Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Paraklesis to St. Argyre the New Martyr, Protector of Marriage

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. Argyre the New Martyr of Bursa, Protector of Marriage - Commemorated April 5th and April 30th (source)
   
Paraklesis (Supplication Service) to St. Argyre the New Martyr, Protector of Marriage
Written by Fr. Athanasios of Simonopetra

The Priest says the "Blessed is our God...", followed by the Psalm "Lord hear my prayer..." If it is during the Paschal period, "Christ is risen..." is chanted thrice before the Psalm.

Tone Four.
God is the Lord and has revealed Himself to us, blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord. (x 4, with verses)

Tone Four. You Who were lifted up upon the Cross.
You were arrayed in the robe of self-control, and trampled upon the serpent of debauchery, and taunted the delusion of Hagar steadfastly, therefore, you were martyred through many forms of torture, and glorified Christ, Whom we pray that you entreat, on behalf of those who honor you, O divine Argyre, that they be granted self-control, and a life of purity.

Glory. Both now.
O Theotokos, we shall never be silent...

Then Psalm 50, followed by the Canon in Plagal of the Fourth Tone.

Ode I. Crossing the waters as on dry land.
Ceaselessly entreat the Trinity on behalf of those who hymn you with fervor, O Argyre, asking for self-control in life, and steadfast purity of hearts.

You greatly loved Jesus, the divine Teacher of purity, O Argyre, entreat Him, as you have great boldness before Him, that He might ever keep us in purity.

You were victorious over the guileful serpent, O Martyr, who desired to separate you from Jesus, dissolve his soul-corrupting schemes against us, through your prayers.

Theotokion.
You are the true Mother of the sweetest Jesus, and the Mother of the faithful by grace, do not cease to intercede that we be granted purity, O All-Pure Lady.

Ode III. Of the vault of the Heavens.
As a surpassingly beautiful bride of Christ, you denied to take upon your shoulders a barbarous life, O namesake of silver, therefore grant me grace to deny the tyrannical life with which the body tempts me, to deny Christ.

With a most-joyous heart, you stood before judges, and confessed the divinity of Christ, O Martyr, make us worthy to worship Him as is proper, that we might reach Heaven where He is praised.

O Argyre, you were shown to be a brave rhetor through your divine words against the Hagarenes, who were sitting in darkness, therefore, make us who honor your ever-memorable memory, worthy to go forth with the light of Christ.

Theotokion.
You were shown to be a spiritual Heaven, O Lady, for you bore Christ the Sun within your womb in purity, through His rays, enlighten us, and show the souls of the faithful to be another heaven through your intercessions.

Deliver, O Argyre, those who honor you with fervor, and drive away every dangerous temptation of the enemy, and grant us our requests through your prayers.

Look down on me, in your good favor...

St. Argyre the New Martyr (source)

Then the Priest says the Entreaty, followed by the Kathisma.

Second Tone. A fervent prayer.
As a bride of Christ and a Martyr steadfast in soul, ever entreat Him, O Argyre, that all of us who honor your divine memory might be protected, and grant purity of souls through the grace of your intercessions.

Ode IV. I have hearkened and heard, O Lord.
You kept your marriage spotless from the corruption of the enemy that wars against us, therefore, O Martyr, ever preserve married couples in reverence and purity.

You submitted everything meaningful in your life to the Lord, and endured tortures, O Argyre, therefore entreat Him that we might be granted patience.

O all-precious one, you endured until victory over the enemy that hates purity, and who greatly assaulted you, therefore, grant to us purity in all things, O Argyre, for those who pray to you.

Theotokion.
You have freed the race of man, O Spotless One, from the bonds of the serpent, and cleanse me from his venom, which has polluted my heart.

Ode V. Lord, enlighten us.
Heal the illnesses of soul and body, O Argyre, for those who hymn you, as you entreat Jesus the Physician, on Whose behalf you suffered.

Censure the darkness and delusion of Hagar, O all-praised one, and grant the light of the Holy Spirit to the souls of those hymning you.

Deliver us from the enemy, O thrice-blessed Argyre, we who are caught within his traps and in danger, and free us from his soul-wounding schemes.

Theotokion.
Grant true knowledge of the Lord, O All-Spotless One, to those who hymn your spotless birth giving, and who magnify your divine glory.

Ode VI. My supplication.
You endured the tortures of godless barbarians for years, O Argyre, and in prison you received the crown of martyrdom for your brave dedication, therefore grant us patience amidst the dangers of this life, O Martyr.

We have known you to higher than rhetors through your victory through silence, O Martyr, and through your passion lasting many years, you proclaim without words to those bearing the name of Christ how to live amidst temptations, O new-martyr Argyre, and Champion of Christ.

The grace of the Holy Spirit, with Which the Savior strengthened you, allowed you to endure in afflicted flesh all things manly like brass, O Argyre, intercede that His Grace will strengthen us as well in life's trials.

Theotokion
Your bore the Teacher of virginity, O Virgin Mary Theotokios, you who were followed by Argyre, desiring your purity, disdaining the fleeting pleasure of life. We entreat that you deliver your servents from this bitterness.

Deliver, O Argyre, those who honor you with fervor, and drive away every dangerous temptation of the enemy, and grant us our requests through your prayers.

Spotless One, who by a word did bring to us the Word eternal...
  
St. Argyre the New Martyr (source)
Zoom in (real dimensions: 528 x 479)
Then the Priest says the Entreaty, followed by the Kontakion.
 
Second Tone. O Protection of Christians.
You have appeared to be a defender of marriage, and a canon of purity through your struggle, O dove of the Lord Argyre, therefore, preserve us well from the schemes of the enemy, that your servants might live their married lives with self-control, and that they might be made worthy of the reward with which you were granted by the Teacher of purity [Christ].
 
Prokeimenon
God is wondrous among His Saints. (2)
Verse: With patience, waited upon the Lord, and He heard me.
God is wondrous among His Saints.
 
The Gospel according to St. Matthew (25:1-13)

Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;  but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.  As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.  But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’  Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.  Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’  But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Glory.
Through the intercessions of St. Argyre, O Lord of mercy, wash away my many personal offenses.

Both now.
Through the intercessions of the Theotokos...

Verse: Have mercy on me, O God...
Plagal of the Second Tone. Having placed all their hopes in Heaven.
You were shown to be a vessel of purity and self-control, O all-glorious Argyre, and through tortures you received your reward, therefore we entreat you, incline your ear and hearken to your servants, and grant them that grace of purity of soul, and preserve their precious marriages from the attacks of the enemy, for you struggled in Martyrdom for the love of Christ, and through your prayers, may we all be granted Paradise.

Then, the Priest says the "Save O God, Your people..."
   
St. Argyre the New Martyr, depicted in the prison where she remained for 17 years for Christ and to preserve the purity of her marriage (source)
  
Ode VII. Once from out of Judea.
You did not give way at all to the slavery of the body, O Martyr of Christ, but you stoked the fire of your love and increased it, O godly-minded Argyre, which we entreat might be granted to those who celebrate your memory in faith.

You were shown to be steadfast, as you were truly a tower founded upon the rock amidst tortures, O thrice-blessed one, and out of eros for the Master, having this has your foundation, may we also have this in our souls, O Argyre, through your prayers.

Your manly soul, was offered up like a whole-burnt lamb to the Master, and through your love surpassing nature, you endured tortures and trials, O Argyre, therefore, help us, who are storm-tossed with trials.

Theotokion
Remain with us, O Mother, at the time when the arrows of the enemy are launched against us your children, and our lamp of patience is not at all shining, but the darkness of faithless terror surrounds us. Dissolve them all by your light.

Ode VIII. The King of the Heavens.
Behold, our day of need has come, O New Martyr Argyre, hasten, give your helping hand to your servants, out of your sympathy.
 
Grant peace to my scattered nous, and to the thoughts that war against me from the hater of purity, O Martyr, and grant to it the memory of the Lord.
 
O Argyre, through your prayers, speedily dissolve the terrible and shameless bonds of sin that are drowning the souls of your entreaters.
 
Theotokion.
As the One who surpassed all self-control of all generations of women, O Pure Virgin, grant self-control to those who hymn you with fervor.
 
Ode IX. Saved through you, Theotokos.
O Argyre, you overlooked the ways of the world, and you now ever behold that which the eyes of men cannot behold, grant all of those who hymn you to be made worthy of this as well.
 
You trampled upon the serpent through your struggles, O Argyre, and you received the face of your Bridegroom [Christ], pray for us as well, O Martyr, that we might some day behold Him.
 
Show forth to be temples of self-control and purity, all young people and those who honor you with fervor, O Argyre, and deliver us all from the traps of the enemy.
 
Theotokion.
O undefiled Virgin, strengthen those who are living in self-control and purity, entreating the Master together with Argyre.
  
St. Argyre the New Martyr, holding the Marriage Crowns as a great Protector of Marriage (as she had requested her icon be painted, through divine revelation) (source)

Then, the "Truly it is right to call you blessed...", followed by the Megalynaria.

O all-famed Martyr of the Lord, thrice-blessed Argyre, preserve those who venerate your body with faith and fervor, from all dangers and passions and trials.

You dawned like a radiant star from Bithynia, as a greatly-suffering Martyr of Christ, and you enlighten the whole multitude of the faithful, O Argyre, you praise you with fervor.

Rejoice, radiant lamp of self-control, and dwelling-place of purity on behalf of Jesus, and grant every gift to those you praise you, O godly-minded Argyre, the boast of women.

Preserve married couples well, O Martyr of Christ, who lived with self-control and purity and kept your faith, help them to keep their marriages as you did, O sacrifice of purity.

Those who approach your temple on Lesvos full of reverence, make worthy, O Argyre, to live this life with purity in Christ, and make them to be partakers of the divine Kingdom.

All the ranks of Angels, God's messangers...

Then the Trisagion, followed by the Apolytikion of the Saint.

Apolytikion of St. Argyre in the Fourth Tone
You put to shame tyrants through your tortures, O pure one, you were shown forth, O much-suffering one, as strong as a diamond, O glorious martyr of Christ. You shown forth in struggles with love and zeal and unquenchable longing, for Christ the Savior, Who worthily glorified you, O Argyre.
  
St Argyre the New Martyr (source)
   
Then the Priest says the Entreaty, commemorating the desired names, followed by the Apolysis, then the final hymns.

Prosomoion in the Second Tone. When from the Tree.
Rejoice, O New Martyr Argyre, rejoice and hearken to those who entreat you, grant self-control for those in the yoke of marriage, and purity to those unmarried, and health to those afflicted in body and soul through your prayers, for you have been shown to all to be a golden and fragrant vessel of Jesus, crowned by Christ.

As you were beheld in the sacred vision, bearing the Marriage Crowns, and sought for your icon to be thus depicted, O Argyre, send down crowns from on high upon those who are married, and keep their precious marriages well, that, having been victorious over temptations, and every sin of the flesh, they might be crowned by God like Martyrs.

Lady, do you receive...

My numerous hopes are placed...
(source)
   
St. Argyre the New Martyr (source)
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Paraklesis to the New Martyred Fathers of Ntaou Penteli

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Holy Martyred Venerable Fathers of Ntaou Penteli - Commemorated on Bright Tuesday (source)
   
Paraklesis (Supplication Service) to the Holy New Venerable Martyred Fathers of the Monastery of Christ Pantocrator, TAO (Ntaou) Penteli
written by Fr. Athanasios of Simonopetra
   
   The Priest says the "Blessed is our God...". If it is during the Paschal period, "Christ is risen" is chanted three times. Then, the Psalm "O Lord, hear my prayer, give ear to my supplication..." is read, followed by "God is the Lord..." x4, with verses.
 
Fourth Tone. O You Who were lifted on the Cross.
O Venerable Martyrs of Penteli, as true sons of light and of the Resurrection, and as you stand before Christ rejoicing, you do great things through your holy intercessions. Entreat Him on behalf of all those who call upon your prayers, and grant them the fulfillment of their requests.
  
Glory. Both now.
O Theotokos, we shall never be silent...
  
Then Psalm 50, followed by the Canon in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
  
Ode I. Crossing the waters.
O Fathers, heal us both the body and the soul, and visit us through your prayers for us to the compassionate Master, to Whom were proved to be spotless sacrifices.
  
Direct our every thought to ponder the Lord, and to deny the world with manliness, O Fathers, and keep us from giving all meaning to the things of this world.
  
You approached the Master as servants, out of an abundance of love, and took up His Cross on Mount Penteli, O God-bearers, do entreat Him Whom you love on behalf of us.
  
Both now. Theotokion.
The world rejoices in you, O Virgin Lady, as the one who gave birth to the Redeemer, Whom may you ever entreat, together with the multitude of the Venerable Athletes, on behalf of our souls.
 
Ode III. Of the vault of the heaven.
Truly, what is sweeter than to dwell together as brethren, O Saints, for having counted natural family as nothing, with the Spirit as the cause of your unity, you loved the brethren, and you strengthen us.
  
Through dwelling on the Lord's Commandments and psalmody, with fervor you were granted the divine Monastic Schema, and received this weapon of the Lord, through which you strengthen us, O blessed ones.
  
Having the memory of Jesus breathing within your soul at all times, O Venerable Ones, you water the thirsty souls of those now standing here, entreat that we might cultivate this ceaseless prayer.
   
Theotokion
You gave birth to the Lord in a manner surpassing nature, He Who arrayed Himself in humility, entreat Him that we be granted a humble mind and thoughts, O Theotokos.
  
Deliver those who entreat you with fervent faith, O multitude of Venerable Athlete Fathers, and grant the solution to all their requests.
  
Look down on us, in your good favor...
  
Then the Priest says the entreaty, followed by the Kathisma.

The Holy Monastery of Christ Pantocrator, Ntaou Penteli (source)
     
Second Tone. O fervent prayer.
O sacred Fathers of the Monastery of the Pantocrator, you were shown by the Lord to be Martyrs bearing crowns. Entreat Him, we pray, to drive away all dangers of bodies and souls.
  
Ode IV. I have hearkened and heard, O Lord.
As ones who have found salvation in the Monastery of the Savior, O thrice-blessed ones, grant salvation of soul for all of us you praise your struggle, O Fathers.
  
O most-sacred regiment, and sacred dwelling places of the God of peace, we pray that you give peace to our soul through the Divine Spirit.
  
As ones filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, O most-venerable ones, you offer up our prayers, that we might draw closer to Christ the Master.
  
Theotokion.
O unwedded Lady, the protecting wall for every praying soul, do not neglect me, the wretched one, but deliver me from every trial.
  
Ode V. O Lord enlighten us.
Grant deliverance of souls and bodies through your intercessions for us, O Saints, as ones who ever stand before the Lord with boldness.
  
You were afflicted with infirm human nature, O all-precious one, therefore, we pray that you strengthen those who are storm-tossed by temptations and trials.
  
You were granted true victory, O blessed ones, as voluntary sacrificial lambs, therefore grant us victory over our enemies.
  
Theotokion.
I fall as a sparrow before the tramps of the enemy as one senseless, the wretched one. Therefore, O Virgin, deliver me from the beasts.
  
Ode VI. My entreaty I pour out.
You were truly numbered with the Resurrection, having been transformed together with the Resurrected Christ, therefore drive away from us all the bitterness of death, O Venerable Athletes, intercede for us, that we might stand before the Lord as He desires.
  
My life is troubled by the hater of souls, as are my eyes and my mind, therefore, O God-bearing Fathers, who behold the glory of the Savior, enlighten me, the blind one, that I might see the light of my heart.
  
Christ has put death to death, through His death on the Cross, and as you were celebrating the joyous glory of His Resurrection, you suddenly proceeded from death to life. Therefore, make us also children of the Resurrection.
  
Theotokion.
My words are restrained and by thoughts are slowed when I meditate on your divine glory, O Virgin, which you were made worthy of beyond all men. Therefore, as one of your thieves, I cry out: O my soul, magnify the Lady.

Deliver those who entreat you with fervent faith, O multitude of Venerable Athlete Fathers, and grant the solution to all their requests.
  
Spotless one, who by a word did bring to us the word eternal...

Then the Priest says the entreaty, followed by the Kontakion.

The Holy Monastery of Christ Pantocrator, Ntaou Penteli (source)
  
Second Tone. A protection of Christians.
You were shown to be the protectors of our monastery, and you offer up entreaties to the Master, and you pray on behalf of all Christians, and you straightaway hasten to help, O wonderworkers, as deliverers, and you grant healing of every terrible affliction and errors of souls, O divine and sacred Fathers, the boasts of your Monastery.

Prokeimenon
Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord...(2)
Verse: Precious in the sight of the Lord...
Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord...

Gospel According to St. John (John 6:37-40).
All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me;  and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Glory.
Through the intercessions of the Venerable Athletes...

Both now.
Through the intercessions of the Theotokos...

Verse: Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy...
Plagal of the Second Tone. Having placed all their hopes in Heaven.
Having disdained every evil and worldly thing, you approached the Savior, and took up the Cross through asceticism, and as brethren in all things, you beheld the Mount of Penteli to be as Tabor, O Venerable Ones, as you worked towards theosis. Therefore, you were also received by the Lord through martyrdom on His Radiant day, and you ever behold His beauty. Make us worthy of this also, and intercede for us fervently.

Then the Priest says the: "Save, O God, Your people, and bless Your inheritance..."

The Holy and Wonderworking Relics of the Martyred Fathers of Ntaou Penteli (source)
  
Ode VII. Once from out of Judea.
You were granted grace, O Fathers, not only for believing rightly in the Lord, but also for suffering on behalf of Him as His children suffering the passion, and you ever lift high your cross. Therefore, make us to be His imitators along with you with joy.

You truly put to death all fleshly concerns while still in the body through asceticism, O God-bearing and blessed Fathers, therefore, deliver all of us who honor you in faith, O Champions.

As a vessel full of virtues, you fulfilled every godly deed, and therefore, having taken refuge in the harbor of the Lord, you grant us grace from Heaven, O Ascetics, for those who desire salvation.

Theotokion.
Your Son works wonders, O Birth-giver of God, for all those who love His divine life, and for those who take up His Precious Cross with all willingness, therefore make us worthy to venerate it with joy.
  
Ode VIII. The King of the Heavens.
With joy, you have entered the Lord's Kingdom bearing lamps, O Fathers, make us all worthy to inherit it as well.
  
Through martyrdom, you have proceeded on the heavenly road towards the mansions of the Saints, and you protect us who hymn you through your intercessions.
  
O God-bearing Fathers, you partake of the uncreated, Taborean Light, drive away from us the darkness of sadness and the passions.
  
Theotokion.
When your Son comes to judge the world in His divine glory, O Virgin, deliver me from my just condemnation.
  
Ode IX. Saved through you, O Pure Virgin.
You shine with divine rays upon our hearts through your holy memory, O blessed ones, and you raise me up, the wretched one, from the burning of this life.

O Fathers, you send down heavenly peace from above for all those suffering, and you speedily entreat for their deliverance.
  
Heal the afflictions of those who venerate your precious Relics through the Grace of the Lord, and grant us your blessing, O Holy Fathers.
  
Theotokion.
Creation and all men rejoice, having obtained you as our mediator to the Master and Creator and Most-Good One, O Mother.
  
Holy Chapel of the Martyred Fathers, Ntaou Penteli (source)
  
Then, "Truly it is meet to call you blest...", followed by the Megalynaria.

Rejoice, O Monastery of the Pantocrator, for you have obtained the Fathers as a great wealth, who once lived within you in asceticism, and were later glorified by the Master with perfection together through Martyrdom.
  
With faith, let us venerate the sacred Relics of the Fathers, that breathe forth myrrh and are sacred, and to their children, they grant the lot of rich graces through the Holy Spirit.
  
Deliver all of us from illnesses and every trying circumstance, as we entreat for your defense and blessing, O sacred Fathers, to the glory of the Lord Pantocrator.
  
O band of Fathers, in this Monastery you lived your lives in a God-pleasing manner, and were perfect through the sacred crown of Martyrdom, which you received while skipping, and you invisibly stand beside us, strengthening us.
  
You transfigured the holy Monastery in which you lived through the joy of the Resurrection, and you partake in the life and divine glory on high of Mount Tabor, O all-precious Fathers.
  
All the ranks of Angels, God's Messengers...

Then the Trisagion, followed by the Apolytikion of the Saints:
  

Apolytikion in Tone 4
As spotless lambs of the Savior, dashing out of various nations, the flock gathers together at Pantokratoros. Having been put to death by the rage of the barbarians, rejoicing you enter into heavenly pastures. Therefore holy martyrs of Christ, interceed on behalf of our souls.

Then the Priest says the Entreaty, commemorating the names he wishes, followed by the Apolysis, and then the final hymns:
  
Second Tone. All those you protect.
As true inheritors of all of the blessings of Christ, O Venerable Champion Fathers, receive our requests, and ever grant that which is for our benefit, and drive away the cloud of trials and afflictions from our souls, that the sweet face of the Lord might shine within our hearts, Whose light you ever partake in with joy.
  
Lady, do you receive...
  
My numerous hopes are placed...
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers...
  
(Or if during the Paschal period, "Christ is risen from the dead...")
(source)
 
Holy Martyrs of Ntaou Penteli (source)
 
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

St. Ephraim of Katounakia: "How very, very sweet Jesus is!"

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Christ appearing to St. Mary Magdalene after His Resurrection (source)
  
"How very, very sweet Jesus is! Full of joy, full of love, full of peace, full of serenity, full of rejoicing, full of elation. How very, very sweet Jesus is."
--St. Ephraim of Katanoukia

(source)


Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly, the Lord has risen!

The Final Prayer of St. George before his Martyrdom

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. George the Great Martyr and Trophy-bearer, in prayer to Christ (source)
  
The Martyr of Christ, George, when he had reached the place of his execution, entreated the guards to give him a short time to himself. This is the gift that the Saint asked of the enemies of his Faith. They fulfilled his request. Then, the Great Martyr gathered himself together for prayer, and lifted up his eyes to Heaven, and prayed from the depth of his heart:
"O Lord my God, to Whom I belong from birth, and to Whom I have placed my hopes, You Who gave me boldness and prepared me for this struggle, You Who are my sweet hope, the unerring promise, the unalterable eros of sacred souls, You Who look down with care upon the intentions of our hearts and fulfill our requests, and to Whom we address our requests in prayer, I ask of You: help me to complete this struggle well, which I have taken on in confession of Your name, and receive my soul, and having preserved my from the evil spirits, do number me with those who have pleased You throughout the ages. Forgive, O Master, the people who out of ignorance have worked this grave things against me, and make them worthy to truly come to know You, for You are blessed unto the ages of ages."
(source)
  
Sts. George and Demetrios the Great Martyrs (source)
  
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly, the Lord has risen!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Elder Vasilios of Iveron on Pascha 2020

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Resurrection of Christ (source)

"This year, the Resurrection tells us many things. If it is true what we believe, and if we are living that which we chant, that "we celebrate the death of death, the deposition of Hades, and the beginning of another, eternal life" (Canon of Pascha), then we would fear for nothing. And every single threat increases the power of the presence of the risen Lord.

"That which occurred this year with the Coronavirus is a temptation, but all temptations are transformed into blessings. We chant "let us say, O brethren, even to those who hate us." (Doxastikon of Pascha) And those who hate us are waiting for our love, and those who do not believe are waiting for the power of our faith. Therefore, if one believes, through this trial he has celebrated the best Pascha this year. In order to have the best Pascha at the time when you cannot celebrate Pascha, one must sense the power of the Risen One, and thus have community with all men.

"And while a temptation such as an illness can create problems, it can reveal the presence of the risen Lord. Amidst the messages and from within the souls of all men comes forth a consolation. The hymn of Kassiane says: "Who can recount the multitude of my sins, and the abysses of Your judgments, my soul-saving Savior?" On the one hand, there is the totality of sins and weaknesses. And on the other hand, there is an abyss of compassions, a bottomless ocean, where storms occur not just to clean out the debris that has accumulated in the lakes, but also to pour forth the element of healing.

"Therefore, the Church rejoices even more at the presence of the Risen One through this trial. And at the same time is also tested the material strength of our faith, and reveals the weakness of him who does not believe, but also, he who believes in himself and in his virtue. Therefore we have this current phenomenon. Some of the faithful--I don't know how to name them--trying to give consolation, condemn. They condemn the Church, and in essence, they reveal their own weakness. Therefore, let us thank the risen Christ, His Mother the Most-Holy Theotokos, and all the Saints who hold within them the Paradise of life.

"Let us entreat Christ to strengthen the truth of our humility, in other words, for us to sense our own weakness until our whole self is Christ. And then we can say together with the Apostle Paul: "For whether we live or die, we are with the Lord." Either we are living, or we are dead in the flesh, but our life is Christ. Therefore, "Christ is risen, and life reigns, Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the tomb." (Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom) To Him belongs the glory and the might unto the ages of ages. Amen."
-Elder Vasilios (Gontikakis), former Abbot of Iveron Monastery, Mount Athos
(source)
  
Christ is risen from the death, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Paraklesis to Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Here is a video of the Paraklesis (Supplication Service) to Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene the Newly-revealed Wonderworkers of Lesvos, Commemorated annually on Bright Tuesday. It is chanted (in Greek) by the Fathers of the Monastery of St. Raphael in Goumenissa. The English text of this Paraklesis are available here. May these great wonderworker of Christ help all those who suffer in body and soul throughout the world! (source)

Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Photios Kontoglou on the Resurrection of Christ

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Fresco of the Resurrection of Christ by Kontoglou, from the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea, Athens (source)

Photios Kontoglou: "Let us purify our senses..."
Orthodox Christians, today, the God-inspired tongue of the melodist, St. John of Damascus, says: "Let us purify our senses and we will see the unapproachable light of the Resurrection, and we will behold Christ shining forth, and we will hear Him say "Rejoice", as we sing the hymn of victory". (Canon of Pascha) Therefore, he cries to us to purify our senses, so that we might behold Christ Who is risen from the grave. We should purify our senses, because they are unclean, soiled, because we use them for fleshly and material ends.

And how are the senses cleansed? If our heart and mind are cleansed with spiritual nourishment, and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, then our senses will also be cleansed, and will changed from fleshly to spiritual. The melodist says this because he was taught this by our Lord and Savior Himself, when He said during the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." And if we cleanse our senses, he says that we will see Christ "shining forth", with lightning, not dull, but most pure and shining with the uncreated Light of the Resurrection, "the unapproachable light of the Resurrection." And not only will be see Him "clearly", but we will hear Him also say (for this is why all of our senses must be pure), and His voice will not come from afar, that we might be unsure if we actually heard Him, but we will hear "clearly", with power.

We do not only soil our senses when we use them for fleshly deeds and activities, in other words, to use them for pleasures of the body, but when we use them for some deeds which even the world calls "spiritual", while they are in reality fleshly, and in some ways are even more evil than those that appear fleshly.***

These "spiritual" deeds are the evil thoughts which our nous has, seeking divine things, but are impious ones, and with these our pride is spread and our brazenness before God, because we give food to our vanity, so we appear to know more than others, while the wise Solomon said: "The beginning of wisdom (in other words, wisdom according to God) is the fear of the Lord". With these rummaging and with these philosophies, the Christian truly pollutes his senses, blunts them, and instead of making them spiritual, makes them organs of coarseness, because with them we have been studying coarse, physical things, and not spiritual things. Because, as I had said before, all of these activities appear spiritual, but in reality they are fleshly, according to the Apostle Paul, who says that we have made "the nous to be flesh", as he writes to the Colossians: "Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind." (Colossians 2:18) And in the Epistle to the Ephesians he writes: "They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart." (Ephesians 4:18) Why, therefore, does he say "you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds" (Ephesians 4:17)? Is he not speaking of those vain rummages which the philosophers do, even if done by those who appear more spiritual? Because that which they are speaking of is of the flesh (for "from the flesh come the things of the flesh"), in other words, we make spiritual things fleshly. Whoever seeks and studies with this fleshly spirit, first will loose the virginal simplicity of the mind, with which he was first blessed (this is the first blessedness), which our sweetest Christ has bestowed on them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit". Later, he who uses his mind to excavate divine things troubles God, Who is hidden beneath undiscerning minds and covered by a dark cloud, and this is revealed by the mouth of the Prophet Isaiah, as he said: ""I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me." (Isaiah 65:1) St. Cyril of Alexandra says: "Faith is not something that is obtained, for it is a way of hope that beholds where there is no hope, and faith that searches for that which is lacking and cannot be found, faith is not according to the same reason as hope." And St. Basil the Great says: "The simple faith is more mighty than rational words of proof."

And many Christians pollute themselves even today, and even more so follow this form of rummage and searching  "distanced from the life of God", as St. Paul said of the Gentiles, and we stir up the faith, which these unfortunate people do not even recognize, and they "water it down" with various sciences and philosophies, with "commonly-held beliefs", while their vain thought becomes something "vain and false", abolished by arrogance and deafness to the holy Tradition of Orthodoxy, until Christianity becomes a systematic way of life, without revelation of Immortality, in other words, without Christ. And they wish to teach the simple and innocent sheep of Christ, Who blessed them with the Beatitudes, especially with the first and the eighth.

Therefore, how can people like this celebrate Christ Risen from the dead? How strange and paradoxical! Do philosophers and scientists believe? But whoever believed in a philosophy? I ask to learn. With Christ, philosophy is finished and buried for whoever believed in Him. Let us listen to St. Paul cry out: "The ancient things have passed away, for behold all things have been made new." What are the ancient things? "The vanity of the nous", the wise and mellifluous weavers of words, in order to falsely appear humble, while their pride is reavealed by their messages, like the ethical philosophers before Christ, and the current "ethical" Christians today. "Behold, all things have been made new." A voice bearing the hope of the blessed Paul, which again speaks to our heart, saying the "Rejoice" of his and our Risen Lord! "Yes, all things have been made new!" We have become new, because the Resurrection of Christ is something "new and strange", and this "newness" has made all things new, because all former things have been deposed. The old things have been deposed by Him Who "deposed death", because wherever is "The Author of Life" is lacking, there death reigns. He deposed the curse of the flesh and brought the blessing of the Spirit. He deposed knowledge and brought the Faith ("Righteousness is found from the faith").

The old things were Knowledge, searching, and man seeking blindly and not finding anything. The new is the Faith, which opens the spiritual eyes of man and beholds the Sun of Righteousness "Christ shining forth with the unapproachable light of the Resurrection." He is sufficient for all, our mind does not need anymore to seek like the philosophers of the nations, for "The Way" has been found, in other words, as He Himself said cleanly and in few words: "All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Matthew 11:27)

"Any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him", anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal, can come to know the Father. Where are you going, therefore, O Christian, to come to know God and Christ, you who are blind, weak, impure, with your own power, while our Lord Himself said that only the Father can illumine the mind to come to know Christ, and Christ to come to know the Father? And you don't dare lower yourself to pray and to entreat Him to enlighten you, but you become filled with impious seeking, like the ancients beforehand who had not yet heard of Christ, speaking words with authority?  Elsewhere He says: "I am the door, I am the way, I am the teacher, I am the light, I am the physician, the intercessor" (I Timothy 2:2), the shepherd, the Rabbi. He is the "First-born of new creation", Who made "all things new", and also made "new men", "granting life to those in the graves."

Yes, with the Resurrection of Christ, all things have been made new. Because of this, the melodist says with joy and exaltation: "Come let us drink a new drink, not one marvelously brought forth from a barren rock (of philosophy), but the spring of incorruption which springs forth from the grave of Christ, in Whom we are fortified," and "Come, let us partake of the new vine of divine rejoicing on the auspicious day of the Resurrection, let us commune with the Kingdom of Christ, hymning Him as God unto the ages." (Canon of Pascha)

O Christians, my brethren, you who occupy yourselves [solely] with the sciences and with philosophies, hearken to our Lord Who speaks through the mouth of the prophet: "They have left me, Who am the spring of life, and have dug dry pits that have no water." And He says with His own mouth in the Gospel "Whoever puts his hand to the plow and looks back (in other wards, does not deny worldly knowledge which consumed men before I came into the world) is not fit for the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62) And He said another time: "you do not put new wine into old wine skins".

Let us therefore purify our minds from the filth of all forms of [vain] knowledge, because otherwise, we will not be able to behold Christ "shining forth with the unapproachable light of the Resurrection", and neither will we hear Him clearly say to us "Rejoice". Eyes to see Him and ears to hear Him cannot be given with knowledge that is "empty vanity", but only with the blessed Faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who is glorified unto the endless ages of ages. Amen.
Photis Kontoglou
(Kivotos Menaion, March 1st, 1952)
(source)
   
***Note: Kontoglou is referring to what many others have described as well, how we can even use external spiritual things for our pride and “spiritual gluttony”. For example, see this article by Abbot Tryphon: https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2019/11/authentic-orthodoxy/.
  
Icon of Jesus Christ "The Savior of Souls", by Photios Kontoglou (source)
   
Photios Kontoglou: Faith and the Resurrection
The faith of the Christian is tested with the Resurrection of Christ, like gold in the furnace. From the whole Gospel, the Resurrection of Christ is the most unbelievable fact, totally unexpected by our logic, and a true witness to its truth. But because it is something totally unbelievable, our faith must be complete in order to believe it. We men continually say that we have faith, but we only hold what is believed from our mind. Therefore, there is no need for faith, because reason is sufficient. Faith requires unbelievable things.

Many men are faithless. The very Disciples of Christ did not put faith in the words off their Teacher, when He said that He would arise, despite all of the honor and dedication that they had towards Him, and their trust in His words. And when the Myrrhbears went at sunrise to the Tomb of Christ, and saw two Angels who spoke to them, saying that He had risen, they hastened to tell this joyous news to the Disciples, but they did not believe their words, having the notion that they were fantasies: "And their words appeared to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them."

Do you see all of the faithlessness that Christ Himself struggled against? Even with His own Disciples. Do you see with how much forbearance He endured it all? And despite this, today most of us are separated from Christ by a frozen wall, the wall of faithlessness. He opens His embrace and calls us, and we deny Him. He shows us His pierced hands and feet, and we say that we don't believe...

Yes, those who have this blessed simplicity of conscience, were blessed by the Lord, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God." And to Thomas, who needed to touch Him to believe, He said: "Because you have seen me, Thomas, do you believe? Blessed are those who have not seen and believe."

Let us entreat the Lord to grant us this rich poverty, and this pure heart, that we might be resurrected, and stand together with Him.

This "ignorance" is greater than knowledge: "This is the ignorance that is higher than knowledge." Blessed and thrice-blessed are those who have this. Christ is risen!
  
The Myrrhbearers at the Tomb of Christ, by Kontoglou (source)
  
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Book of Jonah and Great and Holy Saturday

The Prophet Jonah (source)
  
The Sign of Jonah, by Fr. John Breck
Of the fifteen Old Testament passages read in Orthodox practice at the vesperal Divine Liturgy of Holy Saturday, the fourth consists of the entire, brief book of Jonah. Although the book is numbered among the “Minor Prophets,” it is unique: rather than offer a compilation of prophetic utterances, it recounts a spiritual pilgrimage. However we may assess its “historicity,” the work is preserved in the Church’s canon of Scripture because of its timeless proclamation of God’s universal saving grace and love. It is a story of rebellion and redemption, of God’s forgiveness and mercy extended alike to Jew and Gentile, saint and sinner, you and me.
  
To the Fathers of the Church, Jonah is a “type,” a prophetic image that points forward to and is fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. The blessed Augustine declares, “as Jonah went from the [wooden] ship into the belly of the whale, so Christ went from the tree [of the cross] into the tomb, or into the abyss of death. As Jonah was sacrificed for those endangered by the storm, so Christ was offered for those who are drowning in the storm of this world” (Letter 102). St Cyril of Jerusalem compares Jonah and Jesus in the following way. Both were sent by God to preach repentance; both were able to calm the tempestuous sea; both sojourned in a place of death and emerged by the will and power of God. “As Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Catechetical Lectures, on Mt. 12:40). In the case of Jonah, however, the calming of the sea and his “resurrection” from the belly of the great fish are works wrought by God, whereas in the case of Jesus the miraculous power is His own as One of the Holy Trinity.
  
More specifically, Jonah is an image of the Jewish people in the time of their reconstruction following the Exile into Babylon. The prophet is identified as “Jonah, son of Amittai,” who lived under the reign of King Jeroboam II (ca.786-746; 2 Ki. 14:25). Most commentators, however, date the book during the post-Exilic period (from the late 6th century BC). At that time, the great figures of Ezra, Nehemiah and the prophet Obadiah were struggling to preserve Jewish tradition over against the religious syncretism and idolatry of surrounding pagan countries. The result was to lead Israel into a period of strict isolation, expressed as a rejection and even a despising of heathen nations. Jonah, by this reading, is a didactic figure, who finally, if reluctantly, proclaims God’s pardon to the repentant people of Nineveh. Thereby he serves to prepare for the coming of Christ, the Messiah, whose life, death and resurrection will work redemption not only for the chosen people of Israel, but for the world as a whole.
  
Twice in His recorded teachings Jesus speaks of “the sign of Jonah” (Mt 12:39; Lk 11:29). These are parallel passages, although each evangelist has shaped the received tradition in such a way as to drive home a particular theological point. If the Church has retained the prophecy of Jonah in its Holy Saturday lectionary, it is primarily because of the parallel between Jonah and Jesus presented in images of death, burial and resurrection. The prophet, having been cast into the sea (an image of chaos and death), is swallowed by a “great fish” or “whale,” symbol of the tomb; after three days and nights he is expelled onto the shore, in order to continue his mission to call the Ninevites to repentance. The Lord Jesus is crucified, then buried in Joseph’s tomb, to rise “on the third day,” in order to pursue His own mission to call the world to repentance and salvation. The message of Holy Saturday, with the reading of the prophecy of Jonah, is the message of victory over death, of Christ’s resurrection and the destruction of the power of Sheol. It is the paschal message that proclaims God’s universal love, offered freely and without limit to both Hebrew and Ninevite, to Jew and Gentile alike, that is, to all those who seek their salvation through the person and work of the Son of God.
The sign of Jonah, though, is not limited to a prophetic announcement of Christ’s resurrection. In St Luke’s version of Jesus’ saying (11:29-32), there is no allusion to resurrection at all. Here Jesus declares, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.” If Jonah is not a “sign,” a wondrous portent, of Christ’s victory over death in this Gospel, then in what sense is he a sign? To the evangelist Luke, the sign is Jonah’s proclamation, his fervent appeal to the Ninevites to repent of their sinful ways, to abandon their idolatry, and to commit their lives to the God of Israel, the unique Lord of heaven and earth. Jesus, like Jonah, comes from afar (may we see here an allusion to His “preexistence,” His eternal presence with the Father?). He comes, like his predecessor, as a prophetic witness to God’s work of salvation that seeks to embrace all of humankind. And like that earlier message, Jesus’ words summon an “evil generation”—which signifies every generation, including our own—to repent: to turn from and reject the deception of idolatry and the lure of sinful and corrupting behavior, in order to welcome and embrace the One who comes to proclaim and to offer salvation to all.
  
On Holy Saturday the Church announces the good news of Christ’s resurrection, and it does so in part by recalling the story of the reluctant prophet Jonah. Together with his story, however, there goes a summons that takes its final shape in these words of Jesus, that resurrection from death and salvation to eternal life are offered to those—to all those, but only to those—who hear the prophetic call to repentance, heed that call, and embrace, with faith and with love, the One God and Author of Life.
Christ is risen!
(source)
  
The Holy Prophet Jonah (source)
  
The Book of Jonah
1Now the word of the Lord came to Jonas the son of Amathi, saying, 2Rise, and go to Nineve, the great city, and preach in it; for the cry of its wickedness is come up to me. 3But Jonas rose up to flee to Tharsis from the presence of the Lord. And he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tharsis: and he paid his fare, and went up into it, to sail with them to Tharsis from the presence of the Lord.

4And the Lord raised up a wind on the sea; and there was a great storm on the sea, and the ship was in danger of being broken. 5And the sailors were alarmed, and cried every one to his god, and cast out the wares that were in the ship into the sea, that it might be lightened of them. But Jonas was gone down into the hold of the ship, and was asleep, and snored. 6And the shipmaster came to him, and said to him, Why snorest thou? arise, and call upon thy God, that God may save us, and we perish not.
7And each man said to his neighbour, Come, let us cast lots, and find out for whose sake this mischief is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonas. 8And they said to him, Tell us what is thine occupation, and whence comest thou, and of what country and what people art thou? 9And he said to them, I am a servant of the Lord; and I worship the Lord God of heaven, who made the sea, and the dry land.
10Then the men feared exceedingly, and said to him, What is this that thou hast done? for the men knew that he was fleeing from the face of the Lord, because he had told them.
11And they said to him, What shall we do to thee, that the sea may be calm to us? for the sea rose, and lifted its wave exceedingly. 12And Jonas said to them, Take me up, and cast me into the sea, and the sea shall be calm to you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. 13And the men tried hard to return to the land, and were not able: for the sea rose and grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14And they cried to the Lord, and said, Forbid it, Lord: let us not perish for the sake of this man's life, and bring not righteous blood upon us: for thou, Lord, hast done as thou wouldest.
15So they took Jonas, and cast him out into the sea: and the sea ceased from its raging. 16And the men feared the Lord very greatly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord, and vowed vows.
17Now the Lord had commanded a great whale to swallow up Jonas: and Jonas was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights.
Icon depicting the Book of Jonah (source)
  
1And Jonas prayed to the Lord his God out of the belly of the whale,
2and said, I cried in my affliction to the Lord my God, and he hearkened to me, even to my cry out of the belly of hell: thou heardest my voice.
3Thou didst cast me into the depths of the heart of the sea, and the floods compassed me: all thy billows and thy waves have passed upon me.
4And I said, I am cast out of thy presence: shall I indeed look again toward thy holy temple?
5Water was poured around me to the soul: the lowest deep compassed me, my head went down
6to the clefts of the mountains; I went down into the earth, whose bars are the everlasting barriers: yet, O Lord my God, let my ruined life be restored.
7When my soul was failing me, I remembered the Lord; and may my prayer come to thee into thy holy temple.
8They that observe vanities and lies have forsaken their own mercy.
9But I will sacrifice to thee with the voice of praise and thanksgiving: all that I have vowed I will pay to thee, the Lord of my salvation.
10And the whale was commanded by the Lord, and it cast up Jonas on the dry land.
The Prophet Jonah from the Menologion of Basil (source)
  
1And the word of the Lord came to Jonas the second time, saying, 2Rise, go to Nineve, the great city, and preach in it according to the former preaching which I spoke to thee of. 3And Jonas arose, and went to Nineve, as the Lord had spoken. Now Nineve was an exceeding great city, of about three days' journey. 4And Jonas began to enter into the city about a day's journey, and he proclaimed, and said, Yet three days, and Nineve shall be overthrown.
5And the men of Nineve believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloths, from the greatest of them to the least of them. 6And the word reached the king of Nineve, and he arose from off his throne, and took off his raiment from him, and put on sackcloth, and sat on ashes. 7And proclamation was made, and it was commanded in Nineve by the king an by his great men, saying, Let not men, or cattle, or oxen, or sheep, taste any thing, nor feed, nor drink water. 8So men and cattle were clothed with sackcloths, and cried earnestly to God; and they turned every one from their evil way, and from the iniquity that was in their hands, saying, 9Who knows if God will repent, and turn from his fierce anger, and so we shall not perish?
10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil ways; and God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did it not.
The Prophet Jonah from the Paris Psalter (source)
  
1But Jonas was very deeply grieved, and he was confounded. 2And he prayed to the Lord, and said, O Lord, were not these my words when I was yet in my land? therefore I made haste to flee to Tharsis; because I knew that thou are merciful and compassionate, long-suffering, and abundant in kindness, and repentest of evil. 3And now, Lord God, take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. 4And the Lord said to Jonas, Art thou very much grieved?
5And Jonas went out from the city, and sat over against the city; and he made for himself there a booth, and he sat under it, until he should perceive what would become of the city. 6And the Lord God commanded a gourd, and it came up over the head of Jonas, to be a shadow over his head, to shade him from his calamities: and Jonas rejoiced with great joy for the gourd. 7And God commanded a worm the next morning, and it smote the gourd, and it withered away. 8And it came to pass at the rising of the sun, that God commanded a burning east wind; and the sun smote on the head of Jonas, and he fainted, and despaired of his life, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
9And God said to Jonas, Art thou very much grieved for the gourd? And he said, I am very much grieved, even to death. 10And the Lord said, Thou hadst pity on the gourd, for which thou has not suffered, neither didst thou rear it; which came up before night, and perished before another night: 11and shall not I spare Nineve, the great city, in which dwell more than twelve myriads of human beings, who do not know their right hand or their left hand; and also much cattle?
-The Book of Jonah, read at Vesperal Liturgy on Great Saturday
  
The Prophet Jonah (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!