Thursday, October 31, 2019

Akathist to St. George Karslides

St. George Karslides (source)
Akathist to St. George Karslides the Confessor, our New Venerable Father of Drama and Pontos, Founder of the Monastery of the Ascension of Christ, Sipsa
written by Dr. Charalampos Bousias
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The indomitable sower of virtue, who sowed piety in the furrows of souls, and whom we hymn nobly with love, for in these latter days he founded the Monastery of the Ascension in Drama, as we cry out in fitting hymns: Rejoice, O blessed George.
An angel bearing flesh, you were shown to be, while your nous was made to dwell in the heavenly mansions, O George, (3), for you were shown to all to be a surpassing one and the type of blessed ascetics, therefore we bless you, crying out in reverence:
Rejoice, foundation of chastity,
Rejoice, radiance of goodness.
Rejoice, the rejoicing of pious people of Drama,
Rejoice, example of God-bearing ascetics.
Rejoice, the ever-verdant and glorious root of Pontos,
Rejoice, undying and most-radiant torch for the world.
Rejoice, founder of the Monastery of the divine Ascension,
Rejoice, great defender and protector of Drama.
Rejoice, lamp-lighter of the merciful life,
Rejoice, our star of brotherly love.
Rejoice, you who confessed the faith,
Rejoice, you who attracted the grace of God.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
You lived a divine life in these latter days, O offspring of Argyroupolis of Pontos, and ever-verdant protector and defender of the people of Drama, as you hastened to heaven, O George, unceasingly chanting: Alleluia.
Being the Elder of the honored Monastery of the Ascension in Drama, O George, you built it with your very own hands, and there you lived in chastity with faith, while your divine Relics are ever venerated there, as you hearken to those you cry out to you:
Rejoice, fragrance of new Monastic Saints,
Rejoice, ode of godly gifts.
Rejoice, newly-lit light of Pontos,
Rejoice, newly-founded foundation of grace.
Rejoice, newly-shown life of the age to come, equal to the Angels,
Rejoice, fragrant cinnamon of an honorable life.
Rejoice, for you sanctified your Monastery through your pains,
Rejoice, for you grant holiness richly to Drama.
Rejoice, defender of prayer and nepsis,
Rejoice, vessel of love of the Creator.
Rejoice, you who inspire the struggles of the Venerable,
Rejoice, instrument of many wonders.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
Drama was made chaste through your asceticism and your chaste way of life, O blessed George, and you unflinchingly protect it in a godly manner, and it is sanctified by the container of your wholly sacred Relics, O Venerable One, compelling us to ceaselessly chant: Alleluia.
Having fervor engraved within your heart, O George, through your divine forbearers, you were watered with the sacred and living streams of the Orthodox faith, and you chanted mindfully to the greatly-compassion Lord, as we cry out:
Rejoice, new boast of the faith,
Rejoice, divine house of grace.
Rejoice, director towards greater wisdom,
Rejoice, most-ready deliverer of the faithful.
Rejoice, telling that is spoken of by God-bearing ascetics,
Rejoice, all-wise reading of pious strugglers.
Rejoice, for you came from Pontos to Drama,
Rejoice, you who play the beautiful-sounding lyre of the Most-High.
Rejoice, dweller in the divine mansions,
Rejoice, foretype of divine wonders.
Rejoice, icon of the life equal to the Angels,
Rejoice, canon of love for the Creator.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
Having fiery faith and an icon of the All-Pure [Theotokos], O George, you were granted these joys from your Mother before her repose, and you hastened to Theodosiopoulos, ceaselessly chanting: Alleluia.

St. George Karslides (Source)

You came to Tbilisi of Georgia, O thrice-blessed George, at the inspiration of God, and hastened to the sacred Monastery, in which you fought the good fight, as a man equal to the Angels, therefore, we cry out to you these things:
Rejoice, beautiful depth of struggles,
Rejoice, precious stream of accomplishments.
Rejoice, handiwork of Him Who fashioned all things,
Rejoice, beautifully-sounding bird of the Most-High.
Rejoice, for you bore ascetical pains in your flesh,
Rejoice, for you showed to everyone the divine strength of your soul.
Rejoice, for you spat upon the mania of the demons,
Rejoice, for you gladdened the choir of the Angels.
Rejoice, steadfast support of the faith,
Rejoice, radiant knowledge of grace.
Rejoice, sacred defender of piety,
Rejoice, scepter against the madness of the enemy.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
Desiring, O divine George, to join the choir of the Angels, they rejoiced together with you at your sacred tonsure, and at that hour, the bells of the Monastery began to ring in a strange and wondrous manner, and the mouths of your sacred fellow monastics were opened to chant: Alleluia.
You feet were bound by the shackles of the faithless who had fallen into terror and wretchedness, that you might receive the incorruptible crown of the Confessor, O Father George, and from all of those who honor you, you receive these reverent cries:
Rejoice, the stream of piety,
Rejoice, cradle of the wisdom of God.
Rejoice, for you endured prison like the bodiless,
Rejoice, for you showed wondrous strength as a godly one.
Rejoice, for with humility, you drove away the terrible stench of lawlessness,
Rejoice, for you truly bore pains in your flesh.
Rejoice, for you endured difficulties without complaining,
Rejoice, for you cast out the desires of the flesh.
Rejoice, for you join the choirs of the Angels,
Rejoice, for you are the unsleeping defender of the faithful.
Rejoice, krater of health for the pious,
Rejoice, star of spiritual goodness.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
You endured evil things in your flesh from the faithless, while three times you were shot at unjustly, but by the divine will, you remained unharmed, as you chanted hymns to God Who saved you, O George, as you cried out to Him in reverence: Alleluia.
You shown forth with the lightning rays of the priesthood, O George, and were made to behold things to come as present, and things far off as close, through your pure heart, O Saint. Therefore, with hymns we praise you, crying out in faith:
Rejoice, vessel of the graces of God,
Rejoice, container of many wonders.
Rejoice, flower of virtue and prudence,
Rejoice, type of expectation for heavenly glory.
Rejoice, for the Creator magnified you greatly,
Rejoice, for the God-man radiantly glorified you.
Rejoice, for you healed the afflictions of the faithful,
Rejoice, for you showed forth the grace of prophecy.
Rejoice, you who were filled with the love of God,
Rejoice, war against the delusion of the enemy.
Rejoice, ray of the wisdom of the Most-high,
Rejoice, all radiant bolt of piety.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
Praising your way of life at all times, I hymn your coming to the village of Sipsa, in which you founded a monastery in honor of the glorious Ascension of the Lord, while I cry out with melodious hymns: Alleluia.
St. George Karslides (source)
The streams of your sacred sweat you mixed with clay to build your monastery of the Divine Ascension, and in it, you struggled ascetically with pains and chastity wondrously, O George, and you open the lips of the pious to cry out to you:
Rejoice, example of asceticism,
Rejoice, myrrh vessel of knowledge.
Rejoice, refuge for the pious people of Drama,
Rejoice, protecting wall for the faithful in dangers.
Rejoice, lily of holiness gladdening the faithful,
Rejoice, pillar of goodness and canon of meekness.
Rejoice, all-bright lamp of struggles day and night,
Rejoice, precious boast of ever-flowing tears.
Rejoice, spigot of prayer and understanding,
Rejoice, unassailable wall of silence and nepsis.
Rejoice, the light and protection of the faithful,
Rejoice, horn of godly providence.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
You work strange wonders like a many-headed waterfall, through the container of your Sacred Relics, O Wonderworker George, and we who venerate them reverently offer up a hymn to Christ Who made you wondrous, to Whom we cry out in compunction: Alleluia.
You came to Drama living a life of joy, and together were numbered with the choirs of the Venerable Saints and rejoiced together with the radiant Angels, as your newly-lit flame reached the City Above [of Heaven] through your faith, and we cry out in joy:
Rejoice, harp of the wisdom of God,
Rejoice, lyre of dispassion.
Rejoice, the fire-bearing teacher of the people of Drama,
Rejoice, you who followed the Unmercenary Physicians.
Rejoice, you who were seen as a boast for pious Priests,
Rejoice, very-precious adornment of God-bearing Ascetics.
Rejoice, for your eye beholds your refugees in dangers,
Rejoice, for your mouth offers teachings of salvation.
Rejoice, vessel showing the way to Heaven,
Rejoice, frost that crushes the enemy.
Rejoice, you who show us the way to God,
Rejoice, sanctuary against noetic foes.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
O Father, you were shown to be a vessel of the Holy Spirit in these latter days, and a myrrh vessel of incomparable streams of wonders, and you became the defender and unsleeping protector of the people of Drama, O George, your refugees, who in unflinching faith, cry out to you: Alleluia.
The all-sacred container of your Holy Relics truly pours forth streams of healings for the choirs of the faithful who embrace them with reverence, O Venerable One, and they cry out to you, in this Monastery built by you:
Rejoice, spring of wonders,
Rejoice, deliverer of those in afflictions.
Rejoice, you who received the gift of healings,
Rejoice, you who partake of the drink of incorruption.
Rejoice, very-precious vessel of the graces of God,
Rejoice, you who crushed the innumerable ranks of enemies.
Rejoice, you who alleviate the pains of the faithful,
Rejoice, you who strengthen the pious in sickness.
Rejoice, our ready help,
Rejoice, sacred promontory of the Venerable.
Rejoice, speedy physician of those ill,
Rejoice, protection from the terrible demons.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
Through your providence, and speedy help, O George, and the protection that you bring, Drama is made holy through you, and with your help, O Father, and having you as a protector, O Venerable One, she honors you and chants in faith to him who strengthens her: Alleluia.
St. George Karslides (source)
You traveled the way of pain and difficulties of the Venerable Fathers, O George, and became a radiant icon and pious prototype of asceticism. Therefore, we bless you, crying out to you in compunction:
Rejoice, type of the monastic way,
Rejoice, lamp of wonders.
Rejoice, you who were nourished by noetic prayer,
Rejoice, emblem of sacred compunction.
Rejoice, greatly-voiced trumpet of the way of God,
Rejoice, melodious instrument of an all-spotless life.
Rejoice, divine founder of the Monastery of the Ascension,
Rejoice, deliverer of the choir bearing the name of Christ.
Rejoice, for your light shines to the ends of the earth,
Rejoice, rain that waters the whole world.
Rejoice, spring of heavenly gifts,
Rejoice, tree pouring forth the fragrance of wonders.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
We chant melodious hymns and divine praises to you, O thrice-blessed George, as the unflinching protector of the people of Drama, and they in faith embrace the container of your Relics, O Venerable One, crying out to Him Who glorified you: Alleluia.
Your precious struggles have shown throughout all creation, O George, with the multitude of your bright and wondrous and sacred ascetical deeds, shining anew with the faith of Christ, and driving away the clouds of darkness for those who cry out to you:
Rejoice, light of confession,
Rejoice, lamp of dispassion.
Rejoice, you who enlightened the city of Drama,
Rejoice, you who gladdened the group of your refugees.
Rejoice, for you shown forth from famed Pontos,
Rejoice, for you drove away the wiles of the enemy.
Rejoice, ever-verdant shoot of dispassion,
Rejoice, wall of piety founded by God.
Rejoice, song of the love of Christ,
Rejoice, ray of nepsis golden with light.
Rejoice, protector of the virgins of your Monastery,
Rejoice, you who cease the evils of the demons.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
The sacred Hierarch of Drama removed your Relics from your grave, that richly poured forth grace, granting unassailable joy to the faithful who now venerate them in faith, O George, crying out to Christ: Alleluia.
We chant of the wonders that you worked, O George, and we hymn you as a soul-nourishing worker of virtue, and an all-radiant and bright star of the faith of Christ, that illumines the ends of creation, as we cry out:
Rejoice, [bearer of the] Uncreated Light,
Rejoice, horn of goodness.
Rejoice, defender of the Bishop of Drama,
Rejoice, protector of the choir bearing the name of Christ,
Rejoice, unsleeping protector your pious Nuns,
Rejoice, most-sacred rod delivering the faithful.
Rejoice, joyous son of Macedonia,
Rejoice, newly-founded pillar of the Church.
Rejoice, offspring of Argyroupolis,
Rejoice, light of fasting and nepsis.
Rejoice, equal in zeal of the divine Angels,
Rejoice, equal in way of the former Venerable Saints.
Rejoice, O blessed George.
O Father beloved by God, Who richly sowed fruit within your soul, O George, (3) and founder of the Monastery of the Ascension, stand beside us as a defender, and intercede that we might obtain virtue, we who praise you, and in unflinching faith cry out to you: Alleluia.

And again the Kontakion of the Saint.

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

"You received from God the grace of healings..."

Icon of the Holy Unmercenaries Sts. Kosmas, Damian and Panteleimon (source)
You received from God the grace of healings, and freely heal the passions of our souls and bodies, O universal Unmercenaries. Therefore, through you, Christ grants to His faithful ones good health, showing you to be unerring lights for the whole world. Entreat Him that our souls may be saved.
-Idiomelon of the Praises in the First Tone, by Anatolios
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, October 25, 2019

A joyous reflection on the Newly-canonized Saints

Icon of our Venerable Father Sophrony of Essex (source)
Note: This is a pious reflection by a layman on the joy being experienced at the newly-announced upcoming canonization of new Saints of our Church. In a world with so much pain, sorrow, suffering and hatred (along with painful divisions among Orthodox Christians), we are thankful for these tokens of joy given by our Lord. We pray that these new Saints will entreat Him that peace be granted to the whole world, and especially that all hatred, divisions and animosity be dissolved between Orthodox Christians, and that we all might be granted love, humility, peace and unity in the Holy Trinity!
A joyous reflection on the Newly-canonized Saints
It feels like this is a festival without end--the joy of Pascha--which was given to us as a"mouth" and "voice" and expression of the Church by our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew!
These announcements allow us to see a bit of heaven through the pure eyes and sweet hearts of our new Saints!
And this vision full of fruit is not from an individual!
It is in common, it is of the Church!
Many years to you, All-holiness! Fervent thanks!
Another spiritual father of ours, another radiant and true seeker of the truth, a delicate and gracious character, a cultivator of the spiritual life, a poet of the Divine Spirit, a universal and ecumenical rector of the teaching of Orthodox spirituality, the Athonite (cenobite, ascetic, confessor and spiritual father), the Russian, the Patron of Essex as the founder of the Holy Monastery of the Precious Forerunner, the Hieromonk, the Archimandrite Father Sophrony (Sakharov) is "consecrated" formally as a Saint of our Church!
We confess that we are experiencing unique moments!
"It is good for us to be here!"
Within this resurrectional atmosphere and joy!
The Saints show us and reveal to us how death was conquered!
They lived the Resurrection, during this life! Not [only] after their dormitions!
We are truly experiencing a Pascha--more properly, many together--in the face of every Saint of ours, as a victor over death!
And of course, this is occurring before the Autumn Pascha, the feast of St. Demetrios, which his hometown of Thessaloniki celebrates together with the Most-holy Theotokos!
Thus, with those eternal Children--"those to whom belongs the Kingdom of Heaven", our new Saints, from the Garden of Panagia, will shine especially this year within this Pascha and festal atmosphere. (We sense that our new Saints will stand beside us at the procession of the Holy Relics and the Icon of the Great Martyr and Myrrhstreamer St. Demetrios, throughout the radiant streets of Thessaloniki, together with those who are celebrating together, this year along the Panagia Soumela of Pontos.)
Because of this, amidst the autumn we could say:
"Today it smells of springtime, and new creation dances!"
The heaves are rejoicing together with us!
The heavens and the earth are united through our new Saints!
It seems like everything is occurring easily and speedily, beautifully, very spacious and beautiful!
And let beauty save the world! Our Saints!
The stars that illumine our darkness--internally and externally--with the Uncreated Light, which they experienced, tasted, lived!
They are our neighbors, who approach and stand in heaven!
Our fathers, our inspirers, and our guides!
Our mediators and intercessors!
And we don't know if they are gifts from Heaven to the earth, or from earth to Heaven! They may be both!
Once again, let us remember the names of our new Saints, mentioned previously, and how even this serves as a guide of noetic prayer:
The Venerable Daniel of Katounakia, Monk
The Venerable Joseph the Hesychast, Monk
The Venerable Ieronymos of Simonopetra, Hieromonk,
The Venerable Ephraim of Katounakia, Hieromonk,
The Venerable Sophrony of Essex, Hieromonk!

A beautiful icon depicting the five Athonote Fathers that were canonized together at the same time by the Ecumenical Patriarchate: (left to right) Sts. Ieronymos of Simonopetra, Daniel of Katounakia, Joseph the Hesychast, Ephraim of Katounakia, and Sophrony of Essex (source)

And we will not shy away at this time from remembering those other newly-canonized Saints:
The Venerable Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia, Hieromonk
The Venerable Paisios, Monk!
In reality, we sense that we are partaking of a surpassingly radiant Athonite festival, with all of the polyeleoi of the Monasteries, Sketes, Kathismas, Cells, Kalyves encircling with joy and illumines, while the Fathers, full of rejoicing, chanting together and harmoniously:
"It is meet and right", "It is meet and right", "It is meet and right!"
And of course, they are celebrating full of light and with heavenly thoughts and good works lightning with grace even the Athonite dens and caves,  the makeshift, temporary and insignificant dwelling-places and adornments of ascetics and hermits...
And this occur with the unseen ranks of naked hermits, adorned, extraordinarily, with raiment shining with light!
The Light of Christ illumines all!
New Saints of the Church!
Fathers, teachers, and preservers of the World!
We owe them very much!
Our lives!
Intercede for us!
Or, another way: Stand besides us!
And note:
The dark and inhumane and criminal 20th century seems to become more humane from the light of so many auspicious Saints of the Orthodox Church!
Most likely, all of these Saints of the 20th Century serve as confirmation that: "where sin abounds, grace super abounds!"
And we live this fullness of grace through our Saints in our days!
Christ is risen!
-by Stelios Koukos
Icon of the New Choir of Venerable Athonite Fathers: Joseph the Hesychast, Ephraim of Katounakia, Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia and Paisios the Athonite (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

"This child you should name Demetri."

St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer (source)
The following miracle which occurred and which you will read below will give you goose bumps. It is an astonishing miracle of St. Demetrios, which comes from the book: "The Myrrh of St. Demetrios - History and Modern Miracles".

"My name is X.A. and I am from Naousa, Imathias, and I have 4 children and have been living in Germany for 48 years. In 1975, I was 2 months pregnant and was in bed very sick, when St. Demetrios came to me on horseback riding on a cloud and stopped at my bed while I was awake and told me:
"This child you should name Demetri."

"And after this, I came to and was feeling better, and I went into the kitchen and told my husband about St. Demetrios, and during my nine months, he protected me, until my time came [to go into labor], when I heard St. Demetrios again tell me:
"Name him Demetri, do you hear?"

"My son saw him as well with his horse and his ancient clothes and the fragrance of myrrh, at which point he vanished. We later went to Greece to the Church of St. Demetrios and to his tomb and his prison and we received some of his myrrh. Today, Demetri is 38 years old. I chant Paraklesis to St. Demetrios and I thank him greatly for protecting me and for helping me give birth to Demetri.

On March 10th, 2013, I suffered 2 strokes, and I died and was found in vast plain. I saw a demon far away buzzing around, but he could not come near me. The German doctor with machines brought me back and now I am much better. I want to come to Greece but the doctor doesn't let me travel. Please pray for us...
Sts. George and Demetrios the Great Martyrs (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Porphyrios on the Divine Liturgy and on Frequent Communion

Christ serving the Divine Liturgy (source)
A conversation with St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia on the Divine Liturgy and on frequent Holy Communion.
He was very upset, because the faithful have rights, as is proper, that the priest be praying in the Holy Altar. But they many times are not in the state to help him.
"I," St. Porphyrios said, "cense them and they do not bow in reverence. I say 'Let us stand aright', but they sit down. I bless them, and they are having a conversation. And the most tragic, I say: 'Drink of this, all of you', and only few people approach for Holy Communion. This is a great pain for the priest."

I asked him: "Elder, does that mean that everyone should be receiving?"

"Hey, I am not saying this myself. The Lord is saying this 'all of you'!

"Perhaps this word has some other meaning that I don't know? And later on, the prayer says: 'through us and to all your people.' Naturally, this applies to those who do not have impediments [i.e. mortal sins for which they are under penance to not receive for a period of time, determined by one's spiritual father.] The rest should have beforehand received the permission of their spiritual father. Otherwise, without Holy Communion, without Christ, how will they go out into their everyday lives? You come to church and you lost the most important thing, the Gift, Which is everything, you remain only with antidoron. Hey George, do you know what "The Holy Altar" is? It is the most precious thing upon the earth. Royal thrones, presidential halls, academic institutions have little worth. The Holy Altar is the Burning Bush. Here Christ descends, the Holy Spirit is present, and the Angels encircle. It is an awesome thing. I, many times, am afraid to touch the Holy Altar with my hands. And before this wonder, you hear the faithful whispering and discussing various topics, not experiencing this unique event. How can one liturgize like this?

"Is the priest alone, or are we all together, clergy and laity? Why do we call it 'liturgy'? Is it or is it not 'the work of the people'? Eh!

"As the priest stands, so should the people stand. Concentrated. Totally dedicated to God. At that hour, we are not upon the earth. 'We who mystically represent the Cherubim', we are in heaven, before the Holy Trinity. Without the 'cares of life'. We are all liturgists...My, my, my! What God has made us worthy to experience! If we believe that before us is completed the Great Sacrifice, we would all be standing 'with fear of God'.

"We should be weeping out of joy that God Himself condescends to be sacrificed out of love for us. If we don't believe this, why are we coming to Church? Who are we mocking? Those who don't come to church therefore are more consistent [i.e. compared to those who come in a disrespectful or faithless manner]. In church we are silent, we are concentrated, and we speak to God.

"Do you understand what I'm saying? If so, you have a responsibility to share this among the rest of our brethren who are ignorant of the terrible mysteries that are being accomplished. If it is as I say.

"May God give us strength to accept this "wonder". Canonically, both the priest and the faithful should repose having lived so closely to the Mystery [of Holy Communion], as close as to the Sun.

"But the greatly compassionate God allows, (hear an awesome thing!) for us to experience rest already [in this life], in our worthlessness."

And the Saint, a true liturgist, began to cry, and finished:
"If you leave in this way, from the Divine Liturgy, full of peace, which shines throughout the world around you...You transmit Christ. You have become a Christ-bearer.

"One prayer says it all: 'Grant us to worship You in holiness."
St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

"Rejoice in the Lord, O city of Thessaloniki..."

St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrhstreamer (Source)

Rejoice in the Lord, O city of Thessaloniki, exalt and dance, shining forth with faith, for Demetrios, the all-glorious Champion and Martyr of the truth holds you as a treasure in his bosom, and, beholding the receiving of wondrous healings, and seeing the casting down of the audacity of the Barbarians, give thanks to the Savior, crying out: Glory to You, O Lord.
-Idiomelon of the Litia in the First Tone, by George Sikeliotos

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Athonite Metochi (Dependency) of the Ascension of Christ, Vyrona, Attica

The Metochi of Simonopetra of the Ascension of Christ, Vyrona, as it appeared in 1924 (source)
An Athonite Metochi (Dependency) in Athens: The Metochi of Simonopetra of the Ascension of Christ, Vyrona, Attica
by Monk Moses the Athonite (+2014)
The only Athonite dependency in the capital city of Athens today is the beautiful church of the Ascension of Christ in the area of Pankratiou-Vyrona, a metochi of Simonopetra Monastery of Mount Athos. Holy Ascension was the most important spiritual centers. Regarding this, Monk Moses writes in his book of "Ieronymos of Simonopetra, the Elder of Holy Ascension", in Athens in 1982:

"Holy Ascension and Prophet Elisseus (Elisha) are the two deepest and refreshing centers in the center of Athens at that time (1931). There were constantly gathered Kollyvades, lovers of monasticism and Athonites, lovers of vigils, services and feasts, and humble lovers of virtue. Holy Ascension was frequented by St. Nicholas Planas, St. Savas of Kalymnos, Elder Philotheos Zervakos, St. Amphilochios Makris, Athanasios of Neratziotissas, and many Athonite Fathers, who show all together that holiness lives even to our days.

The history of the Church of Holy Ascension begins at the begin of our century. The Elder Levite Ignatios, the uncle of the learned Monk Neilos of Simonopetra, with his will "unto memory of his parents and his" left that piece of property to the Monastery. Then, the area around was totally uninhabited and a lot of time was needed before a road could be built to reach the area.
Blessed Elder Ieronymos of Simonopetra, who was the caretaker and spiritual father of the Metochi in Vyrona for 26 years (source)
From then on, good Athonite Spiritual Fathers and stewards of the Metochi, with vigils, holy confessions and sermons made this place known to the thirsting Athenians. The forebearers of Elder Ieronymos, Panaretos and John, spiritual fathers from Katounakia, Methodios of Kavsokalyvia, the great cave-dweller Panaretos and Matthew the spiritual father left many examples of the spiritual life for their church-goers..."

Elder Ieronymos's time served as a major period in the history of the Metochi with his virtuous life, his sermons, holy confessions, his almsgiving and his many gifts.

To this day, daily services occur there according to the Athonite typikon, and there are frequent vigils. The Metochi serves as a good witness of Mount Athos to the capital city. Besides those who live there, who love it greatly, there are many lovers of Mount Athos who travel their to participate in services.
The Holy Icon and Relics of St. Ieronymos of Simonopetra (Source)
Announcement at the Recent Canonization of Elder Ieronymos of Simonopetra
With feelings of holy contrition and joy, it was made known the recent canonical decision of our Sacred Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding the numbering among the Saints of our Orthodox Church of our greatly-honored St. Ieronymos of Simonopetra, who was known as "Elder of the Ascension."
His holy memory is ordained to be served yearly on May 9th [the day of the Uncovering of his Relics, as the Saint reposed on the great feast of Theophany].
The Holy Dependency has the special blessing to have the grave of the Saint, along with a portion of his Holy Relics.
According to the request of the faithful, they are put forward for veneration daily from:
and 5:30-8:30pm.
Services during the winter hours take place according to the following schedule:
Daily Orthros and Divine Liturgy 6-8:30am.
Sunday Liturgies and Feast Days 6-10:30am.
Daily Vespers 5:30pm-6:30pm.
Vigils 8pm-1am, such as upcoming for the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6th and December 13th (with the service of St. Ieronymos).
The Metochi of the Ascension as it appears today (Source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Four New Athonite Saints (and likely a fifth) soon to be Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Four New Athonite Saints Canonized (source)
The numbering very soon among the Saints of the Church of the Athonite Fathers Daniel of Katounakia, Ieronymos of Simonopetra, Joseph the Hesychast and Ephraim of Katounakia was officially announced today on October 20th, 2019 by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on his trip to Mount Athos. The Athonite Fathers in attendance received this news with tears in their eyes, and received this as a great blessing from the Patriarch.
And as a "final surprise" from Patriarch Bartholomew was the likely upcoming canonization of Elder Sophrony of Essex, though this was only reported by one source.
   Two of these Saints have biographies previously posted on this site and linked to above. For the other two I include brief biographies below:
Elder Ieronymos of Simonopetra (source)
Elder Ieronymos of Simonopetra was born John Diakogiorgis in 1871 in Reis-Dere of Asia Minor (near Cesme). He entered the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra on Mount Athos on October 28th, 1888 and was tonsured a monk on March 21st, 1893, on Palm Sunday. On April 11th, 1920 he was ordained a deacon, and on April 12th the same year a priest. On April 20th, 1920, the Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearers, he was enthroned as the Abbot of the Monastery of his repentance (Simonopetra). On June 15th 1931 he was exiled to the Holy Monastery of Koutloumousiou and in three months he was sent to the "Metochion" ("Dependency") of Simonopetra in Athens named after the Holy Ascension of Christ. In 1937 he was re-elected Abbot of Simonopetra, but he declined this, and he remained at Holy Ascension for twenty more years, until he reposed on January 7th 1957 (the feast of Christmas on the Old Calendar). Therefore, he lived 17 years in his homeland of Asia Minor, 43 years in the Monastery of Simonopetra and 26 years at Holy Ascension in Athens.
A more extensive biography of Elder Ieronymos in Greek is available here.
Elder Daniel of Katounakia (source)
Elder Daniel of Katounakiaknown in the world as Dimitrios Dimitriadis, was a monk, the founder of Danielaioi brotherhood at Mount Athos.

Born in 1846 in a family of a armourer in Smyrna, he was the youngest child in the family and was characterized by outstanding abilities. In his teenage years Dimitrios knew by heart almost all Philokalia. At the island of Paros, he met Saint Arsenius of Paros who blessed Dimitrios to go to St. Panteleimon monastery at Mt. Athos. 
In St. Panteleimon monastery, he was tonsured a monk with the name of Daniel. Later he lived in Vatopaidi monastery. For 10 years he suffered with nephritis and on August 31, when the Vatopaidi monastery celebrated the feast of Holy Belt of the Mother of God, he was suddenly healed. After 5 years in Vatopaidi he moved to Katounakia where lived alone for 3.5 years. Starting from 1883, other monks started to settle there, so that Danielaioi brotherhood was formed. Elder Daniel was offered to be a bishop but considered himself to be unworthy of it.
Elder Daniel had a gift of spiritual counsel and consolation in sorrows. He guarded or cured many monks and lay persons. He was in spiritual friendship with St. Nectarios of Pentapolis. Also he was in correspondence with Philotheos (Zervakos) of Paros and other monks from the monastery of Longovarda at the island of Paros. Elder Daniel guarded them from the heresy of theologian A. Makrakis. About 200 letters to the abbess Theodosia from the monastery at the island of Tinos and 70 other writings of elder Daniel are available until now.
Kostis Marmaras, a lay person, was interested in spiritualism. He wanted to know whether it comes from the electric forces of from the spiritual forces. Then he found out that it was from the spirit and in his opinion, from the Holy Spirit. So Kostis practiced spiritualism for 30 years, reading thoughts, speaking with "saints", "spirits of reposed people" etc. After that he found a book of elder Daniel against spiritualism and started to doubt about holiness of the participating spirit. He started to write letters to the elder asking about it. The elder succeeded in convincing Kostis that spiritualism was a delusion. But it took a very long time for Kostis to be healed completely. When Kostis started to read the prayers of exorcism of St. Basil the Great, the demons beat him unmercifully in the night. Then he started to see demonic visions and thought that it comes from grace. In the end, Kostis managed to get out of the net of demonic tricks, but that happened only with help of Divinely wise elder Daniel. 
Fr. Callistratus in the end of his life fell into prelest. During the Divine service, he started trembling and was thinking that this is an action of grace. But he was not absolutely certain and decided to write to elder Daniel. The elder replied with an extensive letter "On noetic prayer. Letter of elder Daniel to Callistratus" (1916, In: "Angelic Living"). Elder Daniel analyses in detail the actions of grace and the trembling that comes from God and the one that comes from the evil side. He writes that no one of the Saints was trembling as Fr. Callistratus. He also tells about another similar case of trembling that was coming from the evil forces with monk Alipius who did not notice that was praying with unnoticeable vainglory. And the elder showed with convincing arguments that the trembling for Fr. Callistratus was coming from the same force. In a reply, Fr. Callistratus is amazed at the action of the elder Daniel's letter, the meekness of the elder and the way how he showed the delusion.
In a letter "Reply of monk Daniel to Markianus, a monk of Iveron skete, about rejection of dreams" (1918, In: "Angelic Living"), elder Daniel writes about a man of great learning by the name of Nicolaus who thought of himself that he had received a gift of unceasing heart prayer from the icon of the Mother of God and then started to see visions. He asked God to receive the same visions as the Prophets of the Old Testament. Then the Devil offered him many other heretic superstitions: at the feast day of St. Spyridon, this "saint" appeared in front of Nicolaus and told him to "sacrifice" his hand to Christ and to burn it with candle; the man even took baptism for the second time from the protestants because the demons told him that only protestants keep proper baptism from the times of Apostles. When elder Daniel asked whether this man confessed everything, he replied that "Christ" told him that it is not necessary and there are no true confessors now. After listening for 6 hours about different delusions, it took elder Daniel 2 hours to bring that person to reason based on many places in the Divine Scriptures and reasonable arguments. The man was convinced and started to resist the visions, though the traces of delusion were seen to the end of his life.
In September of 1929, the elder fell ill with a cold. He was foreboding his death and asked to take the Holy Communion. On September 8 (21), 1929, on the day of the Nativity of the Mother of God, after the Divine Liturgy and the Sacrament of Anointment of the Sick, elder Daniel reposed.

The New Choir of Athonite Fathers, including left to right: Saints Joseph the Hesychast, Ephraim of Katounakia, Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia and Paisios the Athonite (source)
Apolytikion of the Holy Fathers in the Fourth Tone
O God of our Fathers, always act with kindness towards us; take not Your mercy from us, but guide our lives in peace through their prayers.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, October 18, 2019

St. Porphyrios on Prayer for Children

An Orthodox Family (source)
St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia once gave advice to a mother regarding her child:
"Your child has an internal problem, that's why he is acting this way. The child is good, he doesn't want what he is doing but he is being forced, he is bound by something. He is not corrected with logic, and you can't force him with advice, nor with threats. This will work the opposite.
He may get worse, he may remain as he is, or he may be changed for the better. But for him to change, his mother must be sanctified. For him to be freed, he wants a holy person to be near him, who, with much love, will teach him, not to strike fear in him, but to live with holiness, and the child that sees him will be zealous to imitate him.
More than anything, the child needs near him a person of much and fervent prayer. Prayer works wonders. The mother is not sufficient with her physical caress of her child, but should struggle to spiritually caress him with prayer.
When a mother goes to caress without prayer, the child reacts and pushes away the hand of his mother. When, however, without caressing him, she mystically does so with her prayer, then his soul senses something unexplainable, and this spiritual caress attracts him to his mother.
The mother in her prayer for her child must melt like a candle. She should pray silently and with her hands lifted up high to Christ, so that she might mystically embrace her child.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Service of the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries

The Synaxis of the Holy and Wonderworking Unmercenaries (source)
Note: This is an in-progress translation of a liturgical service in praise of the Holy Wonderworking and Unmercenary Physicians. This is a translation of a Greek text, which places their feast on October 17th (that of Sts. Cosmas and Damian from Arabia, along with their brothers and fellow unmercenary martyrs Sts. Leontios, Evtropios and Anthimos). The traditional 20-numbered band of Holy Unmercenaries in the Greek tradition of course is by no means exclusive. There are of course female Holy Unmercenaries (Sts. Philonilla, Zenaida, Hermione, and even St. Anastasia Pharmakolytria in some traditions. There are other Saints not necessarily known as physicians in their lifetimes, but are known for many wondrous cures and therefore are sometimes numbered with the Unmercenaries (such as Sts. Vlasios, Spyriodon, Artemios, etc.) Finally, there have been later additions to the holy band of Unmercenaries through the passage of time, most notably St. Luke the Surgeon of Simferopol, who reposed in the 20th century. As a result, let this not serve as a fixed or exclusive service, but one in prayer to our Lord to heal our many physical, psychological and spiritual afflictions with His mighty arm, through the intercessions of His healing Saints, who left behind every earthly repose, "placing all their hope in heaven" (from the Idiomelon to the Holy Unmercenaries), while giving their lives in love for their fellow men.

Also note, a vespers text exists from the Russian tradition which places this feast on the first Sunday of November (likely in proximity to the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor who celebrate November 1st). As such, I have begun by translating the Matins text and may proceed to the Vespers and the Matins Canon at some point. Finally, note that the translation is not set to the Byzantine meter of the Prosomoia. May the Saints pray for us all and heal our world!

Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (source)
After the First Stichologia, the Kathisma in the First Tone. Your tomb, O Savior.
Let us celebrate, O godly-minded ones, the divine and joyous memory of all the sacred Unmercenaries, who are our patrons, and let us praise them out of duty, for they have become the common protectors and saviors of all those in dangers, who speedily deliver all those who hasten to them in faith.

Glory. Both now. Theotokion.
O unwedded and Pure One, Theotokos Maria, the only protection and covering for the faithful in dangers and trials and terrible circumstances, deliver all of those who place their hope in you, having you, O Lady, as a savior for our souls through your divine intercessions.

After the Second Stichologia, the Kathisma in the Third Tone. The beauty.
Unemptying wealth of sympathy and goodness is poured out upon us by the divine Unmercenaries, and no mind of mortals, nor mellifluent tongue can tell of the surpassing ocean and the true streams of their many wonders. Therefore we cry out to them: Rejoice, O eternal springs.

Glory. Both now. Theotokion.
At the beauty of your virginity, and the resplendency of your chastity, Gabriel stood amazed and cried to you, O Theotokos: What are the appropriate words of praise to present to you? What name shall I call you by? At a loss and perplexed am I. And so as I was ordered I cry to you: rejoice, O you Who are full of grace!
Panagia Glykophylousa, surrounded by a multitude of the Holy Unmercenaries, Physicians and Healers of Christ (source)
After the Polyeleos, the Katisma in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. The wisdom.
Paradoxically you received from Christ the gifts of heavenly wonders, and you heal all of our passions freely, for within you has shown forth the grace of the Spirit, working the power of divine healings. Therefore, you have inherited incorruptible good things through your unmercenary minds, O God-bearing Unmercenaries. Intercede with Christ God, that forgiveness of offenses be granted to those who celebrate you holy memory with fervor.

Glory. Both now. Theotokion.
Let us all praise the Queen and Mother of the Creator of all, and let us magnify her with our voices and cry out to her in hymns: O Virgin and All-hymned cause of joy, save those who honor you, and protect all those in temptations of all kinds and illnesses and trials through your intercessions, for, as the Mother of God, you have boldness. Entreat that healing of afflictions be granted to those who cry out to you. Intercede to your Son and God that your servants might be granted forgiveness.

Then the Hymns of Ascents in the Fourth Tone, followed by the Prokeimenon:
To His Saints who are in His earth, the Lord has been shown wondrous.
Verse: God is wondrous in His Saints.
Matins Gospel of the Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries Sts. Cosmas and Damian (November 1st)
Psalm 50.
Through the intercessions of the Unmercenaries, O Lord of mercy, wash away my many personal offenses.

Both now.
Through the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Lord of mercy, wash away my many personal offenses.

Then the Idiomelon in the Second Tone.
Verse: Have mercy on me, O God...
The choir of the Saints rejoices unto the ages, for their have inherited the Kingdom of the heavens, while the earth that has received their Holy Relics breathes forth fragrance, for they became the servants of Christ, and have come to dwell in eternal life.

Then the Priest says the, "O God, save Your people..." Followed by the Canons to the Theotokos and the Holy Unmercenaries (to be translated at a later time).
Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (Source)
Kontakion in the Second Tone.
You have received the grace of remedies, spread strength over those in need, glorious, wonderworking Physicians; but by your visitation, cast down the insolence of enemies, healing the world by wonders.
The Oikos.
The word of the wise Physicians surpasses all understanding and wisdom; for having received grace from the Most High, they invisibly bestow strength on all; therefore on me too they have bestowed the grace of narration, to sing their praise as God-bearing, well-pleasing to God and healers, who grant multitudes of cures; for they rescue all from pains, healing the world by wonders.
On this day (October 17th) we honor the Synaxis of all the Holy and Wonderworking Unmercenaries (twenty in number).

I ever honor together the Unmercenaries,
Being gathered here in their church.
The twenty-numbered band of the Unmercenaries,
O choir, save those you entreat you.
Twenty, therefore, Unmercenaries, I ever hymn.
Then, the Katavasies of the Theotokos, followed by the 9th Ode.
Exaposteilarion in the Third Tone. In the Temple in Spirit.
Receiving the grace of healing from God, blessed Unmercenaries, you cure diseases and heal all those who faithfully have recourse to your divine shrine, and therefore with one voice, we worthily call your holy memory blessed.
Another for the Saints in the Fourth Tone. The Disciples gathered.
Together with Saints Kosmas, let us hymn Sampson, Panteleimon, the Damians, Ermolaos, Cyrus and John, Thalelleos, Aniketos, Tryphon, Diomedes, Leontios, Eutropion, Anthimos, with Mokios, Julian, and let us praises the Twenty and celebrate their joyous memory in a godly manner.
Theotokion in the same tone.
Let us hymn with a godly mind the Mountain of God, the Palace, and Lamp-stand, and Container, and Ark, and Altar, the Rod and fiery divine Throne and Gate, the Temple and Bridal Chamber, the Pure Virgin, from whom God became incarnate without change and in a manner surpassing nature, and deified our fallen nature, uniting it with the ineffable.
Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (source)
Then, the Praises, followed by the Prosomoia in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
What shall we call you?
What shall we call you, O Unmercenaries? Heaven, for you related the glory of God. Liturgists, for you ceaselessly glorified Him. Bodiless, for you put off the flesh. Stars, for you shine upon the ends of the earth. For many are your names, and even more are your accomplishments. Intercede that our souls be saved.
What shall we call you, O glorious ones? Physicians, for you heal the afflictions of mortals. Rivers, for you fill the earth with wonders. Saviors, for you save everyone from dangers. Lights, for you enlighten many. Many are your graces, and even greater are your awesome deeds. Intercede that our souls be saved.
What shall we name you, O wise ones? The uprooters of passions or the sower of virtues, noetic paradises, or fruitful plans, sending forth gifts, and nourishment, and granting incorruption to all. Many are your graces, and unemptying are your healings. Intercede that our souls be saved.
Your temple has been shown to be a river as from Eden, which surrounds the world, pouring forth and watering healings for the faithful, granting grace freely to those who cry out to you with fervor and in faith: Many are your wonders, O all-blessed Unmercenaries. Intercede that our souls be saved.
Doxastikon of the Praises in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
(Modeled after the Doxastikon: "The Choir of the Holy Fathers", from the Sundays of the Holy Fathers)
The multitude of the Holy Unmercenaries, who have been gathered from the ends of the earth to rejoice on this joyous day, and whom we hymn harmoniously today together at their sacred shrine, in which they stand invisibly, together with Christ Who crowned their sacred heads, and grants to them the unending grace of wonders. To them let us cry out melodiously: O divine assembly, hoplites inspired by God, in the Lord's army, ever-shining stars of the noetic firmament, the unassailable towers of mystical Sion, the fragrant flowers of Paradise, the fervent physicians of the sick, the boast of the Martyrs, the pride of the Righteous, ceaselessly intercede on behalf of our souls.
Both now. Theotokion.
O Lady, do you receive from your servants their entreates, and deliver us from every danger and trial.
Then the Great Doxology, followed by the Apolytikion of the Saints in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
O Holy Unmercenaries and Wonderworkers, visit our infirmities. Freely you have received, freely give to us.
The Epistle and Gospel from the feast of the Holy Unmercenaries Kosmas and Damian (see November 1st).
Megalynarion for the Holy Unmercenaries.
You received the gift from God of healing the afflictions of the faithful, and speedily delivering from the gravest passions those who call upon you, O Unmercenaries.
The Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (Source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

St. Porphyrios on the Expectation of God

Icon of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (source)
When you desire and wait to be united with God, when you force God, He does not come. But He comes "at a day that is not expected, and at the hour that you do not know." It is a most-holy way, but you cannot learn it from outside.
-St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!