Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Elder Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos is Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

St. Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos (+1970) (source)
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is gathering in the Phanar, under the leadership of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, has decided, according to sources, today (August 29th, 2018) to canonize Elder Amphilochios Makris of Patmos (1889-1970).

This new Saint of the Orthodox Church was a friend and spiritual child of St. Nektarios. He was a spiritual father to many people of the Church, both Greeks and foreigners.

He served as the Abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian on Patmos. Furthermore, he founded the women's Monastery of the Annunciation [of the Theotokos], the "Mother of the Beloved", in 1937.

Elder Amphilochios made his mark on Patmos with his great spiritual, ethnic and ecological service.

He became an inspiration for missionary work in Africa and many other places.

May we have his blessing and may he intercede for us!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

"You shine with eyes sweet as the sun..."

The Holy Mandylion of Christ (source)
You shine with eyes sweet as the sun, and Your appearance is even sweeter still, O Christ***, for You enlighten both the physical and the noetic senses.
You Who created all things by Your word, and took on the form that was not Your own, you left to us Your appearance which we have received and rejoice in gladness.
-from the Canon for the Holy Mandylion
(amateur translation of text from source)
***See the Psalmic prophecy of David: "Thou art more beautiful than the sons of men: grace has been shed forth on thy lips" (Psalm 45:2)
The story of the Holy Mandylion (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Elder Nikon on the Theotokos

This is a beautiful talk on the Theotokos by Elder Nikon of New Skete. May Panagia help all those who need her comforting embrace throughout the world!
Most-holy Theotokos, save us!

Monday, August 13, 2018

St. John of Kronstadt on the Dormition of the Theotokos

The Dormition of the Theotokos (source)
(Refrain for the 9th Ode of the Canon)
Let us be happy, beloved brothers and sisters that we belong to the Holy Orthodox Church, worthily and rightly glorifying the Most Holy Sovereign Theotokos on this eminent day out of all the days of the year with special solemnity. There exists on earth many societies and entire governments that do not consider the need nor the obligation to call upon and glorify the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, and other saints and angels; to submissively serve Her lovingly, as the true Mother of God. Sadly in Russia nowadays we have heretics (among us) who actively dishonor the Mother of God, the saints, their icons, their relics and their festivals. O, if only they also unanimously with us glorified the worthy Queen of heaven and earth!
Today the Holy Church solemnly glorifies the honorable Dormition or translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven. A wonderful translation – she died without serious illness, peacefully. Her soul is taken up in the divine hands of Her Son and carried up into the heavenly abode, accompanied by the sweet singing of angels. And then, her most pure body is transferred by the apostles to Gethsemane where it is honorably buried, and on the third day it is resurrected and taken up to heaven. You see this on the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. On it is represented the life-bearing body of the Theotokos laying on a bier, surrounded by the apostles and hierarchs, and in the center of the icon the Lord holding in His hands the most pure soul of the Theotokos. The translation of the Mother of God is a paradigm of the translation in general of the souls of Christians to the other world.
We say that our dead have “fallen asleep” or “passed away.” What does this mean? This means that for the true Christian there is no death. Death was conquered by Christ on the cross. But there is a translation, i.e, a rearrangement of his condition, i.e. his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, eternal, without end, that is what is meant by “falling asleep”. It is as if it were a temporary dream after which, by the voice of the Lord and the fearful yet wonderful trumpet of the Archangel, all the dead shall live and come forth each to his place: either to the resurrection of life or to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29). This is what the Christian means by translation. We should be ready for this translation, for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this indescribable world event, recorded in the Holy Scriptures.
This preparation for the meeting of the heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the person’s preparation throughout the whole of his life. This preparation means a change in all his thoughts, and the moral change of all his being, so that the whole man would be pure and white as snow, washing clean everything that defiles the body and spirit, so that he is adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercifulness, abstention, spiritual contemplation, and burning love for God and neighbor.
Our preparation for meeting the heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things. The heavenly King desires souls adorned with immutable virtue, souls prepared so that the Very Lord Himself could abide in them. Do not marvel that the Very Lord wants to live in us. In fact the human soul is more spacious than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God. And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of all will settle in it and will fill it with Himself. “We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23), says the Lord about the souls who love Him.
And so, ye participants in the Christian feasts, and especially the present feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, ye who are brightly adorned with every virtue and translated to the heavenly kingdom, to Her Son and God, proclaim to each and every one about preparing their souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about the incorruptible adornment of Christian virtue. Let your death also be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the dread judgment seat of Christ. Amen.
The Dormition of the Theotokos (source)
Most-holy Theotokos save us!

Friday, August 3, 2018

"O, what a great and awesome sight that is seen today!"

The Transfiguration of Christ (source)
O, what a great and awesome sight that is seen today! He Who is from heaven is perceived, and upon the earth shines incomparably greater than the sun, as the noetic [Sun] of Righteousness, upon Mount Tabor.
-from the Matins Canon of the Transfiguration
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes on the Most-holy Theotokos

The Most-holy Theotokos and Christ (source)
Dear friends, humanity is the summit of earthly creation, and if God created nothing else, mankind would be enough to testify that there is a God, an all-wise God, omnipotent and benevolent. What an excellent creation man is! We see a beautiful statue and admire it, and no one dares to say the statue created itself without the sculptor. But, when compared to a human, what is a statue, even the most perfect one kept in a museum and considered a treasure of infinitive value? The statue is dead, inanimate, idle. It has eyes but does not see, ears but does not hear, feet but cannot walk. Man, however, is alive, with soul, and active and creative statue, which when studied more and more gains more and more admiration. Common sense says that, just as every statue was made by an artist, man was created by God.
Man is a marvelous creation of God, a little bit less than the angels, and is divided into man and woman. Man and woman are equal. They have the basic characteristics of human personality, reason, conscience, will and the rest. They do possess differences, but the differences between man and woman does not reduce, but rather enhance the admiration due to humanity. They add beauty and charm, making human life a pleasant thing. Since the first man until now, billions of people have been born. Of these billions of people, men and women, there have been some who have tried to destroy the grandeur of humanity by their criminal acts, they tried to degrade the human personality and put the human race to shame. Mankind fell from the lofty height of honor and dignity into the slime of dishonorable passions, and became like the wild beasts. Reading history and seeing contemporary reality, one shudders and is ashamed of mankind’s horrible crimes and shameful acts. Among billions of people, however, there are still some who, by their acts and virtues, have honored and continue to honor humanity, demonstrating that we were created for a higher purpose, making us aspire for heaven, for the blessed life which man lived in Paradise before the Fall.
 If someone should ask which human being of all the billions of human beings who have lived on earth reached the highest point of moral grandeur, in other words, who is the greatest of all Saints, we would answer not on our own authority, but would give the answer to the Church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth (II Tim.3:15). Our Church, having the Holy Scriptures as a foundation, answers that, after Christ, who is not a mere man, but the God-Man and a Saint in the absolute sense, comes a woman. She is the All-Holy Virgin Mary.
 The Virgin Mary, by God’s grace and through her virtues, came to such a high state of holiness that she surpassed not only every human being, but even the angels and the archangels. The spiritual height and depth of the Virgin, to use the word of the Akathist Hymn, are unattainable: “Hail Height insurmountable for the human mind; Hail Depth inexplorable to angelic eye.”
The Virgin, as our Church praises her, is ‘more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim’. If mankind is a miracle of divine creation then the Virgin Mary is the most exceptional miracle of divine grace.
 From the moment when the first woman, Eve, sinned and carried mankind along with her into the abyss of calamity, centuries and millennia had passed. In the midst of this terrible darkness, one hope warmed souls, namely, that the situation would one day be radically different. The ancient prophecy, the first prophecy after the Fall of the First Man and First Woman, the First Gospel as it was called, spoke about a woman, a woman whose son would fight and defeat satan, and would give the world new life. From careful study of this prophecy, it is apparent that this woman would not give birth in the usual way women give birth. This woman would give birth without knowing man. She would bear as a virgin. This prophecy about the virgin is repeated more precisely and with different symbols in the Old Testament. The Book of Isaiah gives the clearest prophecy: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Eight hundred years before the star of Bethlehem shone, Isaiah saw the Virgin and her son Emmanuel.
 The Virgin gave birth to her only-begotten son, our Lord Jesus Christ. But how did the Virgin give birth? Unbelievers of every century have argued against this and will continue to do so. What do we answer? We say: “which is a greater miracle – a Virgin to give birth or the world to be created from nothing?” Certainly, the greater is the creation of the universe from nothing, and if this greater one took place, why not a lesser miracle, the Virgin Birth?
 The all-holy Mother of God was a virgin before giving birth, during birth, and remained a virgin after giving birth. Our holy Lady is ever-virgin. Our Church preaches this as a revealed truth, and we proclaim this truth each time we recite the Symbol of Faith, saying: “and was incarnated by the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
 We Orthodox do not deify the Virgin, as some heretics like Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses accuse us. We do not believe that the Virgin is a Goddess, but we say that the Virgin is superior to the angels, and that is why we call her Most Holy – that God selected the Most holy Mother in order to take flesh and be born. For this reason we call her Theotokos, God-birthgiver. Because of her exceptional virtues she is the perfect example of Woman.
 But while the Holy Scripture and the Church in its teaching elevate the Virgin to ineffable heights, and angels and archangels bow before her, we have in our own country many nominal Christians who open their foul mouths and blaspheme her worse than heretics and unbelievers!
Dear Christians, let us all fight to stop this blasphemy and save ourselves from God’s wrath.
This chapter was taken from the book “ON THE DEVINE LITURGY – VOL.2” by Bishop Augoustinos N. Kantiotes.

Translation by Rev. Fr. Asterios Gerostergios 


The Most-holy Theotokos and Christ (source)

Most-holy Theotokos, save us!