Friday, February 27, 2015

A recent healing at the Monastery of Ntaou, Penteli

The Holy Venerable Martyrs of the Monastery of Christ Pantocrator, Ntaou Penteli (source)
A nun from the Monastery of the Pantocrator, Ntaou, Penteli (where they treasure the Holy Relics of over 150 martyred monastic Saints, who gave their lives for Christ all together on Great and Holy Pascha) related a miracle that occurred just last week to a group of pilgrims:

A paraplegic boy from Russia visited the Monastery with his parents from the 21st to the 22nd. He had never walked in his life! In his mind he had the thought, however. He was a law student with honors! He venerated the holy bodies of the Saints, and the Abbess crossed him with the Holy Relics and told him: "The Saints have boldness and God listens to them! From you it is asked now if you have the faith to get up and walk!"

At one point, his parents were in the Monastery gift shop, and the boy remained by himself in the Church, when after a short time, he got up, and not just this, but began to run in the courtyard and the other parts of the Monastery! The miracle had occurred! The young man who was healed said that, when he graduates from the Law School of Moscow, he will come by foot to Greece, to venerate at the Monastery!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

St. Porphyrios on Prayer and the Will of God

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
We should seek that the will of God be done. This is the most beneficial, the safest way for us and for everyone to pray.

Christ will give us all riches. When there is even a little egotism, however, nothing occurs. When God does not give us something which we are persistently asking for, He has His reason. God has His "secrets". If you do not show obedience (to your priest or spiritual father), and you don't have humility, the prayer (i.e. "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me") does not come, and there is a fear of delusion.

The prayer should not become chore. Pressuring can bring opposition within us, and cause something bad. Many have sickened with the prayer, because they said it with pressure. And also, of course, when you make it a chore. But this isn't healthy.

There is no need to gather specifically to say the prayer. You don't need any effort when you have divine eros. Wherever you are, on a stool, on a chair, in the car, everywhere, on the road, in school, in the office, at work, you can say the prayer, the "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me", gently, without pressure, without asphixiation.

Meaning in prayer comes not from length of time, but from the state. You may only pray for five minutes, but they should be offered to God with love and longing. One can pray the whole night, and this five-minute prayer can surpass it. This is a mystery, of course, but this is how it is.

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

Sunday, February 22, 2015

St. Gregory Palamas on Love and Forgiveness

Jesus Christ in majesty (source)
"In this time of fasting and prayer, brethren, let us with all our hearts forgive anything real or imaginary we have against anyone. May we all devote ourselves to love, and let us consider one another as an incentive to love and good works, speaking in defense of one another, having good thoughts and dispositions within us before God and men. In this way our fasting will be laudable and blameless, and our requests to God while we fast will be readily received."
-St. Gregory Palamas, excerpt from Homily Seven: "On Fasting"
Please forgive me everyone, and may God forgive us all!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"By the Waters of Babylon: The Great Fast, Our Exile" by Fr. Seraphim Rose

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise (source)
By the Waters of Babylon The Great Fast, Our Exile
by Fr.Seraphim Rose (+1982)
March 1965
This weekend, at the Sunday Vigil of the Prodigal Son, we will sing Psalm 135.1  
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion".  
In these words of the Lenten psalm, we Orthodox Christians, the New Israel, remember that we are in exile. For Orthodox Russians, banished from Holy Russia,2 the Psalm has a special meaning; but all Orthodox Christians, too, live in exile in this world, longing to return to our true home, Heaven.  
For us the Great Fast is a session of exile ordained for us by our Mother, the Church, to keep fresh in us the memory of Zion from which we have wandered so far. We have deserved our exile and we have great need of it because of our great sinfulness. Only through the chastisement of exile, which we remember in the fasting, prayer and repentance of this season,

Do we remain mindful of our Zion?  
"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem..."
Mosaic from Ormylia Monastery: Adam and Eve eating from the tree in Paradise causing the fall, and  the Good Thief, through the Tree of the Cross, re-entering Paradise (source)
Weak and forgetful, even in the midst of the Great Fast we live as though Jerusalem did not exist for us. We fall in love with the world, our Babylon; we are seduced by the frivolous pastimes of this "strange land" and neglect the services and discipline of the Church whi(souch remind us of our true home. Worse yet, we love our very captors - for our sins hold us captive more surely than any human master - and in their service we pass in idleness the precious days of Lent when we should be preparing to meet the Rising Sun of the New Jerusalem, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  
There is still time; we must remember our true home and weep over the sins which have exiled us from it. Let us take to heart the words of St. John of the Ladder: "Exile is separation from everything in order to keep the mind inseparable from God. An exile loves and produces continual weeping."
Exiled from Paradise, we must become exiled from the world if we hope to return.  
This we may do by spending these days in fasting, prayer, separation from the world, attendance at the services of the Church, in tears of repentance, in preparation for the joyful Feast that is to end this time of exile; and by bearing witness to all in this "strange land" of our remembrance of that even greater Feast that shall be when our Lord returns to take His people to the New Jerusalem, from which there shall be no more exile, for it is eternal.

Icon depicting the Holy Prophet David and Psalm 135 "By the Waters of Babylon" (source)
For a fuller commentary on this most beautiful Psalm and fitting hymn for Triodion, see the following talk by Fr. Thomas Hopko.
A beautiful video compiled by Fr. Seraphim from Mull Monastery with a recording of the famous Byzantine Chant version of "By the Waters of Babylon" in English, coupled with beautiful footage of the waters and countryside (source)
"Theology will not suit mourners, for it is of a nature to dissolve their mourning. For the theologian is like one who sits in a teacher’s seat, whereas the mourner is like one who spends his days on a dung heap and in rags. That is why David, so I think, although he was a teacher and was wise, replied to those who questioned him when he was mourning: ‘How shall I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?‘ —that is to say, the land of passions."
-St. John of the Ladder


The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An Encomium to the Theotokos, by St. Philothei of Athens

The Most-holy Theotokos "The Hope of the Faithful", holding Christ (Source)
The following is an encomium, written by St. Philothei of Athens in her childhood years to the Most-Holy Theotokos. It was uncovered by Professor Nikolos Vehs, in a manuscript of the Monastery of the Mega Spileon, Kalavryta, and published in an article in 1923:
O my All-pure Virgin, and my eternal spring,
The preaching of the Prophets, and the Mother of the Venerable,
You were the sermon preached by the Prophets,
You are the unburnt Bush, you are the holy Mountain,
You are the Ark, O sanctified Lady,
And you are the palace, the home of the King,
Where God made His home, and put on flesh,
He Who accepted the Cross for my sins.
I entreat you to tell Him to forgive me,
For all the many evils that I have done, and I stand in sadness.
Become, my Lady, an Intercessor, that you might deliver me,
As you have become for many an Intercessor who comes close to them.
You are, my Virgin, she who was spoken of by the Prophets,
Rejoice, O heavenly vine, and ladder of Paradise,
And rejoice, O unquenchable light, the Rod of Aaron,
The consul of salvation, you are the joy of the Righteous,
The hope of sinners and the boast of the Angels,
And I hope in you, that you will entreat for me.
(amateur translation of text from source)
St. Philothei of Athens (Source)
Most-holy Theotokos, save us!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Significance of the "Six Psalms" of the Orthodox Matins Service

Icon of the Second Coming of Christ (source)

The Six Psalms

by Tyler Dykstra
The Six Psalms (Psalms 3, 37, 62, 87, 102, and 142) are a regular part of nearly every Orthros (Matins) service in the Church. Taken as a single unit, they are never omitted, except during Paschaltide (the 39 days after Pascha) [Or in other traditions, during Bright Week.]
The Six Psalms (in Greek, Hexapsalmos) is one of the most important parts of Orthros. It is “a time when all should put aside other thoughts, stand quietly, and concentrate on these penitential prayers.”1 Truly, it is one of the holiest moments in the Orthros service.
These Psalms are a summary of the Christian life, highlighting the sorrow that we so often meet along the way to our eternal joy.
In some traditions, all the candles or lights in the church are extinguished while these Psalms are read. This, along with the phrase “Glory to God in the highest,” calls to mind the dark night when Christ was born. It also affords us concentration on the Psalms’ words. According to Archbishop Benjamin of Nizhegorod and Arzamas:
This is done so that we, able to see nothing with our eyes, might listen to the Six Psalms attentively and with fear [of God] and so that everyone standing in the dark might shed a tear and release a tender sigh. For at night, and if there is no lighted candle nearby, it is difficult for people to see one another. It is for this reason that the ustav (rubric) directs: thus we pronounce the Six Psalms with all attentiveness and fear of God, as conversing with our invisible Christ God Himself, and praying over our sins.2
During the reading of the most bitter of the Psalms, Psalm 87, the priest leaves the altar to read his twelve morning prayers, which include intercessions for those standing in the church and for the forgiveness of their sins. This act symbolizes Christ, who heard the mourning of mankind and left his heavenly throne to rescue us, and ultimately shared in the suffering that Psalm 87 describes:
Wherefore, O Lord, dost Thou cast off my soul and turnest Thy face away from me? A poor man am I, and in troubles from my youth; yea, having been exalted, I was humbled and brought to distress. Thy furies have passed upon me, and Thy terrors have sorely troubled me. They came round about me like water, all the day long they compassed me about together. Thou hast removed afar from me friend and neighbour, and mine acquaintances because of my misery.3
There is also a tradition in the Church which says the Six Psalms will be read to each of us by our guardian angels at the Last Judgment, and during the time of the reading the whole world will be judged.
[St. Paisios the Athonite on the Six Psalms
Once, we were housing a priest at Stavronikita Monastery, and at the Six Psalms he lowered the stasidi (stall) and sat down!

"Father," I told him, "They are saying the Six Psalms."

"This way I will enjoy them better!" he replied.

What I told him seemed strange about the Six Psalms. And there were other Fathers who were old that were standing. They were holding onto the stasidi and didn't rock at all.

It is one thing to be tired, to be sick, for your feet to shake and for you to sit--Christ will not condemn him--but it is another thing to think that it is better to say: "I enjoy it better sitting." How will he justify this? The spiritual life is not enjoyment. If you feel pain, sit, Christ is not a tyrant. And Abba Isaac says: "If you can't stand, sit." He doesn't say: "If you can, sit!"

-Elder, why don't we sit at the Six Psalms?
-Because it symbolizes the Judgment.
Because of this, when the Six Psalms are read, it is good for our nous to go to the hour of Judgment.
The Six Psalms last 6-7 minutes. In the first stasis we don't even do our cross, because Christ will not come to be crucified, but He will come as Judge.
-St. Paisios the Athonite
While it is a lengthy part of the Orthros service that can become tedious, we should try our best to stand and listen “with compunction and complete silence”4, meditating on the words of these Psalms:

The Six Psalms from Orthros5

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men. Thrice, with the sign of the Cross and a bow from the waist each time.
O Lord, Thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise. Twice.

Psalm 3

O Lord, why are they multiplied that afflict me? Many rise up against me. Many say unto my soul: There is no salvation for him in his God. But Thou, O Lord, art my helper, my glory, and the lifter up of my head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy mountain. I laid me down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord will help me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God, for Thou hast smitten all who without cause are mine enemies; the teeth of sinners hast Thou broken. Salvation is of the Lord, and Thy blessing is upon Thy people.
I laid me down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord will help me.

Psalm 37

O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine anger, nor chasten me in Thy wrath. For Thine arrows are fastened in me, and Thou hast laid Thy hand heavily upon me. There is no healing in my flesh in the face of Thy wrath; and there is no peace in my bones in the face of my sins. For mine iniquities are risen higher than my head; as a heavy burden have they pressed heavily upon me. My bruises are become noisome and corrupt in the face of my folly. I have been wretched and utterly bowed down until the end; all the day long I went with downcast face. For my loins are filled with mockings, and there is no healing in my flesh. I am afflicted and humbled exceedingly, I have roared from the groaning of my heart. O Lord, before Thee is all my desire, and my groaning is not hid from Thee. My heart is troubled, my strength hath failed me; and the light of mine eyes, even this is not with me. My friends and my neighbors drew nigh over against me and stood, and my nearest of kin stood afar off. And they that sought after my soul used violence; and they that sought evils for me spake vain things, and craftinesses all the day long did they meditate. But as for me, like a deaf man I heard them not, and was as a speechless man that openeth not his mouth. And I became as a man that heareth not, and that hath in his mouth no reproofs. For in Thee have I hoped, O Lord; Thou wilt hearken unto me, O Lord my God. For I said: Let never mine enemies rejoice over me; yea, when my feet were shaken, those men spake boastful words against me. For I am ready for scourges, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity, and I will take heed concerning my sin. But mine enemies live and are made stronger than I, and they that hated me unjustly are multiplied. They that render me evil for good slandered me, because I pursued goodness. Forsake me not, O Lord my God, depart not from me. Be attentive unto my help, O Lord of my salvation.
Forsake me not, O Lord my God, depart not from me. Be attentive unto my help, O Lord of my salvation.

Psalm 62

O God, my God, unto Thee I rise early at dawn. My soul hath thirsted for Thee; how often hath my flesh longed after Thee in a land barren and untrodden and unwatered. So in the sanctuary have I appeared before Thee to see Thy power and Thy glory. For Thy mercy is better than lives; my lips shall praise Thee. So shall I bless Thee in my life, and in Thy name will I lift up my hands. As with marrow and fatness let my soul be filled, and with lips of rejoicing shall my mouth praise Thee. If I remembered Thee on my bed, at the dawn I meditated on Thee. For Thou art become my helper; in the shelter of Thy wings will I rejoice. My soul hath cleaved after Thee, Thy right hand hath been quick to help me. But as for these, in vain have they sought after my soul; they shall go into the nethermost parts of the earth, they shall be surrendered unto the edge of the sword; portions for foxes shall they be. But the king shall be glad in God, everyone shall be praised that sweareth by Him; for the mouth of them is stopped that speak unjust things.
At the dawn I meditated on Thee. For Thou art become my helper; in the shelter of Thy wings will I rejoice. My soul hath cleaved after Thee, Thy right hand hath been quick to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Glory to Thee, O God.
Thrice, with the sign of the Cross, but without bows***.
[***Other traditions hold that one does not even make the sign of the Cross at this point, as this period is one in which we stand in utter silence and stillness before the face of the Lord, as we will on Judgment Day.]
Lord. have mercy. Thrice.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Psalm 87

O Lord God of my salvation, by day have I cried and by night before Thee. Let my prayer come before Thee, bow down Thine ear unto my supplication. For filled with evils is my soul, and my life unto hades hath drawn nigh. I am counted with them that go down into the pit; I am become as a man without help, free among the dead. Like the bodies of the slain that sleep in the grave, whom Thou rememberest no more, and they are cut off from Thy hand. They laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness and in the shadow of death. Against me is Thine anger made strong, and all Thy billows hast Thou brought upon me. Thou hast removed my friends afar from me; they have made me an abomination unto themselves. I have been delivered up, and have not come forth; mine eyes are grown weak from poverty. I have cried unto Thee, O Lord, the whole day long; I have stretched out my hands unto Thee. Nay, for the dead wilt Thou work wonders? Or shall physicians raise them up that they may give thanks unto Thee? Nay, shall any in the grave tell of Thy mercy, and of Thy truth in Thy destruction? Nay, shall Thy wonders be known in that darkness, and Thy righteousness in that land that is forgotten? But as for me, unto Thee, O Lord, have I cried; and in the morning shall my prayer come before Thee. Wherefore, O Lord, dost Thou cast off my soul and turnest Thy face away from me? A poor man am I, and in troubles from my youth; yea, having been exalted, I was humbled and brought to distress. Thy furies have passed upon me, and Thy terrors have sorely troubled me. They came round about me like water, all the day long they compassed me about together. Thou hast removed afar from me friend and neighbor, and mine acquaintances because of my misery.
O Lord God of my salvation, by day have I cried and by night before Thee. Let my prayer come before Thee, bow down Thine ear unto my supplication.

Psalm 102

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all that He hath done for thee, Who is gracious unto all thine iniquities, Who healeth all thine infirmities, Who redeemeth thy life from corruption, Who crowneth thee with mercy and compassion, Who fulfilleth thy desire with good things; thy youth shall be renewed as the eagle’s. The Lord performeth deeds of mercy, and executeth judgment for all them that are wronged. He hath made His ways known unto Moses, unto the sons of Israel the things that He hath willed. Compassionate and merciful is the Lord, longsuffering and plenteous in mercy; not unto the end will He be angered, neither unto eternity will He be wroth. Not according to our iniquities hath He dealt with us, neither according to our sins hath He rewarded us. For according to the height of heaven from the earth, the Lord hath made His mercy to prevail over them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our iniquities from us. Like as a father hath compassion upon his sons, so hath the Lord had compassion upon them that fear Him; for He knoweth whereof we are made, He hath remembered that we are dust. As for man, his days are as the grass; as a flower of the field, so shall he blossom forth. For when the wind is passed over it, then it shall be gone, and no longer will it know the place thereof. But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity, even unto eternity, upon them that fear Him. And His righteousness is upon sons of sons, upon them that keep His testament and remember His commandments to do them. The Lord in heaven hath prepared His throne, and His kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the Lord, all ye His angels, mighty in strength, that perform His word, to hear the voice of His words. Bless the Lord, all ye His hosts, His ministers that do His will. Bless the Lord, all ye His works, in every place of His dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul.
In every place of His dominion, bless the Lord, O my soul.

Psalm 142

O Lord, hear my prayer, give ear unto my supplication in Thy truth; hearken unto me in Thy righteousness. And enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath humbled my life down to the earth. He hath sat me in darkness as those that have been long dead, and my spirit within me is become despondent; within me my heart is troubled. I remembered days of old, I meditated on all Thy works, I pondered on the creations of Thy hands. I stretched forth my hands unto Thee; my soul thirsteth after thee like a waterless land. Quickly hear me, O Lord; my spirit hath fainted away. Turn not Thy face away from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. Cause me to hear Thy mercy in the morning; for in Thee have I put my hope. cause me to know, O Lord, the way wherein I should walk; for unto Thee have I lifted up my soul. Rescue me from mine enemies, O Lord; unto Thee have I fled for refuge. Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God. Thy good Spirit shall lead me in the land of uprightness; for Thy name’s sake, O Lord, shalt Thou quicken me. In Thy righteousness shalt Thou bring my soul out of affliction, and in Thy mercy shalt Thou utterly destroy mine enemies. And Thou shalt cut off all them that afflict my soul, for I am Thy servant.
Hearken unto me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness, and enter not into judgment with Thy servant. Twice.
Thy good Spirit shall lead me in the land of uprightness.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Glory to Thee, O God. Thrice, with the sign of the Cross and a bow each time.
Lord, have mercy. Twelve times.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Works Cited

1. V. Potapov. The Six Psalms and the Extinguishing of Candles. 2001.
2. Abp Benjamin of Nizhegorod and Arzamas. The New Testament, or Explanations of the Church, the Liturgy, and of all Church Services and Furnishings. St Petersburg, 1908.
3. Holy Transfiguration Monastery. The Psalter According to the Seventy. Boston, 1974.
4. Protopsaltes Georgios Biolakes. “The Daily Diataxis.” The Protheoria of the Typikon of the Great Church of Christ. 1888. Trans. Fr Konstantinos Terzopoulos, 2008.
5. Fr John Whiteford. “Daily Matins (Outside of Lent) As a Reader Service.” The Online Reader Service Horologion. 2002.
For a prophecy by Elder Ambrose of Dadiou that corroborates the Church tradition linking the Six Psalms with the Last Judgment, see here.
The Second Coming of Christ, and the Last Judgment (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The healing of Elder Iakovos Tsalikis by St. Charalambos

St. Charalambos the Hieromartyr (source)
"Once," as Elder Iakovos Tsalikis related: "When I was a small child, I suffered a severe cold, as I was struck bed-bound with great shortness of breath and terrible pain in the left side of my chest.

There was no doctor in the village, and our only refuge was God and His Saints. We had in our home a small silver icon of St. Charalambos--it was wonderworking--over 600 years old, and we had brought it from Asia Minor as a family heirloom.

My mother therefore, offered much prayer and prostrations, entreating the Saint. Then, I saw the hand of a Priest, from the wrist down, pass over my head, and descend to my chest where I was having pain, and make the sign of the cross over my and pat my head. Immediately, the pain passed along with the shortness of breath, and I became well. I told me mother:

"Mother, I saw the hand of a Priest cross me and pat me on the head, and now I'm fine. It all passed." I even told her with such detail, even about the hair on the wrist, as I saw it.

"My child," my mother said, "it was St. Charalambos, who came to heal you. You should remember this day forever (it was the feast of the Holy Apostle Thomas) when the miracle happened, because you were dead, and resurrected."
(amateur translation of text from source)
Elder Iakovos Tsalikis (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

St. Paisios the Athonite: Come to your senses

St. Paisios the Athonite (source)
God is very near us, but also very high. In order for someone to have God bend to descend and remain with him, he must be humbled and repent. Then, the greatly-compassionate God, beholding his humility, lifts him up to the Heavens and loves him greatly. There is joy in heaven over the repentance of a sinner, says the Gospel.

God granted man a mind to contemplate his fault, to repent and to seek forgiveness. The unrepenting man is a hard thing. He is very senseless, because he does not wish to repent, in order to eliminate the small hell that he is experiencing, which leads him to something worse, eternity. Thus, he is barren of the heavenly joys on earth, which continue in Paradise, near God, with the much greater joys, eternal ones.

As long as man is far from God, he is outside of himself. Do you see, that the Gospel writes that the Prodigal Son "came to himself", saying: "I will go to my Father." In other words, when he came to his senses, when he repented, he said: "I will return to my Father." As long as he was living in sin, he was outside of himself, he was not in his right mind, because sin is irrational.

-Elder, Abba Alonios says: "If a man wishes, he can reach a divine measure from morning until the evening." What does he mean?
The spiritual life does not desire time. In one second, one can be found in Paradise from hell, if he repents. Man is responsible. He can become an angel, he can become a devil. My, my, my, what power repentance has! It attracts divine Grace. A humble thought that a man brings to mind can save him.

A prideful thought can come to his mind, and if he does not repent, death will find him, he is gone, he is lost. Of course, the humble thought must be followed by internal groaning, by internal contrition. Because the thought is a thought, but there is also the heart. The hymn says: "With all my soul and mind and heart...", I think, however, that the Abba here is thinking here of a more permenant state. It requires some time, in order for one to reach a good state.

I err, I repent, and I am forgiven that instant. If I have a struggling spirit, slowly I will achieve a more stable situation, but until then, I can be swayed.

-Elder, can an older person help himself spiritually?
Yes, barely, for when someone gets old, he is granted the strength to repent, because all illusions flee. Formerly, because he had bodily strength and nothing was difficult for him, he did not understand his weaknesses and he thought that he was in a good state. Now that he has difficulties and grumbles, he is helped to understand that he is not well, that he is limping, that he must repent. If he spiritually utilizes the little remaining years of his life, and if he uses his experience that shows that most of the years of his life have passed him by, [he learns that] Christ will not leave him, He will have mercy on him.

(amateur translation of text from source)
St. Paisios the Athonite, depicted together with St. Arsenios of Cappadocia and St. 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, February 1, 2015

Akathist to St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer

St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer (source)
Please note that the meter of this translation is not set to match the original music.

Akathist to St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer
written by the former bishop of Thessaloniki, St. Athanasios Patelarios, of Crete
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
O faithful, let us praise  with hymns and divine praises the Myrrhstreamer, who deposed the cruelty of the tyrant, and conquered the audacity of Lyaios, and preached Christ as God clearly, and let us cry out to him: Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
Angels were astonished in heaven, beholding the godless rage of the tyrant (3), and as you were put to death by his decree, O Demetrios, we cry out to you thus:
Rejoice, the sacred pinnacle of martyrs,
Rejoice, the joyous radiance of Saints.
Rejoice, for you were placed in a pit as one condemned,
Rejoice, for you ascended to Heaven as one without a body.
Rejoice, dweller in the ranks of the Angels,
Rejoice you who bore the tortures of the tyrant.
Rejoice, for you despised the wiles of the enemies,
Rejoice, for your soul now dwells in Heaven.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
The divine Nestor, beholding himself in manliness, approached the king with boldness: “Your exceeding danger appears as an abomination to my soul. For I will put to death the godless Lyaios, crying out: Alleluia.
Having godly knowledge, O Demetrios the boast of martyrs, you said to the tyrant: “From soulless matter [i.e. idols], how is possible to give birth to God? Speak to me.” To [the Martyr], the faithful who honor God cry out with fear:
Rejoice, the most-radiant lamp of Thessaloniki,
Rejoice, for you overcame Lyaios in victory.
Rejoice, you who pours forth divine myrrh from your grave,
Rejoice, you who bears divine zeal in your heart.
Rejoice, for your blood was a purifying bath,
Rejoice, for through you there is blotting out of sins.
Rejoice, you who deposed the delusion of the idols,
Rejoice, you who censured the mania of tyrants.
Rejoice, for you healed the passion of hemorrhage,
Rejoice, you who offered your soul from its depths.
Rejoice, for you delivered Marinon from leprosy,
Rejoice, for your beloved Istron you sent.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
Power from heaven then strengthened Nestor to fight, and he took up arms against the utterly strong Lyaios, and with swift hand, he struck him down as dead, and therefore cried out to the Savior, chanting: Alleluia.
Having the divine desire to obtain the body of Demetrios, the pious Emperor [Justinian] went., but as [St. Demetrios] did not desire this, fire came forth from his grave threatening death. And he said to him such words in fear:
Rejoice, the unemptying river of wonders,
Rejoice, the irrevocable icon of traumas.
Rejoice, for you did not offer your Relic to him who sought it,
Rejoice, for you grant sanctification to those who venerate you.
Rejoice, for you summoned fire from your divine grave,
Rejoice, for you censured the mania of the tyrant.
Rejoice, for you deposed the worship of the idols,
Rejoice, for your body was pierced with spears.
Rejoice, for your blood was given as drink to the godless,
Rejoice, for you sanctified the whole world with your body.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
Having godless confusion and evil thoughts, the senseless king was enraged, beholding the Martyr not preaching the delusion of the idols. We, beholding the unjust slaughter of the Saint at his hands, cry out: Alleluia.
St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrhstreamer (source)
The ends of the world heard of the murder of Demetrios at the hands of the senseless tyrant, and beholding him dead, they hastened to him, seeing the sacred wonders that he pours forth throughout the whole world, as they honor him, saying:
Rejoice, he who traded the corruptible things for the heavenly,
Rejoice he who deposed the counsels of the evil ones.
Rejoice, you who joined chorus with the bodiless Angels,
Rejoice, you who entered the land of the greatly-suffering Saints.
Rejoice, you who serve together with the spotless Cherubim,
Rejoice, you who walk together with the pure Seraphim.
Rejoice, for you served the Lord of lords,
Rejoice, for you bore within the seat of divine thrones.
Rejoice, the most-fervent fellow servant with the Angels,
Rejoice, the most-wise fellow counselor with the Archangels.
Rejoice, the sacred adornment of the Venerable,
Rejoice, the radiant rejoicing of the Martyrs.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
Perceiving Demetrios to be a God-bearer, the most fervent man hastened to be delivered through him from the terrible demon. And having touched his deliverance, he rejoiced in the Lord, crying out: Alleluia.
Leontios, the son of the Orthodox, formerly saw the unspeakable might of the Martyr, and desiring to come to him, he sought for Istron to hasten to pass by him with his robe, and cried out to him:
Rejoice, he who through his robe worked awesome wonders,
Rejoice, he who did not bear stains of offenses.
Rejoice, for your streams have become our own.
Rejoice, for you drove back the campaigns of barbarians,
Rejoice, for you dwell in the thrones of the Martyrs.
Rejoice, you who drove away the plague from Thessaloniki,
Rejoice, our sun which shines upon the faithful.
Rejoice, he who delivered from idol-mania,
Rejoice, he who delivers all from the bonds of slavery.
Rejoice, he who grants grace to all those who approach him,
Rejoice for you ever dwell with those who praise you.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
The deluded became preachers of corruption of souls, as they hastened through Thessaloniki, performing idolatry and preaching atheism everywhere, as the Martyr left the tyrant like a mule, as he said: Alleluia.
The divine Nestor, shining together with the sacred Demetrios, drove away the darkness of error, for they anathematized the idols steadfastly, and cast them down, while the faithful who were saved cries out to those strugglers:
Rejoice, O Demetrios, the firm support,
Rejoice, O Nestor, the splendid pride.
Rejoice, you who granted strength to Nestor,
Rejoice, you who granted corruption to Lyaios.
Rejoice, you who firstly censured the blind tyrant,
Rejoice, you who secondly kept [St. Demetrios'] example.
Rejoice, he who received death by spears,
Rejoice, he who received incorruptible life through the sword.
Rejoice, he who was murdered in prison like a convict,
Rejoice, he who was preached throughout the world as one immortal.
Rejoice, he who before death worked awesome deeds,
Rejoice, he who after death works wonders.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
The holy dyad of Martyrs then passed on from this world, as the sacred Martyrs had greatly endured lawless murder. Therefore, those who behold this are astonished, and cry out to the Lord: Alleluia.
St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer (source)
A new song was found, as we bitterly sing the funeral hymn to Demetrios, for he was slaughtered by a godless tyrant, and did not sacrifice to the idols. We therefore hymn him and fervently cry out:
Rejoice, you who were placed dead in a grave,
Rejoice, you who ride throughout the world as one alive.
Rejoice, for your blood was shown to be a new cleansing bath,
Rejoice, for your soul is mixing with the Angels.
Rejoice, for you are hymned from the ends of the earth,
Rejoice for they draw forth from your fragrant myrrh.
Rejoice, lamp amidst the Martyrs,
Rejoice, ray of godly graces.
Rejoice, you who were dyed with your holy blood,
Rejoice, you who were sanctified in your divine body.
Rejoice, you who received diamond crowns,
Rejoice, for you now dwell in the halls of the ever-memorable.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
Beholding a strange wonder, the idols were moved by the bravery of the martyrs. Therefore, he who now dwells on high gives bravery to those who dwell on the earth to take courage, and aim their arrows at the idols. To him we now cry out: Alleluia.
Having his mind wholly on things above without departing from earth, was the most-pure Martyr, for he clearly conquered the delusion of the idols, and preached Christ with boldness, hearing thus:
Rejoice, for you were killed on behalf of Christ your God,
Rejoice, for you desired the joyous things of Paradise.
Rejoice, for you traveled the upper road to Heaven,
Rejoice, for you inhabit the dwelling-places of the pure.
Rejoice, for you now travel with the Angels,
Rejoice, for you have come to dwell with the Saints.
Rejoice, for you preached your Christ like a holy trumpet,
Rejoice, for you dwell in the spotless mansions of Paradise.
Rejoice, you who put forth myrrh from your godly body,
Rejoice, you who scoffed and the rubbish of the godless,
Rejoice, for you broke asunder the intrigues of rulers,
Rejoice, for you trampled upon the delusion of the idols.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
You received every grace from heaven, O Martyr Demetrios, and preached paradoxically that the inaccessible God became man, being the Son of God. Therefore, to Him let us cry: Alleluia.
O Martyr Demetrios, you showed the many words of the orators of the tyrants to be foolish, for they were astonished at how you strongly condemned the delusion of the idols. We, being astonished at this paradox, cry out to you:
Rejoice, the rose of virginity,
Rejoice, the pinnacle of continence.
Rejoice, you who lived purely before you were killed,
Rejoice, you who after you were killed were led towards God.
Rejoice, in whom the light of God was planted,
Rejoice, in whom the grace of the Trinity made its dwelling.
Rejoice, the length and breadth of the pious,
Rejoice, the sharp sword against the faithless.
Rejoice, you who shine with the rays of the sun,
Rejoice, you who drive away the mania of the tyrant.
Rejoice, tree bearing the fruits of many graces,
Rejoice, for you bore the shoots of many victories.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
Saving the Orthodox from the delusion of the godless idols, you came straightaway, O Martyr, and you preached the Lord as perfect God to the deluded and idiotic tyrant, crying out to him: Alleluia.
St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrhstreamer (source)
You are the shelter of the Martyrs, O Champion and Martyr, and all those who take refuge in you, for you revealed the Maker of heaven and earth to all, and deposed the tyrant and the idols. We therefore cry out to you:
Rejoice, the deliverance for those in sickness,
Rejoice the savior of the continuously hemorrhaged.
Rejoice, you who sow grace among all those who hymn you,
Rejoice, for you are a pillar of graces.
Rejoice, divine power, the casting-down of idols.
Rejoice, pure dwelling-place of God,
Rejoice, chaste type of Christ.
Rejoice, for your blood became as a new baptism,
Rejoice, for your body received death.
Rejoice, bridge leaving those who die from earth to heaven,
Rejoice, for you are a guide to the faithful.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
We your servants all offer funeral hymns at your grave, O Martyr, shedding tears and offering odes and psalms to you, for we are not at all worthy of what has been accomplished through, as befits your grave, but we cry out to the Savior: Alleluia.
Your grave, O Martyr, has been shown to be light-bearing, shining forth with grace like light. For all those who approach are suddenly granted joy and health, while we who approach you cry out these:
Rejoice, you who preserved your Church unharmed,
Rejoice, you who trampled upon the wiles of the evil one.
Rejoice, for you drove back the nation of the Slavs,
Rejoice, for you trampled upon the rule of the idols.
Rejoice, you who uprooted the pride of the barbarians,
Rejoice, you who cast out the conceit of the tyrants.
Rejoice, you who preserved your city unharmed,
Rejoice, you who shook up the delusion of the godless one.
Rejoice, you who punished Onesiphoros for his theft,
Rejoice you who uprooted the danger of the idols from the earth.
Rejoice, the sure consolation of those who take refuge in you,
Rejoice, the salvation of the souls of those who approach you.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
Bearing grace from above, O Demetrios, you drove out all the campaigns of the enemies. You preached Christ upon the heard as a steadfast hoplite of grace, and you cast down the idols, as you chant along with everyone: Alleluia.
We hymn the wonder that you worked, O Martyr, as your city was preserved victorious, as you appeared as a god to the faithless, sending forth Angels speedily, saying: “Drive them far away from the city”, therefore we cry out:
Rejoice, for at your will your city was saved,
Rejoice, for through your strength the enemy was cast down.
Rejoice, you who met Achilleos in your flight,
Rejoice, you who sent out Nestor with your strength.
Rejoice, you who drown Lyaios in blood,
Rejoice, you who raged against the faithless in spirit.
Rejoice, you who strengthens your city through your presence,
Rejoice, for if you left her, your city would be lost.
Rejoice, you whose grave is beloved by hymnologists,
Rejoice, you who put to death falsehood through your might.
Rejoice, you who grants to us a sea of graces,
Rejoice, you who sows the mercy of your myrrh within all.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.
O pair of Martyrs, who preached Christ as the surpassing Word before all, (3) receive these funeral hymn and odes, and deliver us from every danger, and the coming trial through your prayers, those who cry out to the Lord: Alleluia.

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