Monday, January 31, 2011

Martyr Athanasia and her daughters Theoctiste, Theodota and Eudoxia at Canopus in Egypt

Commemorated on January 31

The Christian woman Athanasia and her three young daughters were arrested because they were Christians. Theoctiste was fifteen; Theodota, was thirteen; and Eudoxia, was eleven. Sts Cyrus and John hastened to the prison to help them, for they were concerned that the women might renounce Christ when faced with torture.

Sts Cyrus and John gave them courage to endure what lay before them. Learning of this, the ruler of the city arrested Sts. Cyrus and John, and seeing their steadfast and fearless confession of faith in Christ, he brought Athanasia and her daughters to witness their torture. The tyrant did not refrain from any form of torture against the holy martyrs. The women were not frightened by the sufferings of Sts. Cyrus and John, but courageously continued to confess Christ. They were flogged and then beheaded, receiving their crowns of martyrdom.

Troparion - Tone 4

Your holy martyr Athanasia, O Lord,
Through her sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.
For having Your strength, she laid low her adversaries,
And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through her intercessions, save our souls!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

East & West – Fundamental Differences: Pt. 1(by Father John A. Peck)

From here.
Our father in the faith, John Romanides (1927 – 2001), was a prominent 20th century Orthodox Christian priest, theologian, and writer. He argued for the existence of a “national, cultural and even linguistic unity between Eastern and Western Romans” that existed until the intrusion and takeover of the West Romans (the Roman Catholics) by the Franks and or Goths (German tribes). This article originally appeared in “The Orthodox Activist.”

What follows is a heavily excerpted and slightly edited transcript of three lectures given by the great Orthodox scholar John S. Romanides in 1981 at Holy Cross Seminary in the Patriarch Athenagoras Memorial Lecture series.  

This article deals with the fundamental difference between Orthodoxy 

and Western Christianity, mainly Roman Catholicism. Readers will be surprised to learn that the division between “East” and “West” was actually more of a political division, caused by the ambitions of the Franks and other Germanic tribes, than a “Theological” question.

These two mosaics, each from the apse of a large Cathedral basilica, visually express the fundamental differences between Eastern and Western Christian Theology.

Professor John Romanides of the University of Thessalonike challenges the common views regarding the causes for the Schism of the Church in the “Roman world,” and offers his own provocative interpretation of the historical background of this tragedy in the history of the Christian Church.

Far from seeing basic differences in the “Roman world,” which led to alienation between the East and West, Romanides argues for the existence of “national, cultural and even linguistic unity between East (Byzantine) and West Romans”; that is, until the intrusion and takeover of the West Romans (the Roman Catholics) by the Franks (German tribes).

European and American histories treat the alienation between Eastern and Western Christian Churches as though it were inevitable, because of an alleged separation of the Roman Empire itself into “East” and “West,” because of alleged linguistic and cultural differences, and because of an alleged difference between the legal West and the speculative East.1 Evidence strongly suggests that such attempts to explain the separation between East and West are conditioned by prejudices inherited from the cultural tradition of the Franks, and from the centuries-old propaganda of the Frankish (Germanic dominated) Papacy.

The evidence points clearly to the national, cultural, and even linguistic unity between East and West Romans which survived to the time when the Roman popes were replaced by Franks. Had the Franks not taken over the Papacy, it is very probable that the local synod of the Church of Rome (with the pope as president), elected according to the 769 election decree approved by the Eighth Ecumenical Synod in 879, would have survived, and that there would not have been any significant difference between the papacy and the other four Roman (Orthodox) Patriarchates.

However, things did not turn out that way. The Papacy was alienated from the (Orthodox) East by the Franks, so we now are faced with the history of that alienation when we contemplate the reunion of divided Christians. By the eighth century, we meet for the first time the beginnings of a split in Christianity. In West European sources we find a separation between a “Greek East” and a “Latin West.” In Roman sources this same separation constitutes a schism between Franks (a confederation of Germanic Teutonic peoples living on the lower banks of the Rhine who by the sixth century AD conquered most of France, the low countries and what is now Germany. ed) and Romans. One detects in both terminologies an ethnic or racial basis for the schism which may be more profound and important for descriptive analysis than the doctrinal claims of either side.

The Roman Empire was conquered in three stages: by Germanic tribes (the Franks) who became known as “Latin Christianity,” by Muslim Arabs, and finally, by Muslim Turks. In contrast to this, the ecclesiastical administration of the Roman Empire disappeared in stages from West Europe, but has survived up to modern times in the “East Roman Empire” the Orthodox Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

The reason for this is that the Germanic – Frankish conquerors of the West Romans (who became known as the “Roman Catholic Church.”) used the Church to suppress the Roman nation, whereas under Islam the East Roman nation, the Orthodox Church, survived by means of the Orthodox Church. In each instance of conquest, the bishops became the ethnarchs of the conquered Romans and administered Roman law on behalf of the rulers. As long as the bishops were Roman, the unity of the Roman Church was preserved, in spite of theological conflicts.

Roman Revolutions and the Rise of Frankish Feudalism and Doctrine

The Franks applied their policy of destroying the unity between the Romans under their rule and the “East Romans,” the Orthodox, under the rule of Constantinople.They played one Roman party against the other, took neither side, and finally condemned both the iconoclasts and the Seventh Ecumenical Synod (786/7) at their own Council of Frankfurt in 794,

In the time of Pippin of Herestal (687-715) and Charles Martel (715-741), many of the Franks who replaced Roman bishops were military leaders who, accordingto Saint Boniface, “shed the blood of Christians like that of the pagans.”2
The Imperial Coronation of Charlemagne

An unsuccessful attempt was made on the life of (the Roman) Pope Leo III (795-816), the successor of Hadrian. Pope Leo was then accused of immoral conduct. Charlemagne took a personal and active interest in the investigations which caused Leo to be brought to him in Paderborn. Leo was sent back to Rome, followed by Charlemagne, who continued the investigations. The Frankish king required finally that Leo swear his innocence on the Bible, which he did on December 23, (800). Two days later Leo crowned Charlemagne “Emperor of the Romans.” Charlemagne had arranged to get the title “Emperor” in exchange for Leo’s exoneration. Charlemagne caused the filioque (the new line in the Creed that said that the Holy Spirit, “proceeds from the Father and the Son,” instead of the original which read, “proceeds from the Father, to be added to the Frankish Creed, without consulting the pope. When the controversy over this addition broke out in Jerusalem, Charlemagne convoked the Council of Aachen (809) and decreed that this addition was a dogma necessary for salvation. With this fait accomplit under his belt, he tried to pressure Pope Leo III into accepting it.3

Pope Leo rejected the filioque not only as an addition to the Creed, but also as doctrine, claiming that the Fathers left it out of the Creed neither out of ignorance, nor out of negligence, nor out of oversight, but on purpose and by divine inspiration. What Leo said to the Franks but in diplomatic terms, was that the addition of the filioque to the Creed is a heresy.

The so-called split between East and West was, in reality, the importation into Old Rome of the schism provoked by Charlemagne and carried there by the Franks and Germans who took over the papacy.

 The Bible and Tradition

A basic characteristic of the Frankish (Germanic-Latin) scholastic method, mislead by Augustinian Platonism and Thomistic Aristotelianism had been its naive confidence in the objective existence of things rationally speculated about. By following Augustine, the Franks and the “Latin” Roman Catholic Church substituted the patristic concern for spiritual observation, (which they had found firmly established in Gaul when they first conquered the area) with a Germanic fascination for metaphysics.

In contrast to the Franks the Fathers of the Orthodox Church did not understand theology as a theoretical or speculative science, but as a positive science in all respects. This is why the patristic understanding of Biblical inspiration is similar to the inspiration of writings in the field of the positive sciences.

Scientific manuals are inspired by the observations of specialists. For example, the astronomer records what he observes by means of the instruments at his disposal. Because of his training in the use of his instruments, he is inspired by the heavenly bodies, and sees things invisible to the naked eye. The same is true of all the positive sciences. However, books about science can never replace scientific observations. These writings are not the observations themselves, but about these observations.

The same is true of the Orthodox understanding of the Bible and the writings of the Fathers. Neither the Bible nor the writings of the Fathers are revelation or the word of God. They are about revelation and about the word of God.

Revelation is the appearance of God to the prophets, apostles, and saints. The Bible and the writings of the Fathers are about these appearances, but not the appearances themselves. This is why it is the prophet, apostle, and saint who sees God, and not those who simply read about their experiences of glorification. It is obvious that neither a book about glorification nor one who reads such a book can ever replace the prophet, apostle, or saint who has the experience of glorification.

This is the heart of the Orthodox understanding of tradition and apostolic succession which sets it apart from the “Latin” (in other words, Frankish-Germanic) and Protestant traditions, both of which stem from the theology of the Franks.

Following Augustine, the Franks identified revelation with the Bible and believed that Christ gave to the Church the Holy Spirit as a guide to its correct understanding. This would be similar to claiming that the books about biology were revealed by microbes and cells without the biologists having seen them with the microscope, and that these same microbes and cells inspire future teachers to correctly understand these books without the use of the microscope!

Historians have noted the naivite of the Frankish religious mind which was shocked by the first claims for the primacy of observation over rational analysis. Even Galileo’s telescopes could not shake this confidence. However, several centuries before Galileo, the Franks had been shocked by the East Roman (Orthodox) claim, hurled by Saint Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), of the primacy of experience and observation over “reason” in theology.

Instruments, Observation, Concepts and Language

The universe has turned out to be a much greater mystery to man than anyone was ever able to imagine. Indications are strong that it will yet prove to be an even greater mystery than man today can yet imagine. In the light of this, one thinks humorously of the (Latin) bishops who could not grasp the reality, let alone the magnitude, of what they saw through Galileo’s telescope. But the magnitude of Frankish naivite becomes even greater when one realizes that these same church leaders who could not understand the meaning of a simple observation were claiming knowledge of God’s essence and nature.

The Latin tradition could not understand the significance of an instrument by which the prophets, apostles, and saints had reached glorification.

Similar to today’s sciences, Orthodox theology also depends on an instrument which is not identified with reason or the intellect. The Biblical name for this is the heart. Christ says,

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”4

The heart is not normally clean, i.e., it does not normally function properly. Like the lens of a telescope or microscope, it must be polished so that light may pass through and allow man to focus his spiritual vision on things not visible to the naked eye.

In time, some Fathers gave the name nous to the faculty of the soul which operates within the heart when restored to normal capacity, and reserved the names logos  and dianoia  for the intellect and reason, or for what we today would call the brain. In order to avoid confusion, we use the terms noetic faculty and noetic prayer to designate the activity of the nous.

The heart, and not the brain, is the area in which the theologian is formed. Theology includes the intellect as all sciences do, but it is in the heart that the intellect and all of man observes and experiences the rule of God. One of the basic differences between science and Orthodox theology is that man has his heart or noetic faculty by nature, whereas he himself has created his instruments of scientific observation.

A second basic difference is the following: By means of his instruments, and the energy radiated by and/or upon what he observes, the scientist sees things which he can describe with words, even though at times inadequately. These words are symbols of accumulated human experience, and understood by those with the same or similar experience.

In contrast to this, the experience of glorification is to see God who has no similarity whatsoever to anything created, not even to the intellect or to the angels. God is literally unique and can in no way be described by comparison with anything that any creature may be, know or imagine. No aspect about God can be expressed in a concept or collection of concepts.

It is for this reason that in Orthodoxy positive statements about God are counterbalanced by negative statements, not in order to purify the positive ones of their imperfections, but in order to make clear that God is in no way similar to the concepts conveyed by words, since God is above every name and concept ascribed to Him. Although God created the universe, which continues to depend on Him, God and the universe do not belong to one category of truth. Truths concerning creation cannot apply to God, nor can the truth of God be applied to creation.

Diagnosis and Therapy

Let us turn our attention to those aspects of differences between Roman and Frankish theologies which have had a strong impact on the development of differences in the doctrine of the Church. The basic differences may be listed under diagnosis of spiritual ills and their therapy.

According to the Orthodox Church, the “East Romans,” Glorification is the vision of God in which the equality of all men and the absolute value of each man is experienced. God loves all men equally and indiscriminately, regardless of even their moral status. God loves with the same love, both the saint and the devil. To teach otherwise, as Augustine and the Franks did, would be adequate proof that they did not have the slightest idea of what glorification was.

According to the Orthodox, God multiplies and divides himself in His uncreated energies undividedly among divided things, so that He is both present by act and absent by nature to each individual creature and everywhere present and absent at the same time. This is the fundamental mystery of the presence of God to His creatures and shows that universals do not exist in God and are, therefore, not part of the state of illumination as in the Augustinian (Frankish Latin) tradition.

According to the Orthodox, God himself is both heaven and hell, reward and punishment. All men have been created to see God unceasingly in His uncreated glory. Whether God will be for each man heaven or hell, reward or punishment, depends on man’s re-sponse to God’s love and on man’s transformation from the state of selfish and self-centered love, to Godlike love which does not seek its own ends.

One can see how the Frankish understanding of heaven and hell poetically described by Dante, John Milton, and James Joyce are so foreign to the Orthodox tradition (but in keeping with the “Latin” tradition).

According to the Orthodox, since all men will see God, no religion can claim for itself the power to send people either to heaven or to hell. This means that true spiritual fathers prepare their spiritual charges so that vision of God’s glory will be heaven, and not hell, reward, and not punishment. The primary purpose of Orthodox Christianity then, is to prepare its members for an experience which every human being will sooner or later have.

While the brain (according to the Orthodox) is the center of human adaptation to the environment, the noetic faculty in the heart is the primary organ for communion with God. The fall of man or the state of inherited sin is: a) the failure of the noetic faculty to function properly, or to function at all; b) its confusion with the functions of the brain and the body in general; and c) its resulting enslavement to the environment.

Each individual experiences the fall of his own noetic faculty. One can see why the Augustinian “Latin,” Frankish) understanding of the fall of man as an inherited guilt for the sin of Adam and Eve is not, and cannot, be accepted by the Orthodox tradition.

There are two known memory systems built into living beings,

1) cell memory which determines the function and development of the individual in relation to itself, and

2) brain cell memory which determines the function of the individual in relation to its environment.

In addition to this, the patristic tradition is aware of the existence in human beings of a now normally non-functioning or sub-functioning memory in the heart, which when put into action via noetic prayer, includes unceasing memory of God and, therefore, the normalization of all other relations.

When the noetic faculty is not functioning properly, man is enslaved to fear and anxiety and his relations to others are essentially utilitarian. Thus, the root cause of all abnormal relations between God and man and among men is that fallen man, i.e., man with a malfunctioning noetic faculty, uses God, his fellow man, and nature for his own understanding of security and happiness. Man outside of glorification imagines the existence of god or gods which are psychological projections of his need for security and happiness.

That all men have this noetic faculty in the heart also means that all are in direct relation to God at various levels, depending on how much the individual personality resists enslavement to his physical and social surroundings and allows himself to be directed by God. Every individual is sustained by the uncreated glory of God and is the dwelling place of this uncreated creative and sustaining light, which is called the rule, power, grace, etc. of God. Human reaction to this direct relation or communion with God can range from the hardening of the heart, i.e., the snuffing out of the spark of grace, to the experience of glorification attained to by the prophets, apostles, and saints.

This means that all men are equal in possession of the noetic faculty, but not in quality or degree of function. It is important to note the clear distinction between spirituality, which is rooted primarily in the heart’s noetic faculty, and intellectuality, which is rooted in the brain. Thus:

1) A person with little intellectual attainments can rise to the highest level of noetic perfection.
2) On the other hand, a man of the highest intellectual attainments can fall to the lowest level of noetic imperfection.
3) One may also reach both the highest intellectual attainments and noetic perfection.
Or 4) one may be of meager intellectual accomplishment with a hardening of the heart.
Saint Basil the Great writes that
“the in-dwelling of God is this—to have God established within ourself by means of memory. We thus become temples of God, when the continuity of memory is not interrupted by earthly cares, nor the noetic faculty shaken by unexpected sufferings, but escaping from all things this (noetic faculty) friend of God retires to God, driving out the passions which tempt it to incontinence and abides in the practices which lead to virtues.”5
Saint Gregory the Theologian points out that
“we ought to remember God even more often than we draw out breath; and if it suffices to say this, we ought to do nothing else…or, to use Moses’ words, whether a man lie asleep, or rise up, or walk by the way, or whatever else he is doing, he should also have this impressed in his memory for purity.”6
Saint Gregory insists that to theologize
“is permitted only to those who have passed examinations and have reached theoria, and who have been previously purified in soul and body, or at least are being purified.”7
This state of theoria is two fold or has two stages:

a) unceasing memory of God and

b) glorification, the latter being a gift which God gives to His friends according to their needs and the needs of others.

During this latter state of glorification, unceasing noetic prayer is interrupted since it is replaced by a vision of the glory of God in Christ. The normal functions of the body, such as sleeping, eating, drinking, and digestion are suspended. In other respects, the intellect and the body function normally. One does not lose consciousness, as happens in the ecstatic mystical experiences of non-Orthodox Christian and pagan religions.
One is fully aware and conversant with his environment and those around him, except that he sees everything and everyone saturated by the uncreated glory of God, which is neither light nor darkness, and nowhere and everywhere at the same time. This state may be of short, medium, or long duration. In the case of Moses it lasted for forty days and forty nights. The faces of those in this state of glorification give off an imposing radiance, like that of the face of Moses, and after they die, their bodies become holy relics. These relics give off a strange sweet smell, which at times can become strong. In many cases, these relics remain intact in a good state of preservation, without having been embalmed. They are completely stiff from head to toe, light, dry, and with no signs of putrefaction.

There is no metaphysical criterion for distinguishing between good and bad people. It is much more correct to distinguish between ill and more healthy persons. The sick ones are those whose noetic faculty is either not functioning, or functioning poorly, and the healthier ones are those whose noetic faculty is being cleansed and illumined.

These levels are incorporated into the very structure of the four Gospels and the liturgical life of the Church. The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke reflect the pre-baptismal catechism for cleansing the heart, and the Gospel of John reflects the post-baptismal catechism which leads to theoria by way of the stage of illumination. Christ himself is the spiritual Father who led the apostles, as He had done with Moses and the prophets, to glorification by means of purification and illumination.8

One can summarize these three stages of (Orthodox) perfection as

a) that of the slave who performs the commandments because of fear of seeing God as a consuming fire,

b) that of the hireling whose motive is the reward of seeing God as glory, and

c) that of the friends of God whose noetic faculty is completely free, whose love has become selfless end because of this, are willing to be damned for the salvation of their fellow man, as in the cases of Moses and Paul.

1. The European and Middle Eastern parts of the Roman Empire were carved out of areas which, among other linguistic elements, contained two bands, the Celtic and the Greek, which ran parallel to each other from the Atlantic to the Middle East. The Celtic band was north of the Greek band, except in Asia Minor, where Galatia had the Greek band to the east, the north, and the south. Northern Italy itself was part of the Celtic band and Southern Italy a part of the Greek band (here called Magna Graecia) which in the West covered Southern Spain, Gaul, and their Mediterranean islands. Due consideration should be given to the fact that both the Celtic and Greek bands were east and west of Roman Italy. The Romans first took over the Greek and Celtic parts of Italy and then the Greek and Celtic speaking peoples of the two bands. The Celtic band was almost completely Latinized, whereas the Greek band, not only remained intact, but was even expanded by the Roman policy of completing the Hellenization of the Eastern provinces initiated by the Macedonians. The reason why the Celtic band, but not the Greek band, was Latinized was that the Romans were themselves bilingual in fact and in sentiment, since in the time of their explosive expansion they spoke both Latin and Greek, with a strong preference for the latter. Thus, one is obliged to speak of both the Western and Eastern parts of European Romania in terms of a Latin North and a Greek South, but certainly not of a Latin West and a Greek East, which is a Frankish myth, fabricated for the propagandistic reasons described in Lecture I, which survives in text books until today. Indeed, the Galatians of Asia Minor were in the fourth century still speaking the same dialect as the Treveri of the province of Belgica in the Roman diocese of Gaul. (Albert Grenier, Les Gaulois [Paris, 1970], p. 115.) That the Latin West/Greek East division of Europe is a Frankish myth is still witnessed to today by some 25 million Romans in the Balkans, who speak Romance dialects, and by the Greek-speaking inhabitants of the Balkans and the Middle East, who call themselves Romans. It should be noted that it is very possible that the Galatians of Asia Minor still spoke the same language as the ancestors of the Waloons in the area of the Ardennes when the legate of Pope John XV, Abbot Leo, was at Mouzon pronouncing the condemnation of Gerbert d’Aurillac in 995

2. Migne, PL 89:744.

3. For a review of the historical and doctrinal aspects of this question, see J. S. Romanides, The Filioque, Anglican Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Discussions, St. Albans 1975—Moscow 1976 (Athens, 1978).

4. Matthew 5.8.

5. Epistle 2.

6. Theological Oration 1.5.

7. Ibid. 1.3.

8. On the relations between the Johanine and Synoptic gospel traditions see my study, “Justin Martyr and the Fourth Gospel,” The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 4 (1958-59), pp. 115-39.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blessed Peter the King of Bulgaria

Commemorated on January 30

Saint Peter, King of Bulgaria, was the son of the militant Bulgarian prince Simeon. St Peter was distinguished for his Christian piety, and he often turned to St John of Rila (August 18, October 19), asking his prayers, spiritual guidance and advice.

King Peter concluded peace with Byzantium on terms advantageous for Bulgaria. He also gained recognition from the Patriarch of Constantinople for the autonomy of the Bulgarian Church, and the affirmation of a Patriarchal throne in Bulgaria, benefiting all the Bulgarian Church.

St Peter aided in the successful extirpation of the Bogomil heresy in his lands. He died in the year 967, at fifty-six years of age.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Saturday, January 29, 2011

St Gerasimus the Bishop of Perm

Commemorated on January 29

Saint Gerasimus was the third bishop of the Zyryan people, and a worthy successor of St Stephen, Enlightener of Perm. He was elevated to the See of Perm sometime after the year 1416, when only part of the Zyryani had been converted to Christianity.

He was concerned for his flock, which suffered incessant incursions from the Novgorodians and pagan Vogulians. He went into the Vogul camps, urging them to stop plundering the defenseless Christians of Perm. On one of these journeys in 1441, he was murdered by his Vogul servant (according to tradition he was strangled with his omophorion). He was buried in the Annunciation church of the village of Ust-Vym not far from the city of Yarenga, at the River Vychegda (also January 24).

Today's common commemoration of these three saints acknowledges their apostolic activity in this Eastern expanse of Russia. St Gerasimus is also commemorated on January 24.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blessed David IV the King of Georgia

Commemorated on January 26
At the end of the 11th century the Georgian Church underwent a trial of physically and spiritually catastrophic proportions.

The Seljuk sultan, Jalal al-Dawlah Malik Shah (1073–1092), captured the village of Samshvilde, imprisoned its leader, Ioane Orbeliani, son of Liparit, ravaged Kvemo (Lower) Kartli, and finally captured all of Georgia, despite the isolated victories of King Giorgi II (1072–1089). The fearful Georgians fled their homes to hide in the mountains and forests.

Tempted and deeply distressed by the difficult times, the nation that had once vowed its unconditional love for Christ began to fall into sin and corruption. People of all ages and temperaments sinned against God and turned to the path of perdition. God manifested His wrath toward the Georgian people by sending a terrible earthquake that devastated their Paschal celebrations.

In the year 1089, during this period of devastation and despair, King Giorgi II abdicated, designating his sixteen-year-old only son, Davit (later known as “the Restorer”), heir to the throne. It is written that the Heavenly Father said: I have found David My servant, with My holy oil have I annointed him (Ps. 88:19).

The newly crowned King Davit took upon himself enormous responsibility for the welfare of the Church. He supported the efforts of the Council of Ruisi-Urbnisi to restore and reinforce the authority of the Georgian Church and suppress the conceited feudal lords and unworthy clergymen. During King Davit’s reign, the government’s most significant activities were carried out for the benefit of the Church. At the same time, the Council of Ruisi-Urbnisi reasserted the vital role of the Orthodox Faith in rescuing the Georgian people from the godless mire into which they had sunk.

Foremost among King Davit’s goals at the beginning of his reign was the repatriation of those who had fled Georgia during the Turkish rule. The king summoned his noblemen and began to reunify the nation. The king’s efforts to reunify Georgia began in the eastern region of Kakheti-Hereti, but the Turks and traitorous feudal lords were unwilling to surrender the power they had gained in the area. Nevertheless, King Davit’s army was in God’s hands, and the Georgians fought valiantly against the massive Turkish army. King Davit himself fought like any other soldier: three of his horses were killed, but he mounted a fourth to finish the fight with a fantastic victory. The Turkish presence was eliminated from his country.

Soon, however, the uncompromising Seljuk sultan Mehmed (Muhammad) I of Baghdad (1105–1118) ordered an army of one hundred thousand soldiers to march on Georgia. When King Davit heard of the enemy’s approach, he immediately assembled a force of fifteen hundred men and led them towards Trialeti. A battle began in the early morning, and with God’s help the enemy was defeated. Simultaneously, the king’s adviser, Giorgi of Chqondidi, (Giorgi of Chqondidi was King Davit’s teacher and closest adviser. He held the post of chancellor-procurator. At the council of Ruisi-Urbnisi, King Davit introduced a new law, combining the office of chancellor-procurator with the archbishopric of Chqondidi, the most influential episcopate in Georgia.) recaptured the town of Rustavi, and in 1115 the Georgian army recovered the ravine of the Mtkvari River. One year later, the Turks, who had been encamped between the towns of Karnipori and Basiani, were banished from the country. The “Great Wars” continued, and the holy king was crowned with new victories. Davit’s son Demetre (later the venerable Damiane), a young man distinguished in “wisdom, holiness, appearance and courage,” was a great asset to his father. The prince led a war on Shirvan, captured Kaladzori, and returned to his father with slaves and great riches, the spoils of war in those days. One year later, the villages of Lore and Agarani were rejoined to Georgia.

In spite of his victories, King Davit knew that it would be difficult for his meager army to protect the recovered cities and fortresses, while continuing to serve as a permanent military force. Thus it became necessary to establish a separate, permanent standing army. The wise king planned to draft men from among the Qipchaks, a northern Caucasian tribe, to form this army. He was well acquainted with the character of these people, and confident that they were brave and seasoned in war. Furthermore, Davit’s wife, Queen Gurandukhti, was a daughter of Atrak, the Qipchaks’ ruler. Atrak joyfully agreed to the request of his son-in-law, the king.

As a true diplomat seeking to maintain peaceful relations with the Qipchaks, King Davit took his adviser, Giorgi of Chqondidi, and traveled to the region of Ossetia in the northern Caucasus. There Giorgi of Chqondidi, an “adviser to his master and participant in his great works and victories,” reposed in the Lord. Following this, the dispirited King Davit declared that his kingdom would grieve for forty days. But he accomplished what he had set out to do, and selected forty thousand Qipchaks to add to the five thousand Georgian soldiers he had already enlisted. From that point on King Davit had a standing army of forty-five thousand men.

The king’s enormous army finally uprooted the Turkish presence in and around Georgia permanently. The defeated Turks returned in shame to their sultan in Baghdad, draped in black as a sign of grief and defeat. Nevertheless, the unyielding sultan Mahmud II (1118–1131) rallied a coalition of Muslim countries to attack Georgia. The sultan summoned the Arab leader Durbays bin Sadaka, commanded his own son Malik (1152–1153) to serve him, gathered an army of six hundred thousand men, and marched once more towards Georgia.

It was August of 1121. Before heading off to battle, King Davit inspired his army with these words: “Soldiers of Christ! If we fight bravely for our Faith, we will defeat not only the devil’s servants, but the devil himself. We will gain the greatest weapon of spiritual warfare when we make a covenant with the Almighty God and vow that we would rather die for His love than escape from the enemy. And if any one of us should wish to retreat, let us take branches and block the entrance to the gorge to prevent this. When the enemy approaches, let us attack fiercely!”

None of the soldiers thought of retreating. The king’s stunning battle tactics and the miracles of God terrified the enemy. As it is written, “The hand of God empowered him, and the Great-martyr George visibly led him in battle. The king annihilated the godless enemy with his powerful right hand.”

The battle at Didgori enfeebled the enemy for many years. The following year, in 1122, King Davit recaptured the capital city of Tbilisi, which had borne the yoke of slavery for four hundred years. The king returned the city to its mother country. In 1123 King Davit declared the village of Dmanisi a Georgian possession, and thus, at last, unification of the country was complete.

One victory followed another, as the Lord defended the king who glorified his Creator.

In 1106 King Davit had begun construction of Gelati Monastery in western Georgia, and throughout his life this sacred complex was the focus of his efforts on behalf of the revival of the Georgian Church. Gelati Monastery was the most glorious of all the existing temples to God. To beautify the building, King Davit offered many of the great treasures he had acquired as spoils of war. Then he gathered all the wise, upright, generous, and pious people from among his kinsmen and from abroad and established the Gelati Theological Academy. King Davit helped many people in Georgian churches both inside and outside his kingdom. The benevolent king constructed a primitive ambulance for the sick and provided everything necessary for their recovery. He visited the infirm, encouraging them and caring for them like a father. The king always took with him a small pouch in which he carried alms for the poor.

The intelligent and well-lettered king spent his free time reading the Holy Scriptures and studying the sciences. He even carried his books with him to war, soliciting the help of donkeys and camels to transport his library. When he tired of reading, King Davit had others read to him, while he listened attentively. One of the king’s biographers recalls, “Each time Davit finished reading the Epistles, he put a mark on the last page. At the end of one year, we counted that he had read them twenty-four times.”

King Davit was also an exemplary writer. His “Hymns of Repentance” are equal in merit to the works of the greatest writers of the Church.

This most valiant, powerful, and righteous Georgian king left his heirs with a brilliant confession when he died. It recalled all the sins he had committed with profound lamentation and beseeched the Almighty God for forgiveness.

King Davit completed his will in 1125, and in the same year he abdicated and designated his son Demetre to be his successor. He entrusted his son with a sword, blessed his future, and wished him many years in good health and service to the Lord. The king reposed peacefully at the age of fifty-three.

St. Davit the Restorer was buried at the entrance to Gelati Monastery. His final wish was carved in the stone of his grave: This is My rest for ever and ever; here I will dwell, for I have chosen her (Ps. 131:15).

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Martyr Auxentius of Constantinople

Commemorated on January 25
The holy New Martyr Auxentius was born in 1690 in the diocese of Vellas, part of the Metropolitan district of Ioannina in Greece. When he was a young man, he moved to Constantinople with his parents and became a furrier.

Later, he left his trade and went to work on the ships, leading a sinful life in pursuit of worldly pleasures. His Moslem coworkers turned against him and accused him of denying Christ to embrace Islam. Fearing that they would denounce him to the captain of the ship, Auxentius jumped ship and returned to Constantinople.

Auxentius bought a small boat and earned his living with it. He began to regret his previous conduct, and the desire for martyrdom grew within him. One day, a monk got into his boat in order to cross the water. This was Father Gregory, a monk of Xeropotamou Monastery on Mt. Athos.

He revealed to Father Gregory his desire to be a martyr for Christ. The wise monk praised his desire, but urged caution lest he should weaken under torture and deny Christ. He recommended that Auxentius move to a quiet place and become a monk. Heeding Father Gregory's advice, Auxentius continued to work with his boat for a time, giving most of his money to the poor, and living as an ascetic.

Auxentius often prayed at the church of the Life-Giving Fountain, asking God to give him strength to become a martyr. Then he returned to his old ship, where his former shipmates began to beat him. They dragged him before the kadi, stating that he had converted to Islam, but then returned to Christianity.

Auxentius said, "I was, and am, an Orthodox Christian. I am prepared to suffer thousands of tortures for the sake of Christ."

The furious Hagarenes began to beat Auxentius with an iron bar. He lost an eye and several teeth as a result. He remained steadfast in confessing Christ, in spite of all the tortures that were inflicted upon him, and absolutely refused to become a Moslem.

Father Gregory went to see Auxentius in prison, and was asked to bring him Holy Communion on his next visit. The monk did this, also urging him to remain strong in the Orthodox Faith.

The holy martyr was brought before the vizier, who urged him to respect Islam as good and true, instead of treating it with contempt. St Auxentius answered that he would never abandon his faith. In fact, he even urged the vizier to become a Christian. This enraged the vizier, and he sentenced Auxentius to death.

After praying for all Orthodox Christians, and for the whole world, St Auxentius was beheaded on January 25, 1720 at 9:00 A.M. Two days later, a heavenly light was seen by Christians and Moslems, shining on the body of the martyr.

The sultan's tailor, an Orthodox Christian named Michael, went to the sultan and asked for the body. Patriarch Jeremiah III accompanied the body to the Church of the Life-Giving Fountain for the funeral and burial.

Two years later, when the saint's relics were exhumed, a sweet fragrance came forth from them.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

It's a miracle: Boy George returns 300-year-old stolen picture of Christ after bishop spots it on star's wall while watching TV

From here.

For more than 25 years it formed part of Boy George’s art collection.

But after being told that the icon of Christ had been stolen from the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, the pop singer has handed it back.

Incredibly, the church bishop had seen the battered painting hanging from the wall of the singer's home while watching a documentary on him on Dutch TV.

Gilt-edged occasion: Boy George and composer John Themis with the token of gratitude given them by the Church of Cyprus after the return of the icon, held by an unnamed official with Bishop Porfyrios

Watching over him: The Icon of Christ was hanging on the right hand side of mirror in George's 'walk-in wardrobe' on the programme filmed in 2008
George, who of course has famously sung about miracles and churches with 'poisoned minds', had bought the 300-year-old piece in 1985 without knowing it had been snatched from a church during the 1974 Turkish invasion.

But Bishop Porfyrios, the Cyprus Orthodox Church’s representative in Brussels, made contact with him after spotting it above his fireplace at the gothic mansion in Hampstead, north London.

Today, the 49-year-old singer handed it over to the cleric at nearby St Anagyre church.
The singer told the BBC: ‘I’m happy it is going back to its original, rightful home. I’ve always been a friend of Cyprus and have looked after the icon for 26 years.’

Mad about the boy: The bishop noticed the icon on the wall of George's home during a programme he did on the Dutch Living TV channel 

In return, the bishop gave him a modern version of the Jesus Christ Pantokrator painting as a token of gratitude and ‘with the wish that others soon follow his example'.

Thousands of religious artefacts went missing from northern Cyprus following Turkey’s 1974 invasion, which left the island’s Greek and Turkish speakers divided by partition.
Many relics have since appeared on the international art market and the Cyprus Church has been actively seeking to repatriate them.

Bishop Porfyrios, who caught only a glimpse of the gold-leaf image during the show he watched, delved deeper and discovered it had been plundered from the church of St Charalambous in Neo Chorio, near Kithrea.

After verifying this with the priest from St Charalambous, he contacted the singer and told him about the icon’s provenance and he was happy to return it to its original owners without payment.

Bishop Porfyrios said of George: ‘He bought it from an art dealer in 1985, but did not know it came from occupied Cyprus, and it was bought in good faith.

‘After our contact he gave it back to Cyprus with pleasure’.

George added: ‘I look forward to seeing the icon on display in Cyprus for the moment and finally to the Church of St Charalambos from where it was illegally stolen.’

Monday, January 24, 2011

Venerable Dionysius of Olympus

Commemorated on January 24

Saint Dionysius of Olympus was born into a family of poor parents in the village of Platina. When he was an infant, the Cross shone over his crib. Fond of prayer and reading spiritual books from his youth, St Dionysius decided to become a monk after the death of his parents. With this aim he went to Meteora, and then to Mount Athos. There he lived with a pious Elder, the priest Seraphim, and under his guidance he began to lead an ascetic life, keeping a strict fast. During Passion Week he went into the forest, and ate only chestnuts. Soon he was ordained deacon, and then priest.

The exalted life of St Dionysius became known, and many monks came to hear his edifying words. He also guided many lawless people onto the path of salvation, among whom was a robber who intended to rob the saint's cell, but was moved to repentance by the Elder's kind and wise words.

The brethren of the Philotheou monastery lost their igumen and asked St Dionysius to be their head. However, he did not receive enough votes, and dissensions arose. Valuing peace and love most of all, St Dionysius withdrew and went to Verria. Later, he fled to Mount Olympus in order to avoid being consecrated as a bishop.

Here those zealous for monasticism began to flock to him. Dionysius built cells for them and also a church and they spent their time in fasting and prayer. Having attained the spiritual heights, he worked many miracles. Often, through the prayers of the saint, the Lord punished iniquitous people who oppressed the monks of Olympus or broke the commandments of Christ. The holdings of a Turk who had expelled the monks and wrecked their monastery were destroyed by severe drought and by hail. The cattle of a herdsman who had oppressed the monastery were stricken with disease and sickness; because of her impudence, a maiden from one of the villages was subjected to an assault of the devil. They all received healing and deliverance from misfortune through the prayers of St Dionysius, after being led to penitence by his lack of malice.

The saint compiled a Rule for monastic life, and was an example of monastic activity. He built a church on Olympus, and also a monastery dedicated to the Prophet Elias. He left the brethren his final testament about the monastic life based on the Rule of the Holy Mountain.

St Dionysius died in the sixteenth century at an advanced age, and was buried on Olympus, in the church portico of the monastery he founded.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Sunday, January 23, 2011

14th Sunday of Luke

January 23

Tone of the week: Tone Two

Second Eothinon

Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Second Tone
When You descended unto death, O Lord who yourself are immortal Life, then did You mortify Hades by the lightning flash of Your Divinity. Also when You raised the dead from the netherworld, all the Powers of the heavens were crying out: O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory be to You.

Resurrectional Kontakion in the Second Tone
You rose from the tomb, O Savior all-powerful, * and Hades beheld the marvel and was struck with fear, * and the dead were rising up, and creation beholds and rejoices with You, * and Adam is also exultant; O my Savior, and the world ever sings Your praise.
Seasonal Kontakion in the First Tone
Your birth sanctified a Virgin's womb and properly blessed the hands of Symeon. Having now come and saved us O Christ our God, give peace to Your commonwealth in troubled times and strengthen those in authority, whom You love, as only the loving One.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

God in Trinity-A Communion of Persons

From here.


God in Trinity
A Communion of Persons

By: Fr. Anthony Alevizopoulos

PhD. of Theology, PhD. of Philosophy

We Orthodox Christians believe in a Trinitarian God. God is not an isolated being, but communion and love. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; He is not one Person but three. Between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit there exists a pre-eternal communion of love. This does not imply, however, that we Christians believe in three Gods, but in One. There is but one divine essence and it is indivisible. This is why we speak of one God in Trinity. The unique source of the one divine essence is the Father. He it is who transmits pre-eternally, (icpoai-ωρίως) i.e. without beginning, existence to the Son through pre-eternal generation, and to the Holy Spirit, through pre-eternal procession.

Here we must note that in the Orthodox Church "procession" is contrasted to "sending". The Holy Spirit proceeds pre-eternally from the Father alone. "In time" (temporally) He is sent from the Son for the salvation of man. In other words a distinction is made between the pre-eternal transmission of the divine essence from the Father, and the Divine Economy, i.e. the mystery of man's salvation (John 15,26). The Orthodox Church does not accept the so-called "Filioque", the teaching that the Holy Spirit proceeds "and from the Son".

Our faith in the Triune God is not a man-made discovery, but revelation from God. He who is unap­proachable for man, reveals Himself to man and becomes approachable.

Already in the Old Testament the Triune God appears as the Creator of man and the entire world. He is created not by the Father alone, but from the Father through the Son and is perfected "in the Holy Spirit", with one will and one energy. "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth...and the spirit of God was moving over the face of the water", the Old Testa­ment tells us characteristically, using in Hebrew the word Elohim for God, which is a plural form. And for the creation of man God spoke and said: "let us make man according to our image and likeness" (Gen. 1,26).

We confess that there is only one will and one energy for the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. The Father wills and acts those things which the Son and the Holy Spirit will and act. Many passages in Holy Scrip­ture manifest the unity of will and energy of the divine Persons which make up the One and Trinitarian God. That is why they are characterized as "Lord" (Kyrios), "The Lord God" or even " The Lord Pantocrator" (Almighty). These characteristics are at times attributed to the Father, at other times to the Son and at other times to the Holy Spirit. Thus, the "Lord" whom Isaiah saw (Isaiah 6,1-10) is, according to John 12,36-41, the Son, while according to Acts 28,25-27, the Holy Spirit.

This Trinitarian faith is expressed by Orthodox Christians by the manner in which they baptize and in the way they glorify God: they are baptized "in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (Mtth. 28,19) and they glorify the Triune God: "glory to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit". Orthodox Christians then are baptized in the way that they believe and glorify God: in harmony with their Trinitarian faith. The three Persons of the Holy Trinity are not separated, neither are they confused; they exist one in the other (perichoresis); i.e. each one of the divine persons is always within each of the other two. There where the Father is, is also the Son and the Holy Spirit. And wherever the Son is, there also is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Where the Holy Spirit is, there also are the Father and the Son.

As we have mentioned, there is only one source which pre-eternally provides the divine essence: the Father. That which has been revealed to us concerning the distinction of the divine persons is the manner in which the divine essence is imparted: to the Son: through pre-eternal generation; the Father pre-eternally begets the Son; to the Holy Spirit: through pre-eternal procession; the Holy Spirit pre-eternally proceeds from the Father.

This divine revelation of the Triune God was given for man's salvation and not in order to satisfy his curiosity. According to the Christian teaching, man was created according to God's image. Knowing therefore that God is a communion of persons, man delves into the knowledge of his own nature; he realizes that he also is not condemned to isolation, but created for communion and love. If God, who is man's archetype, were not Triune, then man could never realize that which he so deeply desires: communion and love. His entire life would be without any release. This is why we declare that our faith in the Holy Trinity constitutes man's only hope: "we have found true faith in worshipping the Trinity undivided; for the Trinity has saved us" epigrammatically states one of the hymns of the Divine Liturgy.

In regard to this faith, the Orthodox Christian does not try to convince others with logical arguments so that they will accept it. For should he do so, he is obliged to move about in the field of purely human searching and not on the level of God's revelation.

Addressing himself to the Corinthians, St. Paul underlines: "God has revealed [these things] to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God...So also no one comprehends God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed upon us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one." (I Cor. 2, 10-15).

In unity with the Trinitarian faith the Orthodox Church chants:

"Come, Ο ye peoples, let us worship the Godhead of three Hypostases:

the Son in the Father, with the Holy Spirit; for the Father timelessly begat the Son,

Who is co-eternal and of one throne; and the Holy Spirit was in the Father, glorified with the Son; one Might, one Essence, one Godhead, which we all worship saying:

Holy God,
Who didst create all things through the Son, with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Mighty,
through Whom we have known the Father,
and through Whom the Holy Spirit came to the world.
Holy Immortal, the Comforting Spirit,
Who proceedest from the Father and resteth in the Son. Ο Holy Trinity, glory be to Thee

(the Doxastikon of Pentecost Vespers).

Its Faith, Worship and Life

Rev. Antonios Alevisopoulos, Th. D. Ph. D

Translated by Rev. Stephen Avramides

Saturday, January 22, 2011

St Brihtwald of Wilton

Commemorated on January 22

Saint Brihtwald (Berhtwald) was the last Bishop of Ramsbury, Wiltshire. After his death, the See was transferred to Old Sarum.

Originally a monk of Glastonbury, he was renowned for his visions and prophecies. St Brihtwald died in 1045 and was buried in Glastonbury Abbey.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Friday, January 21, 2011

Virginmartyr Agnes of Rome

Commemorated on January 21

The holy Virgin Martyr Agnes was born at Rome during the third century. Her parents were Christians and they raised her in the Christian Faith. From her youth she devoted herself to God, and dedicated herself to a life of virginity, refusing all other suitors.

When she refused to enter into marriage with the son of the city official Symphronius, one of his associates revealed to him that Agnes was a Christian. The wicked Eparch decided to subject the holy virgin to shame and he ordered that she be stripped and and sent to a brothel for disdaining the pagan gods. But the Lord would not permit the saint to suffer shame. As soon as she was disrobed, long thick hair grew from her head covering her body. An angel was also appointed to guard her. Standing at the door of the brothel, he shone with a heavenly light which blinded anyone who came near her.

The son of the Eparch also came to defile the virgin, but fell down dead before he could touch her. Through the fervent prayer of St Agnes, he was restored to life. Before his father and many other people he proclaimed, "There is one God in the heavens and on earth: the Christian God, and the other gods are but dust and ashes!" After seeing this miracle, 160 men believed in God and were baptized, and then suffered martyrdom.

St Agnes, at the demand of the pagan priests, was given over to torture. They tried to burn her as a witch, but the saint remained unharmed in the fire, praying to God. After this they killed her by stabbing her in the throat. Through her death at the age of thirteen, St Agnes escaped everlasting death and inherited eternal life. The holy virgin martyr was buried by her parents in a field they owned outside of Rome.

Many miracles occurred at the grave of St Agnes. Her holy and grace-filled relics rest in the church built in her honor, along the Via Nomentana.

Troparion - Tone 4
Your lamb Agnes,
calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice:
"I love You, my Bridegroom,
and in seeking You, I endure suffering.
In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You,
and I died so that I might live with You.
Accept me as a pure sacrifice,
for I have offered myself in love."
Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Holy Martyrs Inna, Pinna and Rimma-Disciples of the Apostle Andrew, in Scythia

           Martyr Rimma
Martyr Inna
Commemorated on January 20

The Holy Martyrs Inna, Pinna and Rimma were Slavs from northern Scythia (modern Bulgaria), and they were disciples of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called. They preached the Gospel of Christ and they baptized many barbarians who converted to the true Faith. They were seized by the local chieftain, but they would not deny Christ, nor would they offer sacrifice to idols.

It was wintertime, and the rivers were so frozen that not only people, but also horses with carts could travel on the ice. The chieftain had the saints tied to logs on the ice, and gradually lowered them into the freezing water. When the ice reached their necks, they surrendered their blessed souls to the Lord.

Troparion - Tone 4

Your lambs Inna, Pinna and Rimma,
call out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice:
"I love You, my Bridegroom,
and in seeking You, I endure suffering.
In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You,
and I died so that I might live with You.
Accept me as a pure sacrifice,
for I have offered myself in love."
Through their prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Venerable Macarius the Deacon of the Kiev Caves

Commemorated on January 19

Saint Macarius the Deacon lived in the Far Caves of Kiev, and is commemorated on January 19 because of his namesake, St Macarius of Egypt. St Macarius lived during the thirteenth-fourteenth centuries, and was distinguished by his lack of covetousness. He possessed great fervor for the temple of God and he continuously labored in reading Holy Scripture and in fasting.

According to Tradition, he was frequently ill as a child, and his parents vowed that they would offer their son to the Monastery of the Caves if he were made healthy. By his mildness and humility he earned the love of the brethren, who taught him to read and to write. Because of his piety of life he was ordained as a deacon. The Lord also granted him the gift of wonderworking.

St Macarius of the Far Caves is also commemorated on August 28. There is a general commemoration of all the wonderworkers of the Kiev Caves on the second Sunday of Great Lent.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

St Ephraim the Lesser

Commemorated on January 18

Today little is known about the life of venerable Ephraim the Lesser, the great 11th-century writer, translator, philosopher, and defender of the Georgian Church. His work Reminiscences and other sources, however, provide us with the means to speculate about the major periods of his life and labors.

In 1027, when King Bagrat IV (1027–1072) ascended the Georgian throne, many noblemen of the Tao region in southern Georgia relocated to Greece. Among them was the honorable Vache, son of Karichi, whom scholars believe was Ephraim’s father.

After receiving a Greek education in Constantinople, Ephraim settled in the Black Mountains near Antioch and began his labors there. His achievements in Georgian theological and philosophical writing are immeasurable. The number of his works is almost one hundred, and the subjects cover nearly every branch of theological inquiry. Ephraim even developed his own theory of translation, which later formed the foundation for written composition in the Georgian language. His theory consists of three essential points:

1. A composition must be translated from the original, that is, from the language in which it was first written. 2. The translation must carry the same literal meaning as the original, but accuracy in this regard must not violate the nature of the language into which the text is being translated. 3. A section of commentary that examines all relevant historical, grammatical, and literary issues should be included with the translated text.

Ephraim translated five of the works of St. Dionysius the Areopagite, The Ascetic Rules of St. Basil the Great, the writings of St. Ephraim the Syrian, commentaries on the Epistles and Psalms, and many other important patristic writings.

Among Ephraim the Lesser’s original works, his most significant is An Explanation of the Reasons for the Conversion of Georgia, a compilation of existing essays and his own commentaries on the nation’s conversion.

In the second half of the 11th century, the monks of Antioch and the Black Mountains began to deny the independence of the Georgian Church. Among other claims, they argued that none of the Apostles had preached the Christian Faith in Georgia. It became necessary to prove that the Georgian Church was indeed autocephalous, and members of the nation’s elite accordingly called upon Ephraim to settle this issue. Ephraim studied many patristic writings in the original Greek, gathered the ancient sources, and succeeded in fully securing the independent existence of the Georgian Church.

St. Ephraim wrote the following about the Apostles’ preaching: “Know that from the time the Apostles were preaching, according to the Prophet David: Their voice was heard through all the earth, and their words resounded in every village (c.f. Ps. 18:4). In Georgia, Andrew the First-called preached the Gospel in Avazgia (now Abkhazeti), and from there he journeyed to Ossetia (now Shida Kartli). Bartholomew also preached in Georgia, in the Kartli region.”

St. Ephraim never left the Black Mountains. In 1091 he was enthroned as the abbot of Kastana Monastery (The precise location of Kastana is unknown, but according to modern archaeologists, it was probably in the Black Mountains. For a full discussion of the subject see: Wachtang Z. Djobadze, Materials for the study of Georgian monasteries in the Western environs of Antioch on the Orontes (Louvain: Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1976), pp. 101–3)

Our holy father Ephraim reposed in the Lord around the year 1101. He is included in a list of the departed compiled by the Council of Ruisi-Urbnisi in 1103, and the year of his death has been approximated from the information given in this source.

Ephraim was canonized by the Orthodox Church of Georgia because of his God-pleasing life and the many commendable works he performed on behalf of the Church and his nation.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2010(with 2009's link here also and further, 2008's):