Friday, September 27, 2019

"O glorious Virgin Martyr, Akylina the godly-minded one..."

The Holy Relics and Icon of St. Akylina the New Martyr of Zagliveri (source)
O glorious Virgin Martyr, Akylina the godly-minded one, who can rightly hymn your struggle? For you did not count the flower of youth, nor the pinnacle of your age, more than the love of Christ, but with simplicity of soul, and knowledge founded in God, you gave yourself up to death for Him. And you were steadfast through pains, and therefore proceeded to the life without pain, being made worthy of the trophies of martyrdom. But as one having boldness, intercede with your Bridegroom [Christ] on behalf of those who honor you.
-Doxastikon of the Praises from the feast of St. Akylina the New Martyr


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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

"Reclining upon the bosom of Christ the Teacher..."

St. John the Theologian reclining upon the bosom of Christ at the Mystical Supper (source)
Reclining upon the bosom of Christ the Teacher at the supper, O beloved Disciple, from the Lord there you came to know things ineffable, and you thundered to all with a voice from heaven: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, the true light that illumines every man who comes into the world, Christ God, and the Savior of our souls.
-Doxastikon of the Litia by Byzantius.


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

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

St. John Maximovitch: "To partake of the Body and Blood of Christ is to receive in oneself the Risen Christ..."

The Communion of the Apostles (source)
To partake of the Body and Blood of Christ is to receive in oneself the Risen Christ, the Victor over death, granting to those with Him victory over sin and death. Preserving in ourselves the grace-filled gift of Communion, we have a guarantee and foretaste of the blessed, eternal life of the soul and body.
-St. John Maximovitch
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Fr. Seraphim Rose: "The devil will use every opportunity to pit the true Orthodox Christians against each other..."

St. Anthony the Great being tempted by the demons (source)
In the coming years, the devil will use every opportunity to pit the true Orthodox Christians against each other, sometimes with issues great and other times (more commonly) small. We must try with steadfastness to not get caught by the bait.

-Fr. Seraphim Rose (+1982)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Akathist to St. Silouan the Athonite

St. Silouan the Athonite (source)

Whose memory the Church celebrates on September 24th, the day of his repose

O chosen ascetic and earthly angel of Christ, all-blessed father Silouan, most excellent emulator of the fathers of Athos in vigils, fasting and humility! Through thy thirst for God and burning love for Him thou didst acquire abundant grace for thy soul, O most blessed one. Imitating Christ, thou didst crucify thyself with tearful prayer for those languishing in hades, for the living and for those yet to come. Of this thy love deprive us not, who amid the vale of sin ask thine intercession before God and cry out with compunction: Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for the world!


The Creator of angels and Lord of hosts chose thee beforehand from thy mother’s womb, and, as saith the Psalmist, gave thee a deep heart, O God-bearing father Silouan, that as in a most excellent receptacle thou mightest place the uncontainable name of God Most High, and through the power of God and divine grace mightest most earnestly follow the life of the angels. And praising the wondrous struggle of thine earthly labors, we reverently cry out to thee:
Rejoice, fruit of the chaste purity of pious parents;

rejoice, fragrant flower of the unfading beauty of their struggle of faith!
Rejoice, thou who with all thy soul didst love the piety of thy parents;
rejoice, thou who wast pleased to emulate their chastity and love for God!
Rejoice, thou who from childhood wast wondrously filled with the wisdom to
seek joy in God;
rejoice, thou who like a deer didst yearn for the well-spring of grace
Rejoice, thou who didst sweeten thy youthful mind with the word of God, as with
sweet honey;
rejoice, thou who didst root thy heart wholly in the will of God!
Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for
the world!
The all-blessed Theotokos beheld thee sunk in the depths of sin, when delight in sin had entered into the belly of thy youth like a fetid serpent; and, grieving maternally, she wondrously cried out to thee: “Most painful is it for me to see thee defiling thyself with sinful acts!” And when thou didst realize that she was suffering for thy falls into sin, thou didst manfully cast the serpent of sin out, vanquishing it by repentance and prayer, and ever chanting to the Lord Who loveth us a hymn of gratitude for His all-pure Mother: Alleluia!    

The knowledge of God overshadowed thee when thou wast vouchsafed to hear the voice of the Mother of the Lord of hosts, O Silouan chosen of God, and thy heart was filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, by Whose activity thou didst escape the vanity of the world like a doe from a snare, fleeing unto Mount Athos, the garden of the Mother of God who had wondrously summoned thee, that thou mightest cleave unto God with filial love. And, seeing the wondrous intention of the Mistress of the world for thee, we cry out to thee with compunction:
Rejoice, thou who wast called forth from the darkness of sin into the light of the truth of Christ by the all-pure one herself;
rejoice, thou who wast wondrously chosen to be a faithful husbandman of her earthly garden!
Rejoice, succulent grapes of the land of Russia, springing forth in abundance on Mount Athos;
rejoice, untiring conscience who broke the sting of sin by penitent prayer!
Rejoice, thou who didst minister unto God like an angel in the Holy Monastery of Saint Panteleimon; rejoice, thou who by labor, fasting and stillness didst gloriously subdue the enemy who fought against thee!
Rejoice, thou who by humble-mindedness didst trample all the wiles of the devil underfoot;
rejoice, thou who didst gloriously acquire immaculate faith by thy thirst
for God!
Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for the world!
The power of the Most High truly preserved thee when the spirit of hades and death attacked thee and assailed thy soul with sinful delusions, O God-loving Silouan. But when thou wast afflicted and didst imagine that God was beyond entreaty, the Lord Who loveth mankind visited thee in the ineffable effulgence of Tabor, O most blessed one, and strengthened thee with the fire of the grace of the Holy Spirit. And receiving a new birth, like Paul, with fear and joy thou didst cry out unto God:
Possessed of a wealth of grace, thou wast taken up by the Spirit into the heavens, where thou didst hear unspeakable words. Truly, who can describe those joys, O all-blessed father Silouan? For when, beyond the forms of the world, in contemplation of the indescribable beauties of the Godhead, thou wast vouchsafed to gaze upon the face of Christ God Who loveth infinitely and forgiveth all, thou wast filled to overflowing with the ineffable love of God. And, marveling at thine ineffable divine vision, we cry out:
Rejoice, thou who in the struggle of the faith of Christ wast vouchsafed visitation and consolation;
rejoice, thou who wast counted worthy to behold the beauty of His ineffable glory!
Rejoice, thou who by the Holy Spirit wast transported to the heavenly Eden of wondrous beauty;
rejoice, thou who there wast given to drink abundantly of the gracious gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter!
Rejoice, partaker of the ineffable beauty of paradise;rejoice, beloved of God who wast favored by Him with compassions of heavenly beauty!
Rejoice, thou who dost earnestly mediate these graces for the whole human race;
rejoice, thou who like an unsleeping guardian dost wake us for the dawn of eternal life!
Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for the world!
KONTAKION IVThe devil, the slayer of man, who from time immemorial hath sought to destroy the righteous, loosed a storm of grievous temptations upon thee, O father Silouan, but thou wast taught by the Holy Spirit to keep thy mind in hell but despair not. Anticipating the wiles of the devil by vigilance and humility, thou didst vanquish him; and put to shame by thee, he plainly admitted that he is a liar. Thus didst thou preserve thy soul for God, like a meek dove from the snares, unceasingly chanting unto Him: Alleluia!   
St. Silouan the Athonite (source)

Hearing of thee that thou wast miraculously summoned from the vanity of the world to the monastic struggle, and that thou didst produce goodly fruit through the grace of God, O venerable one, not only young monks, but elders also, well tried in the struggle, had recourse unto thee and delighted in thy deeds and words as in honey; and thus attaining the angelic life, they emulated the Lord. Wherefore we too, seeing thee adorned with humble-mindedness, cry out to thee with joy:
Rejoice, inexhaustible well of humble- mindedness and chastity;
rejoice, fragrant and unfading lily of the earthly Eden!
Rejoice, thou who with love didst bear the easy yoke of Christ in thy struggle;
rejoice, thou who by prayer didst establish thy mind, heart and will in God!
Rejoice, thou who didst diligently preserve the purity of thy soul and body;
rejoice, thou who by unceasing prayer didst ascend the heights of dispassion!
Rejoice, most earnest follower of the canons of the holy fathers;
rejoice, thou who dost unceasingly proclaim to us the heavenly homeland
and the love of God!
Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for the world!
The Lord gave thee divine grace as a star pointing the way and enlightening thy mind, O God-loving father Silouan, and thereby He strengthened thee for the struggle of salvation, as He did Elias at the brook Chē΄-rĭth. And, wondrously fed with the inexhaustible treasures of the Holy Spirit, in youth and old age, from the morning watch until night, in thy prayers for the whole world thou didst unceasingly sound forth unto God like a melodious flute: Alleluia!    
We see thee in thy goodly struggle, O all- blessed father Silouan, seeking the love of God as a babe seeketh its mother’s milk, aflame with His love and crying out with tears: “Be thou mindful of the love of the Lord, O my soul, and warm thou my heart, for who can give me such heat as the love of God, which will give me rest neither by day or by night?” Wherefore, let us constrain our hearts and soften our souls with the warmth of love for Thee, God most compassionate, and let us cry out to Silouan with compunction:
Rejoice, thou who didst constantly thirst for the righteousness of God, more than for sweet honey;
rejoice, thou who didst emulate the angels in thy love for the Lord!
Rejoice, thou who dost offer up the incense of pure prayer like a flame of fire;
rejoice, thou who hast adorned things above and things below with the
beauty of angelic reverence!
Rejoice, for thou didst make thy heart like the bush unconsumed by the fire;
rejoice, for thine arms, like those of Moses for the chosen people, were
stretched forth before the Lord for all!
Rejoice, for thou didst love to desire the judgments of God for all time, and didst seek His statutes.
rejoice, for thou didst unceasingly cry out to Him: O God, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance!

Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for the world!
Thou wast shown to be a constant preacher of stillness, O favored one of God, when lovingly the Lord Who loveth mankind desired to test thee by depriving thee of the visitation of the most Holy Spirit. Sensing thyself bereft of His grace, like Adam who lamented the loss of paradise thou didst tearfully cry out with contrite heart: “O Lord, before Thou didst seek me out and grant me to delight in Thy Holy Spirit, and my soul loved Thee. But now my soul grieveth after Thee.” And thus lamenting, though trusting in the loving-kindness of God, thou didst cry out to Him:
Thou didst shine forth as a new beholder of mysteries, O God-loving father Silouan, and by prayer and tears didst again acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit, through which thy heart was filled to overflowing with ineffable love. And comprehending the power of this grace, thou didst cry out with the boldness of Elias: “O Lord, not to me alone, but grant the whole world to recognize Thy love and be saved!” And having thee as a tireless advocate before God, we cry out to thee with compunction:
Rejoice, for through the crucifixion of prayer for the dead, the living and those yet to come, thou becamest an open heaven;
rejoice, for by such love thou didst win the kingdom of heaven for thy soul!
Rejoice, wondrous embodiment of purity of faith and innocence;
rejoice, thou who didst acquire the full forgiveness of Christ for thy neighbors’ falls into sin!
Rejoice, faithful fellow struggler with the saints of God, the wondrous sanctification of the world;
rejoice, faithful novice of the all-blessed Abbess of Athos and receptacle of the gifts of the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, sweetly melodious harp of Mount Athos, proclaiming the life which is to come;
rejoice, tireless toiler in her garden, who dost strengthen the weak for the struggle!
Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of 1ove in thy prayer for the world!
Desiring to reveal in thee a new lamp of grace, O venerable father Silouan, the Lord Who loveth mankind transplanted thee like an olive shoot from the root of the land of Russia to the wilderness of Athos; and, bedewing thee with the grace of the Holy Spirit, He rendered thee most fruitful: for by thy deeds and words, as with life-creating oil, thou didst guide all to purity and chastity, piety and brotherly love. And, bound with the bond of love, and making what is baser subject to that which is higher, they chanted unto God: Alleluia!  
St. Silouan the Athonite (source)

The Lord revealed thee as a new fellow ascetic of the desert dwellers, a guide and teacher of monks and lay folk, O all-blessed Silouan. For, while yet living in the world, thou didst teach the full forgiveness of Christ to a certain soldier, who was scandalized by the fall of his wife into sin and raged with anger, and thus thou didst preserve the Mystery of Matrimony, the Little Church, from destruction. And calling on monks who had fallen into despondency to acquire peace of soul, and guiding them to the fear of God, thou didst lead them to repentance, and didst thus prepare all to be dwellers in paradise. Knowing thee as one who thus concerned thyself for the salvation of all, with love we cry out to thee as is due:
Rejoice, diligent fellow struggler with the desert-lovers in seeking God;
rejoice, earnest establisher of brotherly love and fervent advocate for all!
Rejoice, faithful companion on the path of life, amid misfortunes and perils;
rejoice, unfeigned servant amid sicknesses and griefs, and sorrows of soul!
Rejoice, proclaimer of the love of God, calling all to reconciliation with God and our neighbors; rejoice, thou who in bearing witness that the Lord is good dost strengthen in the hope of forgiveness souls weakened by sin! 
Rejoice, faithful ascetic of the earthly Eden, tearfully mediating salvation for the world;
rejoice, thou who desirest to descend into hades for all unrepentant sinners;
Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of lover in thy prayer for the world!
A strange wonder did the Lord reveal to thee, O all-blessed father Silouan, when He miraculously showed thee thy spiritual father, the elder Abraámius, transfigured in His own image and shining more brightly than the eye can bear; and so He hath taught us to treat the Mystery of Repentance with honor. And, seeing thee entrusting thine own will to thy spiritual father as to the Lord Himself, and thus cutting off thine evil desires through humility and repentance, we learn thus to entrust ourselves to the will of God through the pastors of the Church, and so to escape the wrath of God and the coming judgment before our departure, crying out to the triune God: Alleluia!  

O all-wondrous favorite of God, who acquired the humility of Christ with all thy heart and soul, and who crucified thyself to the world for Him, thy Beloved, thou didst cry out, weeping: “O Jesus most sweet! Thou hast resurrected my soul, that I may love Thee and my neighbor. Wherefore, grant me to pour forth tears for the whole world, that all men may come to know Thee, that they may delight in Thy peace and behold the light of Thy countenance.” And we who have wasted our life in sins and are saved by thee bless thee thus:
Rejoice, tireless toiler with her who is our earnest helper, in making supplications for the world;
rejoice, thou who, like Jeremiah who wept for the people, hast bedewed the Holy Mountain with tears!
Rejoice, all-wondrous ascetic of Athos, who by thy supplication dost sanctify the whole world;
rejoice, thou who as a solicitous father dost mediate with tears before God for all who are perishing amid sins!
Rejoice, beloved favorite of Christ God, joy and amazement of the angels;
rejoice, radiant effulgence of the North, purely transplanted from Holy Russia to the desert of Athos!
Rejoice, thou who in humility and obedience didst show forth a model of angelic beauty;
rejoice, thou who by the fervor of thy supplication didst desire to make us also dwellings of the divine Spirit!
Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for the world!
All the angelic beings and the multitude of ascetics marveled at thy humility and love for mankind, O Silouan our father, when, assuming the position of steward, thou didst emulate the chaste Joseph of Egypt. Having concern not only for the brethren of the holy monastery, but also for the lay workers who toiled there, as sons of God, thou didst cry out in their behalf to God Who loveth each of His creatures: “O Lord, send Thou Thy Holy Spirit, and comfort the troubled souls of these, Thy poor people.” For thus pointing out the beauty of each obedience undertaken with humility of mind, thou didst cry out to God unceasingly: Alleluia!  

Even the most eloquent of orators are unable to describe the power of thy love, O all-wondrous father Silouan; for with tears thou didst thirst to extinguish all enmity and disorder among men and to reconcile everyone unto God, crying out to the Master of the world: “O Lord, I yearn to be Thine, and to crucify myself with Thee for the whole world, that all may be saved!” And to the brethren thou didst cry out: “My children, pray for thine enemies, for they are our brethren, our life; and only the devil is the enemy of peace.” And guided by thee toward brotherly love and love of mankind, we cry out to thee:
Rejoice, thou who in thy goodness didst make thyself like Christ on Golgotha;
rejoice, thou who didst crucify thyself for thine enemies, not through thy hands, but thy heart and soul!
Rejoice, thou who carest for thy neighbor and didst not lose the beauty of grace-filled stillness;
rejoice, thou who, loving thy neighbor, didst acquire the power of unceasing prayer!
Rejoice, thou who through fasting and prayer didst utterly deflect the darts of the evil one;
rejoice, thou who hast taught us to overcome the evil wiles and machinations of the devil!
Rejoice, thou who, laboriously grinding thy flesh in the mill of Christ, like sacred grain, didst sweeten thy heart with prayer;
rejoice, thou who with the bread of life didst abundantly feed the workmen
of the garden of the Queen of heaven!
Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for the world!
Seeking the salvation of thy soul, and desiring to cleave unto Christ most sweet, thou didst humbly flee from the land of thy fathers to the Holy Mountain, where in abstinence and stillness, industriousness and love for mankind, thou didst acquire angelic beauty, O most blessed one. And thus thou didst attain a goodly end at the all-blessed dawn, when all the desert-lovers of the communities of Athos chant the midnight hymn to the Creator, and didst surrender thy soul, which was nourished by the life-creating Body and Blood of the Lord, into His divine hands, that with all the saints thou mightest unceasingly chant to the Word, Who is holier than the saints: Alleluia!  
St. Silouan the Athonite (Source)
In life, faith and love thou wast a most zealous servant of the King of heaven, Whom the cherubim, the seraphim and the councils of the saints glorify, O venerable one; and like a right fragrant lily thou standest with all the elect of the all-pure Theotokos at the throne of the All- holy Trinity. Be thou, O most blessed one, a most zealous mediator before God for the peace and prosperity of the land of thy fathers, and an angel of untiring prayer and a fervent intercessor for the Holy Church, that delivered by thee from tribulations, we may cry out to thee in thanksgiving:
Rejoice, angel of the Russian land, who didst labor most excellently on the Holy Mountain;
rejoice, most fervent advocate, who for us hast crucified thyself with love at the throne of God!
Rejoice, earnest mediator before God for the people of the land of thy fathers;
rejoice, speedy intercessor for the brethren of the garden of Athos who weaken in the struggle!
Rejoice, thou who didst bear without complaint the wounds of thy Lord on thy body;
rejoice, thou who didst entrust to Him thy pure soul, rendered white by tears of repentance!
Rejoice, faithful husbandman of the garden of Christ, who wast summoned by the Lord to Sion on high;
rejoice, for, crowned there with glory and honor, thou holdest converse
with the saints and angels!
Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for the world!
A right laudatory hymn do we offer thee, O father Silouan, favorite of God; for with burning love for the Lord Who hungered for the salvation of the world and put the devil to shame by His humility, thou didst faithfully follow Him, and adorned with the right fruitful gifts of the Holy Spirit, didst perfume the wilderness of Athos with pure prayer, graciously showing us the ideal of the angelic life. For thus likening the Holy Mountain to paradise, thou didst put the enemy to shame, and didst acquire the kingdom of heaven for thy soul, struggling to cleave unto God with love, and crying out to Him: Alleluia!  

In our days— during thy lifetime and after thy death—the Lord hath revealed thee to the whole world as a bearer of the light-bestowing light and grace of the Holy Spirit, that, gazing upon thee, who art resplendent in the incorrupt beauty of thine earthly struggles and offerest supplications for us like the cherubim at the throne of God, we are assured of our hope of salvation and most diligently follow thy right moral life. Sweetly do we submit our will to the love of God, that thus the glorification of the name of the Lord, Who loveth us, may be made steadfast in our bodies and souls. Wherefore, strengthened by thee in faith, with love we cry out to thee:
Rejoice, thou who by the struggles of a right moral life dost strengthen us in love of God;
rejoice, zealous denouncer of immorality, who teachest us to preserve the Mysteries and canons of the Orthodox Faith!
Rejoice, thou who wast earnestly zealous to embrace the desert-dwelling of Peter the Athonite in fasting and stillness;
rejoice, thou who didst faithfully emulate Abba Athanasius in care for the goodly morals of monastics!
Rejoice, new luminary of the Faith, who in our days dost point out the true path to God;
rejoice, thou who bearest true witness unto all concerning the abundance of the grace of the Holy Spirit in the Orthodox Church!
Rejoice, faithful servant of Christ, who standest as is meet before the throne of His glory;
rejoice, thou who dost earnestly ask for us a peaceful ending to our life and a good defense before the fearful Judgment Seat of Christ!

Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for the world!
Christ our God poured forth the indescribable power of grace upon thee, O venerable one, that in the heavens, where everything liveth and moveth in the joy of the Holy Spirit, He might show thee to be in the choir of Athonite ascetics, offering up supplications with all the saints in behalf of all born on earth. And knowing thee to be thus, we pray: Pour forth fervent prayer unto the Lord, O most blessed one, that, moved to mercy, He may make His Holy Church steadfast forever, for our salvation, may preserve in every way the desert-lovers of the earthly Eden, and strengthen them, that the name of God may be glorified forever by those on earth and those in heaven, who chant: Alleluia!  

Hymning thine all-glorious memory, O God- bearing father Silouan, as is meet we bless the pangs and labors which thou didst most diligently endure in vigils and fasting with all the chosen ones of the Mother of God. For who can reckon the labors and sighs we tearfully offer up in prayers for the world, and whereby the Lord changeth His wrath over our sins into mercy, and in His love for mankind doth not disavow the oath He swore, that the Holy Church will be established until the end of time? Wherefore, thankful for this thine intercession, we cry out to thee with compunction:
Rejoice, diligent follower of the leading of the Holy Spirit;
rejoice, thou who dost gaze upon the face of Christ, the Peace and Wisdom of God!
Rejoice, humble ascetic of Christ, joy and boast of the Mother of God, before all those in heaven and those on earth;  
rejoice, tireless advocate for the world, our consolation and hope of salvation!
Rejoice, heir of the kingdom of Christ, who didst adorn Mount Athos with thy struggle;
rejoice, faithful mover of our salvation, who hast sanctified for us the path which leadeth to God!
Rejoice, gilded clarion proclaiming the glory of God with all the saints and angels;
rejoice, thou who wast crowned by God with a diadem of immortality, and in thy supplications hast not forsaken us!
Rejoice, O father Silouan, inextinguishable burning of love in thy prayer for the world!
O all-wondrous Silouan, favorite of God, gracious scion of the land of Russia, boast and adornment of the desert-lovers of Mount Athos! Accept from us this meager entreaty, and ask thou of Christ our God, Who was crucified for the world, that He may have mercy on all of us, His children, and may bind us with the grace of the Holy Spirit in the bond of His love, and may lead us to Himself by the judgments which He knoweth, that by thy supplications we may appear unashamed on the day of judgment before the face of His glory, and may be vouchsafed with all the saints and angels to chant the hymn of victory: Alleluia!   
(Kontakion XIII is recited thrice, whereupon Oikos I and Kontakion I are repeated.)
St. Silouan the Athonite (source)

(Which prayer is said kneeling.)
Let us pray to our venerable father Silouan.
O holy father Silouan, pray unto God for us.
O all-wondrous father Silouan, favorite of God! By the grace given thee by God to pray with tears for the whole world — the dead, the living and those yet to come — never cease to make entreaty to the Lord for us who earnestly fall down before thee and with compunction beseech thine intercession. Move thou to prayer, O most blessed one, the earnest Helper of the Christian race, the all-blessed Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary, who wondrously summoned thee to be a faithful husbandman in her earthly garden, where the chosen of God implore Him to be merciful and long-suffering toward our sins, that He not be mindful of our injustices and iniquities, but that in His ineffable goodness our Lord Jesus Christ may take pity and save us in His great mercy. Yea, O favorite of God, with the all-blessed Mistress of the world, the most holy Abbess of Athos, and the holy ascetics of her earthly portion, ask of the Word, Who is holier than all the saints, that Mount Athos and its God-loving desert-dwellers may be preserved in peace from all misfortunes and the assaults, of the enemy, that, delivered by the angels from evils, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit in faith and brotherly love, until the end of time they may offer up supplications for the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, and may show unto all the path to salvation, that the earthly Church and that of heaven may unceasingly glorify the Creator and Father of lights, illumining and sanctifying the world in the eternal righteousness and goodness of God. For the peoples of the whole world ask, a prosperous and peaceful life, the spirit of humble-mindedness and brotherly love, good morals and salvation, and the spirit of the fear of God, that the hearts of men may not be infected with malice and iniquity, which are able to uproot the love of God in men and cast them into God-opposing enmity and fratricide, but that the name of God may be sanctified in the power of divine love and righteousness on earth and in heaven, that His holy will may be manifest, among men, and that peace and the kingdom of God may
reign on earth. Likewise, O favorite of God, for our homeland, beg the peace we desire and the blessing of heaven, that, protected by the almighty veil of the Mother of God, it may be delivered from wrath, famine, plague, earthquake, flood, fire, the sword, foreign invasion, civil war, sudden death, and from all enemies, visible and invisible; and thus, through the power of the life-giving Cross, may be the most sacred dwelling- place of the all-blessed Theotokos until the end of time, and may be established in the superabundant love of God. And for all of us who are sunk in the darkness of sin, who have neither fervent repentance nor the fear of God, and thus immeasurably offend the Lord Who loveth us, O most blessed one, ask of our most compassionate God that He divinely visit and enliven our souls with His omnipotent grace, and that He abolish in our hearts all malice and the pride of life, despondency and negligence. Again we pray that when we are fortified by the grace of the most Holy Spirit and warmed by the love of God, we may be strengthened in love of mankind and our brethren, in humble-mindedness and prayerful crucifixion for one another and for all, and in the righteousness and grace-filled love of God, and may draw nigh unto Him like children: that thus doing His most holy will, we may tread the path of this transitory life unashamed, in all piety and purity, and with all the saints of the heavenly kingdom may be vouchsafed the wedding-banquet of the Lamb. From all those in heaven and on earth be glory, honor and worship unto Him, and His unoriginate Father and His all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
Tone 3
The work of the Archimandrite Zacharias
Having knowledge of the Holy Spirit, thou didst attain unto Adam’s lamentation and didst yearn after Christ insatiably. Keeping thy mind steadfastly in hell thou didst show love for us men that was past nature. Holy Father Silouan, ever pray unto God that we be granted great mercy.

Tone 4
The work of the Hieromonk Paul
By prayer thou didst receive Christ for thy teacher in the way of humility, and the Spirit bare witness to salvation in thy heart; wherefore, all peoples called unto hope, rejoice in the day of thy memorial. O sacred father Silouan, pray unto Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.
St. Silouan the Athonite (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

"O adamantine in soul, how can we rightly praise you?"

St. Eustathios the Great Martyr (source)
O adamantine in soul, how can we rightly praise you? For you surpassed nature when you were deprived of your wealth and your children and your spouse, as you cried out with the blessed and ever-memorable voice of Job: "The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, may the Lord be glorified." And this is what happened, for you loved God, and fervently desired Him, and again to you was given those whom you loved, who providentially became your fellow athletes, with whom you suffered many tortures and reached your blessed end, as you received them as your fellow intercessors, O Eustathios, steadfast in soul. We entreat you that we be delivered from our offenses.
-Doxastikon of the Aposticha in the Plagal of the Second Tone, by Ephraim Karias

St. Eustathios the Great Martyr with his family (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"The Monastic equal to the Angels, and the wondrous one among Priests..."

St. Amphilochios of Patmos (source)
The Monastic equal to the Angels, and the wondrous one among Priests, the flowering of the Gospel, he who promoted piety, and the teacher of repentance, let us bless Amphilochios, for being aflame with virtues, he was lifted up to the heavens like Elias the Zealot, and left behind as his mantle the treasury of his relics, which work awesome wonders. Therefore, today we gather around with faith and cry out together: O most-venerable Father, do not neglect those who honor you, but intercede with the Triune God that our souls may be saved.
-Doxastikon of the Litia from the Feast of the Uncovering of the Holy Relics of St. Amphilochios of Patmos, commemorated on September 19th


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

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

"Can a heretical bishop defile the Church?"

This is a good comment overall by Mr. Constantine Zalalas on a common question that is being discussed today: "Can a heretical bishop defile the Church?" Whether or not one agrees with every one of his arguments, his main focus is using Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos' commentary (a leading spiritual father and expert in the Church canons in 20th-century Greece) to make the point that a member of the clergy receives grace from God that is not hindered by their possibly sinful lives or even heretical beliefs. As members of the laity, we should not to be swift to condemn, slander, ridicule, judge and malign canonical Orthodox hierarchs throughout the world. Our job is to focus first on our own many sins, repent and pray that our Lord might speedily grant deliverance from our many passions and to dissolve heresies and divisions throughout the world. The job of censuring and bringing anathemas against unrepentant leaders and those who persist in teaching heresies is the role of the Holy Church Councils, inspired by the Holy Spirit, not that of any person who happens to be on a message board or have a blog. May the Lord grant us all humility, repentance and love, and may He heal our many wounds and passions and grant peace to His Church (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Basil the Great: Account of the Present State of the Churches

Christ calming the storm (source)
Note: Metropolitan Ierothos (Vlahos) of Nafpaktos, a notable theologian and author of many books, recently wrote a post entitled: "Proposal for dealing with the Ukrainian issue". In this article, he summarizes his extensive previous writing on the issue of Ukraine and the many related issues that it highlights for the Church, and proceeds to give his suggestion for how this might be remedied going forward. One of the most striking parts of this article, however, is his lengthy quote of St. Basil the Great: "Account of the Present State of the Churches", in which the Saint highlights the great battle that was being waged in his time and afflicting the entire Church. I am not including this to endorse any opinion about the state of the Church and Ukraine (I do not have the wisdom or authority to do so). I do not want this post to be a place of argument on this issue, as there are too many places online already where this is occurring. I include this excerpt from a great Saint that we might fully perceive the great temptation that is facing the Church, that we might all endlessly repent of our sins, weaknesses and passions that are harming our brethren and breaking God-given peace, love and unity. May we pray for the Church and the people of Ukraine, entreating our Lord, His Mother, and all the Saints that they might enlighten and guide our Hierarchs, and that repentance, communion, peace, love, forgiveness, forbearance and true unity might speedily be granted to all who are suffering throughout the world.
St Basil the Great: Account of the Present State of the Churches
(St Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, ch. 30, para. 76-79 in Letters and Select Works, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, ed. Philip Schaff & Henry Wace, Vol. 8, T&T Clark, Edinburgh, reprinted Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1996, pp. 48-50)
“To what then shall I liken our present condition? It may be compared, I think, to some naval battle which has arisen out of time old quarrels, and is fought by men who cherish a deadly hate against one another, of long experience in naval warfare, and eager for the fight. Look, I beg you, at the picture thus raised before your eyes. See the rival fleets rushing in dread array to the attack. With a burst of uncontrollable fury they engage and fight it out. Fancy, if you like, the ships driven to and fro by a raging tempest, while thick darkness falls from the clouds and blackens all the scenes so that ensigns are indistinguishable in the confusion, and all distinction between friend and foe is lost.
To fill up the details of the imaginary picture, suppose the sea swollen with billows and whirled up from the deep, while a vehement torrent of rain pours down from the clouds and the terrible waves rise high.
[Suppose] from every quarter of heaven the winds beat upon one point, where both the fleets are dashed one against the other. Of the combatants some are turning traitors; some are deserting in the very thick of the fight; some have at one and the same moment to urge on their boats, all beaten by the gale, and to advance against their assailants. Jealousy of authority and the lust of individual mastery splits the sailors into parties which deal mutual death to one another.
Think, besides all this, of the confused and unmeaning roar sounding over all the sea, from howling winds, from crashing vessels, from boiling surf, from the yells of the combatants as they express their varying emotions in every kind of noise, so that not a word from admiral or pilot can be heard. The disorder and confusion are tremendous, for the extremity of misfortune, when life is despaired of, gives men license for every kind of wickedness.
Suppose, too, that the men are all smitten with the incurable plague of mad love of glory, so that they do not cease from their struggle each to get the better of the other, while their ship is actually sinking into the deep.

Turn now, I beg you, from this figurative description to the unhappy reality. Did it not at one time appear that the Arian schism, after its separation into a sect opposed to the Church of God, stood itself alone in hostile array? But when the attitude of our foes against us was changed from one of long-standing and bitter strife to one of open warfare, then, as is well known, the war was split up in more ways than I can tell into many subdivisions, so that all men were stirred to a state of inveterate hatred alike by common hostility and individual suspicion.
But what storm at sea was ever so fierce and wild as this tempest of the Churches? In it every landmark of the Fathers has been moved; every foundation, every bulwark of dogma has been shaken: everything resting on an unsound basis is dashed about and shaken down. We attack one another. We are overthrown by one another. If our enemy is not the first to strike us, we are wounded by the comrade at our side. If a foeman is stricken and falls, his fellow soldier tramples him down. There is at least this bond of union between us that we hate our common foes, but no sooner have the enemy gone by than we find enemies in one another.
And who could make a complete list of all the wrecks? Some have gone to the bottom on the attack of the enemy, some through the unsuspected treachery of their allies, some from the inexperience of their own officers. We see, as it were, whole churches, crews and all, dashed and shattered upon the sunken reefs of disingenuous heresy, while others of the enemies of the saving Passion have seized the helm and made shipwreck of the faith. And then the disturbances wrought by the princes of this world have caused the downfall of the people with a violence unmatched by that of hurricane or whirlwind.
The luminaries of the world, which God set to give light to the souls of the people, have been driven from their homes, and a darkness verily gloomy and disheartening has settled on the Churches. The terror of universal ruin is already imminent, and yet their mutual rivalry is so unbounded as to blunt all sense of danger. Individual hatred is of more importance than the general and common warfare, for men by whom the immediate gratification of ambition is esteemed more highly than the rewards that await us in a time to come, prefer the glory of getting the better of their opponents to securing the common welfare of mankind. So all men alike, each as best he can, lift the hand of murder against one another. Harsh rises the cry of the combatants encountering one another in dispute; already all the Church is almost full of the inarticulate screams, the unintelligible noises, rising from the ceaseless agitations that divert the right rule of the doctrine of true religion, now in the direction of excess, now in that of defect.
On the one hand, are they who confound the Persons and are carried away into Judaism; on the other hand, are they that, through the opposition of the natures, pass into heathenism. Between these opposite parties inspired Scripture is powerless to mediate; the traditions of the apostles cannot suggest terms of arbitration.
Plain speaking is fatal to friendship, and disagreement in opinion is all the ground that is wanted for a quarrel. No oaths of confederacy are so efficacious in keeping men true to sedition as their likeness in error.
Every one is a theologian though he has his soul branded with more spots than can be counted. The result is that innovators find a plentiful supply of men ripe for faction, while the self-ordained and place-hunters reject the government of the Holy Spirit and divide the chief dignities of the Churches. The institutions of the Gospel have now everywhere been thrown into confusion by want of discipline; there is an indescribable pushing for the chief places while every self-advertiser tries to force himself into high office. The result of this lust for power is that our people are in a state of anarchy; the exhortations of those in authority are rendered wholly purposeless and void, because there is not a man but, out of his ignorant impudence, thinks that it is just as much his duty to give orders to other people, as it is to obey any one else.
So, since no human voice is strong enough to be heard in such a disturbance, I reckon silence more profitable than speech, for if there is any truth in the words of the Preacher, ‘The words of wise men are heard in quiet,’ in the present condition of things any discussion of them must be anything but becoming.
I am moreover restrained by the Prophet’s saying, ‘Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time, for it is an evil time,’ a time when some trip up their neighbours’ heels, some stamp on a man when he is down, and others clap their hands with joy, but there is no one to feel for the fallen and hold out a helping hand, although according to the ancient law he is not uncondemned, who passes by even his enemy’s beast of burden fallen under his load. This is not the state of things now. Why not? The love of many has waxed cold; brotherly concord is destroyed, the very name of unity is ignored, brotherly admonitions are heard no more, nowhere is their Christian pity, nowhere falls the tear of sympathy. Now there is no one to receive ‘the weak in faith,’ but mutual hatred has blazed so high among fellow citizens that they are more delighted at a neighbour’s fall than at their own success. Just as in a plague, men of the most regular lives suffer from the same sickness as the rest, because they catch the disease by communication with the infected, so nowadays by the evil rivalry which possesses our souls we are carried away to an emulation in wickedness, and are all of us each as bad as the others.
Hence merciless and sour sit the judges of the erring; unfeeling and hostile are the critics of the well disposed. And to such a depth is this evil rooted among us that we have become more brutish than the brutes; they do at least herd with their fellows, but our most savage warfare is with our own people.
For all these reasons I ought to have kept silence, but I was drawn in the other direction by love, which ‘seeketh not her own’, and desires to overcome every difficulty put in her way by time and circumstance. I was taught too by the children at Babylon, that, when there is no one to support the cause of true religion, we ought alone and all unaided to do our duty. They from out of the midst of the flame lifted up their voices in hymns and praise to God, regardless of the host that set the truth at naught, but sufficient, three only that they were, with one another.
Wherefore we too are undismayed at the cloud of our enemies, and, resting our hope on the aid of the Spirit, have, with all boldness, proclaimed the truth. Had I not so done, it would truly have been terrible that the blasphemers of the Spirit should so easily be emboldened in their attack upon true religion, and that we, with so mighty an ally and supporter at our side, should shrink from the service of that doctrine, which by the tradition of the Fathers has been preserved by an unbroken sequence of memory to our own day. A further powerful incentive to my undertaking was the warm fervour of your ‘love unfeigned’, and the seriousness and taciturnity of your disposition; a guarantee that you would not publish what I was about to say to all the world, not because it would not be worth making known, but to avoid casting pearls before swine.
My task is now done. If you find what I have said satisfactory, let this make an end to our discussion of these matters. If you think any point requires further elucidation, pray do not hesitate to pursue the investigation with all diligence, and to add to your information by putting any uncontroversial question. Either through me or others the Lord will grant full explanation on matters which have yet to be made clear, according to the knowledge supplied to the worthy by the Holy Spirit.”
Christ walking on the water (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Elder Sophrony on Marital Problems

The Wedding at Cana (source)
When married couples would visit Elder Sophrony of Essex, and spoke of the problems in their relationship, he typically would hear complaints about one's spouse.
Elder Sophrony would ask: "Who is responsible for the problems in your relationship?"
The reply: "My wife! (or husband)"
Elder Sophrony: "So you aren't responsible at all?"
Response: "I'm also responsible, but the greatest responsibility is with my spouse!"
Elder Sophrony: How much do you think you are responsible, and how much your spouse?"
Response: "90% theirs, 10% mine!"
Elder Sophrony: "You correct the 10% that you say you are responsible for and you will see if the 90% from your spouse remains!"
The holy Elder remarked that the key element in order to maintain a proper relationship between spouses is that everyone should take responsibility for their own mistakes and not shift them all to one another.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"The most-sacred branches from the chaste Sophia: Faith and Hope and Love..."

Sts. Sophia, Faith, Hope and Love (source)
Kontakion in the First Tone.
The most-sacred branches from the chaste Sophia: Faith and Hope and Love, with grace showed the wisdom of the Greeks to be foolishness, and they struggled, and were shown to be bearers of victory, having received an incorruptible crown from Christ, the Master of all.
When the unjust command went forth to the ends of the earth to sacrifice to the idols and to the altars of the demons, and they hastened to their temples towards the destruction of men, then, the all-praised and beautiful virgins shown forth as stars, dissipating the shadow of atheism and ignorance. And they were radiant with piety in the hearts of the faithful, and they cry out in response: "O God, great are You, Who were crucified willingly, and Who rose on the third day, and in You we boast." Therefore, as is right, they received an incorruptible crown from Christ, the Master of all.
Sts. Sophia, Faith, Hope and Love (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!