Feb
10
7:45 PM19:45

Sunday of Canaanite. St. Charalambos. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

Saints and Feasts: Hieromartyr Haralambos,Hieromartyr Haralambos, Anastasios, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Porphyrios & Baptos the Monk-martyrs

Tone Four
Fourth Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy 2:1-10

Timothy, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus went to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

charalamb.jpg

Saint Charalambos was a priest in the city of Magnesia, near Smyrna in Asia Minor. About 198 AD, Sevirus, the Emperor of the Roman Empire had appointed Loucius to govern Asia Minor. Many Christians were persecuted under his reign. At this time Charalambos was in Magnesia and openly taught the Christian religion. When Loucius discovered this, he captured Charalambos for trial. Asked why he condemned the idols and disobeyed the laws of the Empire, Charalambos informed Loucius that he adhered to the laws of Jesus Christ and no others. He maintained that Christ offered eternal life to his followers. The governor commanded Charalambos to sacrifice to the gods and forsake Christ, or else undergo fierce tortures. The Saint refused to deny his beliefs.

Saint Charalambos was stripped of his clothing and his body was ripped with iron claws. He withstood the torture with courage. One of the dukes became enraged that he took the iron claw and began to rip Charalambos’ flesh with more fervour than his soldiers. At this point the first miracle occurred. The Duke’s hands became paralysed. Screaming, he asked Loucius to help him. Seeing the Duke’s plight, the governor spat in the Saint’s face. Immediately the pagan’s head twisted in an awkward position, where it remained. The onlookers were terrified and begged the Saint to pray to Christ to save them. Charalambos beckoned them to pray and ask forgiveness for their sins. The Duke pleaded with Charalambos to pray to Christ to recover the use of his hands. When the Saint finished praying, the Duke’s hands were healed. He was then baptised and became a devout Christian.

After these events, many people from Magnesia and other parts of Asia came to Charalambos, confessed their sins and were baptised. The Saint performed many miracles by curing the faithful of many illnesses. When Sevirus heard of this he was greatly angered and sent soldiers to Mangnesia to find the Saint, drive nails into his back, and then drag him from Magnesia to Antioch. The soldiers found Charalambos and carried out the order. They tied a rope to his beard and dragged him behind a horse, but a voice told them to leave this man alone for God was with him. Frightened, they took Charalambos to Antioch without further torture.

Sevirus, informed of what had happened, sent another group of soldiers to torture the Saint. They tied a skewer to his chest and gathered wood so that they could burn him. He was turned on the skewer with the fire burning him for several hours. Through Divine Help the Saint was not hurt. Sevirus ordered that the Saint be brought before him. He asked the Saint what his age was and was told that he was 113 years old.

A young man had died in the city and Sevirus ordered the Saint to resurrect him to show the strength of his God. After praying several hours, God, through Charalambos, performed the miracle. Many pagans converted to Christianity when they saw this, however, an eparch named Crispos asked Sevirus to execute the Saint because he had performed this miracle through the use of magic. Sevirus asked Charalambos to sacrifice to the gods to save himself but he refused, therefore, Sevirus ordered his soldiers to hit the Saint’s jaws with rocks and burn his face and beard with torches. The fire reflected off the Saint’s face and burned the bystanders. Sevirus was amazed at this time and was curious to know who Christ was. Crispos said to him that a harlot named Mary had borne Him. A man named Aristarchos warned Crispos not to blaspheme. A fit of madness overcame Sevirus and as he shot arrows towards the sky, he ordered Christ to come and fight him. Suddenly, the earth quaked and a fierce storm arose. Sevirus and Crispos begged the Saint to save them. Sevirus’ daughter Galinee, came into the room and warned her father to believe in Christ. She asked the Saint to forgive her father and to pray to God to end this calamity. The Saint prayed and the acts of God stopped.

After 30 days, Sevirus again told Charalambos to sacrifice to the gods, but Charalambos refused. He then ordered that a bridle be placed in the Saint’s mouth and that he be taken throughout the city in the same manner as a horse. Galinee begged her father to stop these tortures or else he would be condemned to eternal damnation. Sevirus was angered by his daughter’s words and ordered her to sacrifice to the gods. In the Temple of Zeus she told the priests that she cursed the gods, then she prayed to the true God. The statues of all the gods were destroyed. Sevirus ordered more statues to be made and placed in the temple so the people would not mock the gods. Once again, Galinee went to the temple, prayed to God and the statues were destroyed.

To insult Charalambos, he was driven to a widow to be guarded. When he arrived at her home, he leaned against a dry wooden beam. This beam was transformed into a tree. The woman was so frightened that she asked the Saint to leave her home since it was not worthy of his presence. He told her to have faith in God and she would have nothing to fear. The next day the neighbours saw the tree in her garden and upon asking, they learned of the miracle. They sat with the Saint and discovered Christianity. The pagans told Sevirus about these happenings and the eparch advised Sevirus to have Charalambos beheaded. The Saint was captured, but before his execution, he prayed to Christ. He died in peace before the soldiers could behead him. Galinee took his body and placed it in a golden coffin.

Saint Charalambos guarded his people much as a shepherd would guard his flock, therefore, he is considered to be the protector of shepherds and their flocks. The body of Saint Charalambos is now in the Monastery of Saint Stephen in the Meteora, Greece, where it performs miracles to this day. (Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au)

Apolytikion of Hieromartyr Haralambos in the Fourth Tone

O wise Charalambos, you were proven an unshakable pillar of the Church of Christ; an ever-shining lamp of the universe. You shone in the world by your martyrdom. You delivered us from the moonless night of idolatry O blessed one. Wherefore, boldly intercede to Christ that we may be saved.

Kontakion of Hieromartyr Haralambos in the Fourth Tone

O Priest-martyr, athlete, champion Charalambos, your relics are a priceless treasure of the Church. Wherefore she rejoices, glorifying the Creator.

 

View Event →
Feb
3
7:45 AM07:45

16th Sunday of Matthew. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

talant.jpg

Saints and Feasts: The Synaxis of the Holy and Righteous Symeon the God-Receiver and the Holy Prophetess Anna, Stamatios, John, & Nicholas, New Martyrs of Spetses, Nicholas, Archbishop & Enlightener of Japan, Afterfeast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Savior in the Temple, Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos , Werburga

Tone Three
Third Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 6:1-10

Brethren, working together with him, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 25:14-30

The Lord said this parable: “A man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” As he said these things he cried out: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

View Event →
Jan
30
7:45 AM07:45

Synaxis of the Three Hierarchs, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

3 ierarhi.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Synaxis of The Three Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, & John Chrysostom, Hippolytos, Pope of Rome, Athanasia the Martyr & her 3 daughters

Fast Day (Wine and Oil Allowed)

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 13:7-16

Brethren, remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their lives, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:14-19

The Lord said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

View Event →
Jan
20
7:45 AM07:45

12t Sunday of Luke. Saint Euthimios the Great. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

lepros.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Righteous Euthymius the Great, Zacharias the New Martyr of Patra, John the Hieromartyr

Tone One
First Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:6-15

Brethren, it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Gospel Reading: Luke 17:12-19

At that time, as Jesus entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’s feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him: “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

View Event →
Jan
13
7:45 AM07:45

Sunday after Epiphany. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

botezul-domnului-_-boboteaz.jpg

Saints and Feasts: The Holy Martyrs Hermylus and Stratonicus, Maximos the Righteous of Kapsokalyvia, Mount Athos, Afterfeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Hilary of Poitiers, Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos – Mediatress, Kentigern, Bishop of Glasgow

Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Eleventh Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 4:7-13

BRETHREN, grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (in saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 4:12-17

At that time, when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

View Event →
Jan
7
7:45 AM07:45

Synaxis of John the Forerunner Afterfeast of the Theophany. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

βαπτ.jpg

Synaxis of John the Holy Glorious Prophet, Baptist, & Forerunner

On this day we celebrate the Feast of the holy prophet St John the Baptist and Forerunner as well as the coming of his most holy Relic (hand) to Constantinople. We received from above and from the beginning to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist John one day after Holy Epiphany, i.e. January 7th, because he served at the mystery of the Lord’s Baptism.

For this reason this feast is counted with the rest of the Forerunner’s feasts so that we should not keep silence over his miraculous and supernatural gifts. It happened that on the evening of Epiphany, the arrival of the holy hand of the Forerunner to Constantinople took place.

St Luke the Evangelist went to the city of Sebaste, in which as they say the holy body of the Forerunner was buried, and, after he had received the right hand of the prophet’s body, he brought it to Antioch, his home city, where it performed a lot of miracles. One of these miracles is the following. Just outside the city of Antioch there lurked a dragon who was raised to the level of a god by the Greeks living in Antioch. They honoured him every year with a sacrifice. The worst part of it was that the victim was human. As time passed the lot fell upon a Christian to give his daughter to the dragon. He would come out of his cave dreadful and horrible to look at and would open his mouth to receive the victim offered to him. Then he would tear her apart with his teeth.

The father of a girl chosen to be a sacrifice was praying with deep sighs and tears to God and the holy Forerunner to free his country from such a bitter killer. As he was praying, he came up with an idea as it often happens with people in need. He was going to attempt such an endeavour. He asked to venerate the holy hand of the Forerunner and, as he was kissing it, he secretly cut with his teeth the thumb. When he got what he wanted he came out of the church. When the day on which his daughter was expected to be sacrificed arrived, all the people of the city gathered to watch the sacrifice. In front of them all the father holding his daughter approached the dragon. When he saw the dragon opening his mouth to devour his daughter, the threw into its throat the holy finger of the Forerunner and, what a miracle! The dragon was immediately killed. When this had happened, the father received his daughter alive and went back home rejoicing and relating the miracle. The gathered crowds of the people seeing this miraculous event were amazed. So, they gave thanks to God and the holy Forerunner and built a great church in his name. Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au

Dismissal Hymn (Second Tone)

The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for you, O Forerunner; for you have proved to be truly even more venerable than the Prophets, since you were granted to baptise in the running waters Him Whom they proclaimed. Therefore, having contested for the truth, you rejoiced to announce the good tidings even to those in Hades: that God has appeared in the flesh, taking away the sin of the world and granting us great mercy.

Kontakion (Plagal of the Second Tone)

The Jordan accepted your presence in the flesh and reversed its course in fear. John, fulfilling the spiritual ministry, fell back in awe. The ranks of Angels, seeing you in the flesh, baptised in the river, were amazed, and all who were in darkness were filled with light, praising you who appeared and enlightened all.

 

Afterfeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

Apolytikion of Afterfeast of the Theophany in the First Tone

Lord, when You were baptised in the Jordan, the veneration of the Trinity was revealed. For the voice of the Father gave witness to You, calling You Beloved, and the Spirit, in the guise of a dove, confirmed the certainty of His words. Glory to You, Christ our God, who appeared and enlightened the world.

View Event →
Jan
6
7:30 AM07:30

The Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Matins, Divine Liturgy and the Great Blessing of the water.

Baptism.jpg

After Pascha and Pentecost, the Feast of the Theophany (or Epiphany) of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest feast of the Orthodox Church. Here Our Lord Jesus Christ is baptized by John in the waters of the Jordan, this being the first public display of God the Word Incarnate to the world.

About the beginning of our Lord’s Jesus Christ’s 30th year, John the Forerunner, who was six months older than our Saviour according to the flesh, and had lived in the wilderness since his childhood, received a command from God and came into the parts of the river Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”. The Holy Scriptures continue, “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.'” Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around the waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and the entire region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matt 3:1-6). Further on, John said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11).

Then on the next day our Saviour also came from Galilee to the Jordan, and sought and received baptism, though He was the Master and John was but a servant. Seeing Him, John said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me” (John, 1:29-30).

John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me? But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:14-16). “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the Heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). On this venerable day the sacred mystery of Christian baptism was inaugurated.

From these events the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the great mystery of the Trinity were demonstrated. It is also from this that the feast is called “Theophany”, that is, the divine manifestation, God’s appearance among men. The Father revealed Himself to the sense of hearing, the Spirit to the sense of sight and the Son, further beyond these, to the sense of touch. The Father gave His testimony of the Son, the Son was baptized in the waters and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, hovered over the waters. And when John the Baptist bore witness of Christ and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and when he immersed the Lord in the Jordan and baptized Him, there were thus revealed both the mission of Christ in the world and the path of our salvation. About this St Cyril of Jerusalem said, ‘The beginning of the world – water; the beginning of the Gospel – the Jordan”.

The Feast of the Epiphany reminds us of our own Baptism in the hymn sung just before the reading of the Epistle at the Divine Liturgy, “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia!” For in the waters of Baptism, we put off the Old Man and put on the New, that is Jesus Christ, and strive to acquire the humility shown by the Lord Himself when He, the Creator, bowed His head under the hand of John, the creature, in the waters of the Jordan River. That is, Christ takes upon Himself the sin of the whole human race. He dies under it (the immersion) and rises again (the coming up out of the water), and we must die to the old, sinful man and rise again, cleansed, renewed and re-born.

The Feast of the Theophany is also called the ‘Illuminating’, for in the Jordan there is given to us an illumining, revealing God to us as Trinity, consubstantial and undivided. That is one thing. And the other is that each of us baptized in the water is illumined by the Father of lights, through the merits of the Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)

When You, O Lord, was baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest! For the voice of the Father bares witness to you, and called you His beloved Son. And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of His word. O Christ our God, Who has revealed yourself and have enlightened the world, glory to you.

Kontakion

When you enlightened all things by Your Theophany, the briny sea of unbelief fled, and as Jordan flowed down, it turned back, exalting us to Heaven. Through the intercessions of then Theotokos, preserver us at the height of your divine commandments, O Christ God, and have mercy on us,

Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

The Original Melody

Today you have appeared to the universe, and your light, O Sovereign Lord, has shone on us, who with understanding praise and chant, “You have come and revealed Yourself, O Light Unapproachable!”

Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au


View Event →
Jan
1
7:45 PM19:45

Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Great Hierarch Basil the Great. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

circumcision.jpg

Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ

Since the Mosaic Law commands that if a woman give birth to a male child, he should be circumcised in the foreskin of his flesh on the eighth day (Lev 12:2-3), on this, the eighth day from His Nativity, our Saviour accepted the circumcision commanded by the Law. According to the command of the Angel, He received the Name, which is above every name, Jesus that means Saviour (Matt 1: 21; Luke 1: 31 and 2: 21).

Dismissal Hymn of the Feast

While Gabriel was saying

Our human form you have taken on yourself without change, O greatly compassionate Master, though being God by nature; fulfilling the Law, You willingly received circumcision in the flesh, that you might end the shadow and roll away the veil of our sinful passions. Glory be to You goodness unto us. Glory be to your compassion. Glory, O Word, to your inexpressible condescension.

Kontakion of the Feast

On this day the Virgin

Now the Lord of all that is has undergo circumcision, in His goodness cutting off the sins and failings of mortals. He this day gives salvation unto the whole world; and the hierarch and bright Daystar of the Creator now rejoice in the highest, Basil the wise and divine initiate of Christ.

 

Basil.jpg

St Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia

St Basil the Great was born about the end of the year 329 AD in Caesarea of Cappadocia, to a family renowned for their learning and holiness. His parent’s names were Basil and Emily. His mother Emily (commemorated July 19) and his grandmother Macrina (January 14) are Saints of the Church, together with all his brothers and sisters: Macrina, his elder sister (July 19), Gregory of Nyssa (January 10), Peter of Sebastia (January 9), and Naucratius. Basil studied in Constantinople under the sophist Libanius, then in Athens, where also he formed a friendship with the young Gregory, a fellow Cappadocian, later called “the Theologian”. Through the good influence of his sister Macrina, he chose to embrace the ascetical life, abandoning his worldly career. He visited the monks in Egypt, in Palestine, in Syria, and in Mesopotamia, and upon returning to Caesarea, he departed to a hermitage on the Iris River in Pontus, not far from Annesi, where his mother and his sister Macrina were already treading the path of the ascetical life; here he also wrote his ascetical homilies.

About the year 370 AD, when the bishop of his country reposed, he was elected to succeed to his throne and was entrusted with the Church of Christ, which he tended for eight years, living in voluntary poverty and strict asceticism, having no other care than to defend holy Orthodoxy as a worthy successor of the Apostles. The Emperor Valens, and Modestus, the Eparch of the East, who were of one mind with the Arians, tried with threats of exile and of torments to bend the Saint to their own confession, because he was the bastion of Orthodoxy in all Cappadocia, and preserved it from heresy when Arianism was at its strongest. However, he set all their malice at nought, and in his willingness to give himself up to every suffering for the sake of the Faith, showed himself to be a martyr by volition. Modestus, amazed at Basil’s fearlessness in his presence, said that no one had ever so spoken to him. “Perhaps”, answered the Saint, “you have never met a bishop before”. The Emperor Valens himself was almost won over by Basil’s dignity and wisdom.

When Valens’ son fell gravely sick, he asked St Basil to pray for him. The Saint promised that his son would be restored if Valens agreed to have him baptized by the Orthodox; Valens agreed, Basil prayed, the son was restored. However, afterwards the Emperor had him baptized by Arians, and the child died soon after. Later, Valens, persuaded by his counsellors, decided to send the Saint into exile because he would not accept the Arians into communion; but his pen broke when he was signing the edict of banishment. He tried a second time and a third, but the same thing happened, so that the Emperor was filled with dread, and tore up the document, and Basil was not banished. The truly great Basil, spent with extreme ascetical practices and continual labours at the helm of the Church, departed to the Lord on the 1st of January, in 379 AD, at the age of 49.

His writings are replete with wisdom and erudition, and with these gifts he set forth the doctrines concerning the mysteries both of the creation (see his Hexaemeron) and of the Holy Trinity (see ‘On the Holy Spirit’). Because of the majesty and keenness of his eloquence, he is honoured as “the revealer of heavenly things” and St Basil is also celebrated on January 30 with St Gregory the Theologian, and St John Chrysostom.

Dismissal Hymn of the St Basil

You sound has gone forth into all the earth, which has received your word. Thereby you have divinely taught the Faith; you have made manifest the nature of all things that be; you have adorned the ways of man. O namesake of the royal priesthood, our righteous Father Basil, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion of the St Basil

On this day you have appeared

For the Church you are in truth a firm foundation, granting an inviolate lordship unto all mortal men and sealing it with what you have taught, O righteous Basil, revealer of heavenly things.

View Event →
Dec
30
7:45 PM19:45

Sunday after Nativity. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

Nativity, Cenya.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Anysia the Virgin-martyr of Thessaloniki, Gideon the New Martyr of Mount Athos, Holy Martyr Philetaerus, Righteous Father Leondus the Archimandrite, Afterfeast of the Nativity

Fast Free
Plagal of the Second Tone
Ninth Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 1:11-19

Brethren, I would have you know that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:13-23

When the wise men departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaos reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

View Event →
Dec
27
7:45 AM07:45

Saint First Martyr Stephen. Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

Acts of the Apostles 6:8-15; 7:1-5, 47-60

Prokeimenon. Mode 4. 
Psalm 18.4,1

Their voice has gone out into all the earth.
Verse: The heavens declare the glory of God.

IN THOSE DAYS, Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated men, who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

And the high priest said, “Is this so?” And Stephen said: “Brethren and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Depart from your land and from your kindred and go into the land which I will show you.’ Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living; yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him in possession and to his posterity after him, though he had no child.

“But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands; as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and earth my footstool. What house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

 

The Gospel according to Matthew 21:33-42

The Lord said this parable, “There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterward he sent his son to them, saying ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it was marvelous in our eyes?'”

St. Stephen.jpg

Stephen, Archdeacon and First Martyr

The Holy Protomartyr Stephen was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul and one of those Jews who lived in a Hellenic milieu. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons whom the holy apostles ordained for the service of the poor in Jerusalem. This is why he is called the Archdeacon – the first, or chief, of them. By the power of his faith, Stephen worked many wonders among the people.

The wicked Jews disputed with him, but were always confounded by his wisdom and the power of the Spirit who acted through him. Then the shameful Jews, adept at calumny and slander, stirred up the people and leaders against this innocent man. They slandered Stephen, saying that he had blasphemed against God and against Moses, and quickly found false witnesses who supported their assertion. Then Stephen stood before the people, and all saw his face ‘like the face of an angel:’ that is, his face was illumined by the light of grace as was the face of Moses when he talked with God. Stephen opened his mouth and spoke of God’s manifold works and marvels, performed in the past for the People of Israel, and of the people’s manifold transgressions and opposition to God. He especially denounced them for the slaying of Christ the Lord, calling them ‘betrayers and murderers’ (Acts 7:52). While they ground their teeth, Stephen looked and saw the heavens open and the glory of God, and spoke to the Jews of what he saw: ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God’ (7:56). Then the malicious men took him out of the city and stoned him to death. Among his murderers was his kinsman Saul, later the Apostle Paul. At that time, the most holy Mother of God was standing on a rock at a distance with St. John the Theologian, and witnessed the martyrdom of this first martyr for the truth of her Son and God, and she prayed for Stephen.

This happened exactly a year after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. St. Stephen’s body was taken secretly and buried by Gamaliel in his own ground. He was a Jewish prince and a secret Christian. Thus this first of Christ’s martyrs made a glorious end and entered into the Kingdom of Christ our God. Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au

Troparion, Tone 4

Thou art crowned with a royal diadem/ for contests endured in Christ’s name, O First and holy Martyr;/ thou didst put to shame thy persecutors/ and see thy Savior at the right hand of the Father./ Ever pray to Him for our souls.

Kontakion Tone 3

Yesterday the Master came to us in the flesh,/ today His servant departs in the flesh;/ yesterday the King was born in the flesh;/ today His servant is stoned to death for His sake./ Hence the divine and first Martyr Stephen is made perfect.

sf. stefan.jpg
View Event →
Dec
25
5:00 AM05:00

Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

Christmas Encyclical of our Archbishop Stylianos. Χριστουγεννιάτικο μήνυμα του Αρχιεπισκόπου μας κ. Στυλιανού. Please click here to read it:

Γεννηση.jpg

The Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

 

The incomprehensible and inexplicable Nativity of Christ came to pass when Herod the Great was reigning in Judea; the latter was an Ascalonite on his fathers’s side and an Idumean on his mother’s. He was in every way foreign to the royal line of David; rather, he had received his authority from the Roman emperors, and had ruled tyrannically over the Jewish people for some thirty-three years. The tribe of Judah, which had reigned of old, was deprived of its rights and stripped of all rule and authority. Such was the condition of the Jews when the awaited Messiah was born, and truly thus was fulfilled the prophecy which the Patriarch Jacob had spoken 1,807 years before: “A ruler shall not fail from Judah, nor a prince from his loins, until there come the things stored up for him; and he is the expectation of the nations” (Gen.49:10).

Thus, our Saviour was born in Bethlehem, a city of Judea, whither Joseph had come from Nazareth of Galilee, taking Mary his betrothed, who was great with child, that, according to the decree issued in those days by the Emperor Augustus, they might be registered in the census of those subject to Rome. Therefore, when the time came for the Virgin to give birth, and since because of the great multitude there was no place in the inn, the Virgin’s circumstace constrained them to enter a cave which was near Bethlehem. Having as shelter a stable of irrational beasts, she gave birth there, and swaddled the Infant and laid Him in the manger (Luke 2:1-7). From this, the tradition has come down to us that when Christ was born He lay between two animals, an ox and an ass, that the words of the Prophets might be fulfilled: “Between two living creatures shalt Thou be known” (Abbacum 3:2), and “The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master’s crib” (Esaias 1: 3).

But while the earth gave the new-born Saviour such a humble reception, Heaven on high celebrated majestically His world-saving coming. A wondrous star, shining with uncommon brightness and following a strange course, led Magi from the East to Bethlehem to worship the new-born King. Certain shepherds who were in the area of Bethlehem, who kept watch while tending their sheep, were suddenly surrounded by an extraordinary light, and they saw before them an Angel who proclaimed to them the good tidings of the Lord’s joyous Nativity. And straightway, together with this Angel, they beheld and heard a whole host of the Heavenly Powers praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men” (Luke 2:8-14). Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 4:4-7

BRETHREN, when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir of God through Christ.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Apolytikion of Holy Nativity in the Fourth Tone

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined the light of knowledge upon the world; for thereby they that worshipped the stars were instructed by a star to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory be to Thee.

Kontakion of Holy Nativity in the Third Tone

Today, the Virgin bears Him who is transcendent, and the earth presents the cave to Him who is beyond reach. Angels, along with shepherds glorify Him. The Magi make their way to Him by a star. For a new child has been born for us, the God before all ages.

Bethleem.jpg
View Event →
Dec
24
6:30 AM06:30

Eve of the Nativity of our Lord. The Royal Hours, Vespers ans Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great.

St. Eugenia.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Eve of the Nativity of Christ, Eugenia the Righteous Nun-martyr of Rome

Strict Fast

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 1:1-12

IN MANY AND VARIOUS WAYS God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs. For to what angel did God ever say, “Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the first-born into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Of the angels he says, “Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy comrades.” And, “Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they will perish, but thou remainest; they will all grow old like a garment, like a mantle thou wilt roll them up, and they will be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years will never end.”

Gospel Reading: Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

View Event →
Dec
23
7:45 AM07:45

Sunday before Nativity. Matins and Divine Liturgy

Nasterea.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Forefeast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Ten Martyrs of Crete, Paul, Archbishop of Neo-Caesarea, Rememberance of the Founding of the Holy and Great Church of Christ, Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, Naoum the Illuminator of The Bulgarians, Nicholas & John the New Martyrs

Fast Day (Wine and Oil Allowed)
Plagal of the First Tone
Eighth Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 11:9-10; 32-40

BRETHREN, by faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundation, whose builder and maker is God.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets – who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated – of whom the world was not worthy – wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us,that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 1:1-25

The book of the Genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa, and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

Apolytikion of Sunday before Nativity in the Second Tone

Great are the accomplishments of faith. In the fountain of flame the three Holy Youths rejoiced as though they were resting by the waters. And the Prophet Daniel showed himself to be a shepherd to the lions, as though they were sheep. Through their prayers O Christ our God, save our souls.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Third Tone

On this day the Virgin cometh to the cave to give birth to * God the Word ineffably, * Who was before all the ages. * Dance for joy, O earth, on hearing * the gladsome tidings; * with the Angels and the shepherds now glorify Him * Who is willing to be gazed on * as a young Child Who * before the ages is God.

View Event →
Dec
11
7:45 AM07:45

St. Spyridon of Trymithous, the Wonderworker. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

Spyridon.jpg

Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker of Trymithous

Saint Spyridon of Tremithus was born towards the end of the third century on the island of Cyprus. He was a shepherd, and had a wife and children. He used all his substance for the needs of his neighbors and the homeless, for which the Lord rewarded him with a gift of wonderworking. He healed the incurably sick and cast out demons.

After the death of his wife, during the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337), he was made Bishop of Tremithus, Cyprus. As bishop, the saint did not change his manner of life, but combined pastoral service with deeds of charity.

According to the witness of Church historians, St. Spyridon participated in the sessions of the First Ecumenical Council in the year 325. At the Council, the saint entered into a dispute with a Greek philosopher who was defending the Arian heresy. The plain direct speaking of St. Spyridon showed everyone the impotence of human wisdom before the divine Wisdom: “Listen, philosopher, to what I tell you. There is one God Who created man from dust. He has ordered all things, both visible and invisible, by His Word and His Spirit. The Word is the Son of God, Who came down upon the earth on account of our sins. He was born of a Virgin, He lived among men, and suffered and died for our salvation, and then He arose from the dead, and He has resurrected the human race with Him. We believe that He is One in Essence with the Father, and equal to Him in authority and honor. We believe this without any sly rationalizations, for it is impossible to grasp this mystery by human reason.”

As a result of their discussion, the opponent of Christianity became the saint’s zealous defender and later accepted holy Baptism. And after his conversation with St. Spyridon, turning towards his companions, the philosopher said: “Listen! Until now my rivals have presented their arguments, and I was able to refute their proofs with other proofs. But instead of proofs from reason, the words of this elder are filled with some sort of special power, and no one can refute them, since it is impossible that man can oppose God. If any of you thinks as I do now, let him believe in Christ and join me in following this man, through whose lips God Himself speaks.”

At this Council, St. Spyridon displayed the unity of the Holy Trinity in a remarkable way. He took a brick in his hand and squeezed it. At that instant fire shot up from it, water dripped on the ground, and only dust remained in the hands of the wonderworker. “There was only one brick,” St. Spyridon said, “but it was composed of three elements. In the Holy Trinity there are three Persons, but only one God.”

The saint cared for his flock with great love. Through his prayer, drought was replaced by abundant rains, and incessant rains were replaced by fair weather. Through his prayers the sick were healed and demons cast out.

A woman once came up to him with a dead child in her arms, imploring the intercession of the saint. He prayed, and the infant was restored to life. The mother, overcome with joy, collapsed lifeless. Through the prayer of the saint of God the mother was restored to life.

Another time, hastening to save his friend, who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death, the saint was hindered on his way by the unanticipated flooding of a stream. The saint commanded the water: “Halt! For the Lord of all the world commands that you permit me to cross so that a man may be saved.” The will of the saint was fulfilled, and he crossed over happily to the other shore. The judge, apprised of the miracle that had occurred, received St. Spyridon with esteem and set his friend free.

Similar instances are known from the life of the saint. Once, he went into an empty church, and ordered that the lampadas and candles be lit, and then he began the service. When he said, “Peace be unto all,” both he and the deacon heard from above the resounding of “a great multitude of voices saying, “And with thy spirit.” This choir was majestic and more sweetly melodious than any human choir. To each petition of the litanies, the invisible choir sang, “Lord, have mercy.” Attracted by the church singing, the people who lived nearby hastened towards it. As they got closer and closer to the church, the wondrous singing filled their ears and gladdened their hearts. But when they entered into the church, they saw no one but the bishop and several church servers, and they no longer heard the singing which had greatly astonished them.”

St. Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9), the author of his Life, likened St. Spyridon to the Patriarch Abraham in his hospitality. Sozomen, in his CHURCH HISTORY, offers an amazing example from the life of the saint of how he received strangers. One time, at the start of the Forty-day Fast, a stranger knocked at his door. Seeing that the traveller was very exhausted, St. Spyridon said to his daughter, “Wash the feet of this man, so he may recline to dine.” But since it was Lent there were none of the necessary provisions, for the saint “partook of food only on certain days, and on other days he went without food.” His daughter replied that there was no bread or flour in the house. Then St. Spyridon, apologizing to his guest, ordered his daughter to cook a salted ham from their larder. After seating the stranger at table, he began to eat, urging that man to do the same. When the latter refused, calling himself a Christian, the saint rejoined, “It is not proper to refuse this, for the Word of God proclaims, “Unto the pure all things are pure” (Tit. 1:15).

Another historical detail reported by Sozomen, was characteristic of the saint. It was his custom to distribute one part of the gathered harvest to the destitute, and another portion to those having need while in debt. He did not take a portion for himself, but simply showed them the entrance to his storeroom, where each could take as much as was needed, and could later pay it back in the same way, without records or accountings.

There is also the tale by Socrates Scholasticus about how robbers planned to steal the sheep of St. Spyridon. They broke into the sheepfold at night, but here they found themselves all tied up by some invisible power. When morning came the saint went to his flock, and seeing the tied-up robbers, he prayed and released them. For a long while he advised them to leave their path of iniquity and earn their livelihood by respectable work. Then he made them a gift of a sheep and sending them off, the saint said kindly, “Take this for your trouble, so that you did not spend a sleepless night in vain.”

All the Lives of the saint speak of the amazing simplicity and the gift of wonderworking granted him by God. Through a word of the saint the dead were awakened, the elements of nature tamed, the idols smashed. At one point, a Council had been convened at Alexandria by the Patriarch to discuss what to do about the idols and pagan temples there. Through the prayers of the Fathers of the Council all the idols fell down except one, which was very much revered. It was revealed to the Patriarch in a vision that this idol had to be shattered by St. Spyridon of Tremithus. Invited by the Council, the saint set sail on a ship, and at the moment the ship touched shore and the saint stepped out on land, the idol in Alexandria with all its offerings turned to dust, which then was reported to the Patriarch and all the Bishops.

St. Spyridon lived his earthly life in righteousness and sanctity, and prayerfully surrendered his soul to the Lord. His relics repose on the island of Corfu (Kerkyra), in a church named after him (His right hand, however, is located in Rome). His memory is also celebrated on Cheesefare Saturday.

 

Holy New Martyr Peter the Aleut

The holy New Martyr Peter suffered martyrdom in San Francisco at the time that California belonged to Spain. An Aleut from Alaska, he and his companions were captured in California by the Spaniards. When he refused to abandon Orthodoxy to accept Latinism, which they wished to force upon him, the Spaniards submitted him to a martyrdom like that suffered by Saint James the Persian, cutting him apart joint by joint. He died from loss of blood in steadfast confession of the Faith in 1815.

Apolytikion of Peter the Aleut in the First Tone

O Peter, upon the rock of thy faith hath Christ built His Church, and in the streams of thy blood hath He hallowed our land. In thee thy people hath been sanctified, O Aleut; from the farthest islands of the west hath He raised thee, a light unto all. Glory to Him that hath glorified thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.

Kontakion of Peter the Aleut in the Fourth Tone

As a skilful fisherman, the Martyr Peter was not harmed when he was caught by adversaries of the Faith; but in a sea of martyric blood, he gained the Kingdom and drowned bitter heresy.

 

View Event →
Dec
6
7:45 AM07:45

St. Nicholas of Myra. Orthros and Divine Liturgy

St. Nicholas.jpg

This Saint lived during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, and reposed in 330, As a young man, he desired to espouse the solitary life. He made a pilgrimage to the holy city Jerusalem, where he found a place to withdraw to devote himself to prayer. It was made known to him, however, that this was not the will of God for him, but that he should return to his homeland to be a cause of salvation for many. He returned to Myra, and was ordained bishop. He became known for his abundant mercy, providing for the poor and needy, and delivering those who had been unjustly accused. No less was he known for his zeal for the truth. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council of the 318 Fathers at Nicaea in 325; upon hearing the blasphemies that Arius brazenly uttered against the Son of God, Saint Nicholas struck him on the face. Since the canons of the Church forbid the clergy to strike any man at all, his fellow bishops were in perplexity what disciplinary action was to be taken against this hierarch whom all revered. In the night our Lord Jesus Christ and our Lady Theotokos appeared to certain of the bishops, informing them that no action was to be taken against him, since he had acted not out of passion, but extreme love and piety. The Dismissal Hymn for holy hierarchs, The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock … was written originally for Saint Nicholas. He is the patron of all travellers, and of sea-farers in particular; he is one of the best known and best loved Saints of all time.

Apolytikion of Nicholas the Wonderworker in the Fourth Tone

A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Nicholas, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion of Nicholas the Wonderworker in the Third Tone

Saintly One, (St Nicholas) in Myra you proved yourself a priest; for in fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, venerable One, you laid down your life for your people and saved the innocent from death. For this you were sanctified as One learned in divine grace.

Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au

st claus.jpg

Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas?

The true story of Santa Claus starts with Saint Nicholas, the bishop of Myra, in Lycia. Saint Nicholas became famous all over the world with his generosity to those in need, his love for children, as well as his care for sailors. Over the ages many stories and legends have been told about the life and deeds of Saint Nicholas. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so loved and venerated as a protector and helper of those who need him.  

 

A helper of those who find themselves in need

 

An account mentions a poor man who had three daughters. In those days, the father of a young girl had to give his future son-in-law something valuable, a dowry. The bigger the dowry was, the greater the chance that the maiden would find a good husband. Without a dowry, it was less likely that a girl would get married. In order to obtain money for the dowry, the father decided to lead the girls into prostitution. But Saint Nicholas prevented this from happening, leaving in their home three pouches with golden coins. The pouches with money, thrown through an open window, are said to have landed in the shoes that were left to dry in front of the fire. This event led to the children’s custom to put shoes at the door and impatiently wait for gifts from Saint Nicholas.

 

Over the centuries, Saint Nicholas continued to be venerated by Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics, as well as being honoured by Protestants. With his example of generosity, shown to those in need, especially children, Saint Nicholas continues to be a role model for living a life full of compassion. But how did Saint Nicholas become an American symbol of the happy celebrations and the commercial activity surrounding the Christmas Holidays?   

 

Saint Nicholas sets foot on the American continent

 

The name “Santa Claus” is an American version of the Dutch word “Sinterklaas”, an abridged form of “Sint Nikolaas” (Saint Nicholas). In Western European countries, which sent colonists on the land beyond the Atlantic, the cult of Saint Nicholas was the most widespread cult related to a nonbiblical saint before the Reformation. Studies show that there were 2,000 churches dedicated to him in Germany, France and the Netherlands before 1500. It was to be expected that such a popular figure would be also brought to America, as it happened.

The inhabitants of the American lands began popularizing the feast of Saint Nicholas, as an occasion to exchange gifts, ever since the 18th century, but without any commercial interests. However, the commercial aspect of this feast was soon taking hold and the name of the saint gradually turned into Santa Claus. In the 1820’s, the saint also received his well-known traits: the reindeers, the sleigh, the bells. In fact, all of these are part of the reality of the world in which he was born. In that period, the sleigh was used as the main means of transport in New York.

 

The “Parents” of Santa

 

Clement Clarke Moore, a New York professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, had an idea which would revolutionize American Christmas. In 1822, he wrote a poem with 56 verses, which he titled “A visit from Saint Nicholas”, famous today as “The night before Christmas”. With this poem, almost by himself, he created the modern American image of Christmas. Moore also gave the protagonist of his poem a new appearance: he did not represent him as a bishop, but as a small and joyful elf, dressed in animal hides, smoking a pipe and carrying a sack full of toys on his back. Moore also gave him a sledge, with which he flew through the air, and pulled not by horses, but by eight reindeers, each with its own name.

 

But Moore only marked the beginning of Santa Claus’ journey, as we know him. For a century he was portrayed by tens of artists, in a large variety of styles, positions and colours, until when, in 1920, the standard image of the American Santa Clause took shape, that of a fat man dressed in red. The globally established image of Santa was the creation of Haddon Sundblom, who created it for Coca Cola. Using himself as a model, he led a very successful publicity campaign for the beverage company, popularizing and definitely establishing the image of Santa Claus as a symbol of contemporary commercial culture.

 

Saint Nicholas versus Santa Claus

 

All these elements took shape around the figure of Santa, becoming more and more associated with commercialism. This is well understood, given the institutions that promoted this image, however the final result is a complete distortion of the original. Saint Nicholas was a symbol of charity, whereas Santa Claus is an unusual mixture of philanthropism and aggressive commercialism. Saint Nicholas helped people whenever they needed help. On the other hand, making gifts only for the sake of offering our loved ones something that they already have is not in tune with Saint Nicholas’ charitable deeds.

In the United States of America, the birthplace of the already exagerated figure of Santa Claus, there is growing interest in recovering the original Saint, so as to contribute to the reestablishing of the spiritual dimension of the festive time of Christmas. This is because, in fact, Saint Nicholas, who loved the poor and took care of the children, is a role model for a Christian way of life. A bishop, Nicholas placed Jesus Christ at the centre of his entire existence. In the same way, we too must not forget that the centre of this Holiday Season that awaits us is no one other than Christ, Who is born for us in the manger in Bethlehem.         

 

View Event →
Dec
2
7:45 AM07:45

14th Sunday of Luke. Orthros and Divine Liturgy

Saints and Feasts: Habakkuk the Prophet, Our Righteous Father Cyril of Phileus, Myrope the Martyr of Chios, Joannicos the Monk of Devich, Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia, Theophilos the Hermit

Fast Day (Fish Allowed)
Tone Two
Fifth Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 5:8-19

Brethren, walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.

Gospel Reading: Luke 18:35-43

At that time, as Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Vindecarea-orbului-15.jpg

THE STORY OF BARTIMAUEUS

I believe that one of the reasons which prevent us from being truly ourselves and finding our own way is that we do not realise the extent to which we are blind! If only we knew that we were blind, how eagerly would we seek healing: we should seek it, as Bartimaeus probably did, from men, doctors, priests, healers; and then, having lost all hope 'in princes, in the sons of men in whom there is no salvation', we might, perhaps, turn to God. But the tragedy is that we do not realise our blindness: too many things leap to our eyes for us to be aware of the invisible to which we are blind. We live in a world of things which command our attention and assert themselves: we have no need to affirm them, they are there. Things invisible do not assert themselves - we have to seek them out and discover them. The outside world demands our attention: God entreats us diffidently. <…>

Blinded by the world of things we forget that it does not match the depth of which man is capable. Man is both small and great. When we think of ourselves in an ever-expanding universe - immeasurably big or infinitely small - we see ourselves as a speck of dust, frail, of no account; but when we turn inwards we discover that nothing in this immensity is great enough to fill us to the brim - the whole created world falls like a grain of sand into the depth of our being: we are too vast for it to fill or fulfil us. God alone, who has made us for himself, on his scale, can do that. <…>

The world of things has an opacity, a density, weight and volume, but it has no depth. We can always penetrate to the heart of things, and when we have reached their deepest point, it is a terminal point, there is no way through to infinity: the centre of a sphere is its innermost point but if we try to go beyond that we return to the surface at the antipodes. But Holy Scripture speaks of the depth of the human heart. It is not a depth that can be measured; its very nature is immensity, it goes beyond all bounds of measurement. This depth is rooted in the immensity of God himself. It is only when we have understood the difference between a presence that asserts itself and a presence we have to seek because we sense it in our hearts, when we have understood the difference between the heavy, opaque density of the world around us and the human profundity which only God can fill - and I would go so far as to say the profundity of every created thing whose vocation it is to become the place of the divine presence, when, all things accomplished, God will be all in all things - it is only then that we can begin our search in the knowledge that we are blind, blinded by the visible which prevents us grasping the invisible. To be blind to the invisible, to be aware only of the tangible world, is to be on the outside of the fullness of knowledge, outside the experience of total reality which is the world in God and God at the heart of the world. The blind man Bartimaeus was painfully aware of this because owing to his physical blindness, the visible world escaped him. He could cry out to the Lord in utter despair, with all the desperate hope he felt when salvation was passing him by, because he felt himself cut off. The reason why all too often we cannot call to God in this way is that we do not realise how much we are cut off by being blind to the total vision of the world - a vision which could afford complete reality to the visible world itself. If only we could learn to be blind to the visible in order to see beyond, in depth, the invisible, in and around us, penetrating all things with its presence!

Blindness is manifold: it may, never with us, but with the saints, result from having seen a light too bright. St Symeon the New Theologian, speaking of the Divine Darkness, says that it is excess of light, of a light so blinding that he who has seen it, sees no more. It may also be blindness with open eyes. <…> We can see with the eyes of indifference as the passers-by saw Bartimaeus. We can see with the eyes of greed as the glutton in Dickens who, seeing cattle grazing in the fields, could only think 'live beef!' We can see with the eyes of hatred when we become horribly clear-sighted but with the perspicacity of the devil, seeing nothing but evil, making a vile caricature of things. And lastly, we may see with the eyes of love, with a pure heart that can see God and his image in people; even in those where his image is dimmed - through layers of appearances and counter evidence, to the true, deep secret self of man. <…>

The instant we realise we are blind and therefore outside the Kingdom, we can occupy in relation to the Kingdom and to God, a situation which is real - not the imaginary one in which we constantly place ourselves, outside in the street, picturing the eternal abode, trying to warm our hands at the fire burning in the hearth on the other side of the door, endeavouring here and now to share in the life which is still out of our reach, imagining already that the tiny spark which shines in us is even now all the Kingdom. It is not yet the Kingdom, it is only an earnest pledge of life eternal, a promise, an appeal lodged in us to make us continue in hope as we take our stand where the Gospel tells us to begin - before a door which is still shut to us, never wearying of knocking at it until it opens. We must hold ourselves before the mystery not yet penetrated and call, cry out towards God, seeking the way until it unfolds before us like a straight path to heaven, in the certainty that the moment will come when God will grant our prayer. I purposely do not say 'hear' because we are always heard although a perceptible response is not always given to us. God is not deaf to our prayers but we are not always capable of understanding God's silence in response to our cry. If we realised we were outside a closed door, we could measure both our human solitude and also how far we still are from the joy to which we are called, from the fullness which God offers us, and we could at the same time appreciate - and this is very important - how rich we are despite our infinite poverty. We know so little of the things of God, we live so little in him yet what wealth there is for us in this spark of Presence, of knowledge, of communion shining at the heart of the darkness that we are! If the darkness is yet so rich in light, if absence is so rich in presence, if life which but dawns is such fullness, with what hope, with what mounting joy, can we stand before this closed door, in the happy thought that one day it will open and we shall know an outburst of life such as we cannot yet contain within ourselves. <…>

Metropolitan  Anthony  of  Sourozh, from “Meditation on a Theme”. Source: http://www.mitras.ru

 

View Event →
Nov
18
7:45 AM07:45

9th Sunday of Luke. Orthros and Divine Liturgy

Saints and Feasts: Plato the Great Martyr of Ancyra, Holy Martyr Romanus, Zaccheus the Deacon, Holy New Martyr Anastasius of Paramythia, Martyr Romanos the Deacon, Anastasios the New Martyr

Fast Day (Fish Allowed)
Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Third Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 2:14-22

Brethren, Christ is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

πλουσιος αφρων.jpg

Gospel Reading: Luke 12:16-21

The Lord said this parable: “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” As he said these things, he cried out: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Bogat-rodit-tarina.jpg

Leo Tolstoy once asked himself: how much land does a man need? We know that in the past, a typical pursuit was to buy as much land as possible. The number of hectares meant prestige, although it always also meant that others would be deprived the opportunity to feed themselves from the same land.

Tolstoy wrote a parable about this issue, calling it the following: ”How much land does one man need?”. We retell it in our words: It is said that a certain Pachomios supposedly heard that, somewhere in Siberia, a great landowner was selling as much land as anyone could cover on foot in one day and return back, for a thousand rubles. Tempted by the sale, Pachomios went to the landowner and told him he wanted to buy land. The owner said: behold, we are at this point here. You go from here straight ahead, and as much as you cover on foot will be yours, with only one condition: you must be all the way back here before sunset. So, you go ahead and then turn back. As much as you cover is yours. But if you do not get here before sunset, you lose a thousand rubles.

And the man went to conquer the land, and went, and went, and went. He also stared at the sun and looked at the land ahead of him. And he went, and he went. And he always kept saying. I have time to go back too, but I have to conquer as much land as possible. And he went until he realized that if he kept going, he would have no time to go back. He started going back, but as he turned back, the sunlight was becoming weaker and weaker. It was close to sunset and he was still far from the place of their meeting.

Finally, a few moments before sunset, the man, running as fast as he could and ready to lose his conquest, managed to make the last step and, stretching his hand, came to the place from where he had started, glad in his heart that he had managed to conquer such a vast stretch of land. But as soon as he stretched his hand and touched the owner's foot, his heart stood still and he died. The owner told his servants: "Dig a pit two meters long and a meter wide, because, in fact, that’s how much land a man needs, and not as much as he came to conquer greedily!"

The Savior left us a balanced teaching: to earn our living through work, to manage our needs, but not to harvest for the sake of harvesting, not to treasure anything for the sake of treasuring. Let us use what is the fruit of our work. Let's enjoy what we do, but let us not just gather for the sake of having.

View Event →
Nov
16
7:45 AM07:45

St. Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

St. Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

Matthew.jpeg

St Matthew (meaning “gift of God”) was identified as a tax collector (Matthew 9:9; 10:3) and was of Jewish race. In the other accounts of his meeting with Jesus (Mark 2:13, 14; Luke 5:27-29), he is called Levi. This use of two different names has led some scholars to argue for two different persons, due to the absence of Levi from the apostolic lists. Others, however, have argued that Matthew had a double name, because the Jews frequently carried two names – such as Simon/Peter and Saul/Paul. When he was called by Jesus (Matthew 9:9), Matthew renounced the position of tax collector and became His disciple. According to Christian tradition, after Pentecost Matthew, filled with the Holy Spirit, preached the gospel in many places, especially to the Jews.

The Gospel of Matthew, though it has come down to us in Greek, has a Jewish/Hebraic flavour, which is evident in its Aramaic expressions and forms, and its use of numerous quotations and arguments from the Old Testament. Furthermore, Matthew gives details of Jewish religious observations, and often uses Jewish style and techniques of argument. God’s final judgement, pictured in apocalyptic images common in Jewish writings, is also emphasized. Papias, a second-century Christian author, preserves the tradition that Matthew wrote the sayings of Christ in Aramaic, the common language of the Jews at the time of Christ, and that others later freely translated this work into Greek.

Though the Gospel does not name Matthew as the author, all the early manuscripts attribute authorship to Matthew, one of the twelve disciples listed in the New Testament. His authorship is attested by the universal witness of the ancient Church.Matthew’s usual emblem as an evangelist is a man, because his genealogy emphasized the family ties of Christ.

Matei.jpg

Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)

O Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

When you cast away the publican’s balance and was united to the yoke of uprightness, you prove a merchant of great excellence, one that gathered in the wealth of the wisdom of Heaven; for this cause, the word of truth you did herald, O Matthew, and you aroused the souls of sluggish men by signifying the dread day of reckoning.

Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au

The Holy Evangelists and their symbols

The holy Tradition associated each of the four Evangelists with a symbol. Thus, the Saint Evangelist Matthew is depicted with a man (angel), the Saint Evangelist Mark is painted with a lion, the Saint Evangelist Luke is depicted with a calf, and the Saint Evangelist John is accompanied by an eagle.

The symbols of the four evangelists are painted with horns and wings, inspired by the Book of Revelation: "The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a calf, the third had a face like a man, and the fourth was like an eagle in flight."(Revelation 4: 7) and Ezekiel's prophecy:" As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle."(Ezekiel 1: 10).

The man was chosen as a symbol of the Saint Evangelist Matthew, because he begins his Gospel with the genealogy of the ancestors of Jesus Christ.

St. Matthew

St. Matthew

 

The Lion was chosen as a symbol of St. Mark the Evangelist, because he speaks to us at the beginning of his Gospel about St. John the Baptist as the "Voice of the one who shouts in the wilderness" (Mark 1, 3), which reminds us of the lion's rage.

St. Mark

St. Mark

 

The calf was chosen as a symbol of Saint Evangelist Luke, because he is the only Evangelist who speaks of the "fatted calf" which, according to the parable of the prodigal son, is sacrificed at the welcoming feast.

St. Luke

St. Luke

 

The eagle was chosen as a symbol of St. John the Evangelist, because, due to his elevated theological experience, he ascended like an eagle in his description of the Divine Logos and the way in which he highlights the Divine Love above all else in the world, affirming that God is Love (John 4: 8).

St. John

St. John

View Event →
Nov
15
7:45 AM07:45

St. Paisios Velichkovski of Neamt. Orthros and Divine Liturgy

s. Paisie.jpg

Saint Paisios Velichkovsky was born in Poltava in Little Russia on December 21, 1722, and was the eleventh of twelve children. His father John was a priest, who named him Peter at his Baptism, in honor of St Peter the Metropolitan of Moscow, on whose Feast he was born.

After the children’s father died, their mother Irene raised them in piety. Peter was sent to study at the Moghila Academy in Kiev in 1735. After four years, Peter decided to leave the world and become a monk. At the age of seventeen, he went in search of a monastery and a good spiritual Father. For seven years Peter visited various monasteries, including the Kiev Caves Lavra, but he did not feel drawn to any of the monasteries of Ukraine.

After being made a rassophore monk (one blessed to wear the rasson, but not yet tonsured “into the mantle”) at the St Nicholas Medvedevsky Monastery with the name Platon, he found that there was no experienced Elder there who could teach him obedience or give him spiritual direction. Not wishing to begin his monastic life without such guidance, he left the monastery a week after his tonsure with the blessing of his Elder. (Source: http://www.xcsaviour.com)

neamt sur.jpg

At first, he went to Kiev, where he happened to meet his sister-in-law, the widow of his older brother Archpriest John. She informed him of his mother’s sorrow when he left Kiev, and her mind seemed to be affected by her grief. Then one day an angel appeared to her and told her that instead of loving the Creator with her whole heart and soul, she loved His creation (her son) more. Because of this excessive love, the angel went on, she was thinking of starving herself to death, which would result in her eternal condemnation. The angel said that by God’s grace, her son would become a monk, and that she should also renounce the world and become a nun. After this, she became calm and accepted God’s will. She entered a convent and was tonsured with the name Juliana. After about ten years, she departed to the Lord.

While at Kiev, Platon met two monks from Romania who were about to return to their country. After crossing the border into Moldavia, they came to Valachia and the Skete of St Nicholas, which is called Trăisteni – Râmnicu Sărat, around 1745. The Elder of the Skete, Hieroschemamonk Michael, was away on business in Ukraine, so Platon and his companions were welcomed by the Superior, Fr Demetrius. Platon was placed under a general obedience and given a cell near the Skete, from which the church was visible.

As he was sleeping one night, the semantron was sounded calling the monks to Sunday Matins, but Platon did not hear it. He woke up and ran to the church, only to find that the Gospel had already been read, and the Canon was being sung. In his grief and shame, he did not enter the church, but returned to his cell and wept bitter tears. After the Liturgy, when it was time for the meal, the Superior and the Elder were surprised that Platon had not been seen at the services. The Elder ordered that the meal be delayed while he sent a Fr Athanasius to find out what had happened to Platon. Fr Athanasius found him and asked why he was weeping. With difficulty, Platon was able to tell him the cause of his sorrow. Fr Athanasius tried to console him and urged him to come to the Skete, where the others were waiting for him. Finally, he was persuaded to go.

Seeing the brethren at table but not eating, Platon fell down before them weeping and asking forgiveness. The Elder and the Superior lifted him up and heard from Fr Athanasius the reason for his sorrow. The Elder told Platon not to grieve so over something that had happened involuntarily, and did his best to console him. From that time, however, the saint would not sleep lying down in bed, but sitting up on a bench.

One day the Elder Onuphrius of Kyrkoul visited the Skete and spoke about his Skete at Kyrkoul. Platon long to see Kyrkoul, and so he returned there with Fr Onuphrius. He remained there for a time, conversing with Fr Onuphrius about overcoming the passions, the struggle with demons, unceasing prayer, and other soul-profiting topics. This seed fell on good ground, later bearing spiritual fruit a hundredfold.

The time came when Platon was filled with a longing to visit Mount Athos. He asked the brethren of the Skete, and those of other Sketes, for their forgiveness and blessing for the journey. He also thanked them for their kindness and their paternal instruction. They blessed him and let him go in peace. At that time he was just twenty-four years old.

Platon went to Mount Athos in 1746, arriving at the Great Lavra on July 4, the eve of the Feast of St Athanasius of Athos. His traveling companion, Hieromonk Tryphon fell ill and died after four days. Platon would have died from the same illness, if not for the care of the Russian monks. He recovered and lived in solitude in a cell called Kaparis near the Pantokrator Monastery. He went around visiting the ascetics and solitaries, looking for a spiritual Father, but was unable to find anyone suitable.

The Sketeof Poiana Marului, Romania

The Sketeof Poiana Marului, Romania

In 1750 St Basil of Poiana Mărului (April 15) visited the Holy Mountain and spent some time with Platon, who asked him for monastic tonsure. Elder Basil granted his request, giving him the name Paisios. Then Fr Basil returned to his Skete in Valachia. About three months later, a young monk named Bessarion came to the Holy Mountain from Vlachia. He went around to the monasteries searching for an instructor, but did not find one. He also came to Fr Paisios and asked him to tell him something about saving his soul. Fr Paisios sighed and told him that he himself had been looking for an instructor without success. Yet, feeling compassion for Fr Bessarion, he talked to him a little about the qualifications necessary for a true instructor, and about the Jesus Prayer. After hearing him, Fr Bessarion said, “What more do I seek?” He fell down at the feet of Fr Paisius, entreating him to be his Elder. Fr Paisios did not want to be anyone’s Elder, wishing instead to be under authority himself. Fr Bessarion remained for three days weeping until Fr Paisios agreed to accept him as a friend, and not as a disciple. For about four years they lived together fulfilling God’s commandments, cutting off their own will and obeying one another as equals.

Other disciples began to join them, and their number continued to increase. Since they needed a priest and a confessor, they begged Fr Paisios to accept ordination. He did not want to hear of this, and repeatedly refused to consent. They did not give up, however. They asked him how he could expect to teach the brethren obedience and cutting off their own will, when he disobeyed the tearful entreaties of those who wanted him to accept. Finally, he said, “May the will of God be done.”

Skete of St. Prophet Elias, Holy Mountain Athos

Skete of St. Prophet Elias, Holy Mountain Athos

In 1754 Fr Paisios was ordained to the holy priesthood and was given the Skete of the Prophet Elias, where he began to accept even more disciples. St Paisios remained on Mt Athos for a total of seventeen years, copying Greek patristic books and translating them into Slavonic.

Metropolitan Gavriil Vallimachi of Moldavia

Metropolitan Gavriil Vallimachi of Moldavia

In 1763 Fr Paisios invited by the Metropolitan Gavriil Calimachi of Iasi, went to Moldavia in Romania with sixty-four disciples, and was given the Dragomirna Monastery near the city of Suceava and on the border between Bukovina and Moldavia. Here he remained for twelve years, and the number of monks increased to three hundred and fifty. His friend Hieromonk Alexius came to visit him from Valachia, and Fr Paisios asked him to tonsure him into the Schema. Fr Alexius did so, but without changing his name. While at Dragomirna, Fr Paisios corrected the Slavonic translations of patristic books by comparing them to the Greek manuscripts he had copied on Mt Athos.

The Russo-Turkish war broke out in 1768, and Moldavia and Valachia saw many battles. Dragomirna and the forests around it became filled with refugees from the villages near the battlegrounds. Another catastrophe appeared in 1771 with the outbreak of plague. When Dragomirna and Bukovina came under the control of Austrian Catholics, St Paisios and his flock fled to Moldavia. In October of 1775, he went to Secu (“Beheading”) Monastery, which was dedicated to St John the Baptist, with 200 of his monks.

Secu Monastery was too small for the number of brethren, who were crowded with three to five monks in a cell. In the spring, more brethren were due to arrive from Dragomirna, so new cells had to be built. After three years of labor one hundred cells were completed, and everyone had a place. Still, the numbers increased and they had to look for a larger monastery.

Secu Monastery

Secu Monastery

Prince Constantine Moruzi wrote to the Elder saying that there was no larger monastery than Neamţ, about two hours from Secu Monastery. On August 14, 1779, St Paisios moved to Neamţ Monastery where he spent the last fifteen years of his life translating the writings of the Holy Fathers. He organized the community according to the Typikon (Rule) of Mt Athos. He gathered about a thousand monks in the monastery, instructing them in the unceasing prayer of the heart.

Neamt Monastery

Neamt Monastery

Archbishop Ambrose visited St Paisios at Neamţ in 1790, staying for two days to converse with the Elder. During the Sunday Liturgy, he raised St Paisios to the rank of Archimandrite. He remained two more days, then departed after blessing everyone.

St Paisius fell asleep in the Lord on November 15, 1794 at the age of seventy-two. It is possible that God revealed the date of his death to him beforehand, for he stopped translating books. He only reviewed and corrected what had already been translated.

He was ill for four days, but felt well enough to attend the Liturgy on Sunday. After the service, he asked everyone to come and receive his blessing. He said farewell to them all, then returned to his cell and would not receive anyone. A few days later, on November 15, he received the Holy Mysteries again and surrendered his soul to God. His funeral was conducted by Bishop Benjamin of Tuma, and was attended by multitudes of priests, monks, laymen, nobles and ordinary people.

The holy relics of St Paisius were uncovered in 1846, 1853, 1861 and 1872, and were found to be incorrupt.

St Paisios has had an enormous influence, not only in Romania, but throughout the Orthodox world. His disciples traveled to Russia, sparking the spiritual revival of the nineteenth century with Slavonic translations of the PHILOKALIA and the tradition of eldership which they had learned from St Paisius. This influence has been felt even in America through St Herman of Alaska (December 13). St Herman was taught by Elders whose spiritual formation was guided by St Paisius. He first met Fr Nazarius, who became his Elder at Valaam, at Sarov, then followed him to Sanaxar when St Theodore (February 19) was their igumen.

One of the books that St Herman brought with him to America was the Slavonic PHILOKALIA, printed in 1794. He absorbed the spiritual wisdom that it contained, and imparted it to others.(Source: http://www.xcsaviour.com)

St. Paisios's grave

St. Paisios's grave

View Event →
Nov
14
7:45 AM07:45

St. Apostle Philip. St. Gregory Palamas. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

Ap. Philip.jpg

Philip the Apostle

The Holy and All-praised Apostle Philip, was a native of the city of Bethsaida in Galilee. He had a profound depth of knowledge of Holy Scripture, and rightly discerning the meaning of the Old Testament prophecies, he awaited the coming of the Messiah. Through the call of the Saviour (John 1:43), Philip followed Him. The Apostle Philip is spoken about several times in the New Testament. It was he that brought Apostle Nathaniel (i.e. Bartholomew) to Christ (See John 1:46), Christ asks him where to buy bread for five thousand men (John 6: 5-7), he brought certain of the Hellenized Jews wanting to see Jesus (John 12:21-22), and at the Last Supper he asked Christ to show them the Father (John 14:8).

After Christ’s Ascension, St Philip preached the Word of God in Galilee, accompanying his preaching with miracles. Thus, he restored to life a dead infant in the arms of its mother. From Galilee, he went to Greece, and preached among the Jews that had settled there. Some of them reported the preaching of the Apostle to Jerusalem. In response, some scribes arrived in Greece from Jerusalem, with one of the Jewish chief priests at their head, to interrogate the Apostle Philip.

The Apostle Philip exposed the lie of the chief priest, who said that the disciples of Christ had stolen away and hidden the body of Christ. Philip told instead how the Pharisees had bribed the soldiers on watch, to spread this rumour. When the Jewish chief priest and his companions began to insult the Lord and lunged at the Apostle Philip, they suddenly were struck blind. By his prayer, the Apostle restored everyone’s sight. Seeing this miracle, many believed in Christ. The Apostle Philip provided a bishop for them, by the name of Narcissus (one of the Seventy Apostles, commemorated January 4).

From Greece the Apostle Philip went to Parthia, and then to the city of Azotus, where he healed an eye affliction of the daughter of a local resident named Nikoklides, who had received him into his home, and then baptized his whole family.

Apostle Philip set out from Azotus to Syrian Hieropolis (there were several cities of this name) where, stirred up by the Pharisees, the Jews burned the house of Heros, who had taken in the Apostle Philip, and they wanted to kill the apostle. The apostle performed several miracles: the healing of the hand of the city official Aristarchus, withered when he attempted to strike the apostle; and restoring a dead child to life. When they saw these marvels, they repented and many accepted holy Baptism. After making Heros the bishop at Hieropolis, the Apostle Philip went on to Syria, Asia Minor, Lydia, Emessa, and everywhere preaching the Gospel and undergoing sufferings. Both he and his sister Mariamne (commemorated February 17) were pelted with stones, locked up in prison, and thrown out of villages.

Then the Apostle Philip arrived in the city of Phrygian Hieropolis, where there were many pagan temples. There was also a pagan temple where people worshiped an enormous serpent as a god. The Apostle Philip by the power of prayer killed the serpent and healed many bitten by snakes.

Among those healed was the wife of the city governor, Amphipatos. Having learned that his wife had accepted Christianity, the governor Amphipatos gave orders to arrest St. Philip, his sister, and the Apostle Bartholomew travelling with them. At the urging of the pagan priests of the temple of the serpent, Amphipatos ordered the holy Apostles Philip and Bartholomew to be crucified. Suddenly, an earthquake struck, and it knocked down all those present at the place of judgement. Hanging upon the cross by the pagan temple of the serpent, the Apostle Philip prayed for those who had crucified him, asking God to save them from the ravages of the earthquake. Seeing this happen, the people believed in Christ and began to demand that the apostles be taken down from the crosses. The Apostle Bartholomew was still alive when he was taken down, and he baptized all those believing and established a bishop for them. But the Apostle Philip, through whose prayers everyone remained alive, except for Amphipatos and the pagan priests, died on the cross.

Mariamne his sister buried his body, and went with the Apostle Bartholomew to preach in Armenia, where the Apostle Bartholomew was crucified commemorated June 11); Mariamne herself then preached until her own death at Lykaonia.

The holy Apostle Philip is not to be confused with St Philip the Deacon (commemorated October 11), one of the Seventy.

Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)

O Holy Apostle Philip, intercede with the merciful God that He grant to our souls forgiveness of offences.

Kontakion (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

Your disciple and friend, emulator of Your passion, the divinely eloquent Philip, proclaimed You to the world as God. By his entreaties, and through the Theotokos, keep Your Church from lawless enemies, O most merciful.

Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonika

St. Gregory Palamas, Metropolitan of Thessalonika

St. Gregory Palamas, Metropolitan of Thessalonika

 

This divine Father, who was from Asia Minor, was from childhood reared in the royal court of Constantinople, where he was instructed in both religious and secular wisdom. Later, while still a youth, he left the imperial court and struggled in asceticism on Mount Athos, and in the Skete at Beroea. He spent some time in Thessalonica being treated for an illness that came from his harsh manner of life. He was present in Constantinople at the Council that was convened in 1341 against Barlaam of Calabria, and at the Council of 1347 against Acindynus, who was of like mind with Barlaam; Barlaam and Acindynus claimed that the grace of God is created. At both these Councils, the Saint contended courageously for the true dogmas of the Church of Christ, teaching in particular that divine grace is not created, but is the uncreated energies of God which are poured forth throughout creation: otherwise it would be impossible, if grace were created, for man to have genuine communion with the uncreated God. In 1347 he was appointed Metropolitan of Thessalonica. He tended his flock in an apostolic manner for some twelve years, and wrote many books and treatises on the most exalted doctrines of our Faith; and having lived for a total of sixty-three years, he reposed in the Lord in 1359.His holy relics are kept in the Cathedral of Thessalonica.

Apolytikion of Gregory Palamas, Abp. Of Thessolonica in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise Gregory, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

Kontakion of Gregory Palamas, Abp. Of Thessolonica in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

With one accord, we praise thee as the sacred and divine * vessel of wisdom and clear trumpet of theology, * O our righteous Father Gregory of divine speech. * As a mind that standeth now before the Primal Mind, * do thou ever guide aright and lead our mind to Him, * that we may cry: * Rejoice, O herald of grace divine.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Thessalonika, dedicated to St. Gregory of Palamas

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Thessalonika, dedicated to St. Gregory of Palamas

View Event →
Nov
13
7:45 AM07:45

St. John Chrysostom. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

Hrysostom.jpg

John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople

St John (407 AD), who since the sixth century has been called Chrysostom or golden mouthed, was born in Antioch of a noble Christian family between 344 and 354 AD. He was brought up by his widowed mother and received the best education which Antioch could offer. He studied philosophy under Andragathius, rhetoric under the celebrated Libanius, and theology under Diodore of Tarsus. He became a monk by 375 and lived in a mountain community not far from Antioch. He nearly ruined his health through austerities and the damp conditions of his cave hermitage. He returned to Antioch in 381, was ordained deacon by Bishop Meletius, and served the local church until his ordination as priest in 386 by Bishop Flavian, the successor of Meletius. He then became the bishop’s special assistant, particularly for the temporal care and spiritual instruction of the numerous Christian poor of the city.

St John soon distinguished himself a preacher and commentator on the Epistles of St Paul and the Gospels of Matthew and John (386-397). He insisted in the Antiochene tradition on the literal meaning of Holy Scripture and its practical application to the problems of the time. Hence much of his work has relevance today also.

In 397 AD, after the death of Archbishop Nectarius of Constantinople, Emperor Arcadius wished St John to be chosen in his place. An envoy was sent to secretly detach John from Antioch, for fear of popular opposition. Theophilus, Archbishop of Alexandria consecrated him on February 398. John was the somewhat unwilling recipient of episcopal consecration at the hands of the at least equally unwilling Theophilus.

As Metropolitan of Constantinople, John immediately set about a much needed reform of the court, clergy and laity. He reduced the customary spending of his own household in favour of the poor and hospitals. He enacted severe discipline for the clergy and attacked the behaviour, the clothes, and the make-up of the women at court. He also criticised those Christians who had been to the races on Good Friday and to the games in the stadium on Holy Saturday.

In 401 AD, at a synod in Ephesius, he deposed six bishops, with the result that all forces opposed to him, at home and abroad, consolidated in a united effort to destroy him. The Empress Eudoxia regarded his drive for moral reform as a personal attack on herself. Meanwhile Theophilus made common cause with the empress and organised a cabal of 36 bishops, which assembled at Chalcedon in 403, as the Synod of the Oak.

The synod condemned St John unheard. He was charged on a series of more or less false charges, was also accused of treason for calling Eudoxia ‘Jezebel’, was dropped from his see, and asked for his banishment. Arcadius exiled John to Bithynia, but an earthquake in Constantinople terrified him and he recalled John the next day. John resumed his plain speaking, which again enraged Eudoxia; Theophilus intrigued against him with appeals to an Arian council of Antioch, and John was again banished, this time for resuming the duties of a see from which he had been ‘lawfully deposed’. This took place on June 9, 404 AD; although his own people and many bishops supported him, he was exiled, first to Curusus in Armenia, where he remained three years, and then to Pontus, where he was killed by enforced travel in bad weather, on foot and in spite of repeated pleas of exhaustion. He died on September 14, 407 AD. Thirty-one years later his body was taken back to Constantinople and reburied in the church of the Apostles. (Source: www.greekorthododx.org.au)

 

View Event →
Nov
11
7:45 AM07:45

8th Sunday of Luke. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

samarineanul_milostiv.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Menas of Egypt, Victor and Stephanie, Theodore the Studite, Holy Martyr Vincent

Grave Tone
Second Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:6-15

Brethren, it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:25-37

At that time, a lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

View Event →
Nov
9
7:45 AM07:45

St. Nektarios of Aigina, the Wonderworker. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

St. Nektarios.jpg

Nektarios the Wonderworker, Metropolitan of Pentapolis

The divine Nektarios of Aegina, is one of the most widely known of Greek Orthodox Saints. He was born on October 1st, 1846 in Silyvria, in Asia Minor (now occupied by Turkey). At Holy Baptism he was given the name Anastasios. His parents were simple pious Christians. They brought him up in a manner pleasing to God, and did what their very limited means allowed for his formal education.

Having completed elementary school in his hometown, he left for the great city of Constantinople at the age of 14. There, he found employment as a shop assistant and was able to earn a meager living. As well as regularly attending the Divine Liturgy, he also read the Holy Scriptures and Writings of the Holy Fathers of the Church on a daily basis. From his wide reading, the young Anastasios made a collection of wise sayings, which he fervently spread to the customers of his store by writing them on the paper used to wrap their goods. He was selected to teach the lower grades of the orphanage of the All-Holy Sepulchre in Constantinople.

This allowed him to continue his studies, for he longed to become a Theologian. In 1866, at the age of 20, Anastasios went to the island of Chios, where he was appointed a teacher. After 7 years, he entered into the local monastery, under the care of the venerable elder Pachomios. After 3 years as a novice Athanasios was tonsured a Monk and given the name Lazarus. A year later, he was ordained a Deacon and received the name Nektarios. Elder Pachomios, and a wealthy local benefactor convinced the young monk to complete his high school studies in Athens. From there Deacon Nektarios went to Alexandria, where he was cared for by the Patriarch of Alexandria, Sophronios. The Patriarch insisted that Nektarios complete his Theological studies, and so in 1885 he graduated from the School of Theology in Athens. The Patriarch of Alexandria ordained Deacon Nektarios to the Priesthood in 1886. His great service to the Church, prolific writings and teachings, energy and zeal led Fr Nektarios to be ordained as the Metropolitan of Pentapolis in Egypt.

As a Metropolitan he was greatly admired and loved by his flock for his virtue and purity of life. But this great admiration by the people aroused the envy of certain high officials, who plotted and succeeded in having the Blessed Metropolitan removed from office in 1890 – without a trial or any explanation whatsoever. He returned to Greece to become a monk and Preacher, to the great edification of the people. There the Blessed Metropolitan continued to write his now famous books.

In 1894, the divine Nektarios became Director of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School, where he was to remain for 15 years. As an educator, the chief concern of the venerable Hierarch was to incite and guide youth to become good Christians. His fifteen years at Rizarios were also productive for the writing of many more books and teachings.

In 1904, our Saint founded a monastery for women in Aegina, the Holy Trinity Convent. Under his guidance the Convent flourished. In 1908, the Blessed Nektarios, at the age of 62, retired from the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School and withdrew to Holy Trinity Convent in Aegina. There, for the rest of his life as a true monk and ascetic. He served as a confessor and spiritual guide to the nuns and even priests from as far as Athens and Piraeus. His Holy and pious life shone forth like a guiding light to all near him. Many would come to him for healing. St Nektarios was a great ëWonder-workerí even while alive.

On September 20, 1920 one of the nuns took him to the local hospital, in spite of his protest. He was convulsing in pain from a long-standing ailment. He was admitted, and placed into a ward reserved for the poor and unwanted. There he stayed for two months among the sick and dying. At 10:30 in the evening of November 8th, although in the midst of terrible pains, in peace and at prayer he gave up his spirit unto God at the age of 74.

As soon as St Nektarios gave up his spirit, a nurse came to prepare him for transfer to Aegina for burial. As the nurse removed the Saints sweater, she inadvertently placed it on the next bed, on which a paralytic lay. O, strange wonder, the paralytic immediately began to regain his strength and arose from his bed healthy, and glorifying God.

Some time after his repose, strangely a beautiful fragrance was emitted by his Holy body, filling the room. Many came to venerate his Holy relics prior to his burial. With amazement, people noted a fragrant fluid that drenched his hair and beard. Even after 5 months, when the nuns of the convent opened the Saints grave to build a marble tomb, they found the Saint intact in every respect and emitted a wonderful and heavenly fragrance. Similarly three years later, the Holy Relics were still whole and radiating the same heavenly fragrance.

Many people had regarded Nektarios as a Saint whilst he was still alive, because of his purity of life, his virtues, the nature of his publications, his gift of foreknowledge and the miracles he performed. The recognition of him as a Saint spread rapidly after his repose. God confirmed the Sanctity of Nektarios at his repose and by the miracles attributed to the Saint after his repose. The Orthodox Church proclaimed him as a Saint on April 20, 1961.

Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

The offspring of Silyvria and the guardian of Aegina, the true friend of virtue who has appeared in the last years, O Nektarios, we faithful honour you as the godly servant of Christ, for you pour forth healings of every kind for those who piously cry out: Glory to Christ Who has glorified you. Glory to Him Who has made you wondrous. Glory to Him Who works healings for all through you.

Kontakion (Plagal of Fourth Tone)

To you, the Champion Leader

Come, let us give praise to Orthodoxy’s newly-shining star and the divine and newly builded bulwark of the Church; and in joyfulness of heart, let us sing his praises. By the working of the Spirit was he glorified, and pours out the abundant grace of wonderous cures upon them that cry: Rejoice, O Father Nektarios.

 

View Event →
Nov
8
7:45 AM07:45

Synaxis of the St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

Archangels-Michael-and-Gabriel-Egg-Tempera-Gold-Leaf-1.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Synaxis of the Archangel Michael & the other Bodiless Powers: Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Salaphiel, Jegudiel, & Barachiel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 2:2-10

Brethren, if the message declared by angels was valid and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his own will. For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, “What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou carest for him? Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:16-21

The Lord said to his disciples, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

Fathers of the Church on Angels

The Church Fathers are made up of a select group of ecclesiastical authors whose authority on doctrinal matters carry special weight. Their authority is held to be infallible only when they teach a doctrine unanimously. Their individual teachings are not considered infallible, but are to be respected. We will highlight their thoughts on angels briefly below.

We thank Mother Alexandra for the research on this in her book The Holy Angels (Book III pp 131-168).

Angels in the Primitive Church - Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers are those who immediately followed the Apostles. They preserved the Gospels and Epistles for us. Many had direct contact with the Apostles. They do not make many references to Angels. We include in this section Fathers from the period 100-325 AD.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35-107)

He received his bishopric from Saint John the Evangelist. He writes:

"...Might I not write you things more full of mystery? But I fear to do so, lest I should inflict injury on you who are but babes (in Christ). Pardon me in this respect, lest, as not being able to receive their weighty import, ye should be strangled by them. For even I, though I am bound (for christ), and am able to understand heavenly things, the angelic orders, and the different sorts of angels and hosts, the distinctions between powers and dominions, and the diversities between the thrones and authorities, the mightiness of Aeons, and the pre-eminence of the Cherubim and Seraphim, the sublimity of the spirit, the Kingdom of the lord, and above all, the incomparable majesty of the Almighty God–though I am acquainted with these things, yet am I not therefore by any means perfect..."

(Epistle of Ignatius to the Trullians, " The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, Grand rapids Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1956, p. 68)

Note the early understanding of the Angelic hierarchy which was a view from the earliest days of the church and not some invention of later times. See Dionysius the Areopagite.

Saint Clement of Rome (c. 96 AD.)

Saint Clement was the third in succession to Saint Peter. At Alexandria, St Clement met the holy Apostle Barnabas, listening to his words with deep attention, and perceiving the power and truth of the Word of God. Arriving in Palestine, St Clement was baptized by the holy Apostle Peter and became his zealous disciple and constant companion, sharing his toil and sufferings with him. He was a contemporary of Saint Ignatius and was possibly one of Paul's "fellow workers who names are in the book of life" (Phil 4:3). He was most concerned with the organization of the early Christian community, its ministry and liturgy.

"Let us think of the whole host of angels, how they stand by and serve his will, for Scriptures say: "Ten thousand times ten thousand were doing service to him, and they cried out: Holy, holy, holy, Lord Sabaoth; the whole of creation is full of His glory." Then let us gather together in awareness of our concord, as with one mouth we shout earnestly to him that we may become sharers in his great and glorious promises."
(Saint Clement of Rome, "Epistle to the Corinthians," XXXIV, The Early Christian fathers, ed. and trans. by Henry Bettenson, Geoffrey Cumberledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956, p. 47)

He highlights that the angels serve God and that were are united with them in harmony.

Saint Irenaeus (c. 130-202 AD)

One of the first great Theologians of the universal Church.

In his writings angels are mentioned in order to refute heretical notions about them, rather than to describe them. For instance he refutes that the world was created by angels.

Saint Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215 AD)

He outlined the basic Christian Philosophy and faith very precisely. On angels he wrote the following in opposition to the Gnostics:

"...angels, whether seen or not, the divine power bestows good things. Such was the mode adopted in the advent of the Lord. And sometimes also the power “breathes” in men’s thoughts and reasonings, and “puts in” their hearts “strength” and a keener perception, and furnishes “prowess” and “boldness of alacrity”..."

(The Stromata of Miscellanies, in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, p 518)

In another writing he says:

"...these primitive and first created virtues are unchangeable in substance, and along with subordinate angels and archangels whose names they share, effect divine operations. thus Moses names the virtue of the angel Michael, by an angel near to himself and of the lowest grade.... Moses heard him and spoke to him face to face. On the other prophets through the agency of angels an impression was made as of beings hearing and seeing.

"On this account also they alone heard, and they alone saw....If the voice had been open and common, it would have been heard by all....It was heard by him alone, in whom the impression made by the angels worked."

(Fragments of Clemens Alexandria, in Ant-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, p 575)

In addition he says:

"...by an ancient and divine order the angels are distributed among the nations...[and] the best thing on earth is the most pious man; and the best thing in heaven, the nearer in place and purer, is an angel, the partaker of the eternal blessed life. But the nature of the Son...is the most perfect..."

(The Stromata of Miscellanies, in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, p 524)

Origen (c. 185-254 AD)

He was a biblical scholar Even though a few of his views differ from Orthodoxy he remains the first and greatest biblical critic of early Christianity He comments of the different roles God has assigned to his angels:

...or are we to suppose that it is the result of accident that a particular office is assigned to a particular angel: as to Raphael, e.g., the work of curing and healing; to Gabriel, the conduct of wars; to Michael, the duty of attending to the prayers and supplications of mortals. For we are not to imagine that they obtained these offices otherwise than by their own merits, and by the zeal and excellent qualities which they severally displayed before this world was formed; so that afterwards in the order of archangels, this or that office was assigned to each one, while others deserved to be enrolled in the order of angels, and to act under this or that archangel, or that leader or head of an order.

...to one angel the Church of the Ephesians was to be entrusted; to another, that of the Smyrneans; one angel was to be Peter’s, another Paul’s; and so on through every one of the little ones that are in the Church, for such and such angels as even daily behold the face of God must be assigned to each one of them;

...it is to be believed that they were conferred by God, the just and impartial Ruler of all things, agreeably to the merits and good qualities and mental vigor of each individual spirit.

...it is neither from want of discrimination, nor from any accidental cause, either that the “principalities” hold their dominion, or the other orders of spirits have obtained their respective offices; but that they have received the steps of their rank on account of their merits, although it is not our privilege to know or inquire what those acts of theirs were, by which they earned a place in any particular order.

De Principiis, Chapter VIII.—On the Angels, pp 265-266

The Shepherd of Hermas

The Shepherd of Hermas is a text from the very early Christian church of the second century, during the period in which the New Testament was being canonized. A popular text during the second and third centuries, the Shepherd was considered scriptural by many of the theologians of the time. The author is unknown. It mentions a guardian angel as well an a attendant devil attached to each person. It says:

There are two angels with a man—one of righteousness, and the other of iniquity.” And I said to him, “How, sir, am I to know the powers of these, for both angels dwell with me?” “Hear,” said he, and “understand them. The angel of righteousness is gentle and modest, meek and peaceful. When, therefore, he ascends into your heart, forthwith he talks to you of righteousness, purity, chastity, contentment, and of every righteous deed and glorious virtue. When all these ascend into your heart, know that the angel of righteousness is with you. These are the deeds of the angel of righteousness. Trust him, then, and his works. Look now at the works of the angel of iniquity. First, he is wrathful, and bitter, and foolish, and his works are evil, and ruin the servants of God. When, then, he ascends into your heart, know him by his works.” And I said to him, “How, sir, I shall perceive him, I do not know.” “Hear and understand” said he. “When anger comes upon you, or harshness, know that he is in you; and you will know this to be the case also, when you are attacked by a longing after many transactions, and the richest delicacies, and drunken revels, and divers luxuries, and things improper, and by a hankering after women, and by overreaching, and pride, and blustering, and by whatever is like to these. When these ascend into your heart, know that the angel of iniquity is in you. Now that you know his works, depart from him, and in no respect trust him, because his deeds are evil, and unprofitable to the servants of God. These, then, are the actions of both angels. Understand them, and trust the angel of righteousness; but depart from the angel of iniquity, because his instruction is bad in every deed. For though a man be most faithful, and the thought of this angel ascend into his heart, that man or woman must sin. On the other hand, be a man or woman ever so bad, yet, if the works of the angel of righteousness ascend into his or her heart, he or she must do something good. You see, therefore, that it is good to follow the angel of righteousness, but to bid farewell to the angel of iniquity.”

(The Pastor of Hermas, in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II. p. 266)

Angels in the Age of Theology - Nicene Fathers and beyond

In 313Ad after Constantine the Great became Emperor full sanction was given to Christianity and the persecutions were stopped. It at this time that the nicene Creed cam about as the result of the First and second Ecumenical Council of the Church. The Fathers of this time had to combat several heresies in the formulation of a Creed that protected the teachings of the Christ and His apostles. The Fathers of this period are called the Nicene Fathers.

The Fathers firm belief in a spiritual world is stated in the first article of the Creed. "I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible." By invisible things they meant the angels and the human soul.

Saint Athanasius (c. 296-373 AD)

Athanasius was very influential in the crafting of the Creed. He never questioned or shoed any doubt about the reality of angels. He explained their appointed place:

...for to minister is of things originate as of servants, but to frame and to create is of God alone, and of His proper Word and His Wisdom. Wherefore, in the matter of framing, we shall find none but God’s Word; for ‘all things are made in Wisdom,’ and ‘without the Word was made not one thing.’ But as regards ministrations there are, not one only, but man out of their whole number, whomever the Lord will send. For there are many Archangels, many Thrones, and Authorities, and Dominions, thousands of thousands, and myriads of myriads, standing before Him, ministering and ready to be sent.

(Discourse II Against the Arians, Chapters XVII in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, series II, Vol 1, p 362)

He also says that an angel cannot save but only does so at the will of God.

...It is proper then to an Angel to minister at the command of God, and often does he go forth to cast out the Amorite, and is sent to guard the people in the way; but these are not his doings, but of God who commanded and sent him,

...when the Father works, it is not that any Angel works, or any other creature; for none of these is an efficient cause, but they are of things which come to be; and moreover being separate and divided from the only God, and other in nature, and being works, they can neither work what God works, nor, as I said before, when God gives grace, can they give grace with Him. Nor, on seeing an Angel would a man say that he had seen the Father; for Angels, as it is written, are ‘ministering spirits sent forth to minister, and are heralds of gifts given by Him through the Word to those who receive them. And the Angel on his appearance, himself confesses that he has been sent by his Lord; as Gabriel confessed in the case of Zacharias, and also in the case of Mary, bearer of God. And he who beholds a vision of Angels, knows that he has seen the Angel and not God...

...But if at any time, when the Angel was seen, he who saw it heard God’s voice, as took place at the bush [with Moses]; for ‘the Angel of the Lord was seen in a flame of fire out of the bush, and the Lord called Moses out of the bush, saying, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob,’ yet was not the Angel the God of Abraham, but in the Angel God spoke. And what was seen was an Angel; but God spoke in him.

(Discourse III Against the Arians, Chapters XXV in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, series II, Vol 1, p 400-401)

At great Pascha Athanasius would write to his churches. In one of these letters he describes this great celebration including all created beings.

"The whole creation keeps a feast, my brethren, and everything that hath breath praises the Lord as the Psalmist...Oh what a feast and how great the gladness in heaven! how must all its hosts joy and exult, as they rejoice and watch in our assemblies, those that are held continually, and especially those at Easter?...Who then will lead us to such a company of angels as this? Who, coming with a desire for the heavenly feast, and the angelic holiday.

"Wherefore let us not celebrate the feast after an earthly manner, but as keeping festival in heaven with the angels...Let us fast like Daniel; let us pray without ceasing, as Paul commanded; all of us recognizing the season of prayer, but especially those who are honorably married; so that having borne witness to these things, and thus having kept the feast, we may be able to enter into the joy of Christ in the kingdom of heaven...let us first be purified and freed from defilement, so that when we depart hence, having been careful of fasting, we may be able to ascend to the upper chamber with the Lord, to sup with Him; and may be partakers of the joy which is in heaven..."

(Letter VI, 9, 11, Easter 335, p 523)

Saint Athanasius believed that angels accompanied Christ on his ascension. These were angels who had come with Him from heaven and accompanied Him on earth. On his Ascension they announced Him to the celestial virtues to open the gates.

"The powers are in a stupor at seeing Him in the flesh. For which reason they cry, stupefied at this astonishing economy: Who is this? The angels mounting with Christ answer them: the Lord of virtues,, it is the King of Glory who teaches those who are in the heavens the great mystery, to know that he who has vanquished the spiritual enemies is King of Glory."
(Jean Danielou, Les Anges et Leurs Mission. editions de Chevetogne, p 51)

Saint Basil the Great (c. 330-379)

Basil was one the most highly respected saints of the 4th century. In addition to his care of the poor and sick, the establishment of community monastic life and defense of the faith against Arianism, he left us many important writings. He comes from one of the greatest Christian families many of whom are saints of the Church. To Saint Basil angels were an undeniable fact.

As Saint Basil's sister, who is also a saint, Saint Macrina, was dying she prayed for "an angel of light who will lead me to the quiet pastures and waters of peace and the bosom of the Holy Fathers."

(Robert Payne, The Holy Fire,New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957, p 54)

He writes about creation:

It appears, indeed, that even before this world an order of things existed of which our mind can form an idea... The birth of the world was preceded by a condition of things suitable for the exercise of supernatural powers, outstripping the limits of time, eternal and infinite. The Creator and Demiurge of the universe perfected His works in it, spiritual light for the happiness of all who love the Lord, intellectual and invisible natures, all the orderly arrangement of pure intelligences who are beyond the reach of our mind and of whom we cannot even discover the names. They fill the essence of this invisible world, as Paul teaches us. “For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” or virtues or hosts of angels or the dignities of archangels.

(The Hexameron, Homily 1,5, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, series II, Vol VIII, p54)

Saint Basil also writes about angels in relation to the Holy Trinity clarifying the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, from the things created at the beginning may be learnt the fellowship of the Spirit with the Father and the Son. The pure, intelligent, and supermundane powers are and are styled holy, because they have their holiness of the grace given by the Holy Spirit...But do thou, who hast power from the things that are seen to form an analogy of the unseen, glorify the Maker by whom all things were made, visible and invisible, principalities and powers, authorities, thrones, and dominions, and all other reasonable natures whom we cannot name...the ministering spirits subsist by the will of the Father, are brought into being by the operation of the Son, and perfected by the presence of the Spirit. Moreover, the perfection of angels is sanctification and continuance in it.

(On the Holy Spirit, Chapter XVI, 38, p 24)

Like Athanasius Saint Basil does not attribute to the angels any inborn virtues. They were created with the capacity and will to attain them. There they too strive for perfection.
The powers of the heavens are not holy by nature; were it so there would in this respect be no difference between them and the Holy Spirit.

(ibid.)

He tells us that both Man and angels serve God. The angel protect Man where he cannot protect himself. The goal of both is God and the understanding of this is given to them by the Holy Spirit.

It is in proportion to their relative excellence that they have their need of holiness from the Spirit. The branding-iron is conceived of together with the fire; and yet the material and the fire are distinct. Thus too in the case of the heavenly powers; their substance is, peradventure, an aerial spirit, or an immaterial fire, as it is written, “Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire;” wherefore they exist in space and become visible, and appear in their proper bodily form to them that are worthy. But their sanctification, being external to their substance, superinduces their perfection through the communion of the Spirit. They keep their rank by their abiding in the good and true, and while they retain their freedom of will, never fall away from their patient attendance on Him who is truly good.

(ibid.)

Saint Gregory of Nyssa (330-395 AD)

Brother to Saint Basil the Great and also a defender of the faith from Ariansim.

In his works we have a dialogue with his sister Saint Macrina on the nature of the Soul. He asks her what Paul meant in his Epistle to the Phillipians where "...he makes mention of certain things that are “under the earth” “every knee shall bow” to Him “of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”"

"I do not think, she replied, that the divine Apostle divided the intellectual world into localities, when he named part as in heaven, part as on earth, and part as under the earth. There are three states in which reasoning creatures can be: one from the very first received an immaterial life, and we call it the angelic: another is in union with the flesh, and we call it the human: a third is released by death from fleshly entanglements, and is to be found in souls pure and simple. Now I think that the divine Apostle in his deep wisdom looked to this, when he revealed the future concord of all these reasoning beings in the work of goodness; and that he puts the unembodied angel-world “in heaven,” and that still involved with a body “on earth,” and that released from a body “under the earth”; or, indeed, if there is any other world to be classed under that which is possessed of reason (it is not left out); and whether any one choose to call this last “demons” or “spirits,” or anything else of the kind, we shall not care. We certainly believe, both because of the prevailing opinion, and still more of Scripture teaching, that there exists another world of beings besides, divested of such bodies as ours are, who are opposed to that which is good and are capable of hurting the lives of men, having by an act of will lapsed from the nobler view, and by this revolt from goodness personified in themselves the contrary principle; and this world is what, some say, the Apostle adds to the number of the “things under the earth,” signifying in that passage that when evil shall have been some day annihilated in the long revolutions of the ages, nothing shall be left outside the world of goodness, but that even from those evil spirits shall rise in harmony the confession of Christ’s Lordship."

(On the Soul and the Resurrection, , in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Vol V, p. 103)

Saint Gregory Nazianzen (329-391)

Speaking on the interaction of the Three Persons of the Trinity in the act of creation Gregory says,

"But since this movement of self-contemplation alone could not satisfy Goodness, but Good must be poured out and go forth beyond Itself to multiply the objects of Its beneficence, for this was essential to the highest Goodness, He first conceived the Heavenly and Angelic Powers."

It was not sufficient for God to simply contemplate himself but He desired to share his goodness and multiply it. The first act of this creation were the angels who were to be His ministers.

"And this conception was a work fulfilled by His Word, and perfected by His Spirit. And so the secondary Splendors came into being, as the Ministers of the Primary Splendor; whether we are to conceive of them as intelligent Spirits, or as Fire of an immaterial and incorruptible kind, or as some other nature approaching this as near as may be."

"Then when His first creation was in good order, He conceives a second world, material and visible..."

Next The would create Man with both visible and invisible characteristics.

"Now the Creator-Word, determining to exhibit this, and to produce a single living being out of both—the visible and the invisible creations, I mean—fashions Man; and taking a body from already existing matter, and placing in it a Breath taken from Himself which the Word knew to be an intelligent soul and the Image of God, as a sort of second world. He placed him, great in littleness a microcosm. on the earth; a new Angel, a mingled worshipper, fully initiated into the visible creation, but only partially into the intellectual; King of all upon earth, but subject to the King above; earthly and heavenly; temporal and yet immortal; visible and yet intellectual; half-way between greatness and lowliness; in one person combining spirit and flesh..."

(Oration XXXVIII, IX-X, On the Theophany or Birthday of Christ, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Vol VII, p 347)

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

Saint Cyril sees angels as God's messengers but not equal or to be confused with the Holy Spirit. They also extend the Glory of the Trinity.

Thou hast seen His power, which is in all the world; tarry now no longer upon earth, but ascend on high. Ascend, I say, in imagination even unto the first heaven, and behold there so many countless myriads of Angels. Mount up in thy thoughts, if thou canst, yet higher; consider, I pray thee, the Archangels, consider also the Spirits; consider the Virtues, consider the Principalities, consider the Powers, consider the Thrones, consider the Dominions —of all these the Comforter is the Ruler from God, and the Teacher, and the Sanctifier. Of Him Elias has need, and Elisseus, and Esaias, among men; of Him Michael and Gabriel have need among Angels. Naught of things created is equal in honor to Him: for the families of the Angels, and all their hosts assembled together, have no equality with the Holy Ghost. All these the all-excellent power of the Comforter overshadows. And they indeed are sent forth to minister, but He searches even the deep things of God..."

(Lecture XVI, 23, p.121)

Saint Cyril says Man cannot comprehend the nature of angels. If this is so how much more impossible is it for Him to know the nature of God.

"I have ever wondered at the curiosity of the bold men, who by their imagined reverence fall into impiety. For though they know nothing of Thrones, and Dominions, and Principalities, and Powers, the workmanship of Christ, they attempt to scrutinize their Creator Himself. Tell me first, O most daring man, wherein does Throne differ from Dominion, and then scrutinize what pertains to Christ. Tell me what is a Principality, and what a Power, and what a Virtue, and what an Angel: and then search out their Creator, for all things were made by Him."

(Lecture XI, 12, p67)

Speaking to catechumens he emphasized his point that God created both an invisible world as well as the visible world.

There is then One Only God, the Maker both of souls and bodies: One the Creator of heaven and earth, the Maker of Angels and Archangels: of many the Creator, but of One only the Father before all ages,—of One only, His Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom He made all things visible and invisible."

(Lecture IV, 12, p67)

Be sure to remember when we recite the creed and say God created all that is visible and invisible we are referring to the angels, the servants of God, of Christ, when we say "invisible".

The angels are also witnesses to our life. The time of our baptism is one of great significance.

"This is in truth a serious matter, brethren, and you must approach it with good heed. Each one of you is about to be presented to God before tens of thousands of the Angelic Hosts..."

(Lecture III, 3, p14)

Saint Cyril reminds us of the great multitude of angels that make up the heavenly world and that we will face them on judgment day.

When the Son of Man, He says, shall come in His glory, and all the Angels with Him. Behold, O man, before what multitudes thou shalt come to judgment. Every race of mankind will then be present. Reckon, therefore, how many are the Roman nation; reckon how many the barbarian tribes now living, and how many have died within the last hundred years; reckon how many nations have been buried during the last thousand years; reckon all from Adam to this day. Great indeed is the multitude; but yet it is little, for the Angels are many more. They are the ninety and nine sheep, but mankind is the single one. For according to the extent of universal space, must we reckon the number of its inhabitants. The whole earth is but as a point in the midst of the one heaven, and yet contains so great a multitude; what a multitude must the heaven which encircles it contain? And must not the heaven of heavens contain unimaginable numbers? And it is written, Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him; not that the multitude is only so great, but because the Prophet could not express more than these. So there will be present at the judgment in that day, God, the Father of all, Jesus Christ being seated with Him, and the Holy Ghost present with Them; and an angel’s trumpet shall summon us all to bring our deeds with us. Ought we not then from this time forth to be sore troubled?

(Lecture XV, 24, p 111)

Saint Ambrose (c. 339-397 AD)

Bishop of Milan and a great Greek scholar. He was preoccupied with the question of their immortality. He points out that while the angels have immortality it is not part of their essential nature. They only have immortality at the will of God.

He says,

The Godhead is the one only Substance that death cannot touch, and therefore it is that the Apostle, though knowing both the [human] soul and angels to be immortal, declared that God only had immortality. In truth, even the soul may die: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” and an angel is not absolutely immortal, his immortality depending on the will of the Creator.

(Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book III, Chapter 3, p 245)

Like others Saint Ambrose mission is to serve God.

“And the Son of Man shall confound him, when He shall come in the glory of His Father, with the holy angels.” (Mark viii. 38) The angels come in obedience, He comes in glory: they are His retainers, He sits upon His throne: they stand, He is seated—to borrow terms of the daily dealings of human life, He is the Judge: they are the officers of the court.

(Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book III, chap XIII, 106, p. 257)

He also points out that angles progress.

Howbeit, seeing that the angels (as well as ourselves) acquire their knowledge step by step, and are capable of advancement, they certainly must display differences of power and understanding, for God alone is above and beyond the limits imposed by gradual advance, possessing, as He does, every perfection from everlasting.

(Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book IV, Chap I, p 263)

Saint Ambrose tell us that angels are part of God's glory. When he enters our heart the angels will also enter and they are always with Him.

For Christ standeth at the door of thy soul. Hear Him speaking. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man open to Me, I will come in to him, and I will sup with him, and he with Me.” And the Church saith, speaking of Him: “The voice of my brother soundeth at the door.” He stands, then—but not alone, for before Him go angels, saying: “Lift up the gates, O ye the princes.” What gates? Even those of the which the Psalmist sings in another place also: “Open to me the gates of righteousness.”Open, then, thy gates to Christ, that He may come into thee—open the gates of righteousness, the gates of chastity, the gates of courage and wisdom.

(Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book IV, Chap II, p.264)

Saint Augustine of Hippo (c. 354-430 AD)

Saint Augustine wrote much about angels in his work City of God. He says angels were created during the six days and the t "They re the light which is called day." Angels make up the major part of the Holy City. While men live in a city of the world while angels live in a heavenly city, men can be with them and live with them even though they remain invisible to normal sight.

Saint John Chrysostom

Let us keep our vigil, beloved; we also have those that are eager for our success, if we will. Near each one of us Angels are sitting; and yet we snore through the whole night. And would it were only this.

(Homilies on Hebrews, Heb 8:1-2, XIV, p. 438)

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” What marvel (saith he) if they minister to the Son, when they minister even to our salvation? See how he lifts up their minds, and shows the great honor which God has for us, since He has assigned to Angels who are above us this ministration on our behalf. As if one should say, for this purpose (saith he) He employs them; this is the office of Angels, to minister to God for our salvation. So that it is an angelical work, to do all for the salvation of the brethren: or rather it is the work of Christ Himself, for He indeed saves as Lord, but they as servants. And we, though servants are yet Angels’ fellow-servants. Why gaze ye so earnestly on the Angels (saith he)? They are servants of the Son of God, and are sent many ways for our sakes, and minister to our salvation. And so they are partners in service with us.
Consider ye how he ascribes no great difference to the kinds of creatures. And yet the space between angels and men is great; nevertheless he brings them down near to us, all but saying, For us they labor, for our sake they run to and fro: on us, as one might say, they wait. This is their ministry, for our sake to be sent every way.

(Homilies on Hebrews, III, p 377)

And of these examples both the Old [Testament] is full, and the New. For when Angels bring glad tidings to the shepherds, or to Mary, or to Joseph; when they sit at the sepulcher, when they are sent to say to the disciples, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” ( Acts i. 11 ), when they release Peter out of the prison, when they discourse with Philip, consider how great the honor is; when God sends His Angels for ministers as to friends; when to Cornelius [an Angel] appears, when [an Angel] brings forth all the apostles from the prison, and says, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people the words of this life” ( Acts v. 20 ); and to Paul himself also an Angel appears. Dost thou see that they minister to us on God’s behalf, and that they minister to us in the greatest matters? wherefore Paul saith, “All things are yours, whether life or death, or the world, or things present, or things to come.”(1Cor 3:20)

(Homilies on Hebrews, III, p 377)

Speaking on Prayer: "From beneath, out of the heart, draw forth a voice, make thy prayer a mystery.... Yea, for thou art joined to the choirs of angels, and art in communion with archangels, and art singing with the seraphim. And all these tribes show forth much goodly order, singing with great awe that mystical strain, and their sacred hymns to God, the King of all. With these then mingle thyself, when thou art praying, and emulate their mystical order."

(Homily 19 on St. Matthew: On the Lord's Prayer)

Maximos the Confessor

When speakng on the Lord's Prayer and the petiton "Thy will be done on earth as it is heaven," he gives us insights about th enaature of angers when he writes:
He who worships God mystially with the faculty of the intellegence alne, keeping it free from sensual desire and anger, fulfills the divinewill on earth just as the orders of angels fulfill it in heaven. He has becom in all things co-worshipper and ellow citizen with the angels, onformingll to Saint Paul's statement, 'Our citizenship is in heaven' (Phil 3:20). Among the angels desire does not sap the intellect's intensity through sensual pleasure not does anger make them rave and storm indedcently aat their ellow reatures: there is only the interllegence naturally leading intllegent beings towards ther source of intlligence, the Logos Himself.... Nothing is offered to god in heaven by the angels except intellegent worship; andit is this tht God also demands from us when He teaches us to sday our prayers, 'Thy Will lbe done on earth as it is in heaven'.

(Source: http://www.stgeorgegreenville.org)

View Event →
Nov
6
5:30 AM05:30

8th Sunday of Luke. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

tanaru.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Menas of Egypt, Victor and Stephanie, Theodore the Studite, Holy Martyr Vincent

Grave Tone
Second Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:6-15

Brethren, it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:25-37

At that time, a lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

St. John Chrysostom on the hazard of wealth.

(John Chrysostom, Homilies on Philippians, X.)

“The advantages which we gain from riches include drunkenness, gluttony and kinky pleasures. If we were so minded, we could win heaven itself for our inheritance by our riches. ‘So then riches are good’. It is not riches, but the will of the possessor that accomplishes this; it is the will that does this, it is in the power even of a poor man to win heaven. God does not regard the amount of the gifts, but the will of the givers; it is possible even for one in poverty, who has given little, to surpass everyone. Since God requires a measure proportioned to our ability, riches won’t secure heaven to us, nor will poverty secure hell; but a good will can obtain heaven. These then let us correct; this let us repossess; this let us regulate, and everything will be easy for us.” “As the craftsman works the wood the same, whether his axe is made of iron or of gold, or rather he does it the better with an implement of iron, so the straight path of virtue is more easily kept in a state of poverty. Regarding riches we read, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven’ (Matthew 19:24). But God has made no such declarations about poverty; in fact, the opposite. ‘Sell your goods, and give to the poor, and come follow Me’ (Matthew 19:21); as if the act of following were to spring from the selling of one’s goods.” “Never then let us flee from poverty as an evil, for we can use it to obtain heaven. Again, let us never follow riches as a good; for they are the ruin of such as walk unwarily. In everything let us direct our eyes to God, let us, as occasion requires, use those gifts which He has granted us, both strength of body, and abundance of money, and every other gift.”

View Event →
Nov
4
7:45 AM07:45

5th Sunday of Luke. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

bogatul_nemilostiv_si_saracul_lazar.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Joannicius the Great, The Holy Hieromartyrs Nicander, Bishop of Myra, and Hermias the Presbyter, Porphyrios the Mime, Emperor John Batatze, the Merciful, George Karslidis of Pontos

Plagal of the Second Tone
First Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 2:4-10

Brethren, God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God: not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Gospel Reading: Luke 16:19-31

The Lord said, “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazaros, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazaros in his bosom. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazaros to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazaros in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses, and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to them, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'”

View Event →
Nov
1
7:45 AM07:45

Holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian. Matins and Liturgy.

Anarg.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Cosmas and Damian the Holy Unmercenaries of Asia, and their mother Theodota, David the Righteous of Evia

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 12:27-31; 13:1-8

Brethren, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:1, 5-8

At that time, Jesus called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.”

Troparion — Tone 8

Holy unmercenaries and wonderworkers, Cosmas and Damian, visit our / infirmities. / Freely you have received; freely give to us.

Kontakion — Tone 2

Having received the grace of healing, / you grant healing to those in need. / Glorious wonder workers and physicians, Cosmas and Damian, / visit us and put down the insolence of our enemies, / and bring healing to the world through your miracles.

View Event →
Oct
21
7:45 AM07:45

6th Sunday of Luke. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

Gadara.jpg

Saints and Feasts: Hilarion the Great, Our Righteous Father Christodoulus, the Wonderworker of Patmos, Martyrs Theodote and Socrates, John the New Martyr of Peleponnesos, Righteous Philotheus

Tone Four
Tenth Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 2:16-20

Brethren, knowing that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were found to be sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again those things which I tore down, then I prove myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Gospel Reading: Luke 8:26-39

At that time, as Jesus arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, there met him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him; he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what happened, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how he who had been possessed with demons was healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gadarenes asked him to depart from them; for they were seized with great fear; so he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but he sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

View Event →
Oct
20
7:45 AM07:45

St. Gerasimos of Cephalonia. St. Great Martyr Artemios. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

St Gerasimos the New Ascetic of Cephalonia was born in the village of Trikkala in the Peloponessos. As a young adult, he became a monk on the island of Zakynthos. On the Holy Mountain he became a schemamonk and studied with the ascetics of Mt Athos. Receiving a blessing from the Elders, the monk went to Jerusalem to worship at the Life-bearing Tomb of the Saviour. After visiting many holy places in Jerusalem, Mount Sinai, Antioch, Damascus, Alexandria and Egypt, he returned to Jerusalem where he became a lamp-lighter at the Sepulchre of the Lord. The monk was ordained a Deacon and then a Priest by the Patriarch Germanos (1534-1579 AD) of Jerusalem.

St Gerasimos maintained the discipline of an ascetic. For solitude, he withdrew to the Jordan, where he spent forty days without respite. Having received the Patriarch’s blessing for a life of silence, St Gerasimus withdrew to Zakynthos in solitude, eating only vegetation. After five years he was inspired to go the island of Cephalonia, where he lived in a cave. He restored a church at Omala, and he founded a women’s monastery where he lived in constant toil and vigil for thirty years. He prayed on bent knees stretched out on the ground. For his exalted life, he was granted the miraculous gift of being able to heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits.

At 71 years of age, St Gerasimos knew that he would soon die. He gave his blessing to the nuns and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on August 15, 1579 AD. Two years later, his grave was opened and his holy relics were found fragrant and incorrupt with a healing power.

Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)

O believers, let us praise the protector of Orthodoxy, the God-bearing miracle-worker lately appearing to us, the incarnate angel, divine Gerasimos. For he has rightly received from God the ever-flowing grace of performing healing. He strengthens those with diseases and he heals those with demons. Therefore he pours out healings to those who honour him.

Kontakion (Third Tone)

Now Cephalonia, with sacred songs of thanksgiving, calls upon the multitudes of all the Orthodox Christians to extol the boast and glory of Orthodoxy, the divine and great Gerasimos, who is truly her deliverer and champion, who doth preserve her from all the harm of her foes.

Artemios.jpg

Greatmartyr Artemius at Antioch

Holy Great Martyr Artemius of Antioch was a prominent military leader during the reigns of the emperor Constantine the Great (May 21), and his son and successor Constantius (337-361). Artemius received many awards for distinguished service and courage. He was appointed viceroy of Egypt. In this official position he did much for the spreading and strengthening Christianity in Egypt.

Saint Artemius was sent by the emperor Constantius to bring the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew from Patras, and the relics of the holy Apostle Luke from Thebes of Boeotia, to Constantinople. The holy relics were placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles beneath the table of oblation. The emperor rewarded him by making him ruler of Egypt.

The emperor Constantius was succeeded on the throne by Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian in his desire to restore paganism was extremely antagonistic towards Christians, sending hundreds to their death. At Antioch he ordered the torture of two bishops unwilling to forsake the Christian Faith.

During this time, Saint Artemius arrived in Antioch and publicly denounced Julian for his impiety. The enraged Julian subjected the saint to terrible tortures and threw the Great Martyr Artemius into prison. While Artemius was praying, Christ, surrounded by angels, appeared to him and said, “Take courage, Artemius! I am with you and will preserve you from every hurt which is inflicted upon you, and I already have prepared your crown of glory. Since you have confessed Me before the people on earth, so shall I confess you before My Heavenly Father. Therefore, take courage and rejoice, you shall be with Me in My Kingdom.” Hearing this, Artemius rejoiced and offered up glory and thanksgiving to Him.

On the following day, Julian demanded that Saint Artemius honor the pagan gods. Meeting with steadfast refusal, the emperor resorted to further tortures. The saint endured all without a single moan. The saint told Julian that he would be justly recompensed for his persecution of Christians. Julian became furious and resorted to even more savage tortures, but they did not break the will of the saint. Finally the Great Martyr Artemius was beheaded.

His relics were buried by Christians. After the death of Saint Artemius, his prophecy about Julian the Apostate’s impending death came true.

Julian left Antioch for a war with the Persians. Near the Persian city of Ctesiphon, Julian came upon an elderly Persian, who agreed to betray his countrymen and guide Julian’s army. The old man deceived Julian and led his army into the Karmanite wilderness, where there was neither food nor water. Tired from hunger and thirst, Julian’s army battled against fresh Persian forces.

Divine retribution caught up with Julian the Apostate. During the battle he was mortally wounded by an unseen hand and an unseen weapon. Julian groaned deeply said, “You have conquered, Galilean!” After the death of the apostate emperor, the relics of the Great Martyr Artemius were transferred with honor from Antioch to Constantinople. (Source: www.oca.org)

View Event →