Monday, June 30, 2014

Apostle and Evangelist Matthew

Commemorated on June 30

The Synaxis of the Glorious and All-Praiseworthy Twelve Apostles of Christ appears to be an ancient Feast. The Church honors each of the Twelve Apostles on separate dates during the year, and has established a general commemoration for all of them on the day after the commemoration of the Glorious and First-Ranked among the Apostles Peter and Paul.

The holy, glorious, all-laudable Apostle and Evangelist Matthew is also commemorated on November 16.

For lists of the Apostles’ names, see: Mt.10:2, Mark 3:14, Luke 6:12, Acts 1:13, 26.


First-enthroned of the apostles, / teachers of the universe: / Entreat the Master of all / to grant peace to the world, / and to our souls great mercy!


Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor / The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles, / Together with Paul and the company of the twelve, / Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith, / Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Icon of the Mother of God of Kasperov

Commemorated on June 29

The Kasperov Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Tradition says that this holy icon had been brought to Cherson from Transylvania by a Serb at the end of the sixteenth century. Passing down from parent and child, the icon had come to a certain Mrs. Kasperova of Cherson in 1809.

One night in February of 1840 she was praying, seeking consolation in her many sorrows. Looking at the icon of the Virgin, she noticed that the features of the icon, darkened by age, had suddenly become bright. Soon the icon was glorified by many miracles, and people regarded it as wonder-working.

During the Crimean War (1853-1856), the icon was carried in procession through the city of Odessa, which was besieged by enemy forces. On Great and Holy Friday, the city was spared. Since that time, an Akathist has been served before the icon in the Dormition Cathedral of Odessa every Friday.

The icon is painted with oils on a canvas mounted on wood. The Mother of God holds Her Son on her left arm. The Child is holding a scroll. St. John the Baptist (Janurary 7) is depicted on one side of the icon, and St. Tatiana (January 12) on the other. These were probably the patron saints of the original owners of the icon.

The Kasperov Icon is commemorated on October 1, June 29, and Bright Wednesday.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Righteous Fathers Sergius and Herman, Founders of Valaam Monastery

Saint Sergius                                                                                  Saint Herman

June 28

By their life and teachings, our righteous Fathers Sergius and Herman did much to spread and confirm Orthodoxy among the Karelian Finns, who had suffered much oppression at the hands of Swedes of the Latin creed. They founded on Lake Ladoga the renowned Monastery of Valaam, which later became one of the chief centers of the monastic life. Both Saints reposed about 1353.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ye appeared as true fulfillers of the Gospel of Christ, living for the sake of Christ as though the world and all therein did not exist. Ye settled on an island in the sea, whereon ye struggled assiduously against the invisible foe; by fasts, vigils, and all-night standing ye wisely subjected your bodies to the spirit; for this cause did ye receive worthy crowns from the right hand of the Almighty One. And now as ye stand before the All-holy Trinity, O all-blessed Fathers Sergius and Herman, pray that we be preserved in peace and that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Having left the worldly life, ye did follow in the steps of Christ, and having reached great Lake Neva, ye settled there on the island of Valaam, and there ye lived angelic lives; from thence ye were translated rejoicing unto the heavenly bridal chamber. And now as ye stand with the Angels before the throne of the Master, remember the children which ye gathered so wisely, that we may joyfully cry unto you with all our soul: Rejoice, most blessed Fathers Sergius and Herman.



SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Samson the Hospitable

June 27

Saint Samson was from Rome and flourished during the reign of Saint Justinian the Great. Being a physician, he came to Constantinople, where he so distinguished himself for his virtue and his love for the sick and the poor that Patriarch Menas ordained him priest. The Emperor Justinian was healed by him, and out of gratitude built him a large hospital, which was afterwards known as "The Hospice of Samson." Saint Samson is one of the Holy Unmercenaries.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
In thy patience thou hast won thy reward, O righteous Father. Thou didst persevere unceasingly in prayer; thou didst love the poor, and didst provide for them in all things. Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God, O blessed and godly-minded Samson, that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
We come together, praising thee with hymns and psalms, O righteous one, as an unrivalled physician and as an intercessor pleasing unto God; O divinely-wise Samson, ever having recourse to thy godly shrine for help, we glorify Christ Jesus, Who gave thee the grace to work thy cures.



SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Appearance of the Icon of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos of Tikhvin

June 26

According to one tradition, this icon was painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. It was formerly situated in the famous Church of Blachernae in Constantinople. In 1383, it appeared upon the waters of Lake Ladoga, whence it travelled miraculously through the air to the city of Tikhvin; there, it remained by the River Tikhvinka, and a monastery was built to shelter the icon. In 1613-14 this monastery miraculously withstood the many attacks of the Swedish invaders. In the early twentieth century it was brought to America and was returned to Russia in 2004. The holy icon is renowned for a great many miracles wrought through it by the all-holy Mother of God, especially for the healing of children.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Today thy most venerable icon, O Lady, hath shone in Heaven upon us like a most brilliant sun, enlightening the world with rays of mercy, which great Russia and America received from on high most reverently as a divine gift, and they glorify thee, O Mother of God, as the Queen of all, and joyfully magnify Christ our God Who was born of thee. Pray to Christ, O our Lady and Queen, O Theotokos, that He keep all Christians unharmed by all assaults of the enemy, and that He save them that venerate His divine image and thy pure icon with faith, O Virgin who knewest not wedlock.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Let us run, O ye peoples, to the Virgin Queen, the Theotokos, thanking Christ our God; and gazing tenderly at her miraculous icon, let us fall down and cry to her: O Lady Mary, having visited this land by the wonderous appearance of thy venerable icon, keep all Christians in peace and prosperity, and make them heirs of the heavenly life; for to thee we cry with faith: Rejoice, O Virgin, salvation of the world.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Righteous Youths James and John of Meniugi, Novgorod

The Righteous Youths James and John of Meniugi were brothers by birth, children of the pious couple Isidore and Barbara. They were killed by miscreants (James at three years of age, and John at five years of age).

Between the years 1682-1689 their relics were found incorrupt and were placed in a reliquary at the Trinity church in Meniugi village, Novgorod diocese, on the site of the former Trinity monastery.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in memory of Saving of Moscow from the Invasion of Khan Achmed

Commemorated on June 23

Today the Church celebrates the miracle of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, which led to the saving of Moscow from the invasion of Khan Achmed in 1480.

The Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is also commemorated on May 21 and August 26.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Holy Martyrs Zeno and Zenas of Philadelphia

Commemorated on June 22

The Holy Martyrs Zeno and Zenas lived in the Arabian city of Philadelphia, and led a pious life. St Zeno possessed a large fortune, but he distributed his substance to the poor and manumitted slaves. Together with his devoted servant Zenas, he went to the governor and urged him to give up idolatry and accept Christ. They were tied to pillars, struck with iron hooks, and their wounds were rubbed with vinegar and salt.

Their sides and chests were scorched with fire, they were thrown in a pit, and boiling oil was poured over the sufferers. The saints endured all the tortures with forbearance and by the power of God they remained alive. Finally, the martyrs were beheaded with a sword (+ 304).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Venerable Anastasia of Serbia

Commemorated on June 21

Saint Anastasia was the mother of St Sava of Serbia (January 12). She was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Romanus, and received the name Anna when she was baptized. Later, she married the Serbian king Stephen Nemanya (September 24).

She finished her life as a nun, receiving the name Anastasia.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Methodios the Martyr, Bishop of Olympus

June 20

Because of his wisdom and virtue, this Saint was surnamed Eubulus ("of good counsel"). He was an eminent theologian and one of the first to oppose and refute the heretical writings of Origen. According to Jerome (De vir. ill., 83) and Socrates the historian (Eccl. Hist., 6:13), he was bishop, not of Patara (as a sixth century work by Leontius the Byzantine wrongly asserts), but of Olympus in Lycia, and later, of Tyre in Phoenicia. It appears he was called Bishop of Patara by later writers because his famous dialogue concerning the resurrection takes place in that city. He underwent a glorious death as a martyr in Chalkis of Greece in the year 311, under Emperor Maximinus. Among his extant writings is one called Symposium of Virgins.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Methodios. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.



SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Martyr Zosimus the Soldier at Antioch, in Pisidia

The Martyr Zosimus lived in the city of Apollona (Thrace) during the reign of Trajan (89-117), the persecutor of Christians. The saint was consumed with the desire to become a Christian. When he heard about the start of a persecution of Christians, he left military service, was baptized, and devoted himself to prayer and good deeds.

It was reported to the prefect Domitianus of Antioch that Zosimus had betrayed the emperor by taking off his military insignia and attaching himself to Christians. At the trial, St Zosimus confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. He was subjected to fierce torments but, strengthened by the grace of God, he did not feel the pain. The prefect gave orders to heat a copper bed red-hot and to put the saint on it. The martyr made the Sign of the Cross, laid down on the bed, but remained unharmed.

Departing the city, Domitianus gave orders to place iron sandals with sharp nails in the soles on the martyr’s feet, and to have Zosimus follow after him. The Lord gave St Zosimus the strength to follow after the horses.
The martyr was locked in prison, where they tormented him with hunger and thirst, but an angel of the Lord fortified him with bread and water. St Zosimus still refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Finally, he was beheaded, and surrendered his soul to God.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Orthodox Church: "Still and Always The One and Only Church", or, a different title: "Don't get cozy with the Roman Catholic Church". I Ain't.

From here


On the Recent Events in Jerusalem and their Ecclesiological Underpinnings
By a Greek Orthodox priest.

What is one to make of the recent events in Jerusalem commemorating the 50th anniversary of the meeting of Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI, during which the Patriarch of Constantinople, along with the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and other hierarchs of the Patriarchate, met with the Pope of Rome to conduct joint prayer services and issue joint statements? What problems, if any, do these meetings and statements pose to us as Orthodox Christians and to our Orthodox Faith? And, what, in the final analysis, is the essential theological problem at stake here?
These are some of the questions that many faithful ask, and they deserve a thorough answer in return. This short article will attempt to provide some answers, or at least the beginnings of such answers.

Those who would see in these ecumenical gatherings an overwhelmingly positive development speak of them as "exchanges of generosity, goodwill and hope," and "exchanges in the spirit of Christian love" which are "true expressions of the faith of the Apostles, the Fathers, and the Orthodox." The champions of these gatherings never fail to admit that "although there are serious differences" between the Orthodox Church and Catholicism "which must not be overlooked, nevertheless our faith demands that we join together and witness to our shared Christian commitments." This is how a well-known American Orthodox theologian referred to the Jerusalem event and I believe he is accurately repeating the general conception among supporters.

If, however, we are to understand the meaning of these events in a spiritual and theological manner, we must go beyond the tired clichés and overused platitudes and examine the underlying ecclesiology which is either being implied or being expressed by the Patriarch and his supporters during these meetings. It is quite easy, and unfortunately quite common even among Orthodox Christians, to be satisfied with the flowery language of love and reconciliation and not pay attention to the deeper significance of the theology being expressed in word and deed. If we are to avoid such a pitfall and assist others in the same, we must acquire an Orthodox mindset and judge these important matters within the Orthodox framework and criteria.

The underlying problem here that few discuss is the ecclesiological implications of  the Patriarchate and its supporters’ new view of the Church. If the Jerusalem meeting and the accompanying gatherings (such as those in Paris, Boston and Atlanta) are judged to be destructive of Church unity and to undermine the mission of the Church, it is not, of course, because of the flowery language of love and understanding incessantly used on all sides, but because they are not grounded in the Orthodox Faith, in Orthodox ecclesiology. If, however, our representatives in these meetings are not expressing an Orthodox teaching on the Church, what are they expressing?

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of previous statements by hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople one could reference in order to answer this question. Citing them is both beyond the scope of this article and unnecessary, for in remarks made by the Patriarch of Constantinople in his first speech given in Jerusalem on May 23rd, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the essence of the new ecclesiology is clearly articulated:

The One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, founded by the "Word in the beginning," by the one "truly with God," and the Word "truly God", according to the evangelist of love, unfortunately, during her engagement on earth, on account of the dominance of human weakness and of impermanence of the will of the human intellect, was divided in time. This brought about various conditions and groups, of which each claimed for itself "authenticity" and "truth." The Truth, however, is One, Christ, and the One Church founded by Him.

Both before and after the great Schism of 1054 between East and West, our Holy Orthodox Church made attempts to overcome the differences, which originated from the beginning and for the most part from factors outside of the environs of the Church. Unfortunately, the human element dominated, and through the accumulation of "theological," "practical," and "social" additions the Local Churches were led into division of the unity of the Faith, into isolation, which developed occasionally into hostile polemics.

Note that the Patriarch states:

1. The One Church was divided in time.

2. That this division was the result of the dominance of human weakness. It is not stated, but it follows that this human weakness was stronger than the Divine Will for the Church He founded.

3. That the various groups, parts of the One Church, which resulted from this division each "claimed" to be the authentic and true Church. The implication here is that none of them, including the Orthodox Church, can rightfully lay claim to being exclusively the One Church.

4. And, yet, somehow, in spite of these competing groups all exclusively claiming authenticity and truth, the Church is one. Once again, it follows from all that is said that this oneness exists only outside of time, since the Church, as he said, was divided in time.
In order to gain a total picture of the new ecclesiology being presented, we should add to these views on the Church the Patriarch(ate)’s stance vis-à-vis Catholicism, which was on exhibit in both word and deed throughout the Jerusalem event. In all of the promotional material and patriarchal addresses, Catholicism—which synods of the Church and saints have for centuries now considered to be a heretical parasynagogue—is considered to be a Local Church, the Church in Rome. Likewise, the current Pope is considered to be a "contemporary successor of the early apostle [Peter] and current leader of the ancient church [of Rome]." The Patriarch has also referred to the current Pope as his brother bishop, co-responsible for the good governing of the One Church. He considers the sacraments performed by the Pope and his clerics as the self-same mysteries of the One Church. Thus it is not surprising that he views the Church as divided in history and yet somehow still one, if only outside of history.
What can we now say of this image of the Church presented by the Patriarch? We can say that:

1. It is in total harmony with the Second Vatican Council’s new ecclesiology as laid out in the conciliar documents Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio.

2. It is entirely at odds with the vision of the Church presented in relevant conciliar documents of the Orthodox Church, such as the decisions of the Council of 1484, the Patriarchal Encyclicals of 1848 and 1895, and in the writings of those Holy Fathers who have expressed the mind of the Church on the subject, such as Sts. Gregory Palamas, Nectarius of Pentapolis, Mark of Ephesus, Paisius Velichkovsky, and many others.

The Patriarch and his supporters are aligning themselves and attempting to align all of Orthodoxy with the ecclesiological line drawn during the Second Vatican Council. This new ecclesiology allows for a division of the Church "in time," such that the Orthodox Church and Catholicism are considered "two lungs" of the One Church—yet nevertheless divided. In this ecclesiology, the universal Church includes both Catholicism and all other Christian confessions. It is supposed that the Church is a communion of bodies that are more or less churches, a communion realized at various degrees of fullness, such that one part of the Church, that under the Pope, is considered "fully" the Church, and another part of the Church, such as a Protestant confession, "imperfectly" or only "partially" the Church. Thus, this ecclesiology allows for participation in the Church’s sacraments outside of her canonical boundaries, outside of the one Eucharistic assembly, which is antithetical with a properly understood "Eucharistic ecclesiology." 

Hence, the ecclesiology expressed in word and deed by the Patriarch of Constantinople and the ecclesiology of Vatican II converge in the acceptance of a divided Church, or a Church rent asunder by the heavy hand of history. It might be characterized as ecclesiological Nestorianism, in which the Church is divided into two separate beings: on the one hand the Church in heaven, outside of time, alone true and whole; on the other, the Church, or rather "churches," on earth, in time, deficient and relative, lost in history’s shadows, seeking to draw near to one another and to that transcendent perfection, as much as is possible in "the weakness of the impermanent human will."

In this ecclesiology, the tumultuous and injurious divisions of human history have overcome the Church "in time." The human nature of the Church, being divided and rent asunder, has been separated from the Theanthropic Head. This is a Church on earth deprived of its ontological nature and not "one and holy," no longer possessing all the truth through its hypostatic union with the divine nature of the Logos.

This ecclesiology is, without doubt, at total odds with the belief and confession of the Orthodox in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Church of Christ, as the Apostle Paul supremely defined it, is His body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (τὸ σῶμα Αὐτοῦ, τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσι πληρουμένου). The fullness of Christ is identified with the Body of Christ which is, like Christ when He walked on earth in time, as Theanthropos, visible and indivisible, being marked by divine-human characteristics. As Vladimir Lossky has written, all that can be asserted or denied about Christ can equally well be applied to the Church, inasmuch as it is a theandric organism. It follows, then, that just as we could never assert that Christ is divided, neither could we countenance the Church ever being divided. (cf. 1 Cor 1:13).

The Church, it goes without saying, was founded, established, spread, and exists to this day in time (and will exist until the Second Coming, and beyond). This is so because the Church is the Theanthropic Body of the Christ, who entered into time, walked, died, rose, ascended and is to return again in time. The Church is the continuation of the Incarnation in time. And just as our Lord was seen and touched and venerated in the flesh, in time, so too does His Body, the Church, continue—united and holy—in time. If we were to accept the division of the Church, we would be accepting the nullification of the Incarnation and the salvation of the world. As this new ecclesiology of a "divided church" ultimately annuls man’s salvation, it could be rightly considered as heresy.

Our belief in the unity and continuity of the Body of Christ, our confession of faith, this dogma of the Church, is based on nothing less than the divine promises of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, when he said such words as these:

"When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." (Jn. 16:13).

"I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock [of faith] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Mt 16:18).

"Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Mt 28:16).

"In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (Jn 16:33).
Likewise, from the mouth of Christ, the divine Apostle Paul, we hear more promises of the indivisibility and invincibility of the Church:

"And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is His body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Eph 1:22-23).

"The house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Tit 3:5).
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism." (Eph 4:5).

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever."(Heb 13:8).

And, from the Apostle of Love, John the Theologian, we read that it is our faith in the God-man and His divine-human Body that is invincible and victorious over the fallen spirit of this world, which is above all, a spirit of division:

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 Jn 5:4).

So, then, has not the Spirit of Truth led His Church into "all truth"? Or, are we as Orthodox only advancing a "claim" of authenticity and truth? Has He not guarded His Church so that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it? Or, has "human weakness" overcome Christ’s Body? Has He not remained with us, guiding us even until today and on to the end of time? Or, does He no longer exist as One "in time"? Has not our faith in the God-man overcome the world and the spirit of division? Or, is it, as the Patriarch supposes, that the "human element" and "human weakness" has overcome our faith and the unity of the Body of Christ?

To better understand the impossibility of both the Orthodox Church and Catholicism maintaining the identity of the One Church while being divided over matters of faith, let us look briefly at the marital union. In marriage, a man and a woman are united in Christ. There exists a three-fold unity, or a unity between two persons in a third Person. This is no mere human accord. This is a theanthropic unity, a manifestation of the mystery of the Incarnation and thus of the Church, according to the divine words of the Apostle Paul: This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Eph 5:32).

All unity in the Church is theanthropic. Indeed, truly united human beings are only to be found in the Church, for in the Church alone does man put on divine-humanity (Gal 3:27), the human nature of Christ. As the fallen, unredeemed human nature is hopelessly broken and divided within itself, separated from the principle of his unity, God, man can only be united by "putting on" a new human nature, the human nature of the God-man, which takes place in the mysteries, first of which is baptism. Therefore, we are restored to unity in ourselves, between ourselves and with God only through unity with the God-man in His human nature, in His Body, the Church.

Has there been division? Has the "marriage" fallen apart? Know that first one of the two persons ceased to exist "in Christ," fell away from Christ, and only then from the other. This human division is necessarily preceded by a break in communion with the Divine Person in which the two persons were united. Something similar can be said on the ecclesiastical plane.

The Patriarch maintains that even though "the Local Churches were led into division of the unity of the Faith" and "the One Church was divided in time," nevertheless both the Orthodox Church and Catholicism are united to Christ and manifest this unity with Him in common sacraments. This is impossible, however, for if both were united to Christ, they would necessarily be united to one another, since they find their unity in Christ. Simply put: if we are both in Christ, we are united. If we are divided, we can’t both be in Christ. In terms of ecclesiology, this means that both can’t be "the Church."

From the moment that one holds that the Church is divided, he can no longer hold that the members of the Church are united to the theanthropic nature of the Body of Christ. The Church that is envisioned is necessarily a merely human organism, in which the "dominance of human weakness and of [the] impermanence of the will of the human intellect" reigns and brings division.

We can also see this truth evidenced in the words of the Apostle of Love, the beloved Evangelist, John the Theologian. He states that if a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar. (1 Jn 4:20). Similarly, since love unites us to God, if we say that we are united with God but divided from our brother, we do not speak the truth. Furthermore, on the ecclesiastical plane, if we say that the "churches" are both united with God but are divided between themselves, we do not speak the truth. For, if both are united to God they would also be united to one another, since unity in the Church is in and through Christ.

Based on this new teaching from the Patriarch(ate), some maintain that a "false union" has already been forged. Most dismiss this claim straightaway. It is true that the common cup, at least officially and openly, was not at stake in Jerusalem or immediately anywhere. However, a type of "false union" has undeniably been established on the level of ecclesiology. For, when the mysteries of a heterodox confession are recognized per se, as the very mysteries of the Church, and, likewise, their bishops are accepted and embraced as bishops of the One Church, then have we not already established a union with them? Have we not a union both in terms of recognizing their "ecclesiality" (i.e., the One Church in Rome) and in adopting a common confession of faith with respect to the Church?

If we recognize their baptism as the one baptism, it is inconsistent not to recognize the Eucharistic Synaxis in which their baptism is performed. And if we recognize their Eucharist as the One Body, it is both hypocritical and sinful not to establish Eucharistic communion with them immediately.

It is precisely here that the untenable nature of the Patriarchate’s stance becomes apparent. The fact that the Church has never accepted inter-communion with Catholicism witnesses not to just some tactical decision or conservative stance, but to her self-identity as the One Church and to her view of Catholicism as heresy. If this were not the case, it would be as if we are playing with the mysteries and the truth of the Gospel. As St. Mark of Ephesus famously expressed it, the "cutting off of the Latins" was precisely because the Church no longer saw their "church," their Eucharistic assembly, as if in a mirror, as expressing the "Catholic" Church in Rome. Their identity was no longer that of the Church, but of heresy.

From all that has been written here, it should be clear that there are eternal consequences from every new departure from "the faith once delivered," and the new ecclesiology is no exception. By ignoring the contemporary voices of the Church—from St. Justin Popovich to the Venerable Philotheos Zervakos, to the Venerable Paisios the Athonite—those who went to Jerusalem espousing the new ecclesiology are leading their unsuspecting followers out of the Church and those already outside further away from entry into the Church.

This new ecclesiology is the spiritual and theological challenge of our day to which every Orthodox Christian remains indifferent to his own peril, for it carries with it soteriological consequences. In the face of a terribly divisive and deceptive heresy, we are all called to confess Christ today, as did our ancient forbearers in the days of Arianism. Our confession of faith, however, is not only in His Person in the Incarnation, but His Person in the continuation of the Incarnation, the Church. To confess the faith today is to confess and declare the unity of His divine and human natures in His Body, the one and only Orthodox Church—unmixed, unchanged, undivided and inseparable (ἀσυγχύτως, ἀτρέπτως, ἀδιαιρέτως, ἀχωρίστως). [Oros of the Fourth Ecumenical Council].

Martyrs Leontius, Hypatius, and Theodulus at Tripoli in Syria

Commemorated on June 18

The Holy Martyrs Theodulus, Leontius, and Hypatius were Roman soldiers. The holy Martyr Leontius, a Greek by origin, served as a military-chief in the imperial army in the Phoenician city of Tripoli during the reign of Vespasian (70-79). Leontius was distinguished for his bravery and good sense, and the people of Tripoli held him in deep respect because of his virtue.

The emperor appointed the Roman senator Adrian as governor of the Phoenician district, with full powers to hunt out Christians, and in case of their refusal to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods, to give them over to torture and death. And on his way to Phoenicia Adrian received a report that St Leontius had turned many away from worshipping the pagan gods. The governor sent the tribune Hypatius with a detachment of soldiers to Tripoli so as to find and arrest the Christian Leontius. Along the way the tribune Hypatius fell seriously ill, and being near death, he saw in a dream an angel, which said: "If you wish to be healed, you and your soldiers should say three times: 'God of Leontius, help me.'"

Opening his eyes Hypatius beheld the angel and said: "I was sent to arrest Leontius, how is it that I should appeal to his God?" At this moment the angel became invisible. Hypatius told his dream to the soldiers, among whom was his friend Theodulus, and all of them together asked for help from the God Whom St Leontius confessed. Hypatius was immediately healed to the great joy of his soldiers, but only Theodulus sat aside, pondering the miracle. His soul was filled with love for God, and he told Hypatius to proceed twice as quickly to the city in search of St Leontius.

Upon their arrival in the city, a stranger met them and invited them to his house, where he lavishly hosted the travelers. Learning that their hospitable host was St Leontius, they fell on their knees and asked him to enlighten them with faith in the True God. They were baptized here, and when St Leontius prayed over them calling on the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, a luminous cloud overshadowed the newly-baptized and poured forth rain. The remaining soldiers in search of their commander arrived in Tripoli, where the governor Adrian had also arrived. Learning what had happened, he ordered Sts Leontius, Hypatius, and Theodulus to be brought to him. After threatening them with torture and death, he demanded that they renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the Roman gods.

All the martyrs firmly confessed their faith in Christ. St Hypatius was put under a column and raked with iron claws, and St Theodulus was mercilessly beaten with rods. Seeing the steadfastness of the saints, they beheaded them. And after torture, they sent St Leontius to prison. In the morning he came before the governor. Adrian tried to entice the holy martyr with honors and rewards, and accomplishing nothing, he gave him over to new tortures. The holy martyr was suspended head downwards from a pillar with a heavy stone about his neck, but nothing could make him renounce Christ. The governor gave orders to beat the sufferer with rods until he died. They then threw the body of the holy Martyr Leontius outside the city, but Christians reverently gave it burial near Tripoli. The death of the holy martyrs occurred between 70-79.

The accusation against St Leontius, and his sufferings and death are recorded on tin tablets prepared by the court scribe [commentarisius]. These tablets were placed at the grave of the holy martyr.

Troparion - Tone 3

Girded with divine strength you triumphed in your contest,O Leontius, the Savior's trophy–bearer.You sprang into the contest like a lion,And destroyed the enemy's might.O glorious martyr, entreat Christ our God to grant us his great mercy!

Troparion - Tone 4
Your holy martyr Leontius 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 3
You confounded the wicked plans of tyrants and exposed the godless worship of the pagan Greeks.You illumined all mankind with the knowledge of God by your teachings of true piety, divinely-wise martyr. Therefore, Leontius, we lovingly honor your memory.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Holy Martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ismael of Persia

Commemorated on June 17

The Holy Martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ismael, brothers by birth, were descended from an illustrious Persian family. Their father was a pagan, but their mother was a Christian, who baptized the children and raised them with firm faith in Christ the Savior.

When they reached adulthood, the brothers entered military service. Speaking on behalf of the Persian emperor Alamundar, they were his emissaries in concluding a peace treaty with the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian received them with due honor and showed them his favor. But when the brothers refused to take part in a pagan sacrifice, Julian became angry. He annulled the treaty and incarcerated the ambassadors of a foreign country like common criminals.

At the interrogation he told them that if they scorned the gods he worshipped, it would be impossible to reach any peace or accord between the two sides. The holy brothers answered that they were sent as emissaries of their emperor on matters of state, and not to argue about “gods.” Seeing their firmness of faith, the emperor ordered the brothers to be tortured.

They beat the holy martyrs, then nailed their hands and feet to trees. Later, they drove iron spikes into their heads, and wedged sharp splinters under their fingernails and toenails. During this time of torment the saints glorified God and prayed as if they did not feel the tortures.

Finally, the holy martyrs were beheaded. Julian ordered their bodies to be burned, and suddenly there was an earthquake. The ground opened up and the bodies of the holy martyrs disappeared into the abyss. After two days of fervent prayer by the Christians, the earth returned the bodies of the holy brothers, from which a sweet fragrance issued forth. Many pagans, witnessing the miracle, came to believe in Christ and were baptized.

Christians reverently buried the bodies of the holy martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ismael in the year 362. Since that time the relics of the holy passion-bearers have been glorified with miracles.

When he heard about the murder of his emissaries, and that Julian was marching against him with a vast army, the Persian emperor Alamundar mustered his army and started off toward the border of his domain. The Persians vanquished the Greeks in a great battle, and Julian the Apostate was killed by the holy Great Martyr Mercurius (November 24).

Thirty years later the pious emperor Theodosius the Great (+ 397) built at Constantinople a church in honor of the holy martyrs, and St Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (May 12), then still a hieromonk, wrote a Canon in memory and in praise of the holy brothers.


Your holy martyrs Manuel, Sabel, and Ismael, 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!


Podoben: “Seeking the highest...” / Because of your perfect faith in Christ, all-blessed ones, / you drank the cup of His sufferings with generous hearts. / Three in number, you renounced the idols of Persia / and proclaimed your belief in the Holy Trinity. / We beseech you to pray for us all.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Venerable Moses of Optina

Saint Moses (Putilov) was born on January 15, 1782 in the city of Borisogleb in the Yaroslavl province, and was baptized with the name Timothy. His siblings were called Jonah, Basil, Cyril, Anysia, and Alexander. John Putilov named all his children after the saint commemorated on the eighth day after their birth, so the future St Moses was named for the holy Apostle Timothy of the Seventy (January 22). The children were educated at home, since their parents feared they would be corrupted in some way if they were sent away to school.

When Timothy was nineteen, his father sent him and his younger brother Jonah to work in Moscow. While in Moscow they met the Elders Alexander and Philaret of the Novospassky Monastery, who had spiritual ties to St Paisius Velichkovsky (November 15). Through their aquaintance with these two ascetics of piety, the brothers decided that they also wished to become monks. In May of 1805 they visited the Sarov monastery (which their widowed brother-in-law Cosmas Krundishev had entered in November 1804) and spoke with St Seraphim (January 2). The brothers remained at Sarov for two and a half years. At first they were assigned to the bakery, and then to other obediences.

In 1811, following the advice of Hieromonk Alexis of Moscow’s Simonov Monastery, Timothy went to live with the hermits of the Roslavl forests. There he was placed under the guidance of Elder Athanasius, a disciple of St Paisius Velichkovsky. In time, he received the monastic tonsure from Fr Athanasius and was named Moses. His sponsor at his tonsure was Elder Dositheus, who had lived in the Rostov forests for forty years.

Alexander, the youngest brother of Fr Moses, came to the Roslavl forest on January 15, 1816 to share the life of the monks. Four years later, he was tonsured with the name Anthony. He was placed in the care of Fr Moses, to whom he remained obedient for the rest of his life.

In 1821 Bishop Philaret of Kaluga (later Metropolitan of Kiev) suggested that the Putilov brothers move to the Optina Hermitage with a few monks and establish a skete near the monastery, where they could live in greater solitude. Sts Moses and Anthony arrived at Optina on July 6, 1822 to begin their labors. Their first task was to clear away some trees from the place they had chosen, and to uproot the stumps. They built a small cell and enclosed it with a fence, and also built a church dedicated to St John the Baptist.

Bishop Philaret suggested that Fr Moses be ordained, but he absolutely refused to consider it. The bishop said, “If you do not agree to this, I will call you to account for it at the Dread Judgment of the Lord.” Only then would Fr Mose consent. He was ordained as a deacon on December 22, 1822, and to the holy priesthood on December 25. At the same time, he was appointed Father Confessor for the whole monastery.

Fr Moses was chosen to be the Superior of Optina Hermitage in 1826 when he was forty-three, serving in this capacity for thirty-seven years. He was prepared for this service by his years of living in the wilderness under the guidance of his Elder, and by his study of patristic writings. He was mature in years, and he had also acquired a spiritual maturity through his patient endurance of tribulations and acceptance of God’s will in all things.

Optina underwent many changes during this time, and the number of monks increased. The size of the monastery’s property was doubled, orchards of fruit trees and berry bushes were planted, a library was established, and many buildings were constructed, including a cathedral and two churches.

St Moses did not have the money for all these projects, but he undertook them anyway, trusting in God to provide the means. Sometimes he would even travel to Moscow to solicit donations to the monastery. When people asked if he had enough money for his projects, he would show them a few roubles. Someone would say, “Father, that is nothing!” Then Fr Moses would reply, “Are you forgetting about God? I may have nothing, but He has everything.”

During a time of famine there was scarcely enough food to feed the monks. It was just then that Fr Moses began the construction of guest houses on the monastery grounds and hired people from the neighboring towns and villages to do the work. The monastery not only paid their wages, but also fed their families. One of the monks was concerned that the coming famine would force them to postpone the construction and lay off the workers. St Moses told him that the people would not starve, because as long as God sent gifts to the monastery they would share them with the people.

Though he was short-tempered by nature, St Moses struggled to acquire patience and meekness. If he felt himself becoming angry, he would leave to pray by himself for a while. Once he had calmed down, he would return. He would also advise people to keep the rule of St Dorotheus (June 5) for being at peace: “Do not desire that things turn out the way you would like, but desire whatever happens. That way you will be at peace” (Seventeenth Instruction).

St Moses did not sleep much. He would arise before midnight, and usually came to church for Matins. He said that the Bloodless Sacrifice was offered for us at Liturgy, and so the monk should sacrifice his own rest at Matins.

During Fr Moses’ time the monastery published sixteen volumes of patristic writings under the direction of St Macarius (September 7). St Moses would send these books free of charge to various monasteries and individuals for their spiritual benefit.

Although St Moses concerned himself with every aspect of the monastery’s life, his greatest achievement was to establish eldership at Optina. He received St Leonid (October 11) and St Macarius into the monastery, yet he submitted his will to them. He made no decisions, and would not tonsure any monk without first seeking their counsel. St Moses had the gift of eldership himself, but preferred not to offer spiritual counsel to the brethren. He left this to Fr Leonid or Fr Macarius.

The saint endeavored to hide his spiritual gifts from others, but people knew that he was clairvoyant, and that his holy prayers were answered by God. Whenever anyone praised him for anything, he would smile and say, “I do not agree with you. I have my doubts.”

On June 15, 1862 Father Archimandrite Moses became very weak, and had to be supported by others when he received Holy Communion because he did not wish to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ while lying down. That evening he listened as the Gospel according to St John was being read for him. At midnight he received Holy Communion again, although this time he received lying down.

A few hours later, St Moses raised his right hand and those in the room came to receive his blessing. He continued to bless, even when there was no one there. Evidently, he was blessing people he knew in other places. Later the monastery received a letter from a person in St Petersburg who said that he had seen St Moses in a dream at the very hour when he was dying and blessing those who were absent. He seemed to see the Elder lying on a bed and blessing each individual member of this person’s family.

Then it was decided to resume reading the Gospel over Fr Moses. The monks took turns reading until about ten o’clock when the Elder breathed a little sigh and surrendered his soul to God. At that very moment, the monk who was reading reached the end of the sixtenth chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Truly I say unto you, there are some standing here who shall not taste of death until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27-28).
Early in his life, when he visited the Sarov monastery and saw the life of the monks there, he resolved not to possess anything during his life. Ironically, he was forced to deal with raising money for building projects, and with paying the workers at Optina. After his death the money coffer in which he kept the monastery funds was opened. Inside they found a single ten kopek coin stuck between the bottom and side of the chest. His brother St Anthony remarked, “Fr Moses probably did not notice it, otherwise he would have spent it.”

Several years after his death, the holy relics of St Moses were found to be incorrupt.

The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996. The work of uncovering the relics of Sts Leonid, Macarius, Hilarion, Ambrose, Anatole I, Barsanuphius and Anatole II began on June 24/July 7, 1998 and was concluded the next day. However, because of the church Feasts (Nativity of St John the Baptist, etc.) associated with the actual dates of the uncovering of the relics, Patriarch Alexey II designated June 27/July 10 as the date for commemorating this event. The relics of the holy Elders now rest in the new church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.

The Optina Elders were glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

St Doulas the Passion-Bearer of Egypt

Commemorated on June 15

Saint Doulas the Passion-Bearer was a monk at one of the Egyptian monasteries. He distinguished himself by his meekness, humility and obedience. For twenty years he endured the mockery, abuse and contempt of several of the monastic brethren. At first it was difficult for him to bear up and humbly endure the insult, but eventually he reached such a degree of passionlessness (apatheia), that he pitied his detractors and prayed for them with all his heart.

At the end of his life St Doulas underwent temptation. A certain monk stole some church vessels and hid them. When the Igumen and elders of the monastery started to investigate the theft, they accused St Doulas of this sin, because on that day he had not appeared at the Vigil service. St Doulas had always come to church before this, but he had been ill that day, and was unable to attend the service. They led St Doulas to the elders, to whom he protested his innocence, but his enemies slandered him, saying that they were witnesses of his sin. When he saw that they did not believe his words, St Doulas did not argue but said, “Forgive me, holy Fathers, I am a sinner.” The Igumen ordered that the innocent Doulas be stripped of his monastic garb and dressed in secular clothes. Sobbing bitterly, St Doulas prayed, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, because of Thy Holy Name I clothed myself in monastic garb, but now, through my sins, it is stripped from me.”

St Doulas was placed in chains, and the steward demanded to know where the church vessels were hidden, but the innocent passion-bearer only repeated, “Forgive me, I have sinned.”

Then they turned him over to the civil authorities for trial and subjected him to torture, but the saint repeated, “I have neither silver, nor the lost vessels.” The city eparch asked the monks what to do with him, since they had delivered him over to the secular court. They answered, “Do with him as the laws prescribe.” The saint was sentenced to have both his hands cut off. Before the execution of the sentence the governor said, “Tell us where the vessels are and you shall go free.” The saint answered, “Governor, do you want me to confess something that I did not do? I do not want to tell lies about myself, since every lie is from the devil.” They took the saint to the place of execution. Finally, the perpetrator of the theft experienced remorse and went to the Igumen to confess that he had committed the crime.

After twenty years of exile and humiliation, St Doulas was allowed to return to the monastery. The monks began to ask forgiveness of the saint. Not only did he not bear them malice, but he was even grateful that they had given him the opportunity to wipe out his sins by enduring guiltless suffering. The saint asked the Lord to pardon his accusers.

After three days they found the saint had departed to the Lord while kneeling at prayer. His body was locked in the cathedral, and burial was delayed until the arrival of the Igumen and brethren of a nearby monastery. When everyone had gathered and gone into the church, the body of the innocent passion-bearer was not in the cathedral. Only his clothes and sandals remained.

Thus, those who had accused St Doulas of sin, were shown to be unworthy of burying his holy body.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2013(with 2012's link here also and further, 2011, 2010, 2009 and even 2008!)