Monday, May 31, 2010

Martyr Philosophus at Alexandria

Commemorated on May 31

Holy Martyr Philosophus suffered for Christ in Alexandria during the persecution by the emperor Decius (249-251). They urged the youth to deny Christ, but he remained steadfast.

After suffering various tortures, he was placed on a soft bed, bound hand and foot, and a harlot was put in the room with him to tempt him to sin. In order not to yield to sin, the saint bit off his tongue and spit it in the harlot's face. She was so horrified that she fled from him. The executioners, seeing the martyr's bravery and fearlessness, beheaded the saint with a sword.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008' slink here also):

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Synaxis of All Saints

Commemorated on May 30

The Sunday following Pentecost is dedicated to All Saints, both those who are known to us, and those who are known only to God. There have been saints at all times, and they have come from every corner of the earth. They were Apostles, Martyrs, Prophets, Hierarchs, Monastics, and Righteous, yet all were perfected by the same Holy Spirit.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to rise above our fallen state and to attain sainthood, thereby fulfilling God's directive to "be holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16, etc.). Therefore, it is fitting to commemorate All Saints on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

This feast may have originated at an early date, perhaps as a celebration of all martyrs, then it was broadened to include all men and women who had borne witness to Christ by their virtuous lives, even if they did not shed their blood for Him.

St Peter of Damascus, in his "Fourth Stage of Contemplation," mentions five categories of saints: Apostles, Martyrs, Prophets, Hierarchs, and Monastic Saints (PHILOKALIA [in English] Vol. 3, p.131). He is actually quoting from the OCTOECHOS, Tone 2 for Saturday Matins, kathisma after the first stichology.

St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (July 14) adds the Righteous to St Peter's five categories. The list of St. Nicodemus is found in his book THE FOURTEEN EPISTLES OF ST PAUL (Venice, 1819, p. 384) in his discussion of I Corinthians 12:28.

The hymnology for the feast of All Saints also lists six categories: "Rejoice, assembly of the Apostles, Prophets of the Lord, loyal choirs of the Martyrs, divine Hierarchs, Monastic Fathers, and the Righteous…."

Some of the saints are described as Confessors, a category which does not appear in the above lists. Since they are similar in spirit to the martyrs, they are regarded as belonging to the category of Martyrs. They were not put to death as the Martyrs were, but they boldly confessed Christ and came close to being executed for their faith. St Maximus the Confessor (January 21) is such a saint.

The order of these six types of saints seems to be based on their importance to the Church. The Apostles are listed first, because they were the first to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

The Martyrs come next because of their example of courage in professing their faith before the enemies and persecutors of the Church, which encouraged other Christians to remain faithful to Christ even unto death.

Although they come first chronologically, the Prophets are listed after the Apostles and Martyrs. This is because the Old Testament Prophets saw only the shadows of things to come, whereas the Apostles and Martyrs experienced them firsthand. The New Testament also takes precedence over the Old Testament.

The holy Hierarchs comprise the fourth category. They are the leaders of their flocks, teaching them by their word and their example.

The Monastic Saints are those who withdrew from this world to live in monasteries, or in seclusion. They did not do this out of hatred for the world, but in order to devote themselves to unceasing prayer, and to do battle against the power of the demons. Although some people erroneously believe that monks and nuns are useless and unproductive, St John Climacus had a high regard for them: "Angels are a light for monks, and the monastic life is a light for all men" (LADDER, Step 26:31).

The last category, the Righteous, are those who attained holiness of life while living "in the world." Examples include Abraham and his wife Sarah, Job, Sts Joachim and Anna, St Joseph the Betrothed, St Juliana of Lazarevo, and others.

The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the ninth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-911). His wife, the Holy Empress Theophano (December 16) lived in the world, but was not attached to worldly things. She was a great benefactor to the poor, and was generous to the monasteries. She was a true mother to her subjects, caring for widows and orphans, and consoling the sorrowful.

Even before the death of St. Theophano in 893 or 894, her husband started to build a church, intending to dedicate it to Theophano, but she forbade him to do so. It was this emperor who decreed that the Sunday after Pentecost be dedicated to All Saints. Believing that his wife was one of the righteous, he knew that she would also be honored whenever the Feast of All Saints was celebrated.

Troparion - Tone 4
As with fine porphyry and royal purple,
Your church has been adorned with Your martyrs' blood shed throughout all the world.
She cries to You, O Christ God:
Send down Your bounties on Your people,
Grant peace to Your habitation, and great mercy to our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 8

The universe offers You the God-bearing martyrs,
As the first fruits of creation, O Lord and Creator.
Through the Theotokos, and their prayers establish Your Church in peace!

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Martyred Fathers and Mothers of Atchara

Commemorated on May 29
Atchara has been a Christian stronghold since apostolic times. It was through this region that St. Andrew the First-called entered Georgia, preaching the Gospel for the first time in the Iberian land. On this land, in the village of Gonio, the holy relics of the martyred Apostle Matthias are buried.

Since the 16th century Atchara has been subject to constant assaults by the Turks. Having attained a victory in the Ottoman-Persian War, the Turks gained a large part of southern and western Georgia: Samtskhe, Atchara, and Chaneti were declared Turkish provinces. The invaders knew well that, in order to completely conquer the Georgian people, it was necessary to uproot Christianity. Thus they instituted a systematic campaign of forced conversion to Islam.

When they failed to achieve their goal with bribery and deception, they resorted to violence. In his work The Islamization of Georgia, or the Spread of Islam in Western Georgia in the 17th–18th Centuries, the renowned early twentieth-century scholar Zakaria Chichinadze retold a story he had heard from one elderly Atcharan man: “In Atchara the implanting of Islam faced a powerful opposition. Many of the elderly men and the majority of women stood firmly by the Christian Faith, and even challenged and debated the Turkish mullahs.… The number of these aged men in Atchara was considerably high. In the end an order was issued: to arrest all dissidents, forcibly convert them to Islam, and execute those who resisted. Before long all the elderly Christians of Atchara were arrested and cast in prison. Then they were led to the River Atcharistsqali, to a 12th-century bridge known as the “Bridge of Queen Tamar.” On that bridge the Ottomans erected a guillotine.

They chopped off the heads of the elderly people, sent the ends of their tongues to the pasha, and threw their bodies into the river. This happened one hundred years ago, in the year 1790.”

Gallows and a guillotine were erected in the villages of Atcharistsqali, Keda, Chakvi, Khulo, Machakhela, and Gonio. The documents preserved in the manuscript collection at Akhaltsikhe Museum describe in even more horrific detail the martyrdom of the Atcharan Christians: “The human tongue is powerless to describe the tortures that the Georgians suffered in those years for confessing Christianity. While they were still alive their flesh was stripped and their bodies quartered; they were slashed to pieces with swords, their bellies ripped open; they were roasted over campfires. They were pierced with flaming rods, thrown into cauldrons of boiling water; molten lead was poured down their throats; they were tossed into pools of hot lime.…”

The Georgian Apostolic Church has numbered among the saints all the holy fathers and mothers of Atchara who sacrificed their lives in defense of the Christian Faith.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hieromartyr Helladius the Bishop in the East

Commemorated on May 28
The Hieromartyr Helladius the Bishop was thrown into fire because of his faith in Christ, but he remained unharmed. He died as a martyr from the terrible beating inflicted upon him.

In the Service to St Helladius it is said that the Lord Jesus Christ visited him in prison and healed him of his wounds. According to certain sources, St Helladius suffered under the Persians during their invasion into the Eastern part of the Roman Empire in the fourth century.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Met. Athanasios of Lemesou (Cyprus) Speaks Out of Upcoming Visit of Pope to Cyprus

From here.

Met. Athanasios of Lemesou (Cyprus) Speaks Out of Upcoming Visit of Pope to Cyprus

In an interview published today, May 23, 2010 in the Cypriot Newspaper "Phileleftheros" the Metropolitan distances himself from the Archbishop's decision to host the Pope in Cyprus.

The following are excerpts from the interview:

"For us Orthodox, the Pope is a heretic, outside of the Church, and, hence, not even a bishop".

"He [the Pope] has been outside of the Church for ten centuries now, he is not a canonical bishop, he has no relation whatsoever to the reality of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ. It is one thing to receive him as a canonical bishop and quite another to speak to him as [being] a heterodox in order to reveal to him the truth of the Orthodox Faith and Tradition."

"Dialogue is not a bad thing when it is carried out based on correct presuppositions. However, it is wrong to say to these people that we recognize them as a Church, that we recognize the Pope as a Bishop, as our brother in Christ in the priesthood and in [the] faith. I cannot accept this, because we are lying [when we say this], since all of the Holy Fathers teach exactly the opposite. Papism is a heresy and the source of many other heresies which trouble the entire world today. A contemporary Saint of the Church, Saint Justin Popovich, said that in the history of the human race there have been three tragic falls: of the first-formed Adam, of the disciple of Christ, Judas, and of the Pope, who, when he was the first Bishop of the Church, fell from the apostolic faith, was cut off from the canonical Church and lured away a host of people with him until today."

"God is one and the Church of God is one, and that is why we say in the Symbol of Faith [that we believe] "in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." This is the Orthodox Church, there do not exist many Churches."

"When I say to the other that it doesn't matter that you are catholic and that we all belong to the same Church, I am playing with him [or mocking him] since all of the Holy Fathers teach that the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ is one."

"The Orthodox Church preserves the faith of the Apostles and the experience of the prophets unshakeable up until our own days. The Papists, unfortunately, from the time when they were cut off from the Church added many heretics dogmas to their [confession of] faith, changed the Symbol of Faith [the Nicene Creed] and above all elevated the Pope to the level of being the eminent and unique representative of God on earth."

"When you add things to the Symbol of Faith that the Holy Fathers did not write, and many other false teachings, this is heresy. This is the reality of things."

Question : How does the Orthodox Church encounter/deal with heretics?

"With much love. We love the Pope, we love the papists just as we love every person; we do not despise them, we do not reject them as persons, but we do not accept [their] heresy, we do not accept the false teachings, we do not accept [their] delusions. Because we love them we must tell them the truth."

Question: Do you think that the Dialogue can produce results?

"It can, if it is done properly and based on the right presuppositions. Unfortunately, as it is carried out today, it does not produce results, and that is why they have carried on discussions for so many years without coming to any conclusions."

"Frankly and before all I disagree with the coming of the Pope to Cyprus and I say with my whole soul that the Pope is a heretic, he is not a bishop, he is not an Orthodox Christian and this is what the Holy Fathers say. If I am wrong, I am ready to be corrected, but on the basis of the Holy Fathers, not based on the mindset of globalization. Just because I disagree does not mean that I am being disorderly and am outside the Church [as some have claimed]."

"The Pope always speaks in a formal manner, says things which are customary [to his position], as he will say now that he will come to Cyprus, but he will do nothing of essence, because he is not the leader of the Church but a political person who cannot come into conflict with the political establishment and system. Did the Pope every speak up for the Orthodox Church?...But I am not returning back [to the distant past]. The reasons I am reacting today are purely theological. When I was consecrated a bishop I pledged to preserve the Orthodox Faith."

Question: The Pope said that he wants to make a pilgrimage following the steps of the Apostle Paul.

"With the exception that the Apostle Paul didn't travel using a bulletproof car which cost 500,000 euros, which, I read, the Cypriot government has bought for the Pope to travel around Cyprus for the two days he will be here. I was personally quite scandalized by this news and said that a bulletproof car does not fit the Vicar of Christ. For the people to have to pay such a price in the midst of an economic crisis..."

Question : The announcement from the representatives of the Pope says that he is coming to Cyprus in order to promote human and Christian values and principles, and that he wants to walk in the steps of the Apostle Paul and in a spirit of the brotherhood meet the Orthodox Church with a good disposition.

"I do not doubt his good will - may it be that this is the case. May it be that he resembles the Apostle Paul and that he encounters the riches of the Orthodox Church. We pray that he return to the Orthodox Church and becomes once again an Orthodox Bishop as he was before the schism. This alone is the proper path to unity."

Question : What do you think is the hidden agenda?

"The Vatican does not take steps thoughtlessly nor naively. Every tour of each Pope has as its aim to present him as the worldwide leader of Christianity. At this point, however, he is neither a canonical Bishop, nor Orthodox, such that he is in no place to present himself as having the first place among bishops."

Question: Are there hidden political interests at stake here?

"I don't know; I think that we [the Cypriot people] have nothing to gain politically from the visit of the Pope - only a lot of expenses and great upheavel in the consciences of the faithful."

Question: The Archbishop said that all those who disagree will place themselves outside the Church.
"I am not aware of the Archbishop's statements, but I don't think that whoever disagrees with the coming of the Pope places himself outside the Church. I disagree and I say it boldly and frankly and I am not outside the Church."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

St John the Russian and Confessor, whose relics are on the island of Euboia

Commemorated on May 27
The Holy Confessor John the Russian was born in Little Russia around 1690, and was raised in piety and love for the Church of God. Upon attaining the age of maturity he was called to military service, and he served as a simple soldier in the army of Peter I and took part in the Russo-Turkish War. During the Prutsk Campaign of 1711 he and other soldiers were captured by the Tatars, who handed him over to the commander of the Turkish cavalry. He took his Russian captive home with him to Asia Minor, to the village of Prokopion.

The Turks tried to convert the Christian soldiers to the Moslem faith with threats and flattery, but those who resisted were beaten and tortured. Some, alas, denied Christ and became Moslems, hoping to improve their lot. St John was not swayed by the promise of earthly delights, and he bravely endured the humiliation and beatings.

His master tortured him often in the hope that his slave would accept Islam. St John resolutely resisted the will of his master saying, "You cannot turn me from my holy Faith by threats, nor with promises of riches and pleasures. I will obey your orders willingly, if you will leave me free to follow my religion. I would rather surrender my head to you than to change my faith. I was born a Christian, and I shall die a Christian."

St John's bold words and firm faith, as well as his humility and meekness, finally softened the fierce heart of his master. He left John in peace, and no longer tried to make him renounce Christianity. The saint lived in the stable and took care of his master's animals, rejoicing because his bed was a manger such as the one in which the Savior was born.

From morning until late evening the saint served his Turkish master, fulfilling all his commands. He performed his duties in the winter cold and summer heat, half naked and barefoot. Other slaves frequently mocked him, seeing his zeal. St John never became angry with them, but on the contrary, he helped them when he could, and comforted them in their misfortune.

The saint's kindness and gentle nature had its effect on the souls of both the master and the slaves. The Agha and his wife came to love him, and offered him a small room near the hayloft. St John did not accept it, preferring to remain in the stable with the animals. Here he slept on the hay, covered only by an old coat. So the stable became his hermitage, where he prayed and chanted Psalms.

St John brought a blessing to his master simply by living in his household. The cavalry officer became rich, and was soon one of the most powerful men in Prokopion. He knew very well why his home had been blessed, and he did not hesitate to tell others.

Sometimes St John left the stable at night and went to the church of the Great Martyr George, where he kept vigil in the narthex. On Saturdays and Feast days, he received the Holy Mysteries of Christ.

During this time St John continued to serve his master as before, and despite his own poverty, he always helped the needy and the sick, and shared his meager food with them.

One day, the officer left Prokopion and went to Mecca on pilgrimage. A few days later, his wife gave a banquet and invited her husband's friends and relatives, asking them to pray for her husband's safe return. St John served at the table, and he put down a dish of pilaf, his master's favorite food. The hostess said, "How much pleasure your master would have if he could be here to eat this pilaf with us." St John asked for a dish of pilaf, saying that he would send it to his master in Mecca. The guests laughed when they heard his words. The mistress, however, ordered the cook to give him a dish of pilaf, thinking he would eat it himself, or give it to some poor family.

Taking the dish, St John went into the stable and prayed that God would send it to his master. He had no doubt that God would send the pilaf to his master in a supernatual manner. The plate disappeared before his eyes, and he went into the house to tell his mistress that he had sent the pilaf to his master.

After some time, the master returned home with the copper plate which had held the pilaf. He told his household that on a certain day (the very day of the banquet), he returned from the mosque to the home where he was staying. Although the room was locked, he found a plate of steaming pilaf on the table. Unable to explain who had brought the food, or how anyone could enter the locked room, the officer examined the plate. To his amazement, he saw his own name engraved on the copper plate. In spite of his confusion, he ate the meal with great relish.

When the officer's family heard this story, they marveled. His wife told him of how John had asked for a plate of pilaf to send to his master in Mecca, and how they all laughed when John came back and said that it had been sent. Now they saw that what the saint had said was true (Compare the story of Habakkuk, who miraculously brought a dish of pottage to Daniel in the lions' den [Dan. 14:33-39], in the Septuagint).

Toward the end of his difficult life St John fell ill, and sensed the nearness of his end. He summoned the priest so that he could receive Holy Communion. The priest, fearing to go to the residence of the Turkish commander openly with the Holy Gifts, enclosed the life-giving Mysteries in an apple and brought them to St John.

St John glorified the Lord, received the Body and Blood of Christ, and then reposed. The holy Confessor John the Russian went to the Lord Whom he loved on May 27, 1730. When they reported to the master that his servant John had died, he summoned the priests and gave them the body of St John for Christian burial. Almost all the Christian inhabitants of Prokopion came to the funeral, and they accompanied the body of the saint to the Christian cemetery.

Three and a half years later the priest was miraculously informed in a dream that the relics of St John had remained incorrupt. Soon the relics of the saint were transferred to the church of the holy Great Martyr George and placed in a special reliquary. The new saint of God began to be glorified by countless miracles of grace, accounts of which spread to the remote cities and villages. Christian believers from various places came to Prokopion to venerate the holy relics of St John the Russian and they received healing through his prayers. The new saint came to be venerated not only by Orthodox Christians, but also by Armenians, and even Turks, who prayed to the Russian saint, "Servant of God, in your mercy, do not disdain us."

In the year 1881 a portion of the relics of St John were transferred to the Russian monastery of the holy Great Martyr Panteleimon by the monks of Mount Athos, after they were miraculously saved by the saint during a dangerous journey.

Construction of a new church was begun in 1886, through the contributions of the monastery and the inhabitants of Prokopion. This was necessary because the church of the holy Great Martyr George, where the relics of St John were enshrined, had fallen into disrepair.

On August 15, 1898 the new church dedicated to St John the Russian was consecrated by the Metropolitan John of Caesarea, with the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch Constantine V.

In 1924, an exchange of the populations of Greece and Turkey took place. Many Moslems moved out of Greece, and many Christians moved out of Turkey. The inhabitants of Prokopion, when they moved to the island of Euboia, took with them part of the relics of St John the Russian.

For several decades the relics were in the church of Sts Constantine and Helen at New Prokopion on Euboia, and in 1951 they were transferred into a new church dedicated to St John the Russian. Thousands of pilgrims flocked here from all the corners of Greece, particularly on his Feast, May 27. St John the Russian is widely venerated on Mount Athos, particularly in the Russian monastery of St Panteleimon.

St John's help is sought by travelers, and by those transporting things.

SOURCE(and Icon on left):

SOURCE for Icon on right:

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Greatmartyr George the New at Sofia, Bulgaria

Commemorated on May 26
The Holy Martyr George the New was born into an illustrious Bulgarian family, living in the capital city of Bulgaria, Sredets (now the city of Sofia). St George's childless parents, John and Mary, in their declining years entreated the Lord to send them a child. Their prayer was answered, and they baptized the infant with the name of the holy Great Martyr George (April 23).

Young George received a fine upbringing, he attentively studied the Holy Scriptures, and he was pious and chaste. His parents died when George was twenty-five. At that time Bulgaria found itself under the rule of the Turks, who forcibly converted Christians to Islam.

Once, several Moslems tried to convert George. They put a fez on the saint's head. This is a red circular hat which Moslems wear to enter their house of prayer. But George threw the fez on the ground. The Turks brought the martyr to their governor with beatings and abuse.

The governor was impressed with St George's appearance and bearing, and he urged him to accept Islam, promising honors and wealth from Sultan Selim (1512-1520). The saint boldly and steadfastly confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and reproached the errors of Islam. The governor in a rage gave orders to beat St George with rods, but the saint persevered in his confession of faith in Christ.

The governor ordered the tortures to be increased. The passion-bearer bore all his sufferings, calling on the Lord Jesus Christ for help. Then they led the martyr through the city to the beat of a drum and shouts: "Do not insult Mohammed nor abase the Moslem faith".

Finally, a large fire was lit in the city, to burn St George. Weakened by his wounds, the saint fell to the ground. They threw him into the fire still alive, and they threw corpses of dogs on top of him so that Christians would not be able to find the relics of the martyr.

Suddenly, a heavy rain fell and extinguished the fire. With the onset of darkness, the place where the body of the martyr was thrown was illumined with a bright light. They gave permission to a certain Christian priest to take the venerable relics of the martyr for burial. Informed about the occurrence, Metropolitan Jeremiah and his clergy went to the place of execution. In the ashes of the fire they located the body of the holy Martyr George and carried it to the church of St George the Great Martyr in the city of Sredets.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hieromartyr Urban the Pope of Rome

Commemorated on May 25

Pope St. Urban I of Rome? (222-230)
Pace Giovanni Battista de Rossi, Pope St. Urban I of Rome is one of the martyrs who was buried in the Catacomb of Praetextatus (Kirsch).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Uncovering of the relics of St Leontius the Bishop and Wonderworker of Rostov

Commemorated on May 23

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on March 10, 1964.

Saint Leontius, Bishop of Rostov, is commemorated today with the other Rostov saints. He reposed on May 23, 1073, and his holy relics were uncovered in 1164.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Icon of the Mother of God of Cyprus

Commemorated on May 22

The Cyprus Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is also commemorated on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, Pentecost Monday, April 20 and July 9.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Friday, May 21, 2010

Venerable Constantine, (In baptism Yaroslav), with his children Michael and Theodore, Wonderworkers of Murom

Commemorated on May 21
The Holy Princes Constantine and his sons Michael and Theodore of Murom lived during the eleventh-twelfth centuries.

Prince Constantine, a descendant of St Vladimir, asked his father, Prince Svyatoslav of Chernigov, to give him the city of Murom, which was inhabited by pagans, so he might enlighten this land with the light of the Christian Faith.

The prince sent his son Michael as emissary to the Murom people, but the pagans murdered him. When Prince Constantine arrived in the city with his retinue, the people quieted down and accepted him, but for a long time they would not give up paganism.

St. Michael

Once, they went to the prince's home, intending to kill him, but the prince came out to the crowd holding the Murom Icon of the Mother of God. The mutinous people unexpectedly quieted down and agreed to accept holy Baptism at the River Oka.

At the place of the murder of his son Michael, St Constantine built a church in honor of the Annunciation, and later on another church named for the holy Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb. Prince Constantine zealously assisted his son, Prince Theodore in spreading the Christian Faith among the people of Murom.

St Constantine died in 1129, and was buried in the church of the Annunciation beside his sons, Sts Michael and Theodore.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Greeting of the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron

From here.

of Archimandrite Athanasios Anastasiou,
Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron - Holy Meteora
to the Conference: "‘Primacy,' Synodicality and Unity of the Church"
Piraeus, April 28, 2010
Your Eminence, reverend Fathers, learned Professors,
Christ is Risen.

It is an exceptional blessing for us to have received His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim's invitation to attend this conference and deliver a humble monastic address. This conference which he has organized with particular care and attention to detail once again demonstrates his confessional candor, his understanding for struggle and his inspired witness.
Our presence here tonight is a conscious and important witness against the great problem of ecumenism, which presents serious dangers for our Church and the spiritual progress of the faithful with deep spiritual and soteriological ramifications.
It is a witness of support and participation to the healthy concern and uneasiness of the rest of those present - the organizers, speakers and listeners - but also of so many others of the faithful in our Church, who are grieved by and indignant with the present-day ecumenical advances, and who are expressing their extreme displeasure and distress.
It is our shared resolute and unyielding witness to the fact that we refuse to accept these "irreversible events", which the workings of the New Age and New World Order fashion and attempt to impose in the sphere of the ecumenical dialogues and the union with the heterodox; and this, in the face of the difficult times for our homeland and our people, who now are most tragically living the consequences of these workings in the maelstrom of universal scorn, unreliability, decay, subjugation and compliance.
Exactly the same things are being undertaken in the sphere of faith through the unhealthy and estranged environment of ecumenism, with inadmissible and ruinous concessions, relativity, falsifications, alterations, modifications and compromises, that take place under the veil of peaceableness, inter-existence, mutual enrichment, fraternity and in a climate of profuse and vapid agapology (that is, under the pretense of love - trans. note).
However, the truth of our faith is and will remain unchanged, genuine and without innovation. Our Orthodox faith is and will remain non-negotiable. There is no need of support mechanisms, pacts of stability, supervisory contracts, international tutelage. It  cannot be limited, undermined, scorned; it is not afraid of speculators, it cannot go bankrupt!
This our holy Orthodox faith, handed down from the Apostles, the living and salvific faith of our Holy Fathers - in spite of the scheming and fierce attacks which it endures from those inside and outside of its walls, visible and invisible combatants - by the grace of our Resurrected Lord, our Panagia and our Saints, will save this our beloved homeland and will lead us to our future homeland on high.
Our message is clear and simple: there is no allowance for reductions and compromises in matters of the faith. In matters of the faith there are not governors and governed, superiors and subordinates, law-givers and followers. We do not obey on account of intimidations and threats. We do not accept ultimatums and accomplished facts. We refuse to abandon the saving faith and saint-bearing tradition of our Orthodox Church to be led to extra-ecclesiastical paths of false unions and uniate accessions.
Your Eminence,
We would like to thank you and congratulate you on your confessional witness in the matter of ecumenism. Your presence as a leader, in face of the lack of episcopal [leadership] in this particular sphere, gives us comfort and strength. We also thank you and congratulate you on the coordination of tonight's conference on the well-chosen and pertinent theme: "Primacy, Synodicality and Unity of the Church," upon which most noteworthy speakers will expound.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Venerable Lucian, spiritual son of St. David Gareji

Commemorated on May 20
Saint David of Gareji was Syrian by birth. The future ascetic became a disciple of St. John of Zedazeni and journeyed with him to Georgia. St. David and his spiritual son Lucian settled on a mountain above Tbilisi, the capital of Kartli.

At that time Kartli was constantly under threat of the Persian fire-worshippers. St. David would spend entire days in prayer, beseeching the Lord for forgiveness of the sins of those who dwelt in the city. When he was finished praying for the day, he would stand on the mountain and bless the whole city. Once a week Sts. David and Lucian would go down into the city to preach. A church dedicated to St. David was later built on the mountain where he labored.

St. David’s authority and popularity alarmed the fire-worshippers, and they accused him of adultery, in an attempt to discredit him in the eyes of the people. As a “witness” they summoned a certain expectant prostitute, who accused him of being the child’s father. Hoping in God, the holy father touched his staff to the prostitute’s womb and ordered the unborn child to declare the truth. From out of the womb the infant uttered the name of his true father.

Outraged at this slander, the bystanders savagely stoned the woman to death. St. David pleaded with them to stop, but he was unable to placate the furious crowd. Deeply disturbed by these events, St. David departed the region with his disciple Lucian.

The holy fathers settled in a small cave in the wilderness and began to spend all their time in prayer. They ate nothing but herbs and the bark of trees. When the herbs withered from the summer heat, the Lord sent them deer. Lucian milked them and brought the milk to St. David, and when the elder made the sign of the Cross over the milk it was miraculously transformed into cheese.

Shaken by the holy father’s miracle, Lucian told him, “Even if my body rots and wastes away from hunger and thirst, I will not permit myself to fret over the things of this temporal life.”

The fathers kept a strict fast on Wednesdays and Fridays—they ate nothing, and even the deer did not come to them on those days.

A frightful serpent inhabited a cave not far from where they lived and attacked all the animals around it. But at St. David’s command the serpent deserted that place.

Once local hunters were tracking the fathers’ deer, and they caught sight of Lucian milking them as they stood there quietly, as though they were sheep. The hunters paid great respect to St. David and, having returned to their homes, reported what they had seen.

Soon the Gareji wilderness filled with people who longed to draw nearer to Christ. A monastery was founded there, and for centuries it stood fast as a center and cornerstone of faith and learning in Georgia.

After some time St. David set off on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He entrusted Lucian to fulfill his responsibilities at the monastery and took some of the other brothers with him. When the pilgrims were approaching the place called the “Ridge of Grace,” from which the holy city of Jerusalem becomes visible, St. David fell to his knees and glorified God with tears. Judging himself unworthy to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, he was satisfied to gaze upon the city from afar.

Then he stood at the city gates and prayed fervently while his companions entered the Holy City and venerated the holy places. Returning, St. David took with him three stones from the “Ridge of Grace.” That night an angel appeared to the patriarch of Jerusalem and informed him that a certain pious man named David, who was visiting from afar, had taken with him all the holiness of Jerusalem.

The angel proceeded to tell him that the venerable one had marched through the city of Nablus, clothed in tatters and bearing on his shoulders an old sack in which he carried the three holy stones. The patriarch sent messengers after the stranger with a request that he return two of the stones and take only one for himself. St. David returned the two stones, but he declined the patriarch’s invitation to visit him. He took the third stone back with him to the monastery, and to this day it has been full of the grace of miraculous healing.

After St. David brought the miraculous stone from Jerusalem, the number of brothers at the monastery doubled. The venerable father ministered to all of them and encouraged them. He also visited the cells of the elder hermits to offer his solace. In accordance with his will, a monastery in the name of St. John the Baptist was founded in the place called “Mravalmta” (the Rolling Mountains).

The Lord God informed St. David of his imminent departure to the Kingdom of Heaven. Then he gathered the fathers of the wilderness and instructed them for the last time not to fall into confusion, but to be firm and ceaselessly entreat the Lord for the salvation of their souls.

He received Holy Communion, lifted up his hands to the Lord, and gave up his spirit.

St. David’s holy relics have worked many miracles: approaching them, those blind from birth have received their sight. To this day, believers have been healed of every spiritual and bodily affliction at his grave.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Adding of a new blog: Notes from a Common-place Book

Okay, so I'm late to notice what many have touted as a very fine web log both in its exemplary writing as well in its content.  I'm late but I have arrived.

I must confess that I wish I had more time to follow more blogs.  Perhaps I'm mad, but I actually enjoy the things and even, er, have learned a thing or two from reading them.

This particular blog, Notes from a Common-place Book , is one that I have come across on several occasions but for one reason or another I have not followed it.  Well, no more.  Amend my ways I will and follow I do henceforth.


says about himself,
"Only delusionally still on the young side of middle-aged; married, one child; interested in lots of things."
Interested I am as well.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hieromartyr Patrick the Bishop of Prusa with his companions Martyr Theotima, Hieromartyr Acacius, Hieromartyr Menander and Hieromartyr Polyainus

Commemorated on May 19

Saint Patrick lived during the first century and was bishop of the city of Prusa in Bythnia (Asia Minor). He openly and boldly preached Christ the Savior, and denounced the error of the pagans.Therefore, he and the priests, Acacius, Menander and Polyainus were arrested, and brought to Julius, the prefect of the city for interrogation.

Julius was going to the hot springs for treatment, and he ordered that the Christian bishop and the priests be brought along after him, bound in iron chains. After he washed in the hot springs, Julius offered sacrifice to his gods. He had St Patrick and the other prisoners brought before him, ordering them to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, threatening punishment if they refused.

St Patrick replied, "I am a Christian and I worship the one true God, Jesus Christ, Who has created the heavens and the earth, and these warm springs for the benefit of all mankind."

Julius had the saint thrown into the hot spring, and with firm faith the martyr prayed, "Lord, Jesus Christ, help Your servant," and he remained unharmed.

In an impotent rage, Julius ordered St Patrick and his three presbyters beheaded. They received their crowns of unfading glory from Christ around the year 100.

Troparion - Tone 4

Your holy martyr Patrick and his companions, O Lord,
through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through their intercessions, save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 4

Podoben: "Today You have shown forth..."
You were arrayed in the beauty of the priesthood, O Patrick,
and adorned with the blood of martyrdom.
As you stand before Christ with those who suffered with you,
remember us,
for you are an honored passion-bearer.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Holy Martyrs Peter, Dionysius, Andrew, Paul, Christina

Commemorated on May 18

The Holy Martyrs Peter, Dionysius, Andrew, Paul, Christina suffered under emperor Decius (249-251). Peter suffered in the city of Lampsaka. Brought to trial before the prefect Optimines, he bravely confessed his faith in Christ. They tried to force the youth to deny the Lord and worship the goddess Venus. The martyr refused to do this, declaring for everyone to hear, that a Christian would not bow to the idol of a lecherous woman.

St Peter was subjected to fierce tortures, but he endured them with courage, giving thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ for giving him His all-powerful help. Then he was beheaded.

The Holy Martyrs Dionysius, Andrew, Peter, Paul, and Christina suffered under emperor Decius (249-251).

Dionysius, Nikomachus, and two soldiers, Andrew and Paul, who had been transferred from Mesopotamia, were put on trial. They all confessed their faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols, so they were tortured. To the great sorrow of all the Christians, Nikomachus did not persevere. He denied the Lord Jesus Christ, and entered a pagan temple to offer sacrifice. He fell down in a terrible frenzy and died foaming at the mouth, tearing the skin from his body with his teeth.

On the following morning, Saints Dionysius, Andrew and Paul were again brought before the prefect. For confessing faith in Christ they were given to the pagans to be put to death. They bound the saints by the feet, dragged them to the place of execution, and stoned them to death.

Troparion - Tone 4
Your martyrs, O Lord, for their sufferings
Have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
For strengthened by Your might,
They overthrew tyrants and destroyed the powerless boldness of demons.
Through their supplications save our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 2

Suffering martyrdom worthily
With those who suffered with you, O Theodotus,
You received crowns of honor with holy virgin martyrs.
Therefore entreat Christ God unceasingly in behalf of us all.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

On Spiritual Warfare: Elder Ephraim of the Holy Monastery of Saint Anthony in Arizona, pt 1 of 11

Hat tip to Constantine

Be patient with the low quality video. As well, be patient with the Greek spoken by the Elder as it is faithfully translated into English. If you are patient enough, there is a great wealth of information to be mined from the words of Elder Ephraim through his own experience in warfare in the spiritual and mental realms, wherein resides our foe's greatest attacks.

He who hates God and us is wickedly brilliant. With this talk, we get a little more insight into just how he works and of what spiritual warfare consists of and how it is not separate from the Gospel. Rather, to understand the Enemy and how Jesus "came to destroy the works of the Devil"(1 John 3:8) is to more fully understand the Gospel and what it is we are being saved from.

In 11 parts.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saint Andronicus Apostle of the Seventy and Saint Junia

Commemorated on May 17
Saint Andronicus Apostle of the Seventy and Saint Junia were relatives of the holy Apostle Paul. They labored much, preaching the Gospel to pagans. St Paul mentions them in his Epistle to the Romans: "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and fellow prisoners, who are of note among the Apostles, who also were in Christ, before me" (Romans 16:7).

St Andronicus was made Bishop of Pannonia, but his preaching also took him and St Junia to other lands, far from the boundaries of his diocese. Through the efforts of Sts Andronicus and Junia the Church of Christ was strengthened, pagans were converted to the knowledge of God, many pagan temples closed, and in their place Christian churches were built. The service in honor of these saints states that they suffered martyrdom for Christ.

In the fifth century, during the reign of the emperors Arcadius and Honorius, their holy relics were uncovered on the outskirts of Constantinople together with the relics of other martyrs at the gate of Eugenius (February 22).

It was revealed to the pious cleric Nicholas Kalligraphos that among the relics of these seventeen martyrs were the relics of the holy Apostle Andronicus. Afterwards, a magnificent church was built on this spot.

Troparion - Tone 3

Holy Apostle Andronicus
entreat the merciful God
to grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.

Kontakion - Tone 2

Podoben: "Seeking the highest..."
Let us praise the apostle of Christ, Andronicus,
the all-radiant star who illumined the nations with the light of the knowledge of God.
Together with him we praise all-wise Junia,
who shone with righteousness.
To them let us cry out:
"Unceasingly pray to Christ God for us all."

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Martyr Modestus and Martyr Crescentia at Lucania

Commemorated on May 16

Saint Modestus suffered for Christ during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305) with the holy martyrs Vitus and Crescentia.

The boy's tutor St Modestus and his governess St Crescentia, who were Christians, secretly took him from his parental home. They found a boat at the river, and an angel entered the boat with them. They reached the Italian district of Lucanium, where the saints lived quietly, hiding from those who would persecute them. St Vitus continued to heal the sick and convert pagans to Christianity. His fame soon spread throughout the region.

Sts Vitus and Modestus were arrested and thrown into prison, then Diocletian had them tortured. St Crescentia came out of the crowd of spectators and confessed herself a Christian. She reproached the emperor for his cruelty, and he also sentenced her to torture.

St Vitus called out to God, "O God, save us by Thy power and deliver us." Then an earthquake struck, and many pagans perished beneath the collapsed buildings. Diocletian fled to his chambers in fear. An angel released the martyrs from the pillars and took them to Lucanium.

St Vitus prayed that God would accept their souls in peace and not deprive those who kept their memory of His benefaction. A Voice came from Heaven, "Thy prayer is heard." Then the saints joyfully surrendered their souls to God.

The holy martyrs Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia suffered for Christ in the year 303. These saints are also commemorated on June 15.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Saturday, May 15, 2010

St Achilles the Bishop of Larissa

Commemorated on May 15

Saint Achilles, Bishop of Larissa, lived during the fourth century, during the reign of St Constantine the Great. Glorified for his holiness of life and erudition, he was made Bishop of Larissa in Thessaly.

St Achilles participated in the First Ecumenical Council, where he boldly denounced the heretic Arius. In his city he strove to promote Christianity, destroyed idolatrous pagan temples, and he built and adorned churches.

St Achilles had the gift of healing sickness, especially demonic possession, and he worked many miracles. The saint died peacefully in about the year 330. His relics have been in Prespa, Bulgaria (now the village of Akhila, renamed in honor of the saint) since 978.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Venerable Macarius the Archimandrite of Obruch (Kanev)

Commemorated on May 13

The Relics of the Hieromartyr Macarius, Archimandrite of Kanev, were transferred on May 13, 1688 from Kanev to the city of Pereslavl because of the threat of enemy invasion. The main Feast commemorating St Macarius is on September 7.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Music between Goombas Exchange

My friend VSO is currently uploading tribute videos for all his goombas.  He and I have struck up a good online friendship.

He currently has a secret identity but nonetheless, when you need to go somewhere to let someone "Tell you like it is!", visit his site.

But be forewarned: he is a caveman and in his cave there are certain criteria.  They are as follows:

The Code of the Catacombs

1. I'm the Pontifex Maximus of this blog. What I say goes. I'm Orthodox Christian, Conservative, American, hold every principle thereof and I tell it like it is. I am all of this for a reason. If you don't like that, tough shit. Don't screw with me.

2. In case you couldn't tell from Rule 1, this site contains strong, harsh, uncharitable f'n language that is not appropriate for monastics or those seriously devoted to achieving purity. Political Correctness is strictly forbidden.

3. Conduct yourself accordingly. If you do and don't espouse heresy, or attack me, the Holy Orthodox Church, the Constitution of the USA, the Bible, the Magna Carta and all the values and morals therein, we'll get along fine.

4. No victims allowed! Playing the race card, the sodomite card, or any other card is forbidden.

5. If there's still any confusion on your part, refer to the above rules.

6. If you still want to butt heads with me, but still imagine that there's some wiggle room for you, especially in light that you've read Rules 1 - 5, you're either obstinate in sin or irreversibly stupid. Either way, you are anathema. You'll be excavemunicated.

He posted this for me.  Great tune.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

St Germanus the Patriarch of Constantinople

Commemorated on May 12

Saint Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born at Constantinople in the seventh century. His father, a prominent senator, was killed by order of the emperor Constantine Pogonatos (668-685). The young Germanus was emasculated and sent to a monastery, where he studied Holy Scripture.

Because of the sanctity of his life, Germanus was made bishop in the city of Cyzicus. St Germanus rose up in defense of the Orthodox Faith against the iconoclast heretics. He was later made Patriarch of Constantinople. St Germanus continued to stand up against the iconoclasts and to their spokesman, the heretical emperor Leo III the Isaurian (717-741), but the contest was unequal. He was forced to put his omophorion upon the altar table in the sanctuary, and to resign the archpastoral throne. Then the enraged emperor, who accused the Patriarch of heresy the day before, sent soldiers, who beat the saint and threw him out of the patriarchal residence. St Germanus was Patriarch for fourteen years and five months.

He went to a monastery, where he spent the remaining days of his life. The holy Patriarch Germanus died in the year 740, at age ninety-five, and was buried in the Chora monastery in Constantinople. Afterwards, his relics were transferred to France.

At the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787), the name of Patriarch Germanus was included in the diptychs of the saints. He wrote a "Meditation on Church Matters or Commentary on the Liturgy;" also an explanation of the difficult passages of Holy Scripture, and another work on the rewards of the righteous after death.

His important work on the various heresies that had arisen since apostolic times, and on the church councils that took place during the reign of the emperor Leo the Iconoclast, provides a wealth of historical information. There are also three letters from the Patriarch about the veneration of icons, which were read at the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

His other works include hymns in praise of the saints, discourses on the Feasts of the Entry into the Temple, the Annunciation and the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, and on the restoration of the church in honor of the Placing of the Venerable Zone of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Troparion - Tone 4
O God of our Fathers,
Take not away Your mercy from us,
But ever act towards us according to Your kindness,
And by the prayers of Your saints,
Guide our lives in peace.

Kontakion - Tone 4
Come, O faithful, let us sing a worthy hymn of praise
To honor the glorious Bishops, Epiphanius and Germanus.
They enlightened the minds of those living without faith,
While presenting the great mysteries of God to the faithful,
Explaining True Belief with great wisdom!

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

St Rostislav the Prince of Great Moravia

Commemorated on May 11

 Saint Rastic or Rastiz (in modern Slovak Rastislav) was the second ruler of Great Moravia between 846 until his death in 870. He was canonized in October 1994 by the Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church.


After Mojmír's death in 846, Rostislav was designated by East Francia king Louis the German to become the head of Great Moravia. He assumed that Rostislav would cooperate with him just as his predecessor had.

After internal consolidation, Rostislav assumed the title of a king and tried to restrict the political influence of East Francia. Consequently Great Moravia was attacked by Louis in 855. However, the attack was not successful.

Because East Francia was spreading its influence through Frankish priests who preached in Latin, in 862 Rostislav asked Byzantine emperor Michael III to send a bishop and teachers who would bring the Gospel to the Slavic peoples in their own language. The emperor decided to send the two brothers Cyril and Methodius to lay the foundation of the Slavonic script which also became the script of Slavonic literature (see e.g. Glagolitic alphabet).

In 864 Louis the German again attacked Rastislav, this time successfully. Rostislav had to acknowledge the supremacy of Eastern Frankish realm over his kingdom.

In 870, after growing disagreement between Rastislav and his nephew Svatopluk, the latter made a deal with Carloman of Bavaria (Louis's son) to exchange Rastislav for the promise that Svatopluk would rule Great Moravia. Louis the German blinded Rostislav and jailed him in a Bavarian monastery where he died in that same year.

The origin of his name

The form of his name ("rast-") is evidence for the fact that he was born somewhere in central Slovakia. Since "Rast" means "Grow" and "Slav" means "Glory," the name "Rastislav" can be translated as "Growing in glory."



SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blessed Thais of Egypt

Commemorated on May 10

Saint Thais lived in Egypt in the fifth century. Left an orphan after the death of her wealthy parents, she led a pious life, distributing her wealth to the poor, and she gave shelter to pilgrims on her estate. She decided that she would never marry, but would devote her life to serving Christ.

After spending all her inheritance, Thais was tempted to acquire more money by any means, and began to lead a sinful life. The Elders of Sketis near Alexandria heard of her fall, and asked St John the Dwarf (November 9) to go to Thais and persuade her to repent. "She was kind to us," they said, "now perhaps we can help her. You, Father, are wise. Go and try to save her soul, and we will pray that the Lord will help you."

The Elder went to her home, but Thais's servant did not want to allow him into the house. St John said, "Tell your mistress that I have brought her something very precious." Thais, knowing that the monks sometimes found pearls at the shore, told her servant to admit the visitor. St John sat down and looked her in the face, and then began to weep. Thais asked him why he was crying. "How can I not weep," he asked, "when you have forsaken your Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, and are pleasing Satan by your deeds?"

The Elder's words pierced the soul of Thais like a fiery arrow, and at once she realized how sinful her present life had become. In fear, she asked him if God would accept the repentance of a sinner like her. St John replied that the Savior awaited her repentance. That is why He came, to seek and to save the perishing. "He will welcome you with love," he said, "and the angels will rejoice over you. As the Savior said Himself, one repentant sinner causes the powers of Heaven to rejoice (Luke 15:7).

A feeling of repentance enveloped her, and regarding the Elder's words as a call from the Lord Himself to return to Him, Thais trembled and thought only of finding the path of salvation. She stood up and left her house without speaking to her servants, and without making any sort of disposition of her property, so that even St John was amazed.

Following St John into the wilderness, she hastened to return to God through penitence and prayer. Night fell, and the Elder prepared a place for Thais to lay down and sleep. He made a pillow for her from the sand, and he went off somewhat farther, and went to sleep after his evening prayers.

In the middle of the night, he was wakened by a light coming down from the heavens to the place where Thais was at rest. In the radiant light he saw holy angels bearing her soul to Paradise. When he went over to Thais, he found her dead.

St John prayed and asked God to reveal to him whether Thais had been saved. An angel of God appeared and told him, "Abba John, her one hour of repentance was equal to many years, because she repented with all her soul, and a compunctionate heart."

After burying the body of the saint, St John returned to Sketis and told the monks what had happened. All offered thanks to God for His mercy toward Thais who, like the wise thief, repented in a single moment.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

"Primacy," Synodicality and Unity of the Church

From here.

of the Conference of the Holy Metropolis of Piraeus
Topic: "Primacy," Synodicality and Unity of the Church
Peace and Friendship Stadium, 28 April 2010 

"Papal ‘primacy' has no theological foundation, no legitimacy from the Holy Spirit and no ecclesiological legitimacy. It is clearly based on a worldly understanding of authority."  This, among other things, was the conclusion of the theological conference which was organized by the Holy Metropolis of Piraeus in the Peace and Friendship Stadium (Melina Mercouri Hall) on 28 April 2010, and which was a success with many clergy and laity present. 

The conference was also honored by the presence of His Beatitude Hieronymos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, who also started the conference off. Also present were: His Eminence Seraphim, Metropolitan of Kythira; Pavlos, Metropolitan of Glyfada; and Melito, Bishop of Marathon. 

The topic "Primacy," Synodicality and Unity of the Church was expounded upon in two sessions with seven speakers: His Eminence Seraphim, Metropolitan of Piraeus, Hieromonk Luke Grigoriatis, Prof. Aristidis Papadakis (University of Maryland), Protopresbyter George Metallinos, Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis, Protopresbyter Anastasios Gotsopoulos and Prof. Dimitrios Tselengidis. 

From the presentations and the discussion that followed, it was concluded that: unity belongs to the nature of the Church as it is the body of Christ and communion in Him. The true Church is one. The unity of the Church in all its interpretations - structural or charismatic (grace-bearing) - clearly has its foundation in the Holy Spirit. It is extended mystically, but is maintained, fostered and apparent chiefly through holy communion. 

According to the "Confession of Faith" of the Synod of Constantinople in 1727, "Therefore no other head whatsoever is accepted in this Eastern Church, save only our Lord Jesus Christ, from the Father given to the whole Church and its foundation." According to Orthodox ecclesiology, "primate" is not meant generally and indefinitely without the presence of the particular synod of a region. 

The concept of a rank of honor (that is the term which Orthodox ecclesiastical tradition uses opposed to the subsequent term "primacy" that the papists use) expresses and ensures the unity and the synodicality of the Orthodox Catholic Church. The pentarchy of the patriarchal thrones is the form which the Church gave to the concept of a rank of honor during the first millennium. 

The authority of the "primate," which derives from the rank of honor, is a fruit of synodicality, while the authority the bishop of Rome had already started to appropriate during the first millennium is a result of the abolition of the synodical organization of the Church. 

In the Church of the first millennium there was no papal primacy "by divine right" in jurisdiction or authority over the whole Church. On the contrary, the Church had the right to make decisions about its administration without the Pope, even in spite of his strong opposition, and these decisions were universally valid.

After the schism of 1054, the increasing claim of the popes for primacy of authority over the whole Church completely subverted the structure of the mystical body of the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit. It makes synodicality (as a function of this body inspired by the Holy Spirit) relative - practically abolishing it - and introduces the worldly mindset to it. It nullifies the equality of bishops, misappropriates the complete administrative authority of the whole Church, essentially setting aside the Theanthropos (the God-Man) and making a man the visible head of the Church. In this way the ancestral sin is repeated in this institution. 

True unity takes place when there is unity in faith, in worship, and administration. This is the model of unity in the ancient Church, which the universal Orthodox Church continues unchanged. Unia introduces a false unity and is based on a heretical ecclesiology, since it allows different forms of the faith and worship, and makes unity contingent on the recognition of the primacy of the pope, which is an institution of human justice, and undermines the synodical structure of the administration of the Church, which is an institution of divine justice. Multiformity is only acceptable in secondary matters of local traditions and customs. 

After the First Vatican Council (1870) and especially the Second Vatican Council (1962-1964) papal primacy does not comprise a simple administrative assertion, but an essential dogma of faith absolutely necessary for the salvation of the faithful. Its denial incurs the anathema of the First Vatican Council, whose validity remains still after the Second Vatican Council. 

As the host of the conference Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus emphasized in his introduction, "Due to the heretical and blasphemous doctrine of the primacy of the bishop of Rome and the spiritual ramifications which come from it (such as the "infallibility" of the Pope and his autocratic-monarchic despotism over the whole body of the religious community under him), Papism has developed into an autocratic-monarchic system of mystic ideology and perversion of the meaning of the Church. It has proven to be modern Roman-Frank ethnicism (paganismus) in a spiritual disguise, has taken away the mystical freedom in Christ of each of [the Church's] members and  has turned out to be the inevitable and fateful cause of the falling away from the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church into hundreds of different heresies, and an insurmountable obstacle to their possible return." 

At the assessment of the participants of the current theological dialogue between Orthodox and Roman-Catholics, its attempt at the restoration of ecclesiastical communion must somehow - beyond the elimination of the heretical teachings of Rome (Filioque, created grace, infallibility, purgatory, etc.) - aim also at the definite elimination of papal primacy and not at some commonly acceptable interpretation of it. 

Finally, the syncretistic framework of "unity in diversity" is considered unacceptable and cannot become acceptable as "a model for the restoration of full communion."

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Martyr Christopher of Lycia

Commemorated on May 9

The Holy Martyr Christopher lived during the third century and suffered about the year 250, during the reign of the emperor Decius (249-251). There are various accounts of his life and miracles, and he is widely venerated throughout the world. St Christopher is especially venerated in Italy, where people pray to him in times of contagious diseases.

There are various suggestions about his descent. Some historians believe that he was descended from the Canaanites, while others say from the "Cynoscephalai" [literally "dog-heads"] of Thessaly. Perhaps this is why certain unlearned painters foolishly portray St Christopher with a dog's head.

St Christopher was a man of great stature and unusual strength. According to tradition, St Christopher was very handsome, but wishing to avoid temptation for himself and others, he asked the Lord to give him an unattractive face, which was done. Before Baptism he was named Reprebus [Reprobate] because his disfigured appearance. Even before Baptism, Reprebus confessed his faith in Christ and denounced those who persecuted Christians. Consequently, a certain Bacchus gave him a beating, which he endured with humility.

Because of his renowned strength, 200 soldiers were assigned to bring him before the emperor Decius. Reprebus submitted without resistance. Several miracles occurred along the way; a dry stick blossomed in the saint's hand, loaves of bread were multiplied through his prayers, and the travellers had no lack thereof. This is similar to the multiplication of loaves in the wilderness by the Savior. The soldiers surrounding Reprebus were astonished at these miracles. They came to believe in Christ and they were baptized along with Reprebus by St Babylus of Antioch (September 4).

Christopher once made a vow to serve the greatest king in the world, so he first offered to serve the local king. Seeing that the king feared the devil, Christopher thought he would leave the king to serve Satan. Learning that the devil feared Christ, Christopher went in search of Him. St Babylas of Antioch told him that he could best serve Christ by doing well the task for which he was best suited. Therefore, he became a ferryman, carrying people across a river on his shoulders. One stormy night, Christopher carried a Child Who insisted on being taken across at that very moment. With every step Christopher took, the Child seemed to become heavier. Halfway across the stream, Christopher felt that his strength would give out, and that he and the Child would be drowned in the river. As they reached the other side, the Child told him that he had just carried all the sins of the world on his shoulders. Then He ordered Christopher to plant his walking stick in the ground. As he did so, the stick grew into a giant tree. Then he recognized Christ, the King Whom he had vowed to serve.

St Christopher was brought before the emperor, who tried to make him renounce Christ, not by force but by cunning. He summoned two profligate women, Callinike and Aquilina, and commanded them to persuade Christopher to deny Christ, and to offer sacrifice to idols. Instead, the women were converted to Christ by St Christopher. When they returned to the emperor, they declared themselves to be Christians.Therefore, they were subjected to fierce beatings, and so they received the crown of martyrdom.

Decius also sentenced to execution the soldiers who had been sent after St Christopher, but who now believed in Christ. The emperor ordered that the martyr be thrown into a red-hot metal box. St Christopher, however, did not experience any suffering and he remained unharmed. After many fierce torments they finally beheaded the martyr with a sword. This occurred in the year 250 in Lycia. By his miracles the holy Martyr Christopher converted as many as 50 thousand pagans to Christ, as St Ambrose of Milan testifies. The relics of St Christopher were later transferred to Toledo (Spain), and still later to the abbey of St Denis in France.

In Greece, many churches place the icon of St Christopher at the entrance so that people can see it as they enter and leave the building. There is a rhyming couplet in Greek which says, "When you see Christopher, you can walk in safety." This reflects the belief that whoever gazes upon the icon of St Christopher will not meet with sudden or accidental death that day.

The name Christopher means "Christ-bearer." This can refer to the saint carrying the Savior across the river, and it may also refer to St Christopher bearing Christ within himself (Galatians 2:20).

Troparion - Tone 4

O Christopher, robed in the purple of your martyrdom,
You came before the Lord of heaven;
Therefore with the choirs of angels,
You now sing the Thrice-Holy Hymn. Intercede for the salvation of those who honor you.

SOURCE(and Icon on left):

SOURCE for Icon on right:

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Venerable Arsenius the Lover-of-Labor of the Kiev Far Caves

Commemorated on May 8

Saint Arsenius the Lover of Labor lived during the fourteenth century. This ascetic was distinguished by his love for toil, and living in asceticism in the Kiev Caves monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, he knew no rest. He prayed constantly and partook of food only at the setting of the sun. For his humility and love of labor the Lord gave him the gift of wonderworking. His memory is also celebrated together with the Saints of the Far Caves on August 28.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

The Pogues - "Dirty Old Town"

This one's for you, VSO.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Our Holy Father John of Zedazeni and his twelve disciples, Abibus of Nekresi, Anthony of Martqopi, David of Gareji, Zenon of Iqalto, Thaddeus of Stepantsminda, Jesse of Tsilkani, Joseph of Alaverdi, Isidore of Samtavisi, Michael of Ulumbo, Pyrrhus of Breti, Stephen of Khirsa, and Shio of Mgvime


St John Zedazneli of Zaden, in Georgia with his 12 Disciples
Commemorated on May 7

Our Holy Father John of Zedazeni and his twelve disciples, Abibus of Nekresi, Anthony of Martqopi, David of Gareji, Zenon of Iqalto, Thaddeus of Stepantsminda, Jesse of Tsilkani, Joseph of Alaverdi, Isidore of Samtavisi, Michael of Ulumbo, Pyrrhus of Breti, Stephen of Khirsa, and Shio of Mgvime, were Syrian ascetics and the founding fathers of Georgian monastic life.  

St. John received his spiritual education in Antioch. Early in his youth he was tonsured a monk and withdrew to the wilderness. The Lord, recognizing his humility, diligence in fasting, and devout watchfulness, blessed His faithful servant with the gift of healing the sick and casting out demons. St. John was celebrated for his holy deeds and miracles. Curious crowds would swarm around him, and after some time he found it necessary to withdraw into even deeper seclusion.

Taking with him several of his disciples, he chose a remote area, fashioned for himself a cell, and began to labor as a hermit. Once the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to St. John and told him, “Take twelve monks and go with them to Georgia, the nation enlightened by the Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino, and strengthen the Christian soul of its people.”

Saint John related the vision to his disciples, and after much fasting and prayer he chose twelve of them: Abibus, Anthony, David, Zenon, Thaddeus, Isidore, Joseph, Jesse, Michael, Pyrrhus, Stephen, and Shio. He left his remaining disciples in the wilderness in the care of the abbot, the blessed elder Euthymius, and set off for Georgia with the twelve he had chosen.

By divine revelation the Georgian king Parsman and Catholicos Evlavios received the good news that the venerable fathers were in Mesopotamia, on their way to Georgia, and they hurried to greet them with the proper honors. King Parsman and Catholicos Evlavios met the holy fathers as they were approaching Mtskheta.

The holy fathers venerated the myrrh-streaming wood of the Living Pillar and the Robe of Christ at Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. From there St. John and his disciples traveled throughout Georgia, visiting its many holy sites.

With the blessing of Catholicos Evlavios, St. John and his disciples settled on Zedazeni Mountain, where a pagan temple to the idol Zadeni had previously stood. The monks lived in wretched cells, eating only plants and praying ceaselessly.

Having heard of the spiritual endeavors of St. John and his disciples, Christian believers began to flock to Zedazeni Mountain. Many burned with longing for the monastic life, and some abandoned the world to join the holy fathers at Zedazeni. In such a way, Zedazeni Mountain was transformed into an abode of hermits.

One night the Most Holy Theotokos appeared again to St. John and instructed him to send his disciples throughout the country to preach the Word of God. In the morning, having related the vision to his disciples, St. John advised them: “Our Lord Jesus Christ sent us to perform good deeds for this country and its people, for they are newly planted seeds in the Christian Faith. Therefore, let us go forth, each in his own direction, to preach the Word of God!”

St. John remained at Zedazeni and went about his usual labors in the company of the Deacon Ilia. Zedazeni Mountain was without water, but St. John prayed to God for a spring, and the Lord sent him a healing spring at the mountain’s peak. Through St. John’s holy prayers, a bear that often came to the spring to drink was tamed and became a guard and protector of Zedazeni Monastery.

(To this day, the beasts of Zedazeni forest have never disturbed a single soul). Through St. John’s intercessions, a man mute and paralyzed from his childhood began to speak and walk.

After earnestly serving God for many years, St. John received a sign that his death was approaching. He called his disciples, blessed them, bade them farewell, and left them to bury him in the cave where he had dwelt. After receiving Holy Communion, St. John beheld the heavens open and the incorporeal powers with the armies of saints shining forth.

The Lord called St. John to Himself, saying: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham. Come and I will give you rest from your labors.”

The holy father prayed and gave up his soul to the Lord. After his repose St. John’s disciples reasoned among themselves that a dismal cave was unfit to serve as their holy father’s burial place, and with great reverence they buried his remains in a church at the foot of the mountain. But suddenly a violent earthquake shook the ground where they stood. The earth ceased to quake only after the frightened disciples remembered their shepherd’s will and realized that the tremors were a sign from God. So the disciples, a priest, and a deacon uncovered the holy relics and reburied St. John according to his will. While they were being translated, St. John’s holy relics healed many sick and demon-possessed people.

In the 10th century, during the time of Catholicos Clement (908–923), a church in honor of St. John the Baptist was built on the south side of St. John’s cave. The holy father’s grave is located near the altar of this church.

The Holy Martyr Abibus of Nekresi was consecrated bishop of Nekresi at the request of Parsman VI, King of Kartli, and Catholicos Evlavios. Filled with holy zeal, Bishop Abibus converted many pagans to the Christian Faith.

In the 6th century the Persians forced many Georgians to deny Christ and worship fire in accordance with their own custom. When St. Abibus poured water on their altar of sacrifice to extinguish the “holy fire,” the enraged Persians beat him cruelly, then stoned him to death.

By order of the marzban (Persian viceroy), the holy relics of Martyr Abibus remained for three days under the open sky. But to the marzban’s great amazement, neither beast nor bird would touch them.

On the fourth night, monks from Rechi Monastery arrived and translated the holy relics to Samtavisi Monastery for proper burial. Later, by order of Stepanoz (600–619), the rightful ruler of Kartli, the holy relics of St. Abibus were translated again, to Samtavro Monastery in Mtskheta, and buried in the sanctuary under the altar table.

St. Anthony of Martqopi always carried with him an icon of the Savior “Not-Made-By-Hands” which he had brought from Edessa in Asia Minor.

A lover of solitude, St. Anthony settled in Lonoati Gorge, but the many curious Christians, drawn by his prayers and miracles, disturbed his seclusion. So the holy father built a monastery for his faithful followers, withdrew in reclusion beyond the Alazani River, and later settled on Akriani Mountain. In his new hermitage, he ate mostly plants and the bark of trees, and God sent a bear to bring him food. Later St. Anthony erected a pillar at the top of the mountain and dwelt upon it for eighteen years.

The venerable father received a sign from God when his death was imminent, and at the moment of his repose he was kneeling in prayer before the icon of the Savior. His disciples carried his holy relics down from the pillar and buried them in the monastery he had founded, in front of the icon of the Mother of God.

St. David of Gareji first settled in the outskirts of Tbilisi, the new capital of Georgia. Through his wondrous preaching, St. David converted many fire-worshippers and brought people of many creeds to the Christian Faith.

One day the fire-worshippers took revenge: they bribed a pregnant woman to agree to their scheme and accuse St. David of adultery. But the wonder-worker St. David touched his staff to the woman’s womb and said, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command you, infant, tell us who your real father is!” The infant uttered the name of his true father from inside his mother’s womb. The crowd of bystanders was outraged and began to stone the pagan slanderers.

Deeply disturbed by the rioting and unable to stop the bloodshed, St. David departed with his disciple Lukiane.

Sts. David and Lukiane settled in the Gareji Wilderness in southeastern Georgia. The Lord provided them with food in abundance: every day, except Wednesdays and Fridays, a herd of
Venerable David of the Gareji Monastery, Georgia

deer came to visit them. Lukiane milked the animals, and when David made the sign of the Cross over the milk, it was miraculously transformed into cheese.

News of the wonders performed by the holy fathers spread quickly, and soon the Gareji Wilderness became a refuge for the many Christians who hungered to lead a true ascetic life.

After some time a pious monk called Dodo came from Ninotsminda, a village in eastern Georgia, and, having received a blessing from his spiritual father, established the Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos on the eastern side of the Gareji mountains. Since that time the eastern range has been called “Dodo’s Range.”

St. David went to Jerusalem on pilgrimage, but when he arrived there, he suddenly judged himself unworthy and dared not enter the gates of the city. He prayed fervently before the city gates, then, in his profound humility, chose three stones to take with him as treasures and departed. That same night an angel appeared to Patriarch Elias of Jerusalem and told him that a monk named David, who had arrived from Georgia, was taking away all the grace of the Holy Land. The patriarch’s messengers found St. David and seized from him two of the stones. The third stone he carried back to Gareji Monastery.

Having served the Lord his whole life, through much suffering and many tribulations, the God-pleasing St. David reposed peacefully and was buried at David-Gareji Monastery.

St. Jesse of Tsilkani was consecrated bishop of Tsilkani by Catholicos Evlavios, at the suggestion of St. John of Zedazeni. The holy father preached to many crowds and converted many unbelievers. Before long, many followers had gathered around him. St. Jesse, like St. John’s other disciples, was endowed with the ability to work miracles.

Once St. John decided to test the faith of his disciples, and he required each of them to perform a miracle. When it was St. Isidore’s turn, he descended to the Ksani River, crossed over it, then touched his staff to the water and cried out, “In the name of the Lord, I command you to follow me!” Immediately the river began to flow in the opposite direction, and it followed every move of the venerable father’s staff. St. Isidore led the river to Tsilkani Monastery.

Having witnessed this miracle, many people were converted to the true Faith.

St. Isidore received a sign from heaven when his repose was near. He partook of the Holy Gifts and prayerfully gave up his soul to God. St. Isidore is buried in the Tsilkani Church of the Most Holy Theotokos.

St. Joseph of Alaverdi always carried with him a cross that had been formed from the wood of the Life-giving Cross of our Savior. With the blessing of his teacher, St. Joseph preached the Gospel of Christ throughout the region of Kartli in eastern Georgia and later settled in the Alaverdi wilderness.

Once St. Joseph encountered a pagan nobleman and preached to him the Word of God. Deeply inspired by Fr. Joseph’s grace-filled preaching, the nobleman founded a monastery in Alaverdi. Villagers from the surrounding region heard about the holy father’s great spiritual feats, and many of them left the world to labor with him. The number of ascetics in the region began to increase steadily from that time.

When his long and labor-filled life was drawing to an end, St. Joseph appointed a new abbot for the monastery and reposed peacefully in the Lord. To this day many miracles have taken place over his grave at Alaverdi Monastery.

From his youth St. Shio of Mgvime (of the cave) was a disciple of St. John of Zedazeni, and he
followed him to Georgia. St. Shio settled in Sarkineti, a region northwest of Mtskheta. The Most Holy Theotokos blessed the monk, and he carried out his labors in accordance with her revelations.

A dove would bring food to the blessed father, and St. Evagre (at that time the ruler of Tsikhedidi) witnessed this miracle one day while hunting in the area. Deeply inspired by his unceasing labors, the prince left the world to become St. Shio’s disciple. It was not long before St. Shio’s wilderness was filled with people who longed for the ascetic life. St. Shio founded a monastery in Sarkineti, gathered nearly two thousand monks to labor there with him, and instructed them in a strict ascetic life.

Having performed countless miracles, St. Shio finally vowed to God that he would spend the remainder of his life in a well that he had dug for himself. He appointed Evagre abbot of the monastery and went into reclusion at the bottom of the well. There he spent fifteen years and reposed peacefully in the Lord. St. Shio’s holy relics are buried in that well, and to this day many miracles have taken place over his grave.

Venerable Shio Mgvime

St. Pyrrhus of Breti, called the “Divine Image of Repentance,” founded a monastery in Breti, on the bank of the Jvaristsqali River. His holy relics are buried in the church at that monastery.

 St Pyrrhus of Breta, in Georgia

St. Isidore of Samtavisi preached the Christian Faith in Kartli for many years, in accordance with his teacher’s instruction. On the eastern bank of the Rekhula River, he founded Samtavisi Monastery of the Icon of the Savior “Not-Made-By-Hands.” He reposed and was buried at that monastery.

St. Thaddeus of Stepantsminda first preached in Mtskheta, and later he founded a monastery at the foot of Zedazeni Mountain. After St. John’s repose, St. Thaddeus continued to preach throughout Kartli and erected many new churches. Among them, the Church of the Protomartyr Stephen in Urbnisi is a glorious example. Near the end of his life St. Thaddeus withdrew to a cave at Tsleva Mountain not far from the city of Kaspi. He reposed peacefully and is buried in that place.

St. Stephen of Khirsa and his companions preached throughout the region of Kakheti in eastern Georgia. Later St. Stephen founded Khirsa Monastery near Kharnabuji Castle. He is buried in the sanctuary of the Church of the Protomartyr Stephen at Khirsa.

St. Zenon of Iqalto preached the Christian Faith in northern Kakheti and founded Iqalto Monastery. He reposed peacefully, after accomplishing many good works on behalf of the true Faith. St. Zenon is buried at Iqalto in the Church of the Icon of the Savior “Not-Made-By-Hands.”

St. Michael of Ulumbo preached the Christian Faith in northern Kartli and Ossetia. He founded a monastery in the Ulumbo (named after Mt. Olympus (in old Georgian Mt. Olympus is known as Mt. Ulumbo), a center of monasticism in Bythinia, Asia Minor.) area, where his wonder-working relics
were later buried.

  St Michael of Ulompo, Georgia  

Many Georgian children have been raised at the monasteries founded by the Thirteen Syrian Fathers. For centuries the Divine grace of the holy ascetics has spread among the Georgian people and throughout their land.

These monasteries and the holy fathers who founded them continue to protect the Georgian people against all manner of sin and unbelief.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):