Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Come, let us with holiness celebrate..."

Jesus Christ as an infant (source)
Come, let us with holiness celebrate the festival of the glorious name day of the Master, Christ; for in a manner fitting God he is called Jesus today; with this let us also magnify the memory of the Hierarch.
The nativity of Christ is all radiant and bright, and traces out today the mystery of the renewal of the age to come; because by the regulation of the Law the Saviour is circumcised, not as God, but as a mortal and the fulfilment of the Law.
Fulfilling the Law the Maker of the Law is today willingly circumcised in the flesh, bringing about the circumcision of the winter of sin, and granting grace to cry: Blessed are you the God of our Fathers.
-Troparia from the Canon of the Feast
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Homily V on the Nativity of Christ, by St. Ephraim the Syrian

Christ is born! Glorify Him!
The Nativity of Christ (source)

Homily V on the Nativity of Christ, by St. Ephraim the Syrian
At the birth of the Son, there was a great shouting in Bethlehem; for the Angels came down, and gave praise there. Their voices were a great thunder: at that voice of praise the silent ones came, and gave praise to the Son.
Blessed be that Babe in whom Eve and Adam were restored to youth! The shepherds also came laden with the best gifts of their flock: sweet milk, clean flesh, befitting praise! They put a difference, and gave Joseph the flesh, Mary the milk, and the Son the praise! They brought and presented a suckling lamb to the Paschal Lamb, a first-born to the First-born, a sacrifice to the Sacrifice, a lamb of time to the Lamb of Truth. Fair sight [to see] the lamb offered to The Lamb!
The lamb bleated as it was offered before the First-born. It praised the Lamb, that had come to set free the flocks and the oxen from sacrifices: yea that Paschal Lamb, Who handed down and brought in the Passover of the Son.
The shepherds came near and worshipped Him with their staves. They saluted Him with peace, prophesying the while, "Peace, O Prince of the Shepherds." The rod of Moses praised Thy Rod, O Shepherd of all; for Thee Moses praises, although his lambs have become wolves, and his flocks as it were dragons, and his sheep ranged beasts. In the fearful wilderness his flocks became furious, and attacked him.
Thee then the Shepherds praise, because Thou hast reconciled the wolves and the lambs within the fold; O Babe, that art older than Noah and younger than Noah, that reconciled all within the ark amid the billows!
David Thy father for a lamb's sake slaughtered a lion. Thou, O Son of David, hast killed the unseen wolf that murdered Adam, the simple lamb who fed and bleated in Paradise.
At that voice of praise, brides were moved to hallow themselves, and virgins to be chaste, and even young girls became grave: they advanced and came in multitudes, and worshipped the Son.
Aged women of the city of David came to the daughter of David; they gave thanks and said, "Blessed be our country, whose streets are lightened with the rays of Jesse! Today is the throne of David established by Thee, O Son of David."
The old men cried, "Blessed be that Son Who restored Adam to youth, Who was vexed to see that he was old and worn out, and that the serpent who had killed him, had changed his skin and had gotten himself away. Blessed be the Babe in Whom Adam and Eve were restored to youth."
The chaste women said, O Blessed Fruit, bless the fruit of our wombs; to Thee may they be given as first-born. They waxed fervent and prophesied concerning their children, who, when they were killed for Him, were cut off, as it were first-fruits.
The barren also fondled Him, and carried Him; they rejoiced and said, Blessed Fruit born without marriage, bless the wombs of us that are married; have mercy on our barrenness, Thou wonderful Child of Virginity!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Homily on the Sunday before Christmas, by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes

The Nativity of Christ (source)
Homily on the Sunday before Christmas, by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes
“...and you will call His name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:21)
My beloved, how fast time flies! In a short time we will again celebrate the great feast of Christmas. Because of this, this Sunday is called the Sunday before the Nativity of Christ.
Our holy Church ordained to read as the Gospel today, the beginning, the first chapter of the first Gospel, that according to Matthew, It is a catalog of the forefathers of Christ. But, did Christ have forefathers? As the beginningless God, He did not, He has the heavenly Father. But, as He appeared upon the earth as a perfect man, except sin, He put on flesh from the pure blood of the Most-holy Theotokos. And He was born in a supernatural manner. He has no earthly father, only a mother. His mother is our Panagia. Her parents are Joachim and Anna, and the parents of Joachim and Anna are others, and so on. Thus is marked the great chain of the forefathers.
The first link of the chain of the forefathers of Christ is a great historical personality, Abraham. To Abraham, as we hear in the Epistle, was granted a great proposition, that from his descendants, from the root of Jesse, would be born the Redeemer.
According to this catalog, from Abraham until David is 14 generations, from David to the captivity of Babylon is 14 generations, and from the return from Babylon until the birth of Christ again is 14 generations (Matthew 1:17). [We hear] about fifty names, which do not make an impression on us. They are Hebrew names and seem tiresome, to hear “he gave birth to him”, “who gave birth to him”, to descend the ladder of the forefathers to reach the Virgin Mary, from whom Christ was born.
But these names, which we now hear with indifference, in their era, created a great impression. From them some were generals, other governors, other prophets, others patriarchs, others kings, others wealthy, others wise, like Solomon, David, etc. Now, they don't make an impression. What does this teach us? Like these names were forgotten, thus those who today make an impression and are famous and advertised, after 50-100 years, who will remember them? Somewhere in some page of history, with a small letter, it will be written that they passed from the earth. All of the fireworks and lights will be extinguished. The result? “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2). Wealth and positions are zero, everything is zero. Only one thing remains, for someone to do the will of God. But while the names of Israeli and universal history and modern life are drowned in the abyss of time, one name always remains contemporary, to the spite of the demons. Which? That which was granted to the Divine Infant. The Angel, according to the command of the Lord, told Joseph, the protector of the Panagia: “And you will call His name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:21) What does the name Jesus mean? It is not Greek, it is Hebrew, and translated it means “Savior”. The Child that will be born, in other words, is the Savior. I entreat you to pay attention to this, “the name above every name.” (Phil. 2:9) Why is Christ called “Savior”? We must give an explanation.
Here on earth where we live, to where man was cast from Paradise, in every place, man is scourged by a variety of misfortunes, which are the consequences of the sinful life. Hunger, thirst, lacking clothing and shelter, sicknesses...all of these are dangers, evils which man tries to mitigate. But there are others as well. There are natural disasters, like earthquakes, droughts, floods, fires, invasions, incurable sicknesses like cancer, and ultimately death. All of these are terrible evils.
But still I haven't told you anything. There is something even more serious—may God enlighten us to understand it. The number one evil, which forms the root of all evil, all of our wretchedness—and unfortunately which we do not give proper meaning to—according to the tongue of the Holy Scriptures, is sin. From there come all other evils, their cause is sin. We shudder when we hear of cancer, but sin however does not make us shudder. We play with her, like children who play with Christmas presents. We don't perceive anything, and because of this mankind is scourged. Whether adultery and fornication and lasciviousness, whether greed and gluttony, whether jealousy and envy, whether anger and rage and indignation, whether malice and hatred and vengeance and fear, sin, this is the source of all misery. If we could, with one miracle, uproot it, then the earth would become Paradise. Who will save us? And even if we remain silent, the rocks themselves will cry out: only One saves! Opening the history book, one can count many people whom the people, for the small service that they offered, were called “saviors”. But these are small saviors. There is only one Savior: Christ.
If someone does something good for you, you remember him, and consider him your benefactor. For example, to the doctor who healed you, you show gratitude. Above all of those benefactors however, is Christ, for He saves us from the worst evil: sin. He saves with His Church.
He is the true Savior. Do we sense this? Only he who senses his sinfulness and says like the Publican: “God, have mercy on me, the sinner” (Luke 18:13), or like the Prodigal Son: “I have sinned against heaven and before you” (Luke 15:18), or like the Thief: “Remember me, O Lord, when You come unto Your Kingdom” (Luke 23:42), he understands that Christ is the Savior.
And it is not enough of course to just say it, that He is the Savior of men in general. We must sense that He is our personal Savior. God will make you worthy to sense this, if you bow your head in repentance, and tell your sins to your spiritual father, if you go to confession. Then, you will sense that a mountain has been lifted away from you, and you will sense deep gratitude to Christ.
This is what the Thief on the Cross sensed, this is what the Apostles, the Martyrs, all the Saints sensed, like, for example, St. Ignatios the God-bearer, Bishop of Antioch [whom we celebrate today]. When they led him to Rome in order to throw him to the beasts, he wrote about Christ: “My eros has been crucified”, in other words, Christ is the eros of my heart. There are few loves that move our carnal generation, only sex. I am not condemning it, God implanted it [within man], but not in order to quench every other eros. Our generation, the generation of Sodom and Gomorrah, does not recognize any other loves. It is right what a philosopher said, that our era is without love. If you don't love Christ, you have not understood anything, and in vain you came to earth. Beautiful loves are the eros of science, the eros of the fatherland, but above all is the eros of Christ.
In older years, the name of Christ was the sweetest thing. A little child or grandmother would fall to their knees and make the sign of the Cross, and the first word that they learned to say was the word “Christ”. I saw such examples. Now, unfortunately, divine eros not only has been quenched, but some times, has been turned into utterly satanic hate.
When I was a preacher in Grevena, and traveled through the high mountains, there where I was walking, I straightaway heard a blasphemy. The first time I heard such a blasphemy. My, my! I said, what is going on here? Are there demons dwelling out here? I approached, therefore, and what did I see? Behind a tree was sitting a father, who had a little boy at his knees, and was teaching him to blaspheme Christ! My God, still, the stars have not become pots to fall upon our heads? Where is the love for Christ? However, let someone curse and dishonor Christ, His name will remain unto the ages. Like the black clouds cannot extinguish the sun, thus blasphemies cannot extinguish the name of Christ. He will remain unto the ages of ages, to the spite of the demons.
I pray that in our land, that not even one blasphemy would be heard, but that small and great, man and woman, all together will say: “Blessed is God, and glorified is His name”, Whom, O children of the Greeks, praise and exalt supremely, unto all the ages. Amen.
+Bishop Avgoustinos
(delivered in the Church of Sts. Constantine and Helen, Amyntaiou, 12/20/1987, amateur translation of text from source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

St. John Climacus: "There is a time for everything under heaven..."

Jesus Christ, the Pantocrator ("Ruler over all") (source)
“If there is a time for everything under heaven, as Ecclesiastes says, and by the word ‘everything’ must be understood what concerns our holy life, then if you please, let us look into it and let us seek to do at each time what is proper for that occasion. For it is certain that, for those who enter the lists, there is a time for dispassion and a time for passion (I say this for the combatants who are serving their apprenticeship); there is a time for tears, and a time for hardness of heart; there is a time for obedience, and there is a time to command; there is a time to fast, and a time to partake; there is a time for battle with our enemy the body, and a time when the fire is dead; a time of storm in the soul, and a time of calm in the mind; a time for heartfelt sorrow, and a time for spiritual joy; a time for teaching, and a time for listening; a time of pollutions, perhaps on account of conceit, and a time for cleansing by humility; a time for struggle, and a time for safe relaxation; a time for stillness, and a time for undistracted distraction; a time for unceasing prayer, and a time for sincere service. So let us not be deceived by proud zeal, and seek prematurely what will come in its own good time; that is, we should not seek in winter what comes in summer, or at seed time what comes at harvest; because there is a time to sow labours, and a time to reap the unspeakable gifts of grace. Otherwise, we shall not receive even in season what is proper to that season”
-St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent (Step 26, Section 87)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"The river of your charismas waters every heart..."

St. Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Trimethous (source)
The river of your charismas waters every heart, O Venerable [Spyridon], and grants to all deliverance richly, calling all to glorify Him Who glorified you, and all to honor your wonderworking.

Formerly, the dead girl, as one alive, spoke to you who questioned her, O Father. O sublime wonder! O paradoxical mystery! O, the grace that you were granted! For you were adorned with an Angelic life, O you who are worthy to be praised.
-Troparia from the Canon to St. Spyridon, Second Tone
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Homily on St. Nicholas by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes (+2010)

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra of Lycia (source)
Homily on St. Nicholas by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes (+2010) (amateur translation)
And again, my beloved, the great feast of St. Nicholas has dawned. What shall we say? Should we honor his virtues?
Should we praise his abstinence? As his Apolytikion says, he was the “teacher of abstinence”. For not only when he was older, but also when he was a child in the arms of his mother, he fasted from milk and did not nurse [on Wednesdays and Fridays].
Should we praise his meekness, for his Apolytikion says that he was the “Icon of meekness”? Amidst insults and slanders and schemes of his enemies, he responded with great meekness. He teaches us, that we ourselves, no matter how many times we are insulted and slandered in this world, we must remain meek. There is no greater power than meekness, through which the demons of hell are conquered.
Or should we speak of his almsgiving, his great almsgiving? He would go at night to the homes of the poor, and to distribute gold coins, and he saved from filth and corruption.
Or should we speak of his faith, the great and unshakable faith which the Saint had? When the Church was endangered by the heresy of Arius, he hastened to the city of Nicea, and there, together with other Holy Fathers, worked towards the triumph of Orthodoxy. Of course, St. Nicholas did not have the gift of speaking like Athanasios the Great, or the debate skills of many of the other Fathers, he was unlettered. But what did this matter? When he heard Arius blaspheme Christ, this meek and humble one arose, and, as his life says, he struck the leader of heresy for his blasphemy. And this is a lesson for us, that when God is being offended, we must rise up. We, instead, whenever we ourselves are offended, whenever we are wronged, slandered, and condemned, then we are filled with wrath, and we become beasts and endanger the world. But, when Christ is being condemned and blasphemed, then we show indifference. The Saint showed the opposite. To the assaults against him, he responded with meekness, but when Christ was being wronged, he responded with strength, and for this reason he struck Arius. We have within us a lot of ego, not the name of Christ, like he did.
St. Nicholas, in other words, is the synopsis of all of the virtues, the expression of the Beatitudes of Christ, because in his person was implemented all of the Beatitudes of the Lord (Matthew 5:1-12).
But I, my beloved, wish to add to the image of the Saint two words that show that St. Nicholas was not only the merciful, and the meek, and the faithful servant dedicated to the Lord, but was furthermore the protector of the poor and those wronged, the protector of people who were condemned by the mighty ones of their day. I will mention one or two examples, then I will close.
The first is that, in his metropolis one morning, women ran with wild hair, wailing and crying out. They fell at the feet of St. Nicholas and said: “Save us!” They entreated the Saint to save them, because their husbands were taken. They were seized, put in bonds and taken to prison. They were condemned to death, and in a few hours they would execute these men. And their wives were in a terrible state. The Saint, as soon as he heard their terrible news, hastened to the prison. But at that hour the prison was empty, because they had taken them bound, and let them out into the fields to execute them. The Saint understood the danger. And that elder ran like a child, and reached the place of the execution. And as soon as he got there, he took the sword from the hands of the executioner, with which he was to slaughter those innocent men. And not this alone, but he greatly censured the tyrant of that city and threatened him, that he would give him up to Constantine the Great. And the tyrant came to his senses, was humbled and repented.
St. Nicholas the Wonderworker (source)
This was one situation when he saved men. And there is another. In the era of St. Constantine, three soldiers, brave and glorious soldiers, who conquered the barbarians in various wars and battles, and who were the boast of the Byzantine Empire, these three soldiers were slandered and condemned by evil and malicious men. They were seized and thrown in prison, and condemned to death within a few hours. They had no refuge other than the protection of St. Nicholas, And the life of the Saint, which we believe, says that that night, they entreated the Saint to protect them. And then the miracle occurred. What miracle? In his sleep, the Emperor saw a vision. He saw St. Nicholas strike him, and tell him: “What charge do you go to perform? Why do you wish to dip your hands in the blood of the innocent? These three soldiers, who are ready to be executed, these three are innocent men, and you must free them. Do not perform that which you are thinking to do.” In reality, when the Emperor awoke, he immediately called the general, and gave commands to free those three soldiers who had been condemned. They, full of joy and exaltation, hastened to express their thanks to the Saint who freed them.
Ba, you will say! Those are old things, and ancient stories. All of those were “In those days...”
No, my beloved! Not “in those days”. And today and tomorrow and the day after, and forever until the stars cease to shine, and the rivers to run, and the trees to fill with leaves, until the sun and the moon no longer shine, the miracles of God continue to exist. These are not mythological things.
I will relate to you one final one. What occurred? In Kozani in 1944, in those years, the terrible years of slavery for our nation. Then, evil and corrupt men seized 300 men and threw them in prison. And there was wailing and morning. Women, men and children wailing, because their execution was for sure. And that morning in Kozani, the city of St. Nicholas, which has the church of St. Nicholas, dawned a very sad day of St. Nicholas. And the bells of St. Nicholas rung sadly, as if it were Holy Friday. I was then, as God continues to make me worthy to be, a preacher in Kozani. And I ascended the amvon full of tears. And I said: “Today, St. Nicholas does not celebrate. Fall on your knees, fall on your knees both small and great, and entreat the Saint to work his miracle...” And he worked the miracle. That evening, he freed them!
St. Nicholas saving those unjustly condemned to death (source)
Of course. Our religion is not a lie, it is alive, wholly alive. And yesterday and today and tomorrow, forever there will be miracles. And if you go to the blessed islands of our fatherland, there you will see old sailors with white hair, who passed through oceans and seas, and sailed through the Atlantic ocean, and behold the joy in their eyes. At the hour when they met huge waves and sharks and fearsome beasts, when they were ready to be cast upside down and to be torn to pieces upon the rocks, at that terrible hour of death, when they beheld their death before them—I am not lying, but telling you the truth—they entreated the Saint. And the Saint worked his wonder. And they found themselves on the dry land without understanding how!
Therefore, it is a fact that the Saint was meek, and merciful, and faithful, and dedicated to God, it is a fact that he was a man of God. But it is also a fact that St. Nicholas is the protector of those who are wronged and weak.
This is the Saint whom we hymn today. And all of us, with one heart and with one soul, united in the faith of Christ, in our Orthodox faith, let us entreat God, through the intercessions of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, to have mercy and save all of us. Amen.
+Bishop Avgoustinos
(homily by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes, given in the Holy Church of St. Nicholas in the city of Florina on 12/6/78, source)
St. Nicholas saving those unjustly condemned (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"O Father Nicholas, you are the myrrh container of the All-holy Spirit..."

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra of Lycia (source)
O Father Nicholas, you are the myrrh container of the All-holy Spirit, for you pour forth joyous fragrance like the springtime, the divine aromas of Christ, for you were an imitator of the Apostles, and you travel throughout the world, through the words of your wonders. Therefore, for those far off and those at hand, you appear in dreams, and you redeem those sentenced to an unjust death, and paradoxically you save from dangers many of those who call upon you. Therefore, we who have fallen into the hands of enemies, deliver, through your intercessions, those who ever praise you.
-Idiomelon of the Litia in the Forth Tone.
St. Nicholas the Wonderworker (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"You gathered together an ascetical gymnasium on the earth..."

St. Savas the Sanctified (Source)
You gathered together an ascetical gymnasium on the earth, O Venerable Savas, and all the assaults of the passions you drove away through the stream of your tears. Your life that was led by God was known by all to be a divine and sacred ladder lifting up to the heavens, for within it, you showed forth the fruits of piety, and through them, heal the afflictions of passions, for those who cry out to you in faith: Rejoice, the golden shining star of the East, and the lamplighter and shepherd of Monastics. Rejoice, O ever-memorable one, the beautiful nursling of the desert, and the unassailable support of the Church. Rejoice, the great guide for the lost. Rejoice, our boast, and the radiant rejoicing of the whole world.
-Idiomelon of the Litia in the Second Tone
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

"The Martyr Barbara, who was called by God..."

St. Barbara the Great Martyr (source)
The Martyr Barbara, who was called by God, said as she suffered in the stadium: "Though the current tortures are terrible, O judge, I would not trade the things of heaven for those of the earth. Therefore, cut, tear apart the flesh, and deliver me over to fire, while I rejoice to depart for Christ, my Bridegroom." Through her intercessions, Savior, send down upon us Your mercies, and save those who celebrate her struggle with faith.
-Idiomelon of the Praises, in the Second Tone, by Byzantios.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

The Farewell Letter of St. Porphyrios

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
The Farewell Letter of Saint Porphyrios

While at the Holy Skete of Kavsokalyvia on Mt. Athos,   St. Porphyrios had given orders for his grave to be dug.
Through a spiritual child of his, he dictated a farewell letter of advice and forgiveness to all his spiritual children.

Here is the letter as it was sent to us from the Holy Convent of the Transfiguration of the Savior.
It is dated June 17, 1991. It was found amongst the monk's garments that were laid out for his burial on the day of his departure.
It again indicates his profound humbleness.
   My dear spiritual Children,

Now that I am still in charge of my faculties, I want to give you some advice.

Ever since I was a child, I was always in sin. When my mother sent me to watch the animals on the mountain, (my father
had gone to America to work on the Panama Canal for us his children, because we were poor), there, where I shepherded
the animals, I slowly read, word by word, the life of St. John the Hut-dweller and I loved St. John very much.
I said a lot of prayers, like the young child that I was, twelve or fifteen years old, I don't remember too well. I wanted
to follow his example. So, with a lot of difficulty, I secretly left my parents and came to Kavsokalyvia on the Holy Mountain.
I became obedient to two elders, the true brothers, Panteleimon and loannikios.

They happened to be very devout and full of virtue, I loved them very much and because of that, with their blessing,
I gave them absolute obedience. That helped me a lot. I also felt great love for God and got along very well.
However, because of my sins, God allowed me to become ill, and my elders told me to go to my parents in my village
of St. John, Evia. Although I had sinned a lot from when I was a small child, when I returned to the world I continued
to commit sins which, today are very many. The world, however, thought highly of me, and everyone shouts that I'm a saint.

I however, feel that I am the most sinful person in the world. Of course, whatever I remembered I confessed, and I know God
has forgiven me. But now I have the feeling that my spiritual sins are very many and I ask all those who have known me
to pray for me, because, for as long as I lived, I humbly prayed for you, too. Now that I'm leaving for heaven, I have the
feeling that God will say to me, "What are you doing here?" I have only one thing to say to him, "I am not worthy of here, Lord,
but whatever your love wills, it'll do for me." From then on, I don't know what will happen. I however, wish for God's love to act

I always pray that my spiritual children will love God, Who is everything, so that He will make us worthy to enter His earthly
uncreated Church. We must begin from here. I always made the effort to pray, to read the hymns of the Church, the Holy Scriptures
and the Lives of the Saints. May you do the same. I tried, by the grace of God, to approach God and may you also do the same.

I beg all of you to forgive me for whatever I did to upset you.

Hieromonk Porphyrios
Kavsokalyvia, June 4/17 1991
St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

St. John of Kronstadt on Prayer, Thanksgiving and Praise

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior. His Gospel reads: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest..." (source)
With sincere Christians prayer is continual, because we continually sin; gratitude is perpetual, because everyday, every moment, we receive fresh mercies from God, beside the old mercies, which are numberless. Praise is also perpetual, because we perpetually see the glory of God's works in ourselves and in the world, especially the glory of His infinite love towards us.
-St. John of Kronstadt, "My Life in Christ"
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"Let the heaven above rejoice today..."

The Entrance of the Theotokos to the Temple (source) (source)
Let the heaven above rejoice today, and let the clouds sprinkle forth gladness, at the utterly paradoxical and great deeds of our God, for behold, the Gate that is beheld in the East, who was born from a barren womb through promise, and offered to be the dwelling-place of God, today enters the Temple, as a spotless offering that is brought forth. Let David rejoice, plucking the lyre, for it is written, they shall be led to the King with the virgins behind her, her companions shall be brought in, within the tent of God, wherein is His mercy seat, to be raised to be the dwelling-place for Him Who was ineffably begotten of the Father before the ages, for the salvation of our souls.
-Idiomelon of the Litia for the Entrance of the Theotokos, First Tone, by George of Nikomedia.
Most-holy Theotokos, save us! Amen!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

St. Paisios the Athonite: "Give thanks to God for everything..."

St. Paisios the Athonite (source)
Give thanks to God for everything. Try to be manly. Pull yourself together a bit. Do you know what Christians are suffering in other countries? There are such difficulties in Russia! But here many exhibit indifference. There’s not enough disposition to kindness, love of devotion. You see, if we don’t begin to make war against evil, to expose those who tempt believers, then the evil will grow larger. If we throw aside fear then the faithful will be emboldened a bit. And those who wage war against the Church will have a harder time. In the past our nation lived spiritually, so God blessed her, and the saints helped us in miraculous fashion. And we were victorious against our enemies, who always outnumbered us. Today we continue to call ourselves Orthodox Christians, but we don’t live Orthodox lives.
-St. Paisios the Athonite
St. Paisios the Athonite, depicted with his heavenly patrons: Sts. Arsenios of Cappadocia and Euphemia the Great Martyr (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

St. Gregory Palamas on the Incarnation

Icon of Christ "The Angel of Great Counsel" (source)
However great the heaven of heavens may be, or the upper waters which form a roof over the celestial regions, or any heavenly place, state or order, they are no more marvelous or honorable than the cave, the manger, the water sprinkled on the infant and His swaddling clothes. For nothing done by God from the beginning of time was more beneficial to all and more divine than Christ's Nativity...
-St. Gregory Palamas, "Homily 58: On the Saving Nativity of Christ"
As we are beginning the Advent season, I pray that the Lord might make us all worthy to see His nativity in the flesh. May we prepare ourselves to have Him born in the manger of our hearts! Amen!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Let us gather to praise the ever-memorable Menas..."

St. Menas the Great Martyr and Wonderworker (source)
Let us gather to praise the ever-memorable Menas, the brave servant of Christ, O faithful, with martyrical praises and spiritual odes. For he set to battle invisible enemies, and lawfully struggled, having rightly received the trophy of victory. And now, he dances in the heavens with the indissoluble choir of the Angels, entreating for peace to the world, and the great mercy.
-Doxastikon of the Praises in the First Tone, by Anatolios.

You were seen as bread, baked by the flames that touched you, offered as a spotless sacrifice, perfect as an offering, and as a spiritual whole-burnt offering, pouring forth divine fragrance, which was smelled by God, O healer of God Menas.
-Troparion from the Canon of St. Menas, Ode VIII.

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

"O venerable Arsenios, you were offered to the Lord..."

St. Arsenios of Cappadocia (Source)
O venerable Arsenios, you were offered to the Lord, and served Him spotlessly, through your ascetical way of life, for you received the divine fire, which the Savior came to cast upon the earth, for you surpassed the thought of those who dwell on the earth, and became as one outside of the world and the flesh, living the life of an angel. And you became a treasury of divine gifts, and were shown to be a worker of wonders, and a virtuous icon of praxis, in our generation. Therefore, as you partake of the rewards for the pains which you endured, do not cease to intercede, O Father, on behalf of those who celebrate your holy memory with faith and fervor.
-Doxastikon of the Stichera for the feast of St. Arsenios of Cappadocia
(amateur translation of text from source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

"O how holy and pleasing to God was your life..."

Icon of St. Nektarios the Wonderworker, with scenes from his life (source)
O how holy and pleasing to God was your life, O God-bearer Nektarios, and O how strange are the wonders which you work daily through your grace! Who would not wonder at you, who are truly worthy of honor? Or who would not glorify you, who was glorified by the Lord? For your divine relics appeared as a spring of healings, curing terrible sicknesses and driving out the unclean spirits, and all who approach them with faith, receive [blessings towards] salvation of souls and healing of bodies, as they glorify Christ, Who wondrously glorified you.
-Idiomelon of the Liti for the feast of St. Nektarios the Wonderworker
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"Rejoice with us, all you commanders of the Angels..."

Icon of Archangel Michael the Taxiarch of Mandamados (source)
Rejoice with us, all you commanders of the Angels, for your leader and our champion, the great Chief Captain, marvellously appearing today in his sacred shrine, sanctifies it; therefore as is right let us cry out to him with songs of praise: Shelter us in the shelter of your wings, Michael greatest of Archangels!
-Doxastikon of the Stichera
With lips of fire the Cherubim sing your praise, Christ God; with bodiless mouths the choir of Archangels sings a never-ending hymn of glory; Michael, the Chief Captain of the Powers above, offers to your glory an unceasing hymn of victory. For he has shone on us today that for this shining festival we may fittingly ring out in song the thrice-holy hymn with lips of clay; for all things have been filled with your praise, and you grant the world through him your great mercy.
-Doxastikon of the Litia
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

St. John of Kronstadt on the Purpose of Life

St. John of Kronstadt, the Wonderworker (source)
For what purpose does the Lord add day after day, year after year, to our existence? In order that we may gradually put away, cast aside, evil from our souls, each one his own, and acquire blessed simplicity; in order that we may become, for instance, gentle as lambs, simple as infants; in order that we may learn not to have the least attachment to earthly things, but like loving, simple children, may cling with all our hearts to God alone, and love Him with all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength, and all our thoughts, and our neighbor as ourselves. Let us hasten, therefore, to pray to the Lord, fervently and tearfully, to grant us simplicity of heart, and let us strive by every means to cast out the evil from our souls - for instance, evil suspiciousness, malevolence, malignity, malice, pride, arrogance, boastfulness, scornfulness, impatience, despondency, despair, irascibility and irritability, fearfulness and faint-heartedness, envy, avarice, gluttony, and satiety; fornication, mental and of the heart, and actual fornication; the love of money, and in general the passion for acquisition; slothfulness, disobedience, and all the dark horde of sins. Lord, without Thee we can do nothing! Bless us Thyself in this work, and give us the victory over our enemies and our passions. So be it!
-St. John of Kronstadt, "My Life in Christ"
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Metropolitan Avgoustinos: "O God of Demetrios, help us!"

St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer (source)
Homily of Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes on St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer: “O God of Demetrios, help us!”
Today is the feast of St. Demetrios, and thousands of people celebrate. Many villages and cities celebrate, because the name Demetrios is one of the most common and beloved names in the Orthodox Church.
St. Demetrios is honored in all places where there is Orthodoxy. If we were to go to Serbia, we would meet the name of St. Demetrios, and in Bulgaria and Romania and even in Russia, the name of St. Demetrios is loved, honored and venerated.
What was St. Demetrios? A monk? Did he get up and leave his house and go into the mountains and crags to live in asceticism? No. What was he? A priest or a bishop? No. He was a layman. He was a soldier. And however, he became holy. What does this mean? That there is no career that hinders one from becoming a Christian and becoming holy. The farmer who works the soil, and the shepherd who keeps sheep, and the artist who directs, and the teacher, and professor, and soldier and general, small and great, all can become holy. We see, in other words, that the Saints come from all careers.
Demetrios was therefore a Saint. But what does “Saint” mean? A Saint means to be a hero. Not in the small and humble way that the world perceives. The world calls a hero him who takes up weapons, ascends into the mountains, and fights and kills. These are the heroes that the world perceives and honors. But above those heroes, who are victorious in battles, there are other heroes, who are a rarer kind of hero.
Alexander the Great, who conquered the whole world, complained and said: “I, who conquered the whole world, have been conquered by my passions.” Because of this, our ancient forebearers said that “to conquer one's self, that is the highest victory.” Someone could subjugate the whole world, like Alexander the Great, but still, however, be a slave to his passions. A hero, therefore, is he who conquers his weaknesses, conquers his passions, his evil deeds, the sinful world that resides within his heart. A hero is he who conquers, as the Fathers say, “the world, the flesh and the devil”. This is the higher form of heroism.
From this perspective, St. Demetrios was a hero. And why was he a Saint? First of all, because he believed in Christ, and he did not hide his faith, he was not a crypto-Christian. Whoever has deep feelings does not hide them, but reveals them, relates them, preaches them. This is what St. Demetrios did. He did not just hide within his heart the name of Christ, but revealed it, preached it everywhere, wherever he went.
St. Demetrios preaching the faith (source)
Within the city of Thessaloniki, he tried to make other people Christians. He was not at peace until he made the idolaters Christians. Especially, he showed care to children and young people. He tried to win them over for Christ, and he regularly preached to them about Christ. Whereas today a catechist might ring the bell to call the children to Sunday School, something similar we could say was done by St. Demetrios. He was a radiant catechist, a radiant preacher of the truth. Within Thessaloniki, he had gathered children, adolescents and young people, whom he catechized. A special phalax gathered near to St. Demetrios. Besides the soldiers, whom he trained like a general in the barracks, he had another army, a peaceful one, trusting in the name of Christ, and these were the children that he catechized.
For this Christian ministry which St. Demetrios undertook, the arms of the idolaters were raised against him. They condemned him, they seized him, they removed his rank, and they threw him in prison.
Among those whom St. Demetrios catechized, the brightest, most heroic child was Nestor. In those days, in the great stadium of Thessaloniki, games were occurring. And those games would gather thousands of people to watch them. There were also the kings and rulers and the soldiers. There appeared Lyaios, a huge man, three meters high, a gigantic wrestler. He was a beast, with terrifying power, and he endangered the whole people. He was a barbarian who blasphemed Christ, and no one would dare bother him. Like when a lion escapes from his cage, and everyone begins to tremble and hide out of hear, the same thing happened with Lyaios, who traumatized all of the athletes and no one would dare to go before him.
Nestor, however, a 17 year old child, said: “I will go battle with Lyaios, and I will beat him!” Futily they told him: “What are you doing? Do you want your death? He is wholly like a lion. Whom could you take with you?”
Nestor went to the cell of his teacher, St. Demetrios, who was bound in prison for his faith of Christ, and knelt before him. He sought for his prayer. St. Demetrios made the sign of the Cross over him, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and told him these famous words: “You will both conquer Lyaios and be martyred for Christ, my child.”
St. Nestor receiving St. Demetrios' blessing in prison (source)
In reality, Nestor went to the stadium and began the fight. When Lyaios saw him, he laughed... But Nestor, full of boldness, made the sign of the Cross and cried out: “O God of Demetrios, help me.” And like lightning, he fell upon the giant, and threw him down and conquered him. King Maximian became greatly angered at the defeat of Lyaios. He did not want to accept this wondrous result.
He ordered them to put Nestor to death. Thus, Nestor was martyred for Christ.
And St. Demetrios? His end was also martyrical. As Nestor was martyred, he was martyred as well. Not only with his mouth, but with his blood. This “I believe...” [i.e. the Creed] which we hear in the Divine Liturgy, is not written with ink and pen. This “I believe...” is, my brethren, written with the blood of the martyrs. This “I believe...” St. Demetrios also signed with his blood.
They went to the prison where he was, and the soldiers ran him through with spears, like Christ was pierced in His spotless side, when blood and water poured forth. Thus similarly, from the side of St. Demetrios, was poured forth myrrh, eternal myrrh.
This in a few words, my beloved, is the life of St. Demetrios, whose name is honored by all of the towns and cities from Dounavi to Crete, from Kerkyra to Cyprus, and from Australia to America and everywhere. A great Saint.
There where they buried St. Demetrios in Thessaloniki—this is not a myth—thousands of people would go to his tomb, men and women, widows and orphans, poor and sick people who had lost hope in physicians and medicines of this world. And all of them became well. Thousands of miracles occurred and continue to occur through St. Demetrios. And the greatest miracle occurred in our days.
How many years passed since then? In his holy church, the Turks had built a mosque. The hodja ascended and said the “allah, allah”. For 500 years the Turks were there. But in 1912, on a holy day when the Saint was being celebrated, the Turks fled, and instead of the crescent moon which they had on the mosque, they raised a blue flag, the sign on the Cross.
On that holy day, Turkey had no longer any position in the holy city of Thessaloniki. On that holy day, the children of our fatherland, with the voice of Nestor cried out: “O God of Demetrios, help us”, as the new Nestors who believed in God, conquered the Lyaios of the East. Because the Turk was a Lyaios, and continues to be.*
And today in the Balkans, Lyaios again has returned. And he is being supported, unfortunately, by powerful people. As for us? O God of Demetrios, help us! We are small and insignificant, disregarded Nestors. But these small and insignificant people, if we are men of God, faithful men, will be granted again by God to conquer the modern Lyaios once again. And then our mountains and crags and the bodies and graves of our forebearers will cry out: “You will conquer Lyaios and be martyred for Christ. Amen”
+Bishop Avgoustinos
(homily of Metropolitan of Florina Avgoustinos Kantiotes, which was delivered in the holy church of St. Demetrios, K. Kallinikis, Florina, 10/26/1976, source)
*Note: Metropolitan Avgoustinos is not at all being racist or implying that every citizen of Turkey is the same. By the term "Turk", he refers to those muslims who worked great oppression and atrocities against Christians for hundreds of years. While we are always called to love and forgive our enemies, God often even in this life, grants us deliverance from our oppressors and the freedom to follow Him.
St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"Ablaze with divine glory and grace..."

St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer (source)
Ablaze with divine glory and grace, Martyr and Champion, you shine as though formed of light, and you enlighten those who cry: Blessed are you, Lord, in the temple of your glory.
Adorned with your own blood as with royal purple, having the Cross for a sceptre, glorious martyr, you now reign with Christ, crying: Blessed are you, my God and Lord.
The multitude beyond understanding of the wonders that Christ granted you freely, glorious Martyr, you display for all; and grace of healings beyond reason that is clearly yours, proclaims grace to us who cry: All you his works, praise the Lord!
-Hymns from the Canon of St. Demetrios

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

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Funeral Service for a New Martyr of Christ

The Dormition of St. John the Russian (source)
The Orthodox Church holds its Martyrs in the highest regard. They are those who witnessed to Christ, denied all worldly joys, and suffered manifold tortures in order to gain Christ and His Kingdom. As such, historically, the Church has immediately called them blessed after their martyrdom, and sought their blessings. And the Church has produced many myriads of Martyrs throughout her history, from the first to the 21st centuries.
The Christians living under the yoke of the Ottoman Turks experienced on a daily basis what it means to suffer for Christ, and many of those who gave their lives, we now call upon to pray for us as "New Martyrs" of the faith. In this regard, St. Nikephoros of Chios (+1821) composed a service (loosely based off of the Matins for Great and Holy Saturday) that can be used as a funeral for an Orthodox Christian, who witnessed to Christ and the Orthodox Faith, and gave his or her life for this witness. As one reads through this beautiful service, one is struck that there are no calls for God to grant repose to the departed, but we straightaway call on the Martyr to intercede for us to the Master. And this is according to the word of our Savior:
"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven."
Please note that this is an amateur translation of the text that is not set to match the meter of the hymns. I request that you review this translation / grammar before public or liturgical use. I also think that it would be best to seek the blessing of your bishop before using this, as these are sensitive issues which require great care, discernment, obedience humility and love.
Despite these, the reason that I provide this, however, is to show a small token of thanks to our Lord for strengthening His children among great trials, and to encourage those who continue to suffer for Him throughout the world, until He comes again to judge the living and the dead, to render to each according to his works.
An Orthodox Funeral Service for a New Martyr of Christ
Written by St. Nikephoros of Chios
The priest says the “Blessed is our God...”, followed by the Psalm “He who dwells in shadow of the Most-high” (Psalm 91).
Fourth Tone.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Verse: God is wondrous among His Saints. The God of Israel, He will give strength and protection of His people. Blessed is God.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Verse: The Saints that are on His earth, the Lord has shown wondrous, all that He desires is within them.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Troparion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his (her) courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he (she) possessed Thy strength, he (she) cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his (her) prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
The same hymn.
Both now.
We magnify you, O Theotokos, crying out: You are the mountain, from which unspeakably was cut the stone, that destroyed the gates of Hades.
Then the “Blameless” (Psalm 119), and the Lamentations
Stasis I. Tone Plagal of the First. The Heirmos.
In a tomb they laid You, O Christ the Life. The angelic hosts were overcome with awe and glorified Your condescension. (2)
Verse 1. Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Let the ranks of the faithful gather together, and offer up a hymn of glory to Christ, the strength of Your Martyr.
Verse 2. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
We magnify You, O Christ the Life-giver, Who glorified Your servant amidst struggles against enemies sensible and noetic.
Verse 3. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
Mourning adorned the Saints formerly, and their deaths with noise and tears, but now, they rejoice and dance on behalf of them.
Verse 4. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
For those Champions who died on behalf of You, O Savior, death is truly a sleep, and a journey to great rejoicing.
Verse 5. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.
We offer up for you, O Champion, funeral hymns, and joy of soul and heart, and we glorify Your struggles in faith.
Verse 6. Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.
You stood before the judgment seats of the lawless manfully, having been arrayed with the Cross of the Lord, O Champion, and you preached Christ.
Verse 7. Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.
You now stand before Christ with fervor as a communicant, through the passion that you suffered, O all praised one, now have joy and gladness with Him.
Verse 8. I hold fast to your statutes, Lord; do not let me be put to shame.
Now, you rejoice together with the choirs of the Saints, in the all-joyous dwelling places of the heavenly Kingdom, O blessed one.
Verse 9. Turn my heart toward your statutes, and not toward selfish gain.
The ranks of the Champions, and the multitude of the Saints have received you as an added New Martyr, and an intercessor to Christ for those upon the earth.
Verse 10. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame.
This fleeting life has ended for you, but you have gained the life to come, and you ever live in Christ.
Verse 11. I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.
Those who serve at your funeral, O glorious Martyr, protect and cover from every temptation, through your prayers to God.
Verse 12. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Though earth now covers your body, the unwaning light of your spirit dwells in the mansions of Heaven.
O Father, Word and Spirit, Trinity in oneness, have mercy on your supplicants, through the prayers of the new Champion.
Both now.
We bless you, O pure Theotokos, who was proclaimed by the Martyr in his (her) struggles, as the utterly true Birthgiver of God.
Stasis II. Tone Plagal of the First. The Heirmos.
Truly it is right that we magnify You Who bestow Life, Who upon the Cross with Your outspread Hands have defeated all the power of the foe. (2)
Verse 1.Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.
Truly it is right to magnify the new and glorious Martyr in odes and hymns, who died and now lives together with Christ.
Verse 2. May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.
You deposed the enemies, O radiant boast of new Champions, and you raised up the trophies of victory, having gained them through struggling on behalf of Christ.
Verse 3. May those who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes.
O holy one, you have become a glory to the faithful, and a shame and dishonor to the faithless, therefore we piously glorify you with hymns.
Verse 4. The arrogant dig pits to trap me, contrary to your law.
You now sleep, for the death of Your Saints is sleep, but your eye is untiring, and gazes upon those who hymn you.
Verse 5. In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.
O Martyr of Christ, most-steadfast Champion, do not cease to pray for your servants, who honor your struggle with faith.
Verse 6. Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts.
The whole multitude of Martyrs on high has fathered, to bring glory and honor to the brave struggler of Christ.
Verse 7. The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.
O Champion, you have been shown forth as a phoenix rising to Paradise, as the Prophet David said, and an evergreen plant.
Verse 8. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
All were struck, seeing you victorious before lawless judges, O brave Martyr, and steadfast in mind.
Verse 9. I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.
The ranks of mortals and of the Angels rejoices in your struggles, O new Martyr, and they glorify the power of Christ.
Verse 10. Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.
Heaven rejoices to receive your spirit, but the earth also rejoices, to receive your sacred body.
Verse 11. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
Deliver, through your prayers, those who hasten to your funeral, and grant healing for those who are standing by your divine Relic in faith.
Verse 12. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.
Entreat God for the remission of our sins, for those who with reverence, are burying you, and covering your body with the earth.
O Beginningless God, Father, Word and Divine Spirit, through the intercessions of the Martyr, save all those who believe in You.
Both now.
It is truly right to magnify you, the Theotokos, who are more honored than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim.
Stasis III. Third Tone. The Heirmos.
Every generation offers Thee its hymn of praise at Thy burial, O Christ. (2)
Verse 1. Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.
Every generation blesses you, O Champion of the Lord.
Verse 2. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
You struggled bravely, and rightly received the crown from Christ.
Verse 3. Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.
You struggled lawfully, and you finished the race of divine martyrdom.
Verse 4. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.
You have kept the faith, you glorified the Creator, through your godly mind, O Martyr.
Verse 5. My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.
Truly, the crown of righteousness is placed upon you, O Champion.
Verse 6. Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.
The ranks of the Angels and the choirs of men clap their hands at your struggles.
Verse 7. Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live.
Today, the heavens are opened in glory, that you might enter, O Champion.
Verse 8. I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes.
The divine ranks of the Martyrs come out to meet you, who have died on behalf of Christ.
Verse 9. Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.
Rejoice unto the ages, together with choirs of the Martyrs, O Martyr and hoplite of Christ.
Verse 10. Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes.
An intercessor and mediator before the God of all, become for those who honor you.
Verse 11. I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.
Protect from all dangers, O Martyr, the city that honors you.
Verse 12. I obey your precepts and your statutes,for all my ways are known to you.
Do not neglect, O Martyr, those who have been made worthy to place you in the earth.
O God of all, the Prince of peace, grant peace to the world.
Both now.
O Virgin Theotokos, do not cease to intercede for peace in the world.
And the Evlogetaria in the Plagal of the First Tone.
Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes.
The assembly of angels, and all the choirs of the saints, O Champion, now surround your soul in the heavens rejoicing, and they glorify Christ Who granted you strength and crowned you.
Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes.
Instead of myrrh, we on earth offer you hymns with fervor, and your sacred body, O Saint, we now bury with reverence, therefore receive our divine fervor, and visit and save us through your prayers.
Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes.
You proclaimed Christ most radiantly as Son of God and God the Word, O Champion, before judges and atheists, and having been slaughtered, received eternal life and live forever.
Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes.
With awe we surround your all-sacred body, and honorably bury it in the earth, invisibly grant divine graces to those who hymn you with faith and fervor.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We worship the Father and His Son and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, for Whom you struggled, O Martyr, manfully, and Who crowned you with incorruptible crowns, O Glorious One.
Both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
O Virgin you gave birth to the Life-giver and Savior, Who granted salvation to mortals, and Who was preached by the famed Champion with boldness, and most-truthfully you who gave birth to God, and opened incorruption where was formerly death.
Then, the entreaty, with the ekphonesis: “For you are our God...”
And the Kathisma. First Tone. Your grave, O Savior.
As sacredly we bury your all-holy body, O Martyr of Christ, we entreat with faith and fervor, seeking your grace for your servants, and help and firm protection for those who desire you, and who praise you in reverence, and in all ways do guide them.
Glory. Both now.
Mary, the sacred vessel of the Master...
Then the Prokeimenon: The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon.
Verse: Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.
The Gospel according to St. Luke
The Lord said: Beware of men, for they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.
Through the intercessions of the Champion, O Merciful One, wash away my many personal offenses.
Both now.
Through the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Merciful One, wash away my many personal offenses.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy, and according to the multitude of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions.
Then the Troparion, to the melody of “Jesus, having risen from the grave...”
For those who celebrate the divine burial of your Relic in faith, O Martyr of Christ, entreat that we be granted divine mercy.
Then the Priest says: “Save, O God, Your people, and bless Your inheritance...”
Lord have mercy (3)
And the Priest says: “Through the mercy and compassion...”
And then [at the final veneration of the Relic] the following Prosomoia in the Second Tone. When from the tree.
Come, O faithful, let us venerate with reverence and fervor, and embrace the all-holy and surpassingly-precious body of the famed new Martyr, touching it with our lips, our eyes and our foreheads, that we be granted the grace of the Spirit which has been united with it, and let us pray to him (her) in tears, that we might be made worthy of a saving and divine end, through his (her) intercessions to the Lord.
Above, the choirs of the Angels, and the ranks of the Champions, rejoices at your holy soul, O blessed one, and exalts together with the multitude of the Venerable, and the choirs of the Prophets and the divine band of Hierarchs, while below, your all-sacred body is honorably buried in the earth, rightly praised in hymns and odes.
When Christ comes from heaven with the Angels and Saints to judge everyone, then, your body will be raised again with glory, as it is written, in incorruption, O thrice-blessed one, though it is now buried in the earth in corruption. Therefore, remember all of your servants, that the Judge might have mercy on all, we pray.
Your divine body is hidden within the recesses of the earth, but your spirit radiantly was received on high in heaven, O Champion, in the divine mansions and holy dwelling places, where it rejoices together with the choirs of the chosen, until all will be united in the resurrection of the dead, that they might give glory together unto the ages.
With most-fervent desire and love, O Martyr, deliver those who are burying your divine Relic, through your intercessions, from every sorrow, danger and evil, that in peace, we might celebrate your all-holy memory with annual hymns and the clapping of hands, as we venerate the container of your Relic.
Both now.
Rejoice, Panagia, the beginning of the human race, O Virgin, from whom Christ the Lord refashioned the nature of mortals. Rejoice, untilled arable land, that bore fruit that is the wheat of life. Rejoice, you who were foreseen by the Prophets. Rejoice, the glory of the Apostles. Rejoice, the strength of the Martyrs.
The Dormition of St. Kosmas Aitolos, the New Hieromartyr (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!