St. Mary Magdalene holding the red egg (

by St. Nikolai Velimirovitch
Magdalene, in dark sorrow wrapped herself
Because of the bloody death of the Son of God.
Sorrow is to love, the most bitter sorrow,
It, in the world, has no comfort or companion,
To it, tears are comfort and pain its only companion,
To Saint Magdalene, in darkness the world became wrapped.
The weak creation of man, asked for light,
Without hope, in the dark Mary groped.
His tomb to her is light but behold, the tomb is empty!
Stolen she thought, naked and not anointed!
Bitterly she wept, to weeping never any end,
At that moment, a man's voice beside her, she heard:
Woman, why are you weeping, tell me: 
Whom do you seek?Whom do I seek, you ask? 
To comfort me, do you wish!
But, if you took Him away, where did you place Him?
Tearful and melancholy, Jesus looked at her,
And with a sweet voice called her: Mary!
In Mary's heart, a light began to shine
O familiar voice, with sweetness unsurpassable,
The voice overly generous by life and power!
With that voice, the Lord healed the sick,
With that same voice, He resurrected the dead.
Life-creating voice, a miraculous voice!
Mary recoiled and turned around
Rabbi, she cried out at that moment the sun came out
A New Day dawned to Mary and to the world.

Sts. Mary Magdalene and Simon the Myrrh-streamer. Because her sacred and wonderworking hand is treasured by the Monastery of Simonopetra, and because of her countless miracles, she is considered to be a "founder" of Simonopetra, along with St. Simon. (

The holy, incorrupt (after roughly 2000 years) and miraculous Right Hand of St. Mary Magdalene, treasured by the Monastery of Simonopetra, Mount Athos (

St. Mary Magdalene, with scenes from her life (source)
Troparion (Tone 1)
In keeping His commandments and laws, O holy Mary Magdalene, you followed Christ, who for our sake was born of a virgin, and in celebrating your most holy memory today, we receive forgiveness of sins by your prayers!

Kontakion (Tone 4)
When God, who is transcendent in essence, came with flesh into the world, O Myrrhbearer, He received you as a true disciple, for you turned all your love toward Him; henceforth you would yourself work many healings. Now that you have passed into heaven, never cease to intercede for the world! (

St. Mary Magdalene (μαρίας-της-μαγδαληνής-22-ιουλίου/8312/

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Selected hymns for St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain

Selected hymns for St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain (all hymns below, except for the Apolytikion, are amateur translations from the full service to the Saint in Greek here:

Doxastikon of the Stichera in the Plagal of the Second Tone
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Today has dawned for us as the morning star, the memory of the Righteous teacher, Nikodemos the heavenly-minded one, enlightening the Church. Come, therefore, those who love his words, let us celebrate in spirit and truth, and cry to him: hail, who through your virtuous life was made a dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, working your mind. Hail, spiritual treasure-house, in which the many-varied treasures of wisdom are boundless. Hail, the divine root of Naxos, the adornment of the Holy Mountain, and the godly-wise teacher of the whole Church. Intercede, we pray, O Father, on behalf of our souls.
Doxastikon of the Aposticha in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Through the word of your teaching, you cultivated well the fruits of eternal life, which you bore forth for the Church, O divine Nikodemos. As an ever-green tree planted by the streams of the waters of grace, through your God-inscribed tablets, you offered to us for all, the knowledge of salvation, as heavenly sweetness, through which we are delivered from the bitterness of the passions, as we partake of peace and great mercy from Christ.
Apolytikion of St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain - Third Tone
Thou hast been shown to be a godly clarion of holy oracles, teaching us righteousness. Thou wast adorned with wisdom's grace, O Father, Saint Nicodemus For thou didst present to all thy pure life as a paradigm, pouring forth enlightenment by the wealth of thy godly words. Thy teachings of salvation illumined as light the whole world, O righteous Father.
(taken from Holy Trasfiguration Monastery's translation in St. Anthony's music:

As a perfect mystic of the virtuous life, and God-bearing teacher of piety, the Orthodox Church praises you. For having received heavenly grace, you shine with your writings upon those who cry to you:
hail O father Nikodemos.

An angel in ways, and much so in knowledge, Nikodemos you were shown to be on Athos. For having the angelic life, your angelic voice resounded from the writings of the fathers, through which you enlighten those who cry out:
Hail, adornment of Naxos, hail, torch-bearer of Athos.
Hail, product of the dogmas of the fathers, hail analysis of the words of the saints.
Hail, height of discernment and river of wisdom, hail, depth of divine knowledge and treasury of love.
Hail, for you were shown forth a God-bearing writer, hail, for you were shown a godly studier.
Hail, radiant ethic of prudence, hail, radiance of the fire above.
Hail through whom the faithful are confirmed, hail, through whom the enemies are defeated.
Hail, O father Nikodemos.

On the 14th day of this month (July), the memory of our Righteous and God-bearing father Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, the most-wise teacher of the Church.

Doxastikon of the Praises in the Plagal of the First Tone
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Let us sing with the trumpet of songs, and dance festally, and skip for joy, at the light-bearing memory of our teacher. Priests and monks gathered, to applaud the God-bearer in hymns, who poured out for the world the streams of holy teachings, as that which from Eden watered all. O ranks of the Orthodox, let us together hymn the newly-radiant star of Orthodoxy, the treasury of wisdom, the container of virtues, the mouth of the Comforter, the pillar of prudent ethics, the godly-voiced tongue of theologians, the godly-shining lamp of chastity, the lyre of true dogmas, the godly guide of the faithful, let us therefore honor him with godly songs: O godly-wise Nikodemos, enlighten us by your teaching, and ever intercede to the Trinity, for those who honor you.

Hail new star of the Church, and holy adornment of the Orthodox, hail. O light-bearing lamp of monastics, O Nikodemos most-blessed, the boast of Athos.

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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sts. Dionysios the Rhetor and Metrophanes the Spiritual Father, of Mount Athos

Sts. Dionysios the Rhetor and Metrophanes the Spiritual Father, of Little St. Anna's Skete, Mount Athos - Commemorated July 9th  (Source:
St Metrophanes was the disciple and fellow ascetic of St Dionysius the Rhetor. Although the exact time and place of his birth remain unknown, it is likely that he was born toward the end of the sixteenth century.
For a time, he lived with his Elder St Dionysius at the Studion Monastery in Constantinople, but they desired a more intensive life of prayer and solitude. Therefore, they left Constantinople and journeyed to Mount Athos, establishing themselves in a cell near Karyes. There they devoted themselves to prayer, fasting, and vigilance.
Hearing of the wisdom and virtue of St Dionysius, many monks were drawn to him, and asked him to be their Elder. He agreed to this with some reluctance, but found that guiding others in the spiritual life left him little time for his own spiritual struggles. With so many people around him his soul was not at peace. Therefore, St Dionysius and St Metrophanes proceeded into the desert of Mount Athos in search of even greater solitude. Somewhere between St Anne’s and Katounakia, they found a cave and made it their abode. This would be the future site of Little St Anne’s Skete, and they were the first to settle at this place. In that small and humble cave, they lived a godly life which was equal to that of the angels. In their spiritual struggles they fought against the stomach’s need for food, and against the body’s need for sleep. They restricted not only the types of food they ate, but also the amount they consumed at meals. By limiting the amount of time for sleep, they were able to devote themselves more to repentance and prayer.
St Dionysius and St Metrophanes were esteemed as learned men, but they attained even greater wisdom in the true philosophy of monasticism, which has been called “a life according to the Gospel.” They made such progress in the monastic life, excelling in virtue and holiness, that they became teachers of many holy ascetics.
By voluntarily humbling themselves, these saints were exalted by God, acquiring the richest spiritual gifts and the grace of the Holy Spirit. Just as no one lights a candle and then covers it, or puts it under a bed, “but sets it on a candlestick, that those who enter in may see the light” (Luke 8:16), so the Lord did not permit the virtue of these saints to remain hidden. The light of their holy life so shone before men that those who beheld it glorified God (Matt.5:16). Like all-luminous lamps, the saints shone forth on the Holy Mountain with the radiance of their holiness.
Later, St Metrophanes, with the blessing of the Athonite Fathers and of his Elder St Dionysius, was asked to leave Mount Athos for a time in order to preach the Word of God in the neighboring villages. After he had fulfilled this obedience he returned to the Holy Mountain.
According to the ever-memorable Father Gerasimus of Little St Anne’s, the twentieth century hymnographer of the Great Church (Constantinople) who composed more than 2,000 services (including the service in honor of St Dionysius and St Metrophanes), Hieromonk Dionysius fell asleep in the Lord on October 6, 1606, and his disciple St Metrophanes reposed shortly thereafter. At Little St Anne’s, however, both St Dionysius and St Metrophanes are commemorated on July 9. A church was built in 1956 at the site of their cave, and was dedicated to these saints.
The chapel of Sts. Dionysios and Metrophanes built in the cave where they lived at Little St. Anna's, Mount Athos. In this Skete lived the ever-to-be-remembered Elder Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis, who for many years had the office of the Hymnographer of the Great Church of Christ (under the Patriarch of Constantinople). Thus many church services (especially for recent saints) were written through his hand (around 2,500 services in total). (
Sts. Dionysios and Metrophanes of the Holy Mountain (Source:
Ἀπολυτίκιον. Ἦχος γ’, θείας πίστεως.

Θείοις ἄνθραξι, τῆς ἐγκρατείας, πάθη φλέξαντες, τὰ φρυγανώδη, ἀσκητικῶς ἐν τῷ Ἄθῳ ἠστράψατε· τῷ γὰρ ἀδύτῳ φωτὶ λαμπρυνόμενοι, τῶν θεοφόρων ἐφάμιλλοι ὤφθητε, Διονύσιε σοφέ, καὶ θεῖε Μητρόφανες, αἰτούμενοι ἡμῖν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.

Κοντάκιον. Ἦχος πλ. δ’. Τῇ Ὑπερμάχῳ.
Ὡς τῆς Τριάδος μυστηπόλοι ἱερώτατοι
Καὶ τῶν Ὁσίων κοινωνοὶ καὶ ἰσοστάσιοι
Διονύσιε σοφὲ σὺν τῷ Μητροφάνει,
Μὴ ἐλλείπητε ἐχθροῦ τὰ πανουργεύματα
Ἅτεκταίνει καθ’ ἡμῶν συντρίβειν πάντοτε,

Ἵνα κράζωμεν, θεοφόρητοι χαίρετε.
Χαίροις τῶν Ὁσίων δυὰς σεπτή, οἱ ἀμέμπτῳ βίῳ, διαπρέψαντες ἐπὶ γῆς, σὺν τῷ Διονυσίῳ, Μητροφάνες θεόφρον, Τριάδος τῆς Ἁγίας, θεῖοι θεράποντες.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone (amateur translations below)
You consumed the roots of the passions with divine coals, and shown on Athos ascetically, for shining with the unwaning light, you were shown to be equal to the God-bearers, O wise Dionysios, and divine Metrophanes, entreat that great mercy may be granted unto us.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As the most-holy mystical ones of the Trinity
And equal shares with the Righteous
O wise Dionysios with Metrophanes,
Do not neglect to ever crush
The machinations of the evil one against us,
That we may cry, hail, O God-bearers.
Hail holy dyad of the Righteous, who walked upon the earth blamelessly in life, with Dionysios, and Metrophanes the godly, as divine healers, of the Holy Trinity.
The Dormition of St. Dionysios the Rhetor (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!