Friday, June 29, 2018

"Bearing Your Cross as a rod of power..."

The Holy Twelve Apostles (source)
Bearing Your Cross as a rod of power, Your witnesses [the Holy Apostles], O Word, divided the sea of life, and as horses they trampled upon the waves of polytheism.

You shone forth, O radiant [Apostles], as all-joyous stars, that dispersed all of the clouds of error through your light-bearing lamps, shining with the radiance of the knowledge of God.

As the Friends of Christ, you ever receive your rest, and unfading crowns, and increasing divine theoria, therefore ever entreat Him that the Church be saved.
-from the Matins Canon to the Holy Apostles
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos on Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles

Sts. Peter and Paul the Holy Apostles (source)
5th Sunday of June (June 29th, 2014)
Some main points in the life of the leaders of the Apostles.
   “For when I am weak, then I am strong” :  Behold the great, indomitable, and mysterious power of the Apostle Paul. The spirit of our age is entirely opposite. People think that money, rank, titles, wisdom, and worldly science, are power. The example of the Apostle persuades us that human works are finite, fleeting, sinful and vain, whereas those which are accomplished by divine power are true and everlasting. Divine power resides in people who are insignificant by the world’s standards. But it always works miracles so that the Christian who possesses this power, even while he is poor, he makes rich many others, and even though he has nothing, he possesses all things.
    Let us recall the answer of the Apostle Peter, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You” , when the Lord asked him for the third time: “Peter, do you love me?” Peter was saddened, but his answer is amazing: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”  And he answers without hesitation, while he should have started to doubt. To say, “For the Lord to ask me again and again, maybe…” Peter, however, doesn’t waver. Peter is true.
    Now let’s you and I stand before God and imitate in some way Peter’s love in our relationship with God. Let’s have this same certainty within ourselves: knowing that the true God, who is entirely loving and compassionate, wants to save each one of us. And let’s approach Him without even the slightest doubt or reservation as to His holiness, goodness, and love for mankind, in which we can have complete trust.
    But maybe the temptation comes that God doesn’t love us. We don’t say it, but deep down our soul lives like this and there we find complaints, reservations, whining. We don’t understand how many things we ruin with God when we adopt such a stance. God wants us to completely believe in His goodness, to completely believe that He doesn’t hold any prejudices; He doesn’t ever show discrimination. This is a fact. And so we too, then, can say: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”  And we can have the trust that the Apostle Peter had, to whom the Lord finally said: “Feed My lambs, Feed my sheep.” 
Transcribed talks by Archimandrite Symeon Kragiopoulos
 From: Holy Hesychasterion “The Nativity of Theotokos” Publications.
Translated by fr. Matthew Penney
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Elder Nikon on Missionary Work

Here is another wonderful talk (in Greek but with English subtitles) by Elder Nikon of New Skete, on the subject of "Missionary Work" and the Orthodox way (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

"The great Forerunner shines forth today..."

The Nativity of St. John the Forerunner (source)
The great Forerunner shines forth today, from fruitless loins, coming forth from Elizabeth, he who is the Prophet greater than all the Prophets. There is none like him, nor will there come another after, for after the light of the lamp that is the Forerunner follows the surpassingly radiant voice of the Logos, and the Bridegroom of the Bride, the Lord Who prepares a people for Himself, and cleanses them beforehand by the Spirit through the water. [John is] the root of Zacharias, and the beautiful fruit of the desert, the preacher of repentance, the cleansing of offenses, he who preaches to those in Hades of the Resurrection from the dead, and who intercedes on behalf of our souls.
-Idiomelon of the Stichera for the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner, by St. Andrew of Crete
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Elder Ephraim of Katounakia: "The Jesus prayer gives you so much sweetness..."

Jesus Christ the Son of God the Savior of the world (source)
The Jesus prayer gives you so much sweetness, so much joy. It’s short, but it’s got so much power. So much, that you say: ‘Even if I go to hell, I’m not afraid. I’ll just say the prayer there, as well’.
-Elder Ephraim of Katounakia
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Gabriel of Georgia: The Human Conscience is a little God

St. Gabriel of Georgia (source)
Once, some Priests had visited St. Gabriel of Georgia and mentioned how they were loosing hope regarding the state of the world and they began to complain:
"The world has changed a lot, people have no interest in the faith and we don't know how to preach to them."

He replied to them: "On the ethical decline of Georgia***! Speak to them about this. The conscience is a little God."
(from the book by Nana Merkvilatze: "St. Gabriel the Fool-for-Christ and Confessor, source)
***Note: Of course the ethical decline that the Saint is speaking of can apply to any society in moral decline.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

"O greatly-suffering New Martyrs, you stand before the Protomartyr Christ God..."

The all precious Choir of the Holy Neomartyrs since the Fall of Constantinople, celebrated the third Sunday after Pentecost (source)
O greatly-suffering New Martyrs, you stand before the Protomartyr Christ God, together with the Martyrs of the former times in the heavens, arrayed with the white robe of blessed glory, holding in your right hands the Cross, and in your left the palm branch as a symbol of victory for having endured tyranny. And upon your heads, you wear the royal and unfading crown. O gods and kings by grace as He is God and King by nature, you became united with Him unto the ages, and you ceaselessly intercede on behalf of us, who with fervor celebrate your memory.
-Matins Idiomelon for the Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs since the Fall of Constantinople
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

St. Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos (+1970)

Elder Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos (Reposed in the Lord on +April 16th, 1970, while the translation of his holy relics occurred on September 19th, 1980) (source)
Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (Makris) was a priestmonk who lived on Patmos (Greece).
The future elder was born on December 13, 1889 to Emmanuel and Irene Makris and named Athanasios. He was born into a large family of simple, country folk. Even as an infant, Athanasios was devout, even observing the fasting rules regarding milk products while still an infant. When Athanasios was five, he convinced his newly-engaged godmother to spend the rest of her days in virginity. Athanasios, having preserved himself from worldly temptations, decided to enter a monastery at the age of seventeen. He asked his parents' blessing, which they were happy to give.

St. Nektarios, depicted with two of his spiritual children: Elders Amphilochios and Philotheos Zervakos (source)

In March, 1906, he entered the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Patmos; in August, having earned the love of the aging brotherhood, he was made a rassophore and given the name Amphilochios. To fight the passions and temptations, Amphilochios would employ strict fasting - ten mouthfuls of food at each meal on standard days, with seven or eight olives on fast days.

In 1911, the abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian sent Amphilochios to Mount Athos in order to learn wood-carving; in March 1913, he was tonsured to the Great Schema by Elder Antoniadis. Two months later, the abbot had the agreement of the brethren of the monastery to ordain Amphilochios; but, because of a self-perception of inadequacy, he asked his traveling companion (and ordinand) to continue while Amphilochios went to Egypt and the Holy Lands.
Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
Amphilochios asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to receive him as one of the caretakers of the Holy Sepulchre. While the Patriarch was willing to do this, the Monastery insisted that he return, where they "punished" him by sending him to the hermitage of Apollo, alongside Elder Makarios, which made Amphilochios very happy as he was better able to pray.

However, in 1919, Fr Amphilochios was ordained to the diaconate and, soon after, to the priesthood. He was assigned to the monastery's dependency on the island of Kos, also serving as confessor throughout the Dodecanese. In 1926, he was sent to the Cave of the Apocalypse, Patmos. He spent much time with students of the Ecclesiastical Academy, which produced numerous elders and abbots.

Elder Amphilochios traveling in prayer (source)

In 1935, the occupying powers of the Dodecanese were the Italians, who influenced the Church by forcing a system of governance that made it easy to manipulate the Church. However, the Patriarch of Constantinople demanded that this situation be rectified for the new abbot. In response, the brotherhood elected Elder Amphilochios as abbot. Soon after, the seeds of the future female Monastery of the Annunciation began to be planted: the first building housed a training workshop for knitting and weaving, a guise under which to teach children Greek. In response, in 1937, the Italians exiled Elder Amphilochios to mainland Greece, where the Elder received hospitality from the Zoe brotherhood in Athens, from whence he traveled throughout Greece; after which he traveled to Crete, where he became spiritual father of the island.
Elder Amphilochios in prayer (source)
His exile ended in 1939, and Elder Amphilochios returned to Patmos, being received with great joy. He did not, however, reassume his abbacy, but rather, focused on dependencies and the female Monastery of the Annunciation. The changeover of power in 1942, from the Italians to the Germans, did not greatly impact on the Elder's life. In 1947, Elder Amphilochios organised a small group of nuns to assist the orphans of Rhodes (at that time, extremely poor) by establishing an orphanage, along with a unit for pregnant women.

At Easter, 1968, Elder Amphilochios received a forewarning of his coming repose, and was given two years to prepare himself and his children for his repose. Anxious for his spiritual children, he asked God with tears for more time to develop his children, after which the Mother of God and St. John the Theologian appeared to him and informed him that his request was denied. Soon after this, he received a bout of flu. Having made his final preparations, he reposed on April 16, 1970.
St. Amphilochios was canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on August 29th, 2018.
Elder Amphilochios Makris, protector of the Monasteries of Patmos and beyond (source)

Spiritual Counsels of Elder Amphilochios
      -When you cultivate prayer, the Tempter's blusterings will not trouble you. Prayer diminishes his strength; he cannot do anything to us.
      -The end of my life draws near I ask you to live a holy life, to walk along holy paths, so that you may help both our Church and Greece.
      -Remaining faithful to Monasticism is considered to be a martyrdom.
      -Christ often comes and knocks at your door and you invite him to sit in the living-room of your soul. Then, absorbed in your own business you forget the Great Visitor. He waits for you to appear and when you are too long in returning, he gets up and leaves. At other times, you are so busy that you answer him from the window. You don't even have time to open the door.

Icon of St. Nektarios of Pentapolis, and his spiritual son, St. Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
      -You are royalty, destined for the heavenly bridal chamber.
      -When you see a person who is spiritually tired do not burden him any further, because his knees won't be able to bear it.
      -Love the One, so that even wild beasts will love you.
      -True wealth, for me, is to see you in the Kingdom of Heaven.
      -When the flame of love exists, it consumes whatever evil approaches.
      -The person who loves spiritually feels prayerful, so that he can be found within God and his brother.
Elder Amphilochios Makris (source)
      -He is saddened when his brother is not advancing well and prays for his progress.
      -Whoever has Christian love never changes.
      -Hold the banner of Christ up high, so that you've always got your elder's telephone number, no matter where you are.
      -Christ is the same, yesterday and today, but we have closed our eyes and look into the darkness.
      -It is because we carry on like this that some fall in the mud and others are killed.
      -All those things that we hear about: war, earthquakes, catastrophes, thunder, also expect rain.
      -We must be ready for our defence and our martyrdom.
      -I beseech the Lord to sanctify you, so that I may see you in Paradise. This is the dowry which I seek from the Lord for you.
      -For God's Grace to come during the Liturgy, you must be concentrated and untroubled.
      -The more a person loves God, the more he loves other people. He loves them with holiness, respect and refinement, as images of God.
      -When a person lacks inner warmth, he will be frozen and cold, even in summer.
      -When your heart does not have Christ, it will contain either money, property or people instead.
      -Please put this commandment into practice:  Cultivate love towards the Person of Christ to such an extent that, when you pronounce His name, tears fall from your eyes. Your heart must really be aflame. Then He will become your teacher. He will be your Guide, your Brother, your Father, and your Geron (Elder).
      -Love your Bridegroom Christ with all your heart and then everyone will love you and take care of you.
Elder Amphilochios of Patmos, with signs of thanksgiving from many of the faithful who have been helped through his prayers (source)
      -I desire the rebirth of Monasticism, because in my opinion, monasticism is the “evzone” [=Greek, elite military unit] battalion of the Church.
      -God's protection diminishes temptation.
      -Because of widespread corruption, people cannot understand that spiritual love exists.
      -Worldly people tire you, because whatever is stored up inside them comes at you like waves of electricity. We must be people of grace so much so that whoever comes to us may find rest.
      -Let us look upon everyone as our superiors, however weak they may appear. Let us not be harsh, but always bear in mind that the other person also has the same destination as us.
      -We must have Love, even if they do us the greatest harm, we must love them. We will be able to enter Paradise only with love.
      -Cultivate the Jesus Prayer and a time will come when your heart will leap with joy, just as it does when you are about to see a person who you love very much.
      -Do not neglect evening prayer. Pray with eagerness like those who are going to a feast. They are awake and feel joy alone. Thus, since you are going to speak with your Bridegroom, do not listen when the Tempter tells you various things in order to hinder you, because you know there is someone who cares for you.
      -Question: "Elder, how must we picture Christ?" Answer: "We must always bring to Christ to mind with love. We could be holding the photograph of someone in our hands, but since we do not know them, we do not love him, we are not moved. Whereas, when we pick up a photograph of our mother, our soul immediately leaps and cries out with love.”
-A person can be raised up above the earth by two wings, one is simplicity and the other is purity of heart. You must be simple in your actions and pure in your thoughts and feelings. With a pure heart you'll seek God and with simplicity you'll find Him and be glad.
      -A pure heart passes through Heavens gate with ease.
Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
      -Self-denial must be cultivated with discernment; otherwise we may reach the point of suicide.
      -We are on the high seas of life, sometimes there are storms and at other times calm. God's grace does not leave us. Otherwise, we would have sunk, if he had not held us up.
      -The saints always look to the other life. It is the grace of the remembrance of death.
      -God guards us from temptation. He does not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength; He allows everything, for our own good.
      -When spirituality increases, even sleep will have been fought off.
      -Prayer is grace. God gives it when zeal and humility exist.
      -Fight the Hater of Good, who envies you, bravely suffer whatever befalls you with fortitude, patience and faith.
      -Do not allow your soul's enemy to wage war against you. He appears in sheep's clothing, supposedly wanting your soul's benefit.
      -Trust in the Lord always and he will nourish you in time of hunger.
      -With a good word for your neighbour, supporting him, you buy paradise.
      -Repentance must occur, not from fear of punishment but because we have sinned before God.

St. Amphilochios of Patmos, depicted holding a tree after a famous quote of his reflecting his love for trees and the natural world in general: "Do you know that God gave us one more commandment, which is not recorded in Scripture? It is the commandment, ‘Love the trees.’” Whoever does not love the trees, so he believed, does not love Christ. “When you plant a tree,” he told us, “you plant hope, you plant peace, you plant love, and you will receive God’s blessing." (source) (source)
      -Sweeten your thoughts with words of consolation and hope. Warm your words with the warmth of your love towards your Bridegroom and remember His Passion, which he underwent for you, so that you would remain firm, devoted and humble.
      -Give your whole self completely over to the protecting veil of the Panagia.
      -Love giving hospitality, my child, for it opens the gates of Paradise. In this you also offer hospitality to angels. "Entertain strangers so that you won't be a stranger to God."
      -The saints submitted to whatever God sent them, with childlike simplicity, "That's the way You want it. Let Your will be done."
      -Hospitality... the greatest of virtues. It draws the grace of the Holy Spirit towards us. In every stranger's face, my child, I see Christ himself.
      -Sorrow is pleasing to God, in as much as it doesn't take away our courage to fight. 
      -It is necessary and beneficial for a general self-examination to take place from time to time, remembering all former sins.
      -Leave all your concerns to the hands of God. Ask for whatever you want, like a child asking from its father.
      -Prayer is a gift from God. Always ask with hope.
      -Our deeds, dear sister, will not save us; God's infinite mercy will.
      -Spiritual bonds become unbreakable when they come across a child-like spirit, innocence and sanctity.
      -Everything seems dark and difficult to a person without Christ.
      -Every day I pray that I may see you amongst the ranks of women saints.
      -I don't want to be in Paradise without you, my children.
Elder Amphilochios Makris (source)
      -Question: How do you manage to have such patience and perseverance in everything? Answer: The grace of God helps. I always believe in the power of God, my child, Who alters and adjusts everything for the benefit of our soul.
      -The person who gets agitated doesn't think straight, logically.
      -When I see a person who is irritated, I don't listen to what he is saying, but pray for God to pacify him. That's why I don't get distressed. When they calm down, when the time is right, I talk to them because they are then in a position to comprehend their foolishness.
      -The Grace of God and spiritual union with Him transform a person Fears and suspicions go away, he doesn't fear death, and views this life, however good it may be, as slavery.
      -God is visiting you when tears come during prayer.
      -When a person is simplified, he is deified. He becomes innocent, humble, gentle, free.
      -Never ever give importance to anything earthly and fleeting. Take care of your spiritual union with God instead.
      -When you hear your name being criticized act as if you didn't hear. This is Paradise, this is perfection.
      -Our religion slays the passions, not the body.
The grave of the Blessed Amphilochios of Patmos, it reads: "We are translated from death to life when we love the brethren" (I John 3:14), "Amphilochios the Hieromonk Makris, Brother of the Holy Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Founder of the Holy Montastery of the "Annunciation, Mother of the Beloved", who reposed on April 16th of the year of salvation 1970." "Love towards God and your neighbor is the foundation of the Law and the Prophets, fulfilling the cornerstone.", from the service to St. Savvas the Sanctified." (souce)
      -Where there is fear of God, wisdom is given.
      -I want you to be calm so that we can meet. When you're tired the wireless doesn't work.
      -The Christian is a true human being He is courteous and polite. He doesn't want to sadden anybody.
      -Innocence is greater than genius.
      -A person who suffers from egotism attracts no-one. And if he does attract someone he will soon go away. When one comes across a childlike spirit, innocence and holiness the bond becomes unbreakable.
      -The spiritual life has great pleasures. You fly, you leave the world, you don't consider anything. You become children and God dwells in your heart.
      -The Grace of the All-Holy Spirit makes a person send out rays. However, other people must have a good receiver in order to realise this.
      -We must have our gaze fixed on heaven. Then nothing will shake us.
      -Take communion regularly, pray warmly, be patient and you will see a strong hand holding you.
      -Christ is near us even if we don't see Him. Sometimes, from his great love, He gives us a slap too. You should be glad. Jesus holds an artists’ chisel in His hands. He wants to make a statue of you, for the Heavenly Palace.
      -The person who shouts has no strength.
Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
Apolytikion in the First Tone. The citizen of the desert.
The pillar of piety and example for Priests, the friend of the Beloved, and new righteous one of Christ, O faithful, let us honor the divine Amphilochios with sacred hymns, crying out: O offspring of Patmos, intercede on behalf of us to Him Whom you stand before. Glory to Him Who granted you strength, glory to Him Who sanctified you, glory to Him Who grants to us through you, all greater things.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. Though You descended into the grave.
You abandoned worldly things, O Father, in order to struggle and gain Christ, and you rose above the things of the earth, and headed as a victor towards the heavens, having trampled upon the devices and wiles of satan. Therefore, do not cease to entreat on behalf of us who honor you, O wise Amphilochios, to the Compassionate One.
St. Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
The Prophet David prophesied in the book of the Psalms: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His venerable one." Therefore, we find this fulfilled in you, O divine Father Amphilochios. For you pleased your Master with divine words and good deeds, giving glory to Him instead. Therefore, we who have gathered today, honor you harmoniously, as the founder of Churches, Monasteries and Hermitages, as a precious vessel of sacredness and a soul-nourishing benefactor of Christians by your teachings and instructions. But, as the boast of the famed island of Patmos, as the follower of the Venerable Christodoulos, and the close friend of the missionary Evangelist and Virgin Disciple and man equal-to-the-angel [John the Theologian], you ceaselessly entreat on behalf of us to the Compassionate One.

On the 16th of this month [April], the memory of the Venerable Amphilochios of Patmos

He shined with the radiant light of the priesthood,
Being righteous to God by word and deed.
On the sixteenth, Amphilochios departed upwards in the spirit.

Rejoice, the sacred offspring of the island of Patmos, O Father and Priest Amphilochios, who spoke of God, you showed forth the desert places to be full of the fruit through your divine virtues and your struggles.
The icon and holy relics of the Blessed Amphilochios, treasured by the Monastery he founded of the Annunciation, "The Mother of the Beloved", on Patmos (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, June 11, 2018

St. Luke the Surgeon: "There is no end to Repentance..."

St. Luke the Surgeon (source)
A few quotes of St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon, Archbiship of Simferopol:
There is no end to Repentance, because Repentance is an unending road. 

St. Luke of Simferopol (source)
Take care of your children, so you might be for them an example of the true Christian life, and the Blessing of the Lord will be with all of you and your children unto the ages of ages.
St. Luke of Crimea (source)
The most important thing in life is to always do good. If you can't do great deeds for people, at least try to do something small.
St. Luke of Simferopol (source)
It is not right to speak of the former years and to bless them and to curse our own age. We must know that in every age and in every place, people who actually seek their Salvation, find it.
St. Luke the Surgeon (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

"Most glorious saints and guardians of the North American lands..."

Synaxis of All Saints of North America, entreating the Lord and the Most-holy Theotokos on behalf of the whole world (source)
Most glorious saints and guardians of the North American lands, spiritual and heavenly city of Zion on high; beacons for those who dwelt in the darkness of despair; sacred coals of repentance; precious pearls of virtue; defenders of widows, orphans, and the oppressed; exemplary followers of the teachings of the Church; and joyful keepers of abstinence: pray without ceasing to Christ, beseeching Him to grant stability to our Church, and peace and great mercy to our land.
-Doxastikon of the Litia for the Service for the Synaxis of All Saints of North America, commemorated on the Sunday after All Saints, text available here.
All Saints of North America (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Spiritual Last Will and Testament of St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon of Simferopol

St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon, Archbishop of Simferopol of Crimea (source)
It is with a great deal of joy that we publish “The Spiritual Will “ of Saint Luke, which up until recently was unknown and unpublished.  It had been kept by the niece of St. Luke, Maria Dimitrievna, who lives in Symferoupolis and  she had the special blessing to have lived with the Saint for the last fifteen years of his life.
When in 1946 when Saint Luke undertook the shepherding of the Archbishopric of Symferoupoleos in the Crimea, he took up residence in a small residence on Gospitalnagia Street opposite the Church of the Holy Trinity.  The small apartment had many rooms.  It was a time immediately following the war and a fearful majority of the people in all of the Soviet Union lived in horrible conditions.  There was poverty, want, and starvation that plagued the people.  Saint Luke made great efforts to alleviate the pain of the people.  But in doing this he did not forget his family.  He invited some of them to Symferoupolis to take up residence in his apartment house and the neighboring houses.  His relatives and their children helped the Saint and stood by his side in this effort.  The experiences of interacting with the Saint are many and the memories are vivid.  The person who specifically helped the Saint in his philanthropic outreach was his niece Vera Prozorovavkagia, the daughter of Vladimir and the mother of Maria.  Many personal items of Saint Luke were preserved by the family of Vera and when the museum of the Saint was established in the Holy Monastery of the Holy Trinity, the family gave these to the museum.  A very few items remained with his niece.  One of these things that was left with her was the Spiritual Will of the Saint which was left in the care of Maria Dimitrievna.  The Spiritual Will is directed to his children, to his nieces and nephews, and the grandchildren of the Saint.  We must note here that along with their father, the four children suffered also.  They endured being orphaned by both of their parents (the mother died and the father was in jail or exile) and then they were persecuted.  They were considered the children of the enemy of the people and they encountered many difficulties.  It is understandable that they would consider inconceivable the decision of their father to seek holy orders.  Through all the terrible things that the family suffered, they blamed the Church.  And the question that always burdened their souls, as well as many people who knew him was; why would a famous and successful professor of surgery make such a difficult decision to be ordained a priest and especially during the persecution of the Church?  How could such a successful scientist dedicate himself to the service of an idea of the past, the Church that belongs to the past?  What did this immensely brilliant surgeon have to gain from the priesthood?
In many of his letters the Saint tries to defend himself and explain to his children the reason he decided to take that road of martyrdom.  The children indicate that they do not understand him.  And this was also another cross that Saint Luke had to carry.   Right up to the moment of his death, he did not stop admonishing and praying for his children who along with that whole generation  had been so influenced by antireligious propaganda.
His letter to his oldest son Michael is very emotional written during the mid 40’s.  “Remember Michael that my monastic life and the oath that I gave; my position in the Church, my decision to serve the Lord constitute for me the greatest, holiest and foremost responsibility.  Sincerely and from the depths of my heart I abandoned the world and my career, which certainly, could have been very successful, but now does not have any meaning for me.  All my joy and all my life is to serve the Lord, in Whom I believe.”
In the summer of 1956 the Saint is in the city of Alousta in the Crimea.  He had lost his eyesight.  He was almost at the end of his 84th year of life and he felt that his strength was failing him.  He therefore decided to write his Spiritual Will  for his children, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren. It is his one last effort to help his children abandon the trap of atheism. He wanted them to stand against the antichristian movement of the time. He wanted them to discover that the greatest truth is Jesus Christ and the best way to live is by observing His commandments and serving the needs of the least of all Christ’s children, their suffering fellow humans beings.   We have the feeling that the Spiritual Will of the Saint is even today extremely timely.  It is directed to all of us, the spiritual children of Saint Luke who we honor and love.
May we also imitate his example.  And according to his promise, his intercessions and prayers will protect us now that he stands before the throne of our God and Creator.

Archimandrite Nektarios, Holy Pascha, 2009.

St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon (source)
I am now 79 years old. My heart is weak and my strength is failing me and it is evident that my time of departure from this world is near.  St. Paul left a will to all the Christians. “Become followers of me, as I am of Christ.”  I certainly do not dare to say this to all the Christians but to you, my children; I can say follow my example just as I have followed the example of the Apostle Paul.  My life has been tough and difficult but never did I pray to God to make it easy.  Because “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” MT.7:14.
For more than twenty five years my life was identified with the work of a rural surgeon and professor of surgery. And for eleven years I suffered persecution for the name of Christ by being jailed and exiled.  From 1944 I combined the toilsome ministry of being a Bishop along with the healing the wounded at Tambor and only in 1946 did I stop being a surgeon and I continued as a Bishop.
Amongst most of the people it was inconceivable to understand how a great surgeon, who was honored with the First Prize of Stalin, could abandon a profession in surgery and become a Bishop.  Yet there was nothing unusual about that because from my youthful years, the Lord destined me to the high position of service to Him and to the people.
When I finished high school I received from the dean of the school my high school diploma. I placed this in the Book of the New Testament.  I had read the New Testament before but now, when I read it again, I heard the words of Christ that were directed to the Apostles say: “The harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (MT 9:37-38) My heart responded and I cried out in silence: “Oh Lord! Are you lacking workers?”
Many years went by.  I became a doctor of medicine and I thought that I would write the book “A Treatise on surgery in treating festering wounds.” When I made that decision, the following strange thought came to mind:  “When that book is finished, it will be signed by a Bishop.”  I could not understand from where that thought came. But a few years later, I understood that it was a thought that was sent to me by God because after my first arrest, in the office of the head jailer, the first edition of my book was published and on the facing page I wrote: “Bishop Luke, “A Treatise on surgically treating festering wounds.”  
Two more years went by.  I was in my first exile to Siberia, in the city of Geniseisk.  A monk suddenly came to meet me from Krasnogiarsk.  In this city, all the priests had compromised the faith and the faithful of the canonical Church had sent the monk to be ordained a priest but not to me at Geniseik but to Minousinsk, to a non-canonical orthodox bishop.  But there was an unexplainable force which directed him to me at Geniseisk.  When this monk saw me, he was startled and froze. He could not speak. He revealed to me, that when he saw me, he knew clearly that I was the same hierarch that he saw in an unforgettable dream ten years ago. That Bishop ordained him to the priesthood. At that time I was just a country doctor in the city of Perezlavl, Zaleski.
The Lord God has blessed me with different talents.  In high school, I finished my studies in the School of Fine Arts in Kiev.  I was very talented in artist and I decided to enter the Academy of Fine Arts in Leningrad.  But in the middle of exams I abandoned this effort because I thought that I should serve God and His people, in work that is more beneficial than art.  Even though at that time it was clear to me the direction my art would take if I didn’t abandon it; it would  purely be a religious direction or I would follow in the footsteps of V. Vasnetsof and Nesterof.
From that time theological issues concerned me very much.  The driving force in my character was a strong desire to serve God and His people, only because of that. But in spite of my opposition toward the physical sciences, I took exams for medical school at the University of Kiev and I graduated with honors.
My talent was revealed at the university in anatomy and surgery and my fellow students didn’t want to hear that I desired to become a rural doctor.  They had decided unanimously that I would become a professor of anatomy or a surgeon.  From what you now know, they had prophesied my future correctly.
As a rural doctor, I worked for thirteen years twelve to fourteen hours a day.  I was thinking seriously of abandoning the rural hospital in order travel to distant villages where the people were poor and dying because of the lack of medical help.  But the Lord had decided differently for me.  He sent me to Tashkent where I was one of the organizers of the University of Middle Asia and became a professor of topographical anatomy and the chief surgeon.  This was at the beginning of the decade of the 1920s.
During the years of the antireligious demonstrations during which they derided the Lord Jesus Christ, my heart was saying: “I cannot keep silent.”At that time there was a clergy-laity congress taking place in Tashkent.  I was present and during the discussions on some important issues I made an impassioned speech.  That speech made a great impression on Bishop Innocent of Tashkent and at the end of the congress he said to me; “Doctor, you must become a priest.”  That was something that was completely unexpected by me but the words of the Hierarch brought forth a calling through his lips and I did not hesitate one second in answering him: “Of course, Your Eminence, if that is the will of God, I will become a priest.” And the following Sunday, I, the professor of medicine, with a borrowed robe, appeared before the Bishop who was standing on his throne and I was ordained a sub-deacon and then during the course of the Divine Liturgy I was then ordained a deacon.  Within two weeks I became a priest and the pastor of the Cathedral Church.
One and a half years before that great event in my life, my wife and your mother died.  The smallest of you, Valentine, was then six years old and the oldest was fourteen. 
Two years and four months later, the Lord made me worthy of being elevated to the rank of Bishop.  It was divine providence for me and for you, my children that was revealed to us at that time when the Lord called your mother to eternal life by allowing her to get sick with tuberculosis. By this happening to her the road was opened for me to enter monastic life and the hierarchical ministry.  All the responsibility for you, my children, I gave over to the care of the Lord and truly, I was not made a liar by believing in Him.  Your care and upbringing was provided for by sending me an unknown woman, Sofia Sergakevna Veletskagia, who during the times I was jailed and the three times I was sent into exile she provided for your care. With a great deal of self-sacrifice and love she lifted the heavy cross for your care during those years of the plague. She raised you successfully and gave you a good education. 
Later on all three of you and my daughter, with the protection and the help of your guardian angels, completed your advanced studies.  Michael for some time now has become a professor, while Aliosa and Valia are teachers in the medical and biological sciences and in a little while they will become professors.
St. Luke of Simferopol (source)
The Lord accepted all the sacrifices which I have offered Him and not only did He accept them but He changed and corrected many of them.  I abandoned doing any more surgeries so that I could spend more time preaching about Jesus Christ.  I was not concerned with the fame of a surgeon which certainly I deserve.  While this glory is important and belongs to God, the new freedom I had increased the power and content of my sermons. My well-known and famous book “The Treatise on surgery for festering wounds” was completed while I was in exile and when I was Archbishop.  My determination to sacrifice everything for the glory of Him, the Lord gave me another talent, that of preaching.  The nine volumes of my sermons have been recognized by the Spiritual Academy of Moscow as unique in contemporary ecclesiastical theology and a treasure of commentary on the Holy Bible.  And I, a self-taught theologian was chosen to be a member of the Spiritual Academy of Moscow.  For the Church, my sermons will have greater meaning than my “Treatise on the surgery for festering wounds.”
In addition to this, the miraculous events which I spoke about earlier which were directed by the Lord without my realizing it led me mystically to the Hierarchical ministry.   I often physically felt the presence of God in my communion with Him, in my spiritual life and in my prayers.       
But if I have not said enough for any of you to convince you of these things  then I think his (Michael’s) involvement with the physical sciences have bewitched him so much that he does not want to hear those things that I have lived; the things I have undeniably felt many times.
In other words, I will tell you just the way it is, how astonishing and clearly the Lord God reveals His desire for those who fear Him and love Him.  When I was in Leningrad for an operation, during the time of a memorial service, the Lord in a miraculous and shocking way caused me to tremble with fright when He gave me this command: “Shepherd my sheep, feed my lambs.”  The years have since gone by and I, under the spell of a cunning diabolical spell, forgot that command of God and Satan again placed in my soul that great urge to return to surgery.  And this is why the Lord punished me by allowing the retina in my eye to tear.  My eye was operated on twice unsuccessfully by professor Ontintsof because God’s punishment had to remain with me.  
The day after the second operation, when I was laying flat with my eyes bandaged, the strong urge to do surgery again overwhelmed me when the Lord sent me a shocking dream: I was in a Church without lights.  The only lit up place was the altar.  A little beyond the altar was a casket of a saint.  They had placed on the altar a wooden board and on this was a naked human body.  In the back and next to the altar I saw students and doctors smoking cigarettes and I was teaching them anatomy of the human body. 
I was then startled by a noise and when I turned my head, I saw that the covering of the saint’s casket fell off.  The saint sat up in the casket, he turned and looked at me with a look of pain and shock.  I finally realized the great burden of my sin, of my disobedience to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to “shepherd my sheep and feed my lambs.”  For the last fourteen years I begged the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive me remembering clearly my dramatic dream with the body and the dead person lying on the Holy Altar.  Lately I have been informed by God that my sin has been forgiven. Day after day, I see the body less and less on the Holy Altar where it finally disappeared completely.  
And now, my children let me offer to you my last will and testament.  I believe deeply in God and I have built my whole life upon His commandments.  And I bequeath to you that you offer your lives to God and build all things upon the commandments of Christ.

For a long time and with great determination I sailed through life against the current of the world and to you my children I bequeath that you sail against the current, as difficult at that may be.  Turn your attention and your heart away from the great majority of human beings who pursue not the higher goals but those which are easy to acquire.  Do not accede to the great majority of people who live according to their own thinking and with the mind of their leaders.  They anchor their lives not with the commandments of Christ but on the directives of people who have the power to lead them not to the Kingdom of Heaven but to the riches of the earthly kingdom.

The purpose of life is to seek after the highest truth and to never divert from that road even when they force you to serve the purposes of the lowest form of  truth by trampling upon the truth of Christ.

You should be ready even to be martyred since you are sailing against the current.  Keep your faith firmly in your thoughts, in your husbands and in your wives just the way I kept it.

In your scientific endeavors and in your efforts to study the mysteries of nature, you should not look for your own glory but only to lessen the pain of your sick and helpless fellow human beings.

Remember that I, your father, sacrificed all my life in doing these things.  Imitate me just the way I imitated the Apostle Paul and do not work for your stomach but to help those who without your help cannot free themselves from the tortures of poverty and lies.

If you fulfill all these things that I bequeath to you, the blessing of God will come upon you in harmony with the  words of David the prophet. “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember his commandments to do them.” (Psalm 103: 17-18.)                     

I have always prayed for that blessing and grace of God in my life for you my children, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren and surely I will always pray for your eternal life when I will stand before the throne of my God and your God, my Creator and your Creator.  That time is most likely near because my heart and my strength have been weakened. 

Your father
Alousta, July 22, 1956
Translation by: 
Fr. Constantine J. Simones, 
Waterford, CT USA.
St. Luke the Surgeon (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!