Sunday, August 30, 2015

"You were made beautiful, O Virgin..."

The Most-holy Theotokos, holding her Precious Belt (source)
  
You were made beautiful*, O Virgin, by giving birth to the most-beautiful Word, and you were well-pleased to place within your beautiful house, the beautiful Belt, which you beautifully wore in life, O Theotokos, on your beautiful body.
 -From Ode V of the Second Canon for the Feast of the Deposition of the Belt of the Theotokos
  
 
*Note: First and foremost, when the hymnographer speaks of "beauty", he is speaking of the great spiritual beauty and purity of the Theotokos.
  
Most-holy Theotokos, save us!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"John, who outran Your birth and Your passion..."

St. John the Precious Forerunner and Baptist of Christ (source)
  
John, who outran Your birth and Your passion, came through a sword to the lowest parts of the earth as Prophet and Messenger of Your entrance also there, crying as voice of the Word, you dead, highly exalt the Giver of life, you blind, the Giver of light, you prisoners, the Deliverer Christ.
-from Ode VIII of the First Canon of the Saint
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Akathist to St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed

St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed (source)
   
Note: The following is an amateur translation from the Greek text, offered for the many who love the Saint and who benefit from his speedy help. I request reviewing this translation if possible before any public / liturgical use. Also note that the meter of this translation is not set to match the original music.
  
Akathist to St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Wonderworker, the Newly-revealed
written by Nun Isidora Agierotheitissa
  
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
The hoplite of Christ of great name, who manfully deposed the enemies through formerly enduring blows and harsh tortures, and in latter years was wondrously revealed, and who works a multitude of wonders through the power of God, as born witness to by the people who honor him, crying out with odes of praise: Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
The perfect adornment of Christ, the unassailable protecting wall of the Church, the treasure and great pride of Rhodes. As you are the namesake of illumination from heaven, and you show forth divine wonders, we honor you crying out: Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
Let all blood that loves God, praise the great hoplite Phanourios (3), for having been arrayed with the armor of the Cross, you glorified the Almighty God through your sacred victories, magnifying His holy and great name. Therefore we chant of his glorious grandeur, and ceaselessly cry out like this:
Rejoice, the Martyr of the truth,
Rejoice, the pillar of steadfastness.
Rejoice, the brave general of the King of all,
Rejoice, the faithful servant of the Master of all.
Rejoice, you who humbled the demonic ranks,
Rejoice, you who conquered the ranks of enemies.
Rejoice, you who dissolved the deep darkness of atheism,
Rejoice, light of Christ for those on the earth.
Rejoice, you who drive away the bitter winter of ignorance,
Rejoice, spring, which brings the knowledge of the all-holy faith.
Rejoice, the all-radiant light of the Church,
Rejoice, the adornment and unassailable haven of Rhodes.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
All the arrows of evil of the ancient foe, you quenched through your steadfastness and manliness, O Champion. Therefore, you ever refresh our souls with the dew of the All-working Spirit, for those who praise you with fervor, and chant unto God: Alleluia.
  
The serpent was stripped naked of his ancient beauty, through giving men guileful counsel. You showed the power of God and the might of the people against him, O Martyr, through your wondrous struggles, and you clearly proclaimed His greatness. Therefore, in fervor we tell of your exquisite wonders, and out of duty with cry out to you from the heart:
Rejoice, the lamp of piety,
Rejoice, you who showed forth manliness.
Rejoice, the radiance of the faith,
Rejoice, the beauty of the Martyrs.
Rejoice, soldier who put his trust in Him Who sets the contests,
Rejoice, the all-magnanimous friend of the Giver of good things.
Rejoice, the precious lamp of the spotless faith,
Rejoice, the honored icon of the love of Christ.
Rejoice, you who endured the fire of the furnace,
Rejoice, you who inherited the joyous rejoicing.
Rejoice, the beautiful laughter of the Angelic ranks,
Rejoice, the glory and uplifted inheritance of the people of Rhodes.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
Having continuously the divine thirst for martyrdom, you hastened to the stadium, to confess Christ with boldness, and you endured tortures in your bravely-minded soul. As Paul you cried out: “It is Christ alone that I love, and it is the eternal Kingdom that I thirst for.” Therefore, having struggled perfectly, O famed Phanourios, you call all to hymn the true God, and to chant together with the Angels this new hymn: Alleluia.
  
Remaining as firm as a diamond, you were steadfast amidst the beatings, the scourges of your flesh, and the weight of stones, having ever the Passion of your Master in mind. Ceaselessly entreat Him, O Phanourios, that we be granted power to conquer the corrupting passions and to be crucified together with Him in the flesh, that we might live with Him, and ever cry out together out of need to you:
Rejoice, the arrow against him who wars against us,
Rejoice, the spear against the foreign enemy.
Rejoice, he who clearly showed the strength of our God,
Rejoice, he who laughed in the faces of tyrants.
Rejoice, weapon enriched by the invincible Cross,
Rejoice, you who scared away the army of demons.
Rejoice, you who endured the dark prison,
Rejoice, you who shown forth with your rays throughout the earth.
Rejoice, mighty defender of those who struggle,
Rejoice, the compassionate one who stands beside those in tribulations.
Rejoice, you who adorned the choir of the Martyrs,
Rejoice, you who make radiant the noetic heaven.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
You lived, O Martyr, with your waist girded with the strength of God, wearing the whole armor of the faith, and holding in your hands the All-holy Cross, you ultimately trampled upon the ranks of the enemies. Therefore, you gladdened the choirs of the Angels, O Phanourios, as you became their friend and you were seen to converse with them, chanting together with them the thrice-holy hymn: Alleluia.
  
St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed (source)
  
The grace of the Comforter dwelt in you, truly quenching all desire for earthly things, and making you worthy to love the good things to come. Therefore, counting all corruptions of the flesh to be senseless, you entered your struggles with steadfastness, O Phanourios, and you received the radiant diadem of victory. Because of this, we weave for you this crown of holy hymns, and without ceasing, with our lips cry out from our souls:
Rejoice, friend of the Giver-of-Life,
Rejoice, lamp of the Giver-of-Light.
Rejoice, the very precious joy of the Sion above,
Rejoice, unstoppable protector of those in dangers.
Rejoice, fragrant rose of the All-working Spirit,
Rejoice, beautiful flower of the perfect faith.
Rejoice, vessel of graces, exceedingly multiplied,
Rejoice, fountain of wonders and ever-flowing spring.
Rejoice, for you ever anticipate those who are in trials,
Rejoice, for you speedily hearken to those who call upon your name.
Rejoice, the most-radiant crown of the Martyrs of Christ,
Rejoice, the protecting wall of the faithful and unbeatable shield.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
Taking up the undiminishing shield of piety, and the spear of hope, and the helmet of the faith, and having been arrayed with the breastplate of the love of the Lord, you were not swayed by unbearable pains, O Athlete. But you remained steadfast as a diamond until the end, O Phanourios, hymning the powers of God. To Him you cry out the victory-bearing ode in all things: Alleluia.
  
The rotten covering of error you removed through fire, bringing forth the truth of the Lord, O Athlete, revealing the power of our God to the godless. Therefore we have gathered together in a new dance, praising your great deeds, O Phanourios, and fervently cry out to you these things from the soul:
Rejoice, the tower of the Church,
Rejoice the cornerstone of Holy Sion.
Rejoice, the steadfastness of brass and iron,
Rejoice, more radiant than geodes or gold.
Rejoice, the most-exalted fellow warrior of God,
Rejoice, you who reduced to nothing the ranks of the enemy.
Rejoice, the holy cluster of wheat granted by Christ,
Rejoice, the mystical wine of the trampling of the vineyard.
Rejoice, for you made yourself to be a sanctuary of God,
Rejoice, for you enlighten the hearts of the faithful.
Rejoice, the seed of Christ, and the shoot of the Church,
Rejoice the most-glorious fruit for the whole world.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
You became a proclaimer of God openly, and the word of your martyrdom has gone forth to the ends of the earth, and you have called the nations to hymn God, Who is glorified among His Saints, and Who granted the authority for us to trample upon the head of the guileful enemy and upon the strength of the serpent. We all have woven a new praise to God from our heart, praising the Creator of all with the victorious ode: Alleluia.
  
You have adorned the earth with the rays of your lamp of martyrdom, and your struggles have shown upon the choirs of the faithful. Therefore, you fill us with unspeakable light, as we praise the Giver-of-Light, the Beginning that surpassed the beginning, and we honor you with one voice, O famed Phanourios, and with one soul we chant the following to you in an unsatiated manner:
Rejoice, invincible panoply,
Rejoice, all-glorious crown-bearer.
Rejoice, mighty runner of the Lord,
Rejoice, you who shame the foreign enemy.
Rejoice, athlete of honorable struggles,
Rejoice, most-firm worker of godly feats.
Rejoice, for you were granted the eternal rewards,
Rejoice, for you partake of the incorruptible crowns.
Rejoice, most-compassionate healer of those in sicknesses,
Rejoice, the speedy deliver of those in trials,
Rejoice, light that reaches the ends of all creation,
Rejoice, the sanctity and surpassingly-bright star of Rhodes.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
You endured pains in your divine members, for you offered yourself up as a sacrifice, and your side was torn and burnt with torches, O Athlete, and you bore a heavy stone with your bravely-minded soul. Therefore, having been purified through these as purified gold, you ever paradoxically shine throughout the earth, O Phanourios, calling all to hymn your perfect deeds openly, and crying out to God the harmonious ode: Alleluia.
  
St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed (source)
  
Having fulfilled the law of the Master, Whom you desired from childhood, and Whom you followed as a handsome young man, eagerly desiring to drink the cup of martyrdom. Therefore, He called you to this new table in His heavenly Kingdom, to partake of His goodness unto the ages. And He calls us in glory, to enjoy the telling of your wonders with rejoicing, O Phanourios, and to cry out these fervently, and with one voice:
Rejoice, great one among the Champions,
Rejoice, greatly-suffering one among struggles.
Rejoice, most-faithful friend of the Master,
Rejoice, most-desired sin of the Most-high.
Rejoice, the pearl of the Church, shining like gold,
Rejoice, O awesome one, ever shining throughout the whole world.
Rejoice, for you intercede for us to God with boldness,
Rejoice, for you entreat acceptably on behalf of all.
Rejoice, the defender and deliver of all those held captive,
Rejoice, helper of those in deed, who works wondrous deeds.
Rejoice, the glory of the Martyrs, the beauty of the Athletes,
Rejoice, the pride of the Church, and the all-radiant protection.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
A strange wonder has been seen in the latter days, for on the island of Rhodes, as a divine treasure, your icon was found in the ruined church. Therefore, all of us, being astonished at your vision, chant to you with the honored Archpriest the God-rejoicing hymn, O honored Phanourios, saying from the depths the joyous ode: Alleluia.
  
The ranks of heaven were astonished by you, beholding your brave and great struggles, and your endless manliness of soul, O Athlete. Therefore, they place on your precious head a crown from the hand of the Giver-of-Life Who is ever worshiped. And we offer divine and rational veneration, O Phanourios, and cry out harmoniously these things:
Rejoice, invincible one among struggles,
Rejoice, surpassingly bright one in deeds.
Rejoice, joyous rejoicing of the Angels,
Rejoice, the unassailable foundation of the faithful.
Rejoice, for you cast down the uplifted idols,
Rejoice, for you adorn Orthodox churches.
Rejoice, you who fervently anticipate those in need,
Rejoice, you who speedily hearken to those who call upon you.
Rejoice, you who bring the knowledge of the Sun of glory to the ends of the earth,
Rejoice, light that gladly shines upon those in darkness.
Rejoice, for you sprung forth like a rose from the earth,
Rejoice, you who blessed the multitudes of the people of Rhodes.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
You have become a tower of strength and power of God, and you fortify the faithful in the true faith. Your heart was therefore founded upon the Rock of life, and your feet were strengthened by His divine commandments, while you radiantly reached your end through a tough and bitter martyrdom, O Phanourios. Therefore, we have woven for you crowns of odes, and we do not cease to offer in truth and fervor to you, the hymn: Alleluia.
  
The honored island of Rhodes rejoices and boasts incalculably in your sacred Church, for from her, as a radiant star, you have shined with your rays upon the whole world. Therefore, as our eyes and hearts are illumined, and radiant with your light, we ever cry out to you these things with one voice and in a fitting manner:
Rejoice, the beauty of the Martyrs,
Rejoice, the adornment of Athletes.
Rejoice, you who calm the seas for those who sail,
Rejoice, vessel led by God for those storm-tossed.
Rejoice, the all-radiant lamp of the Giver-of-Light,
Rejoice, most-bright dwelling-place of the Comforter.
Rejoice, for you enslaved the invisible enemies,
Rejoice, for you freed the enslaved priests.
Rejoice, you who preached the deeds of Mighty God,
Rejoice, you who shines throughout the world with the Giver-of-Light.
Rejoice, you who through your passion bore pains in your flesh,
Rejoice, for through your intercessions, you cease all passions of the soul.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
You were seen as a divine moon, and you stand before the throne of the Source of light, you stand together with the armies of the Angels, partaking of divine beauty in the court of Paradise. Do not cease to fervently entreat Him, O Phanourios, on behalf of those who honor your most-holy memory in faith, and cry out to God with joyous soul, he ceaseless ode: Alleluia.
  
St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed (source)
  
You have set up trophies of divine victory and fame, as we magnify your radiant and perfect deeds which caused great rejoicing to God, O Trophy-bearing Athlete. And we truly and piously praise your many great deeds, O brave Phanourios, as we say from the heart all of these things wondrously:
Rejoice, all-glorious Champion,
Rejoice, O brave trophy-bearer.
Rejoice, you who were steadfast as bronze amidst wrestling,
Rejoice, the all-holy sanctification of the spotless faith.
Rejoice, for you speedily partook of the rewards of your struggles,
Rejoice, for you gained the heavenly robe of glory.
Rejoice, you who bore pains with bravery in your soul,
Rejoice, for you partook of divine rejoicing as nourishment.
Rejoice, for you adorned the earth through the furrows of your struggles,
Rejoice, for you decorated the heavens through your joyous presence.
Rejoice, the all-radiant lamp of the Source of light,
Rejoice, foundation of the Church, and greatly-radiant temple.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
The waters of piety watered your soul, and therefore you harvested the good things of the faith, and the divine cluster of Martyrdom, O Phanourios, and having thus been filled, you placed them in the treasuries of God. And we who praise the fruits of your pains, are nourished in the heart with the praises of God, and cry out to Him ceaselessly from the lips of our souls: Alleluia.
  
You endured the dark prison cell, having beheld the thrice-radiant Light with your eyes. And you preserved your senses unsoiled by the darkness, and conversed with the Source of light ineffably. Having approached that eternal beauty of heaven, your heart was made into a temple of the living God. And we who ever venerate you and your sacred icon, in your holy church, O Phanourios, ceaselessly cry out these with fervor:
Rejoice, the divine comeliness of Martyrs,
Rejoice, the adornment of all the Saints.
Rejoice, you who partake of the unwaning light,
Rejoice, the divine lens of the Comforter.
Rejoice, for you kept the commandments of the Law in your mind,
Rejoice, for who unflinchingly walked the path of Martyrdom.
Rejoice, for you gaze upon the glory of Christ, the Bestower of crowns,
Rejoice, for you visit the beauty of the mysteries of God.
Rejoice, for you bore on your flesh the marks of Martyrdom,
Rejoice, you who ineffably glorified God in your soul.
Rejoice, you who impart your fervent protection for the faithful,
Rejoice, you who gladden all with your joyous presence.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
You passed through the narrow road of struggles while rejoicing, and now dwell in the broad land of Eden, O sacred Phanourios. And you guide us, who have been afflicted by the passions, to be led towards strengthening without delusion through your help, where are the ranks of the Martyrs and the Saints. That we might joyously join in their ways and their chorus, we offer to God the hymn, and joyously cry out: Alleluia.
  
Chanting the hymn of Martyrdom on the lyre of your soul, without ceasing, you ever praise the greatly-hymned God, Who granted you the power to be martyred for Him. Therefore, the choirs of those who love the Martyrs and who love God, and the ranks and the choirs of the faithful bless Him from the depths, the merciful God, and we ceaselessly cry out to His healer:
Rejoice, the flower of piety,
Rejoice, the rose of truth.
Rejoice, the ray of the unspeakable light,
Rejoice, the surpassingly-bright lightning of the heavenly world.
Rejoice, the all-fitting icon of the perfect,
Rejoice, the exalted lamp of those who struggle well.
Rejoice, the deposer of darkness, and the guide towards the light,
Rejoice, guide towards all godly things.
Rejoice, fittingly strengthens the faithful through your prayers,
Rejoice, you who gladden all with the series of your wonders.
Rejoice, the glory and calm harbor of the people of Rhodes,
Rejoice, wealth of the Church, and dawn without evening.
Rejoice, O Martyr Phanourios.
  
O invincible Martyr, bravely-minded Athlete, Phanourios, the hoplite of the Lord (3), you who were wondrous through the strength of God, and through your endurance and steadfastness were granted sacred trophies of victory, make us worthy, who honor you in truth, to trample upon the enemy who greatly wars against us, and to be granted in the age to come, the crown of divine glory. That out of fervor, we might glorify the Lord, and eternally chant from a proper heart unto His holy name, worthily hymning His glory, with joyous voices, and ceaselessly cry out with the Angels: Alleluia.
  
St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed (source)
 
And again the Kontakion.
Before the end of the service, the following hymn in the Third Tone.
You gladdened creation through the radiance of your struggles, and brought joy to the faithful through the gift of your wonders, and you astonished the army of the Angels, O Phanourios, for in these latter days, you shown forth from the earth as a precious rose, and as an all-radiant star, adorning the island of Rhodes. We cry out to you: Rejoice.
(source)
    
St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"A great protector and defender..."

St. Phanourios the Great Martyr (source)
  
A great protector and defender, you have been shown to be, O Martyr Phanourios, for wherever your sacred name is called upon, you speedily grant the gifts of your good will. Therefore, we joyously celebrate your holy memory, hymning you.
-Troparion of the 9th Ode of the Orthros Canon
  
(Source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

St. Kosmas Aitolos on Man as God's Creation

St. Kosmas Aitolos, the New Hieromartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles (source)
  
"The Most Gracious God made us, my brethren, human beings, and not animals. He made us more honorable than the whole world. The most gracious God gave us, my brethren, eyes to look at the sky, the sun, the moon, and the stars so we can say: "O my God, if the sun which is your creation is so bright, how much brighter are you, O Holy Name, you who are the creator of heaven and earth, the author and fashioner? O my God, find me worthy to enjoy you."
  
God, my brethren, put the mind in our heads. Our mind is like a dish in which we should put all the teachings of the Gospel and not myths and idle talk, which are the art of the devil. He gave us ears to hear the Divine Liturgy which is celebrated by the priest in the church. He gave us a mouth to glorify our Lord, for us to say: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son and Word of the living God, through the Theotokos and all the angels, have mercy on us and forgive us who are sinners and your unworthy servants." We should confess with pure faith and receive the holy Sacraments with pure faith and fear and awe. That is how God wants us, brethren, and not to swear, not for one to betray another, not to take oaths and lie, not to steal from one another, not to take something belonging to another, not to take the name of God in vain for the smallest reason. Do you want to say, my brother: "By God"? Why don't you say: 'By the truth" ? Instead of swearing so your brother will believe you, tell him the straight truth, and if he doesn't believe you, go on your way. We should refrain, my brother, from swearing in the name of God or from taking oaths, and citing our saints. Some insignificant people even swear by the name of the Holy Trinity. Woe to them; a flaming tire will burn them and enflame them.
  
Do you know, brother, how God wants you to be? Just as you don't want your wife to have anything to do with another man, so God doesn't want you to have anything to do with the devil. Do you enjoy having your wife fornicate with another? Of course not. For someone else to kiss her? Neither do you want this. That is what God wants of you too, not to have anything to do with the devil."
-St. Kosmas Aitolos, the New Hieromartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles

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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

St. Paisios the Athonite on trust in God

St. Paisios the Athonite (epigraph also includes that his cell was under Koutloumousiou Monastery) (source)
  
"When we believe in God and have trust in His fatherly providence and concern, then we do not think of ourselves; instead we know that God is aware of our needs and looks after our problems, from the simplest to the most serious one. The only things we must want is to allow God’s love and providence to function for us. When we have this kind of faith and inner disposition, we are able to see God’s miracles––God himself––who is always close to us under all circumstances. In order to experience this we must reject any form of worldly assistance or human hope, and with a pure heart, unhesitatingly and trustfully devote our mind to God. Then the grace of Christ will fill our souls at once...We must totally rely on God’s providence as this is the only way to be relieved of our anxiety and worries... To trust divine providence one must free himself from all worldly concerns and wait for God to look after him.... He must overcome his love for money and trust in it and then rest all his hopes on God and he cannot do both at the same time."
-St. Paisios the Athonite
  
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

ISIS desecrates the Church and Holy Relics of St. Julian of Emesa

St. Julian (Elian) of Emesa (Homs), the Martyr and Unmercenary (source)
  
News sites are reporting that, among the many atrocities of ISIS throughout the Middle East, they have recently demolished the 1500 year old church built at the site of the martyrdom of St. Julian (Elian) of Emesa (Homs), and have desecrated the holy and wonderworking relics of this Martyr and Unmercenary of the Church. Let us mourn this great loss for our Church, and let us repent of our sins, as we cry out to the Lord in the words of the Psalmist:
  
"O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild."
Psalms 79:1-2
  
Στίχοι
Χριστὸς τέτρηται χεῖρας ἥλοις καὶ πόδας,
Ἰουλιανὸς προστίθησι καὶ κάραν.
 
Verses to St. Julian from the Synaxarion
Christ was pierced with nails in his hands and feet,
And Julian offered up his head.
 
Apolytikion of St. Julian in the Third Tone
Julian, saintly champion and healer, intercede with our merciful God to grant our souls remission of sins.
(The apolytikion of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr, substituted with the name of St. Julian, according to the above source, taken from: http://goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=143)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Elder Joseph the Hesychast: "Why should you despair?"

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior (source)
  
"Since our sweet Jesus is so good, compassionate and kind, why should you despair ? We seek one small thing from Him, and He gives us so much! We ask for one beam of light , and He gives us Himself as all Light, Truth, and Love. So humble yourself and rest all your hope in Him."
-Elder Joseph the Hesychast
  
  
Elder Joseph the Hesychast and Cave-dweller (+1959) (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos, by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes (+2010)

The Dormition of the Most-Holy Theotokos (source)


Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos, by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes (+2010)
  
The Most-Holy Theotokos is she who is hymned by the generations of generations. It is she who was praised by Gregory Palamas, one of the greatest of the hymnists of the Most-holy Theotokos. The Most-Holy Theotokos is the golden link between the visible and invisible creation. It is she who is the bridge which unites earth with the things of heaven. It is she who is the "throne touched by the sun", she is "more pure than the radiance of the sun". It is she through whom "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). Only angelic tongues could hymn the grandeur of the Most-holy Theotokos.

Our Orthodox Church differs from the heretics, who do not offer any honor to the Most-Holy Theotokos, but perceive her to be a woman like the many others. Our holy Church, with hymns, supplications, and feasts, hastens to praise and honor her. And the first feast, the beginning of the feasts is the Nativity of the Theotokos, which as you know, we celebrate September 8th. After her Nativity, we celebrate another feast on November 21st, the Entrance of the Most-holy Theotokos [into the Temple]. And after this comes another feast, which deeply moves all of Greece, for it is linked with our national feast, March 25th, the Annunciation of the Theotokos. And after this comes the end. For everyone in this world has an end. The end is coming, the dormition is coming, of the Most-holy Theotokos. In honor of the Most-holy Theotokos, this church is celebrating a vigil.

We will search and see which teachings we can gather from the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Because I think that it is not enough to come here to church to kiss this holy icon, it is not enough to simply light the vigil lamp and the candles, but we must enter deeply into the mysteries of the feast, and to partake of teachings which are beneficial to ourselves, beneficial to our homes, beneficial to our community. I want to hope that this homily will be useful to your hearing.

Beloved, from the Gospels, we know that the Most-holy Theotokos was present at the Crucifixion of Christ. She was furthermore present at the Resurrection and the Ascension of the Lord, and also at Pentecost. She was furthermore present on that very day on which the band of the Disciples, the first Church, chose Matthias to replace Judas the betrayer. From then on, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles and the other ancient documents of the Church of the New Testament are silent. What I will tell you from here on, we don't receive from the New Testament, but we receive it from another source of our Orthodoxy, from holy tradition. In this way we differ from the heretics. They only have the Gospel, but we, besides the Gospel, have the holy tradition. Our holy tradition, which we Orthodox have unshakable trust in, completes where the account of the Gospel left off. What does our holy tradition say therefore regarding the Dormition of the Theotokos? It says this, that after the Ascension of Christ, the Theotokos had beautiful habit. What habit was this?

The first Christians, in those ancient, blessed years, like those who now fill the city squares to take a walk like a river of hades, those Christians of the first centuries knew where to take their walks to breathe fresh air. They took their walks in the cemeteries, in the tombs, especially on Sundays and great feasts. Like those who now run to soccer tournaments and to the ocean, those Christians of the first centuries had as a delightful place, as a place full of thoughts and heroic ideas, as a place of true philosophy and translation to the things on high, had the cemeteries, the tombs of the dead.

The Most-Holy Theotokos therefore, had this custom. For after the Ascension of Christ, within her heart was only one person. It was Him Whom she nursed from infancy. It was Him Whom she served throughout the course of her earthly life. Within her heart was the Beloved of the beloved, was our Lord Jesus Christ. If every mother loves her child, who has so many faults, and despite all of the faults that he has is loved by the mother's heart, imagine how much love, to what height, to what breadth, and what holy sensations did the Most-holy Theotokos have with respect to her love towards her only-begotten Son. Her only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Saints and the Angels, the Most-honored Word, the surpassingly-divine Word, the Lord was the axis, the mystical axis, around which the entire sensible world rotates, the richly-sensible world of the Most-Holy Theotokos. The Lord was the alpha and the omega of her life. The Lord, as we chant in the Lamentation hymns, was her "sweet springtime", the sweet spring of her life.

The Theotokos lived after the Ascension with the memories of her only-begotten Son. She lived with His teaching and with the whole aroma which He poured forth from His super-worldly character. Because of this, with her steps, she had the habit of visiting that holy place, the place where the Lord prayed in agony, that place in which He shed tears, the place that was watered by His sweat, which fell like drops of blood. She would visit Gethsemane.

Many times she visited Gethsemane. But one day, which was the last time that she was visiting Gethsemane, something occurred there, an astonishing and unique event. Let the unbelievers doubt it. We believe in the holy tradition, we believe that which was granted to us by the Fathers, we believe in our Orthodoxy. Our Orthodoxy says that, when the Theotokos visited Gethsemane for the last time, something astonishing and unique occurred: the trees, the tops of the trees, at the passing-by of the Theotokos, and when the Most-holy Theotokos knelt and lifted up her hands to heaven and prayed with tears to the Lord, her Son and God, when she knelt, then the tops of the trees, bent towards the ground. As if to do a metanoia (prostration), as if they wished to venerate the Queen of the world, the Queen of Heaven.

Do you see, my beloved, what power prayer has? What kind of woman this was, who knelt and at the hour of prayer with faith, this woman causes the stars of heaven to shake! This is not a small example of the Most-holy Theotokos, who went to Gethsemane, and prayed on behalf of the world for salvation and redemption.

She prayed, therefore. And when the trees bent down, tradition says that Gabriel again appeared to her. Again, that Angel appeared, the Archangel who brought her the joyous news of the centuries, the joyous knowledge that she would give birth to the Savior of the world. But the first time that the Archangel appeared to her, according to the tradition of the Church and as it is depicted in precious icons, the Archangel carried a lily, a lily from heaven, a spiritual lily, a lily which symbolized her virginity, her incorrupt, spotless virginity. The second time that he appeared before her, he was no longer holding a lily, but holding a palm, a branch of a palm tree. And this was so, because palms are a symbol of victory, a symbol of the triumph against trials and against death. And he greeted her, the Most-holy Theotokos, anew, as the fathers say, and informed her that in a short time, she would travel from earth to heaven to meet her only-begotten Son.

Filled with sacred emotion, the Theotokos descended from the hill of Gethsemane, and traveled to her poor house. It was not a great hall, and it was not at all like any of the houses today, which shine like lightning. It was a poor little house below the summit of Gethsemane, and there she remained with the memories of the Lord. The Theotokos entered the house. She did not have servants, like those ladies of the aristocracy whose servants they often times misuse and in many ways are unjust to. I am saying that the Most-holy Theotokos, who is served by the ranks of the holy Angels and Archangels, did not have servants. She was not a prideful or egotistical woman, like those who after they are married, have the power from her husband to command the poor servants and to burden them, only to show that they have power. The Most-holy Theotokos, as soon as she returned to her poor house, and understood that the end of her earthly life was coming to an end, the tradition says, that she took a broom in her hands--which modern women are ashamed of today, those who do not wish to do any house work--, and she went and swept her whole house. She prepared her whole house, made it ready to receive the Lord Who would come to receive her pure spirit. And having swept and prepared her house with her own hands, she immediately called two neighbors, who were widows and had orphans, and called them and distributed among them her poor garments. And after this, she announced to this friendly environment which always surrounded the Most-holy Theotokos, that in three days, se would depart from the earth to heaven. And after, she lied down on her bed, crossed her holy hands, and from that hour was deep in thought and deep emotion, because in a short time she would depart from this world.

Brethren! Let us stop here. This event, that the Most-holy Theotokos prepared for her death, this should inform us what manner we should use to radio heaven, to travel from earth to the heavens. This event should teach us!

Brethren! It is a gift of Christ and a blessing of the chosen of God for a man to sense his death beforehand. In the old, blessed years, when people lived with purity, with love and with dedication to God, people sensed their death ahead of time, and they told their children: "My child, I am dying." "But Father, what's wrong? Mother, what do you have?" "I will die, my child, my end has come." They understood it. They prepared ahead of time. An internal voice, some mystical and invisible link between eternity, some winged and anonymous angel informed the soul and said: "You will die!" Holy abbots, venerable ascetics who lived in caves, and holy characters who lived the married life in the world, precious men and women, foresaw their death and prepared for the eternal journey. And like him who is going to take a journey does not wait until the last instant himself, but days before prepares for his journey, thus those pious souls prepared ahead for the eternal journey.

Sudden death is a sign of the times and a curse. Do you hear what the Church says in the Artoklasia (the Blessing of the Five Loaves)? That God might preserve us from many dangers. What dangers? "From pestilence, famine, earthquake..." and... "from sudden death." Our Church perceives sudden death like pestilence, like earthquake... And it is a sign of evil that within our generations that sudden deaths are continuously increasing. Sudden death is evil, because it does not give a person even a minute. It resembles a hawk...the chickens sit and graze in the meadow, and think that they will return to the coop. But they will not return to their coop. From above, suddenly, the hawk descends with momentum and seizes the bird, and with its wings takes it to its nest. Like the hawk strikes and seizes the chicken in the field and takes it up, thus the hawk, death, with momentum flies and descends. On the road, on the sidewalk, on the airplane, in the office...wherever you may be. It seizes man and tells him...Here you go! It does not give him even a minute to say, "Remember me, [O Lord, when You come into Your kingdom...]"

Sudden death is something very bad. And because of this, the Church prays to be delivered from sudden death. O, my God, my God!... Through the intercessions of Your All-spotless [Mother], I pray that none of us here might be found to die by a sudden death, but that God might give all of us a sign that we are leaving from this vain world, and that we prepare ahead of time for eternity, for the journey to heaven.

But pay attention to something else also. The Christian, sensing his death beforehand, whether he is a father, a mother, listen to me, he should do this. He should not leave things this way. Do you see that, the older one gets, the more snow falls upon your head. St. Kosmas Aitolos (a saint that I love, and who celebrates on August 24th, especially in Ioannina), St. Kosmas said that, when the crops turn white, what are they expecting? They are expecting the sickle. And when the hair turns white, what does it expect, my brethren? The sickle of the Archangel. Before the sickle of the Archangel comes, women and men, mothers and fathers who have children, who see snow falling upon their heads, whoever is a father or mother should prepare his house. He should prepare what he has. He should distribute to his children with justice. He should not leave things hanging. If you love your homes, imitate the example of the Most-holy Theotokos, who distributed her things while alive to her neighbors. Thus, don't leave things hanging within your home, but prepare beforehand and distribute them. Because after your death, if you leave things hanging, your children will run to the courts. I know of a family that has been fighting for 15 years and even reaching Areos Pagos (i.e. like the Supreme Court) and the children fight among themselves, because their parents did not plan ahead of time and prepare their house, but left things hanging.

But the Most-holy Theotokos teaches us something else regarding almsgiving. Don't [wait to] do almsgiving after your death. While you are alive, when these hands can move and dip into your portfolio, while you are alive, then almsgiving has great value. For after death, it is no longer almsgiving, but it is money which no longer belongs to you. I, when I have the ability, would go to great philanthropic institutions, which were built by foundations, and I would note the names engraved outside them that say, built by this or that person. If it was built while he was alive, I make a prostration and venerate it. If it was built after death, I doubt the almsgiving after death. I don't doubt it myself, but it is doubted by the Holy Fathers. Have you heard of the philanthropic foundations that were built after the death of someone and which perform almsgiving? Those people partook of their money during their lives, and they partied as long as they lived, and after death they do almsgiving. If I had the right, I would write outside: "This foundation was built by the death of the benefactor." Because of this, the person who senses his death beforehand, should give almsgiving, like was done by the Most-holy Theotokos.

Let's continue. Death also came for the Mother of God. The Most-holy Theotokos was now dead, dead on her bed. She was dead who gave birth to the Author of life. How could they bury her? Where were her children? The children bury the parents. But did she have children? She did. Which children? Her spiritual children, who loved her more than natural children. Who were they? Parents, you who are without children, don't worry. You can give birth to children who love you more than fleshly children. The Most-holy Theotokos had spiritual children. She only had one Son according to the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, and we don't accept the filthy and unholy thought of the heretics that she had other children besides the Lord. But while she did not have [other] physical children, she had spiritual sons who loved her even more. And her spiritual children were the Twelve Apostles.

Where were the Apostles at the time of her Dormition, however? They were far away. Peter was in Rome, Paul in Macedonia, Andrew in Patras, Thomas in India, John in Ephesos, Titus in Crete, Timothy in Ephesos... They were all in the diaspora. How were they informed of this? How would she have informed them, have you wondered this? Believe it. And if you believe, then you will believe what occurred at the Dormition of the Theotokos. If a man with his mind which God gave him, was able to find a way to inform someone in Chicago, or London, or another corner of the world (i.e. with a telegraph, telephone, etc.), can't the Creator find a way to inform the others through His heavenly telegraph? My, my my! The ranks of the Holy Angels fly here and there "sent in service" (Hebrews 1:14). The winged angels flew to all the corners of this planet to inform the Apostles.

And...above the sky like doves, on bright clouds like on chariots, came Peter, came Paul, John and the other Apostles. And last of them all, delayed as he always was, came the Apostle Thomas. They came near her. And based on this tradition is that most-beautiful and sweetest hymn which we hear, "O ye Apostles from afar...", which is one of the most-beautiful and sweetest hymns which our Holy Church has.

Yes, the Apostles gathered. And what does this teach us? That when some friend of our dies, we should stop everything that we are doing. Our first responsibility should be to go to the dead person. We should go to the dead person to fulfill a sacred duty. First of all, this is for the dead person, who has fled from this vain earth and traveling towards the heavens, to the world of the bodiless spirits. And secondly, this is for the relatives, who are consoled by our presence. But also, this is to fulfill above all another duty to ourselves. What duty? To remind ourselves of eternity. If I would ask you, who is the greatest preacher in Athens, no one would be able to tell me. But if I asked you who is the greatest preacher of the whole world, the greatest preacher is death. There is no greater preacher. when you see him who was yesterday with you, who was conversing with you and saying whatever, and then see him laid out dead, then you cry out: "Vanity!..." (Ecclesiastes 1:2) Because of this, St. Kosmas Aitolos said that when someone dies, that you should not bury him immediately, but for 24 hours, gather around him and don't speak, but pray. Because there is no greater preacher than death in the whole world... Every dead person, whether he is poor or rich, whether a general or a soldier, whether a king or politician or a vagrant of the street, teaches. And if every dead person reminded us of eternity, of repentance and of return to Christ, if every dead person becomes a spring of teaching for man, imagine what teaching is offered to us by the body of the Most-holy Theotokos!

The Apostles gathered, therefore, holding in their hands the bier and brought it outside of the city. There, however, at that instant, something happened. What happened? At that hour, when the branches bowed down, and the demons trembled, and everyone offered up a funeral hymn, what did a Hebrew man do? He extended his filthy hand to the bier [in order to push it over]. And immediately, like a flash of lightning, his hand was cut by [by the hand of an Angel], as it appears in icons. This filth and sin the Hebrew man did at the hour when the holy body was being carried by the hands of the Apostles, heading outside the city. [He later repented and was healed, according to tradition.]

Brethren, I am finishing. I won't go any further. These are a few words regarding the historic frame of the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. At the end of this homily, where we are, a voice from heaven cries out to us and says:
You mothers, come near the Prototype of mothers, to learn how to love your children. All those who are children, and especially orphans, come near the sweet Mother of the world, to find refuge. All those who are spotless and pure virgins, come near the Virgin, and preserve this lily of virginity, "the beauty of virginity." All those who are unlearned, come to the Panagia to learn the greatest philosophy of the world. All those who are wise, come to Panagia to learn that wisdom is the depth of humility. All of us who are sinners, let us come to the Theotokos, that she might lead us near to Christ. I think that this will be tomorrow's lesson.

However, beyond all of the individual lessons which we gather from the various details of the story of the Dormition of the Theotokos, the most important lesson which the Most-Holy Theotokos offers is that the name of death has changed. Death, from the hour when Christ was crucified, from the hour that He descended to hades and shattered the gates of brass and triumphed, from that hour, it is no longer something fearsome or abominable, like it was to be feared and hated in the world before Christianity. From the time that Christ rose as a victor from the pits of hades, from that hour, death changed from its fearsome and abominable character. On this point, we speak of, for those before Christ, the death of Socrates, of Aristotle, of Plato. But what do we say? From [the time o Christ] on, if you believe, death is falling asleep. Because of this, we say the Dormition of the Theotokos. Man does not perish. That which remains in the earth, that which goes in the tomb, is not man. The primary man is the soul. Man lives and reigns in the world of the bodiless spirits, amidst eternity. Death does not exist. For the Christian who believes in Christ Who said "I am the Resurrection and the Life" (John 11:25), death is falling asleep.

As soon as it is evening, the mother takes her child and places him in the cradle to sleep. Is there a mother who, when she places her child in the cradle, cries? Have you ever seen this? Never. Because she hears the child's breath and says: "Sleep, my child, sleep." She knows that when morning comes, the child will awaken alive, like the flower that comes from the dew. Like the mother who doesn't cry, therefore, when her child is sleeping in her arms, because she knows that he will awake again, thus Christians do not wail for the dead, according to the advice of the Apostle Paul: "Do not mourn." (1st Thessalonians 4:13).

It is not a lie--our religion is true--it is a fact that, above the graves, above the tombs, there will come the sound of a trumpet. As certain as we are that tomorrow morning is Monday, be so certain that the day will come, the great day, when above the graves will be heard the heavenly trumpet, and the dead will arise. Because of this, when we pray, it is not "on behalf of the dead", but "on behalf of our beloved who have fallen asleep". And because of this, in the ancient years, those people who believed expressed themselves with faith. What would I do today with degrees, what would I do with universities and diplomas, when there is no faith? Give me a letter from one of the faithful, and I will give you all the diplomas of the world. Faith is above everything. Therefore, in the ancient years, when there was faith, the places where the dead were buried were not called nekrotaphia (or burial place of the dead), but cemeteries [i.e. the place where they are sleeping]. And above the crosses they did not write "died", but "reposed".

This is the lesson given us by today's feast. And something else: that we might prepare ourselves ahead of time.
  
+Bishop Avgoustinos
(old homily, before 1967, offered in Athens at a vigil the day before the feast of the Dormition, which was on a Sunday, amateur translation of text from source)
  
The Dormition of the Most-Holy Theotokos (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!

Friday, August 14, 2015

"She who is higher than the heavens..."

The Dormition of the Theotokos (https://kaiserswest.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/dormition-icon.jpg)
 

She who is higher than the heavens, more glorious than Cherubim and greater in honour than creation, who through her surpassing purity became the vessel of the eternal being, today places in the hands of her Son her all-holy soul. With her the universe is filled with joy and to us is given his great mercy.
-Idiomelon of the Litia by Anatolios in the Second tone
   
(http://anastasis.org.uk/15aug.htm)
   
Most-holy Theotokos, save us!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Homily on the Transfiguration of Christ by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes


The Transfiguration of Christ (source)
  
Obedience to the Will of God
  
“And behold, a voice from the cloud said: This is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5)
  
Our religion, my beloved, is the only true one in the world. As a diamond among the gravel, so is our religion among all the religions of the world. And it is the only true one, because our holy Church was not founded by a man like all of us, but by one who was God and man. God-man. Our Lord Jesus Christ is God. This is cried out by the angels, archangels, the Prophets, and myriads of people. This is cried out by them countless wonders that He worked, that He works and that He will continue to work unto the close of the age. One of the greatest wonders is that which we celebrate today: the Transfiguration.
  
Let us look with a few words at this wonder and what it teaches us.
  
When Christ was born from the Panagia, He appeared in the world like a common man, like the poorest man. Al of us have a small house, but he did not have even a roof. He did not have a place to stay. When someone wished to follow Him, Christ told him: “Birds and foxes have their nests, but the son of man has no where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58) He did not wear rich clothing, He did not have money in His pocket, He walked on foot from village to village to preach the Gospel. Seeing this, therefore, people couldn't imagine that below this humble appearance was hid the divine grandeur, was hidden the Godhead.
  
Do you know what Christ did? Something like that which was done by a king of Russia many years ago, during the time of the Tsars. He within the palace wore a crown on his head, was adorned with the robe and swords and was renowned, and when he went out, everyone venerated him. He understood however, that all of this was a formality and was hiding hypocrisy. And what did he do? One night, he removed his crown, his swords, and his beautiful clothing, and dressed in the clothes of a beggar, taking a wooden staff, and barefoot, he began to go among his subjects. Everyone threw him out. They even set their dogs on him to get him. No one could imagine that below these rags was hidden the emperor of all of Russia. Only one hut outside of Moscow received him...And something similar our Christ did. He did not appear on earth as the king of the Angels and Archangels, with the amazing grandeur of His Godhead. He appeared as a poor, common man, and because of this, few people believed in Him.
  
But today, this holy day, Christ showed that He is God. How did He show it? With the wonder that He worked. The Transfiguration is a wonder different from all of the others. Christ worked wonders in creation: on the sea, on the dry land, with the trees, with many of His creation, but this wonder He worked on his very self. Meaning?
  
He took His three disciples, Peter, James and John, and ascended a high mountain, which exists to this day, and on this holy day, the Patriarch of the Romans, of the Greeks, ascends, and there is always the Divine Liturgy in honor and memory of the event. While Christ was on Tabor with His three disciples, in an instant, what happened? His humble face, which did not differ from the face of any other person, shown like the sun, as if the sun descended to the earth, and His poor clothes, which were woven by the loom of the Panagia, became white as light. It was a magnificent sight! Next to Him, right and left, appeared two known personalities who spoke with Him: one was Moses, who had died two thousand years beforehand, and the other was Elias, whom God had taken into heaven, as we know. Peter said in astonishment: “Let us stay here, Lord, let us not descend anymore” (before this sight he forgot his wife, his children, his relatives) “if you wish, let us make three booths, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elias” (for himself he wanted nothing, it was sufficient that he saw Christ) And while he was saying this, a cloud, a radiant cloud, covered them, and from this cloud he heard a voice say: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5) As soon as the three disciples heard these words, they fell with astonishment with their faces to the ground. Christ approached them and said: “Get up and do not be afraid.” When they got up, they only saw Christ. And as they were descending from Tabor, He gave them a commandment: “Don't tell anyone of that which you saw, until the son of man is raised from the dead.”
  
This is today's wonder. The faithless do not believe it; this is their right. We believe it.
  
Today, Christ, with the transfiguration of His person, shows that He is God.
  
All of this which we heard is instructive: Tabor, the cloud, Moses, Elias, Peter, James, John, all of these teach us. But above all, I want to bring your attention to one thing alone, to the voice which said: “listen to Him.”
  
Heaven commanded that we listen to Christ. He is our leader, and we must trust in Him, and whatever He says, we should do. This is the requirement of every Christian, whether he is a priest, a patriarch, or a layman. From the time that he is baptized in the baptismal font, and he is no longer an idolatrous heathen and an atheist, but a Christian—taking on the name that is above every name--, from that instant, He belongs to Christ. And as the student is obedient to the teacher, the soldier to the general, the patient to the physician, the sailor to the admiral, thus, we should be obedient to Christ.
  
And this gives birth to the question: are we obedient to Christ? Let each person put his hand to his heart and test himself. What does Christ seek?
  
Let us take one commandment. He tells us that there are six days on which to work, but Sunday, everyone should be in church. (Exodus 20:8-10, Deuteronomy 5:12-15) Do we do this? The few are the exception. In Prespa, in a small village called Oxya, near the lake, I went once. They rang the bell. Were their eighteen inhabitants? There were eighteen present [in church], not one was missing! Generally though, most people don't go to church.
  
Another commandment of Christ is to go to confession. If I asked you one by one, some of you would say that you have never gone to confession since you were born. There are few who confess, very few. Most remain unconfessed.
  
Christ tells us to study the Holy Scriptures. Do we do this? I am sure that you listen to the radio, you watch TV, you read the newspaper, but the Gospel? Nothing.
  
Our Christ says that spouses should be loving. Neither is this commandment kept. And in those old and blessed years, the word “divorce” was unknown. Now, the devil opened his factories and couples are divorcing. Foreign women, corrupt ones have come to us. Because money is being spent, and where money is being spent, there is corruption.
  
“Listen to Him”, is the commandment from heaven. But we close our ears with wax and do not wish to hear. The ears of others are peaked to listen to lies. The voice of Christ, which tells us the correct things, this we do not wish to listen to.
  
What will happen? Are you asking me? Christ doesn't need us, we need Him. Open the prophecies, what does Isaiah say? “If you desire, and hearken to me, you will eat of the good of the earth. If you do not hearken to me, you will be consumed by the sword.” (Isaiah 1:19-20)
  
And it is coming, a great trial is coming. Thunder, earthquakes, wars, “Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16) In one night, all of the cities will be emptied and all will flee to the mountains. Because all of us—priests, bishops, small, great—have fled from God, and do not listen to Him.
  
Blessed are those who are obedient to Christ.
  
This, my beloved, and may God, through the intercessions of the Most-holy Theotokos, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
  
+Bishop Avgoustinos
(homily delivered in the Holy Church of the Transfiguration of Christ, Ardassis, Eordaias, 8/6/76, translation of source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!