Friday, August 31, 2007

The Placing of the Cincture (Sash) of the Most Holy Mother of God

Commemorated on August 31

The Placing of the Venerable Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos in a church of Constantinople's Chalcoprateia district took place during the reign of the emperor Theodosius the Younger. Before this the holy relic, entrusted to the Apostle Thomas by the Mother of God Herself, was kept by pious Christians at Jerusalem after Her Dormition. During the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise (886-911), his wife Zoe was afllicted with an unclean spirit, and he prayed that God would heal her.

The empress had a vision that she would be healed of her infirmity if the Belt of the Mother of God were placed upon her. The emperor then asked the Patriarch to open the coffer. The Patriarch removed the seal and opened the coffer in which the relic was kept, and the Belt of the Mother of God appeared completely whole and undamaged by time. The Patriarch placed the Belt on the sick empress, and immediately she was freed from her infirmity. They sang hymns of thanksgiving to the Most Holy Theotokos, then they placed the venerable Belt back into the coffer and resealed it.
In commemoration of the miraculous occurrence and the twofold Placing of the venerable Belt, the Feast of the Placing of the Venerable Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos was established. Parts of the holy Belt are in the Vatopedi monastery on Mt. Athos, in Trier monastery, and in Georgia.
Troparion - Tone 8
Ever-Virgin Theotokos, protectress of mankind,you have given given your people a powerful legacy:the robe and sash of your most honored body which remained incorrupt throughout your seedless childbearing;for through you time and nature are renewed!Therefore we implore you: "Grant peace to your people and to our souls great mercy!"

Kontakion - Tone 4
Today your flock celebrates the enshrinement of your precious sash,and it earnestly cries out to you:"Rejoice, O Virgin, boast of all Christians!"

Christ is in our Midst XXXI(letter 45)

" 45

2 February 1950

'O zealous Protectress, Mother of the Lord most High15.'

Good health to you, most God-loving handmaiden of God!

You have not yet learnt to wage war with the enemy of the human race. He came to you with his sly intrigues and you are nearly falling into despair. Calm yourself and do not be upset. It is the enemy bringing you recollections of former errors. You should not accept them; simply pay no attention. Here is what St Mark the Ascetic writes: 'When past sins are remembered in detail they harm a hopeful person. For if they bring with them grief, they repel hope; and if they are visualized without grief, they again introduce the old defilement within.'16 And St Abba Dorotheos said: 'We should not be disturbed even when passion troubles us; for to be upset about it as a matter of foolishness and pride' [p. 194].

Fear pride above all, for it was because of pride that the first angel of light became Satan and for him the Lord has prepared eternal torment. When the enemy introduces thoughts of self-praise, that is the only time when we should recall our former sins, in order to humble ourselves. As it says in the Paterikon, a certain ascetic, when the enemy began to fight him with thoughts of self-praise, would say to himself: 'Old man! Look at your lechery'. As to your former frailties, my child, God forgives you, be at peace.

You have begun to have spells of ill health. What should you do? Rest in God's will: illnesses remind us of our passage into eternity. I wish you health of body and salvation for your soul. The Lord keep you.

15. Words from a troparion.
16. Early Fathers from the Philokalia, p. 91"


Father John here tells his spiritual child not to allow the recollection of former errors to entrench themselves within her.

These recollections have attached to themselves barbs. Thoughts do not simply stand alone but have a "connective reality" inherent in them which are able to make the one thinking the thoughts attached within to the former error.

Father John chastises his disciple here for not having learned how to do battle with Satan.

When Satan brings to our recollection such thoughts we are not to allow their entrenchment but to simply pay no attention, let the thoughts pass through, not to give the barbs in these thoughts the "internal landscape" to grab a hold of and stay.

Grief at recollection entrenches them and to not have grief attached to the old errors brings back the temptation of the sin attached to the memory.

Here, without grief, the sin once again presents itself as alluring, not really a sin at all with a price attached to it, but as something that can be had or done with impunity and no harm to oneself. If harm to oneself is thought of in relation to the sin, the way around this defense to engage the sin is that "I can always repent afterward and the Lord will forgive me."

The danger with such thinking is that first of all we know not when we will draw our last breath and stand before our Lord. With such thinking we tempt His goodness with our willful sin.

Second, the practising of a sin alters the one sinning inwardly and sickens him. Over time, what once was unacceptable becomes acceptable and the Image of God becomes ever more caked with mud and excrement. And as this Image is further caked, the situations we are confronted with also seem ever more so to require sinning to resolve. Sin begets sin. Sin gives birth to sin.

So Father John tells his spiritual child to simply avoid former recollections to gain a harbor within us and to let them simply sail without. In such a manner, then, these thoughts are neutral and "free-floating" until they can connect with the inner landscape and be charged with energy given to them by the sinner's former experience and stained soul's disposition to the acting out the sin again which it has now come to know as its own, having once committed it.

The soul has forever been altered, having come to know the sin it cannot now un-know it.

So let us not allow these former errors to gain the foothold the Evil One knows they have on us by simply, as is within our experience and power and will, letting them pass through.

Read the previous post in this series:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Saints Alexander, John and Paul, Patriarchs of Constantinople


Saint Alexander

Commemorated on August 30

Saints Alexander, John and Paul, Patriarchs of Constantinople, lived at different times, but each of them happened to clash with the activities of heretics who sought to distort the teachings of the Church. St Alexander (325-340) was a vicar bishop during the time of St Metrophanes (June 4), the first Patriarch of Constantinople.

Because of the patriarch's extreme age, Alexander substituted for him at the First Ecumenical Synod at Nicea (325). Upon his death, St Metrophanes left instructions in his will to elect his vicar to the throne of Constantinople. During these times His Holiness Patriarch Alexander had to contend with the Arians and with pagans. Once, in a dispute with a pagan philosopher the saint said to him, "In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ I command you to be quiet!" and the pagan suddenly became mute. When he gestured with signs to acknowledge his errors and affirm the correctness of the Christian teaching, then his speech returned to him and he believed in Christ together with many other pagan philosophers. The faithful rejoiced at this, glorifying God Who had given such power to His saint.

The heretic Arius was punished through the prayer of St Alexander. Arius had apparantly agreed to enter into communion with the Orthodox. When the Emperor asked him if he believed as the Fathers of Nicea taught, he placed his hand upon his breast (where he had cunningly concealed beneath his clothes a document with his own false creed written upon it) and said, "This is what I believe!" St Constantine (May 21), unaware of the deceitful wickedness of Arius, set a day for receiving him into the Church. All night long St Alexander prayed, imploring the Lord not to permit this heretic to be received into communion with the Church.

In the morning, Arius set out triumphantly for the church, surrounded by imperial counselors and soldiers, but divine judgment overtook him. Stopping to take care of a physical necessity, his bowels burst forth and he perished in his own blood and filth, as did Judas (Acts 1:18).

His Holiness Patriarch Alexander, having toiled much, died in the year 340 at the age of 98. St Gregory the Theologian (January 25) mentioned him afterwards in an encomium to the people of Constantinople.

The Service to St Alexander was printed in Venice in 1771. According to some ancient manuscripts, St Alexander ought to be commemorated on June 2. Today he is remembered together with the holy Patriarchs John the Faster (September 2) and Paul the New (eighth century).

Troparion - Tone 3
Initiates of Heaven and teachers of divine truth,You faithfully tended the Church of Christ,Holy Alexander champion of the Trinity,John the son of grace and Paul the crown of bishops.Together we all praise you.

Kontakion - Tone 8
Burning with the love of Christ and taking up the yoke of His holy Cross,You became imitators of His life and communicants of His divine glory.O divinely wise Alexander, wondrous John and glorious Paul,Standing before His throne, pray fervently for our souls.


Christ is in our Midst XXX(Letter 43)

.... " Be well, and in God's protection. Do not be dejected even if you are distracted in prayer; keep on forcing yourself to it."


Father John once again gives his spiritual child this important reminder to keep at it, to go forward in the spiritual life regardless as to how one "feels" doing it.

Once again we must stir up to our memory that to grow spiritually requires much work. What we put into it is to a large extent what we will get out of it. Of course, again, results in particular are in His hands, not our own. It is in our hand to offer our lives unto Him in this fashion, in prayer.
In conversation, my spiritual father has told me and in sermons has stated that the only power, truly, given to the sons of men is that of repentance, to turn from a direction away from God to a direction toward God.

To force ourselves to pray is such a repentance. In distraction I tell myself to quit, to give up, for after all, have I not been praying now these many days, weeks, months, years even and I'm still distracted? Is it not tempting to then believe that since I still fail in clearing my mind and am still distracted that I am accomplishing nothing?
Here, in this work, is something that I believe must be said. A person that trains for anything will needfully spend many mundane hours in honing skill, repeating actions thoughtlessly, execute drills of many kinds in the singular effort to acquire expertise in that which is being endeavored.

For example, a young girl learning to play the piano will necessarily have to spend long hours in scales, reading music, fumbling through pieces of music until adeptness may be hers in the piece.
If taken merely in the short term, such training may quickly lose its appeal unless this short term struggle for mastery were placed against the backdrop of the goal in mind or end result. In other words to play the piano. To really play.

I would dare say that this young lady, placed in such a situation as to play for a reason greater than herself, say, she meets a family whose little daughter is so sad because her little brother had gotten sick and passed away. But when the young girl played the piano to the grieving little child the child smiled again. She felt something in the music which resonated in her. The young lady playing the piano in such an event would then know why she endured the long, tedious hours of seemingly meaningless work.

I am convinced that the spiritual life, in this sense is no different. The repetitive praying, going to church, the fastings, the confessions, the alms giving, the curbing of our fallen nature and directing ourselves ever towards God, all this is work. Pure work.

In the Second Epistle of Peter, chapter 1 beginning at verse 3 the Scripture says:

3 as His divine power has given to us all things that
pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by
glory and virtue,
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,
7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Read the previous post in this series:

Pontiaka Pontian

For your viewing and listening entertainment(for those who don' think I'm crazy for liking this stuff) yet another Pontian YouTube video.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Beheading of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John

Commemorated on August 29

The Beheading of the Prophet, Forerunner of the Lord, John the Baptist: The Evangelists Matthew (Mt.14:1-12) and Mark (Mark 6:14-29) provide accounts about the martyric end of John the Baptist in the year 32 after the Birth of Christ.

Following the Baptism of the Lord, St John the Baptist was locked up in prison by Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch (ruler of one fourth of the Holy Land) and governor of Galilee. (After the death of king Herod the Great, the Romans divided the territory of Palestine into four parts, and put a governor in charge of each part. Herod Antipas received Galilee from the emperor Augustus).

The prophet of God John openly denounced Herod for having left his lawful wife, the daughter of the Arabian king Aretas, and then instead cohabiting with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip (Luke 3:19-20). On his birthday, Herod made a feast for dignitaries, the elders and a thousand chief citizens. Salome, the daughter of Herod, danced before the guests and charmed Herod. In gratitude to the girl, he swore to give her whatever she would ask, up to half his kingdom.

The vile girl on the advice of her wicked mother Herodias asked that she be given the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod became apprehensive, for he feared the wrath of God for the murder of a prophet, whom earlier he had heeded. He also feared the people, who loved the holy Forerunner. But because of the guests and his careless oath, he gave orders to cut off the head of St John and to give it to Salome.

According to Tradition, the mouth of the dead preacher of repentance once more opened and proclaimed: "Herod, you should not have the wife of your brother Philip." Salome took the platter with the head of St John and gave it to her mother. The frenzied Herodias repeatedly stabbed the tongue of the prophet with a needle and buried his holy head in a unclean place. But the pious Joanna, wife of Herod's steward Chuza, buried the head of John the Baptist in an earthen vessel on the Mount of Olives, where Herod had a parcel of land. (The Uncovering of the Venerable Head is celebrated (February 24). The holy body of John the Baptist was taken that night by his disciples and buried at Sebastia, there where the wicked deed had been done.

After the murder of St John the Baptist, Herod continued to govern for a certain time. Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, later sent Jesus Christ to him, Whom he mocked (Luke 23:7-12).

The judgment of God came upon Herod, Herodias and Salome, even during their earthly life. Salome, crossing the River Sikoris in winter, fell through the ice. The ice gave way in such a way that her body was in the water, but her head was trapped above the ice. It was similar to how she once had danced with her feet upon the ground, but now she flailed helplessly in the icy water. Thus she was trapped until that time when the sharp ice cut through her neck.

Her corpse was not found, but they brought the head to Herod and Herodias, as once they had brought them the head of St John the Baptist. The Arab king Aretas, in revenge for the disrespect shown his daughter, made war against Herod. The defeated Herod suffered the wrath of the Roman emperor Caius Caligua (37-41) and was exiled with Herodias first to Gaul, and then to Spain.

The Beheading of St John the Baptist, a Feast day established by the Church, is also a strict fast day because of the grief of Christians at the violent death of the saint. In some Orthodox cultures pious people will not eat food from a flat plate, use a knife, or eat food that is round in shape on this day.

Today the Church makes remembrance of Orthodox soldiers killed on the field of battle, as established in 1769 at the time of Russia's war with the Turks and the Poles.

Troparion - Tone 2
The memory of the righteous is celebrated with hymns of praise,but the Lord¹s testimony is sufficient for you, O Forerunner.You were shown in truth to be the most honorable of the prophets,for you were deemed worthy to baptize in the streams of the Jordan Him whom they foretold.Therefore, having suffered for the truth with joy,you proclaimed to those in hell God who appeared in the flesh,who takes away the sin of the world, and grants us great mercy.

Kontakion - Tone 5
The glorious beheading of the Forerunner,became an act of divine dispensation,for he preached to those in hell the coming of the Savior.Let Herodias lament, for she entreated lawless murder,loving not the law of God, nor eternal life,but that which is false and temporal.


Christ is in our Midst XXIX(letter 39)

" 39

30 March 1949

You write that spiritually you are not getting on well, 'something is lacking, probably faith and love for the Lord'. The enemy of mankind is confusing you, child. Do not listen to him. You have faith and love for God and your fear is wrong, because it is from conceit. Live as you are living, and do not ponder too much. After all, you obviously do watch yourself and want to improve, and this desire is half of salvation. What more do you need?

You have been reading the books of the Holy Fathers and cannot understand them, and now you are confused. There is such a thing as reason; you should use it and adapt yourself to the conditions of life. There are three grades in the spiritual life: beginners, intermediates and the perfect. Realize that you are a beginner, yet you are trying to slip into the intermediates and the perfect. Be content, try to keep God in mind and the Lord will help you. "


Father John here advises his spiritual child to not rush into advancing in the spiritual life. He tells her to be content, in essence, "Easy does it".
Advancement in the spiritual life is attained in the mundane "grunt" work of day to day living. In the monotony of all the "things", if I may use that word, that make up my life, I may be saved. I take whatever God has placed into my hands and offer it and myself through its execution to Him. My life becomes a prayer this way and I "pray unceasingly"(1 Thessalonians 5:17). I inhabit my prayer in my action and like incense it is offered to the Lord.
I am told, therefore, "To occupy till He comes". Hold steadfast that which has been entrusted to my safekeeping as a faithful steward knowing that for all I will give account.
In all this there is the "shell" which I may describe as circumscribing my life; my home, my work, my family, my creditors, my hobbies, activities,etc. etc., all the outward stuff. Now, all these things must be "filled in" by God, subjugating them all to His dominion, offering them and myself through them to Him.
The subjugation of them is not merely an outward act, but is immensely inward and personal.
My work, for instance, is not simply the place I show up to, do my eight hours and leave and collect my paycheck on Friday night.
Here is where I also subjugate my bad temper in relation to my customers and my employees and my brothers(who are my equal partners).
Here is where I fight off a natural timidity and apathy that when the food delivery comes in I check it thoroughly. I learn to tell the driver that if some kind of problem occurred that must be dealt with, I am learning to firmly and unwaveringly say what needs to be said.
In other words, in the "filling in" of the shell of my life, there is of course that inward inner life that is interacting with the "shell" and this shaping of my inner life to adapt to these outward conditions is where I become "saved" or healed.
When I don't make enough money have I learned to thank God for this?
When I make more than enough have I learned to thank God for this?
This is a big subject and I offer these small examples from my own life as a beginning for a further and deeper subjugation of the totality of me to Him for after all, the result of this holding fast is not for me to determine but for Him for, "My life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3).

Icons of the Orthodox Church II

I love this particular Hymn. It's title escapes me, however.

More on the Fires Devastaing Greece-"Local Greeks are concerned"

A firefighter gestures in front of a blaze on the Peloponnese peninsula Monday

Anne Kyle, Leader-Post
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It has been a scary time for one Regina couple, Gus and Soula Efthimiou, whose summer home in Greece was under siege from wildfires approaching their village from several directions.

The fires that have been ravaging the Greek countryside are being blamed for the deaths of 63 people in four days.

"For the time being, from the latest I heard, my in-laws are fine. But they had some very, very scary moments in the last couple of days where they were ready on a moment's notice to evacuate,'' said Chris Perentes, the Efthimious' son-in-law.

"My in-laws are right in the area of some of the major fires that are going on close to ancient Olympia. Their village is about a 15-minute drive from Olympia.''

On Sunday firefighters won a battle to save Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games in the Peloponnese peninsula, beating back fires menacing the ancient stadiums and temples.

"Their village had some fires approaching from a couple of sides but they have been able to put them out and in one instance the wind changed direction and spared the village,'' said Perentes, who returned to Canada 10 days ago and was expecting his wife and children to arrive home from Athens on Monday night.

"They still have no power or water. It is a difficult time for them because they are always on the lookout for flareups around the village.''

Regina's Greek community is rallying behind their countrymen in Greece whose lives have been devastated by wildfires ravaging the Peloponnese peninsula destroying entire villages.

"There have been a number of fairly major fires (in and around the Athens area) that actually started back in July and at that time the Greek Orthodox (Church of Canada) Metropolis of Toronto organized a committee from members across Canada to raise funds for reforestation,'' Perentes said.

"That was the initial goal. Now in light of these events in which 63 people have been killed in fires in the last three or four days, I expect that will change. I think there is going to be some efforts to raise funds to help some of the victims of the fires as well.''

Rev. Spiridon Vandoros, at St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church in Regina, said only about 10 per cent of his congregation have roots in the affected area, but it touches everyone in the close-knit Greek community.

"We have one member whose parents' house burnt to the ground," said Perentes, who is president of the St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church Community Association. "He is going to have to go back to Greece to help his parents make arrangements as to where they are going to live. It is pretty scary. Fortunately, most people don't have families living that close to the fire."

Those wanting to make donations to help fire victims can e-mail the church at or contact the church directly, Perentes said.

Securitate files on Orthodox clerics were burned to keep their names secret

BUCHAREST, Romania: Files kept by Romania's communist-era secret police on a dozen Orthodox clerics were burned during the 1989 revolution to prevent their names from being disclosed, said a member of the state council studying the Securitate archives.

The council member, poet Mircea Dinescu, also officially confirmed Tuesday that a senior bishop who previously acknowledged collaborating with the feared secret police did in fact do so.

The council is reviewing a list of 20 senior Orthodox clerics, among whom a few almost certainly collaborated with the Securitate, he said. Sixteen of them are suspected of having been informers, he said.

Some of the clerics he was referring to, he said, were potential candidates to lead Romania's influential Orthodox Church. The election of a replacement for Patriarch Teoctist, who died July 30, is to be held Sept. 12.

"Their files were burned in December 1989 so that their names could be covered up," Dinescu said. "The church has the opportunity to eliminate suspicion that its high-level clerics collaborated with the Securitate," he said.

Teoctist was opposed to the files being opened, arguing it was an internal church matter. Since his death there have been calls for the names of priests who collaborated to be made public.

The council confirmed Tuesday that Metropolitan Bishop of Banat Nicolae Corneanu and academician and member of the Orthodox Church Electoral Board Constantin Balaceanu Stolnici had been collaborators.

The Securitate is believed to have had at least 700,000 informers when communism was overthrown in December 1989.

The opening of the files is part of Romania's efforts to shed light on the communist era. Those found to have collaborated are not prosecuted but can be excluded from running for public office.

Church officials reacted defensively to Tuesday's disclosure. Orthodox Church spokesman Costel Stoica noted that Corneanu's collaboration was already public knowledge. "I think he was one of the first Romanians to admit what he did. This is not new," he said.

Corneanu, who is the Metropolitan for Timisoara, said he collaborated from 1960, when he was bishop of Arad, until the revolution.

Stolnici admitted earlier this year in a newspaper interview that he had been a Securitate informer. The church spokesman said Stolnici would be allowed to remain a member of the electoral council that will choose the next patriarch.

He accused Dinescu of libel, adding that the church was "praying for him."

More than 80 percent of Romanians are Orthodox believers.


Read the previous post related to this story:

Serbian Bishop Starts Hunger Strike on Montenegrin Border

28 08 2007 Podgorica_ A Serbian Orthodox bishop started a hunger strike on the Montenegrin border on Tuesday, after the authorities for the fourth time banned him from entering the country.

Montenegrin police have refused to permit Bishop Filaret to enter Montenegro, arguing he is suspected of aiding fugitives wanted by the UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

“I call on Serbia, Montenegro and the Hague Tribunal to launch an investigation concerning my involvement in harboring fugitives,” Filaret told journalists.

He added that if he was exonerated, he would call on the Montenegrin authorities to respect his “human, religious and national rights”.

Filaret had said on Tuesday that he intended to hold a service in a church on Montenegrin soil. “I have spiritual power and will fight for my rights,” the bishop said. Part of his diocese is in Montenegro.

The Bishop also announced he had lodged a complaint with the Montenegrin President, Filip Vujanovic, and the Minister of Interior, Jusuf Kalamperovic.

Both men had advised FIlaret to give up on his attempts to enter the country, as “Montenegro has to respect its international obligations”.

The Serbian Orthodox Church is the principal church in Montenegro, which gained independence in 2006. But it is locked in a bitter feud with the much smaller Montenegrin Orthodox Church. Most Montenegrins are Orthodox Christians but a significant percentage are either Muslims or Roman Catholics.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Saint Moses the Black

Commemorated on August 28

Saint Moses Murin the Black lived during the fourth century in Egypt. He was an Ethiopian, and he was black of skin and therefore called "Murin" (meaning "like an Ethiopian"). In his youth he was the slave of an important man, but after he committed a murder, his master banished him, and he joined a band of robbers.

Because of his bad character and great physical strength they chose him as their leader. Moses and his band of brigands did many evil deeds, both murders and robberies. People were afraid at the mere mention of his name.

Moses the brigand spent several years leading a sinful life, but through the great mercy of God he repented, left his band of robbers and went to one of the desert monasteries. Here he wept for a long time, begging to be admitted as one of the brethren. The monks were not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance, but the former robber would not be driven away nor silenced. He continued to ask that they accept him.

St Moses was completely obedient to the igumen and the brethren, and he poured forth many tears of sorrow for his sinful life. After a certain while St Moses withdrew to a solitary cell, where he spent the time in prayer and the strictest fasting in a very austere lifestyle.

Once, four of the robbers of his former band descended upon the cell of St Moses. He had lost none of his great physical strength, so he tied them all up. Throwing them over his shoulder, he brought them to the monastery, where he asked the Elders what to do with them. The Elders ordered that they be set free. The robbers, learning that they had chanced upon their former ringleader, and that he had dealt kindly with them, followed his example: they repented and became monks. Later, when the rest of the band of robbers heard about the repentance of St Moses, then they also gave up their thievery and became fervent monks.

St Moses was not quickly freed from the passions. He went often to the igumen, Abba Isidore, seeking advice on how to be delivered from the passions of profligacy. Being experienced in the spiritual struggle, the Elder taught him never to eat too much food, to remain partly hungry while observing the strictest moderation. But the passions did not cease to trouble St Moses in his dreams.

Then Abba Isidore taught him the all-night vigil. The monk stood the whole night at prayer, so he would not fall asleep. From his prolonged struggles St Moses fell into despondency, and when there arose thoughts about leaving his solitary cell, Abba Isidore instead strengthened the resolve of his disciple.

In a vision he showed him many demons in the west, prepared for battle, and in the east a still greater quantity of holy angels, also ready for fighting. Abba Isidore explained to St Moses that the power of the angels would prevail over the power of the demons, and in the long struggle with the passions it was necessary for him to become completely cleansed of his former sins.

St Moses undertook a new effort. Making the rounds by night of the wilderness cells, he carried water from the well to each brother. He did this especially for the Elders, who lived far from the well and who were not easily able to carry their own water. Once, kneeling over the well, St Moses felt a powerful blow upon his back and he fell down at the well like one dead, laying there in that position until dawn. Thus did the devils take revenge upon the monk for his victory over them. In the morning the brethren carried him to his cell, and he lay there a whole year crippled. Having recovered, the monk with firm resolve confessed to the igumen, that he would continue to live in asceticism. But the Lord Himself put limits to this struggle of many years: Abba Isidore blessed his disciple and said to him that the passions had already gone from him. The Elder commanded him to receive the Holy Mysteries, and to go to his own cell in peace. From that time, St Moses received from the Lord power over demons.

Accounts about his exploits spread among the monks and even beyond the bounds of the wilderness. The governor of the land wanted to see the saint. When he heard of this, St Moses decided to hide from any visitors, and he departed his own cell. Along the way he met servants of the governor, who asked him how to get to the cell of the desert-dweller Moses. The monk answered them: "Go no farther to see this false and unworthy monk." The servants returned to the monastery where the governor was waiting, and they told him the words of the Elder they had chanced to meet. The brethren, hearing a description of the Elder's appearance, told them that they had encountered St Moses himself.

After many years of monastic exploits, St Moses was ordained deacon. The bishop clothed him in white vestments and said, "Now Abba Moses is entirely white!" The saint replied, "Only outwardly, for God knows that I am still dark within."

Through humility, the saint believed himself unworthy of the office of deacon. Once, the bishop decided to test him and he bade the clergy to drive him out of the altar, reviling him as an unworthy Ethiopian. In all humility, the monk accepted the abuse. Having put him to the test, the bishop then ordained St Moses to be presbyter. St Moses labored for fifteen years in this rank, and gathered around himself 75 disciples.

When the saint reached age 75, he warned his monks that soon brigands would descend upon the skete and murder all that were there. The saint blessed his monks to leave, in order to avoid violent death. His disciples began to beseech the monk to leave with them, but he replied: "For many years already I have awaited the time when therethe words which my Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, should be fulfilled: "All who take up the sword, shall perish by the sword" (Mt. 26: 52). After this, seven of the brethren remained with the monk, and one of them hid nearby during the attack of the robbers. The robbers killed St Moses and the six monks who remained with him. Their death occurred in about the year 400.

Troparion - Tone 1
You abandoned the Egypt of the passions, O Father, Ascending the mount of the virtues with fervent faith, Taking the Cross of Christ upon your shoulders; And being glorified in godly works, You proved to be a model for monastics, O summit of the fathers. Pray unceasingly with them that our souls may find mercy!

Kontakion - Tone 3
Your mind was filled with a holy inspiration from God, Turning you from the lust and pleasures of the flesh, Bringing you to the height of the city of God! O Holy Father Moses, intercede with Christ God that He may grant us great mercy!


Christ is in our Midst XXVIII(letter 38)


5 March 1949

Christ is in our midst!

It is good sometimes to remember one's past sins, for this gives birth to humility; but when memory of former sins leads to despair, it is clear that the enemy is trying to trouble the soul. Do not listen to him, calm yourself, do not be crushed, do not be depressed, try to drive off such disturbing thoughts by prayer. The Holy Spirit says through the prophet Ezekiel: 'If a wicked man turns away from his sins, his sins will not be remembered' [Ezek. 3:18]. The Lord does not desire the death of a sinner. So live for your family, be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove, and do not speak of your inner life, for they will not understand you. If your husband stumbles, be patient and do not be upset, but pray more zealously; remember that you too have stumbled.

I always remember you in my prayers, and I beg you not to forget me. The Lord in His mercy help you and your affairs. "


Father John tells his spiritual child here that the remembrance of past sins can be good to aid in the attaining of greater humility. But he warns that this remembrance leading to humility is able easily to cross the bounds into despair for these sins. "I'm just no good" or "What's the use anyhow?" or "God will never forgive me for this sin" or "God is so strict, why try?" and many other things does our enemy desire for us to dwell on. He endeavors to cause us to forget our Lord's deep and abiding love for us sinners who are under the oppression of a fallen world in the sway of the Evil One inhabiting a dying body which fights us as we seek to live righteously in this perverse generation. Our Lord sees our struggle and understands. May we learn to lean into His mercy.

Father John once again cautions against sharing our spiritual life with those who are apt to misunderstand those things we share with them.

The inner life or the inner landscape is just that, inner. Mapping out this inner landscape requires a lifelong work and perseverance. As we travel about within, we come across landmarks and telling signs and patterns which interface with that world without, of which those who we know and communicate with are unable to travel inwardly within us as the travel reserved for them is within themselves.

I speak of course of the "ordinary" observer of ourselves and not of those ascetic masters and Saints which through purification of themselves and the effort to acquire this purification in the process mapped out the inner life within themselves to such an extent that they can read us and know us.

In my own life, especially in my younger days, I spent much time trying to get others to see things as I did. I would hear a song, for instance, and so want, so desire, to share it with someone in the fashion I experienced it. But this connection was impossible as the other person lacked all the inner (and outer) conditions which gave me this experience. Nay, better yet, this other person lacked my unique person to experience the song as I did. They were too busy experiencing the song in their own person as themselves.

I had also been made privy to others' like for a particular song and I tried to experience it as they but was unable and I sensed this longing on their part, a pleading of sorts to find a kinship within me "Of the Song."

This inability to bring others inward to ourselves, I believe, can be an aid to humility, a sense of our lack of power to control others and to shape them "to understand" us, to lead their being into ourselves and trap them there to forever have another who "gets us". Or, this same powerlessness may create a bitterness and increased and increasing isolation from all those others who" just don't understand."

Read the previous post in this series:

Pontian Dora Stratu Group with Zourna Tik

Another Pontian dance.

Serbia: Woman Loses Custody Battle Due To Alleged Jehovah's Witnesses Ties

August 27, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A court in the Serbian municipality of Velika Plana has awarded custody of an 8-month-old baby girl to her father because the baby's mother was believed to be a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

The mother, who says she is not a member of the religious group, is now taking legal action against the judge responsible for the custody ruling. Observers say the case reveals disturbing details about Serbia's judicial procedures as well as its attitudes toward religious minorities.

The judge made his ruling in the course of divorce proceedings, and awarded primary custody rights to the father despite the fact that the baby was still breast-feeding.

False Claims Alleged

The girl's mother, Marija Arsenijevic, said her husband made false claims about her membership in the Jehovah's Witnesses in order to win custody.

"He claimed that I was a Jehovah's Witness and that I had adopted some of their practices -- this is not true," Arsenijevic told RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service. "I am not a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, although I have nothing against any particular religion. That was simply an excuse made up by my husband to get our child, and he got away with it. The court didn't even hear my side of the story, and yet they felt justified in making the ruling."

More than 80 percent of people in Serbia belong to the Serbian Orthodox
Church, but minority religions are protected under Serbian law.

Arsenijevic is now taking the judge to court for making a decision based on her ex-husband's untrue allegations. It is unusual in Serbia for custody to be awarded to the father. Arsenijevic's lawyer, Stevan Jankovic, said the decision can be seen as a direct attack on a non-native religious community.

Read the rest of the story here:


Again we read of Serbia's historical existence as an Orthodox Nation is being judged according to modern standards of placing all religions on a level playing field. Disregarded is any belief if such a thing as the One, True Faith exists.

It would seem that the only "one, true faith" the world holds is that all are the one, true faith according to what's true to the individual subjectively. The difficult task of objectively making any claim as to Ultimate Truth is of course put forth as "narrow, old, a thing of the past from which we moderns are (finally) being liberated from such confining views".

In believing that all religions are equally true, the modern maker of this claim does not realize that he or she or they or the whole world is holding a very narrow option to be true. It just seems more tolerant because it seemingly takes under its umbrella all as having equal value according to what?! Or whom?!

This belief homogenizes all differences by force into a "sameness" that is gotten artificially.

A "referee" so to speak, creating a playing field which the Faith never consented to but is being imposed upon it overtly and subtly.

As Orthodox, I believe we should be more literal in our understanding of how "the world " views the Church. It hates her. Always has, always will. The Church is the Christ's Body and her presence and proclaiming that victory over death has actually occurred, that actually, historically One has risen and bequeathed upon His Apostles the One True Faith to be held inviolate that any and all coming to the Church from out of the wilderness of "the world" may be healed, may become truly human.

It is my belief that when I see such stories as this I see workings in the shadows to bring about ends which are not for the good of mankind.

In the article's last paragraph Djordjevic said, ""One can only hope that clericalization will turn out to be nothing more than a passing tendency whose appeal will fade, and that the church will once against turn to its fundamental mission, which is fostering the culture of love for others, whether they are like us or not."

Mr. Djordjevic, this is not the mission of the Church, not even close.

Read the previous post related to this story:

American Orthodox Organize Help For Greece

The fire in the Peloponese, the southern part of Greece, continue to rage and grow in ferocity.

The Greek Orthodox Churc of America is organizing help.

Read the story here(with video):

Read the previous post related to this story:

Bosnian widow in church battle

A Bosnian Muslim widow's battle to remove a Serbian Orthodox church from her land is nearing its end. The BBC's Nicholas Walton visited Fata Orlovic in her village to find out more.
Fata Orlovic's house is easy to find in the village of Konjevic Polje. It is the one with a large Serbian Orthodox church built in its front garden.

Fata herself is an irrepressible ball of energy, greeting me as she has greeted other journalists, with a long fusillade of invective about the building.

"I want them to remove the church and I want soil back on this plot of land," she tells me, furiously motioning towards what would have been her front garden.

"They can give me money and I'll do it myself," she explains, a smile breaking out across her wrinkled features.

I do not doubt that she would set about dismantling the church, brick by brick, were she given the go-ahead.

Traditional church holiday celebrated in Moscow

August 27, 2007, 13:27

Kolomenskoe Park was the venue for an outdoor entertainment event, dedicated to church holidays. It brought back some old Russian traditions.

The holiday, named "Spasovki", was widely celebrated in the country centuries ago.

It was held at the end of summer, uniting several Orthodox church holidays, such as the "Savior of the Honey" feast day and the apple, bread and nut feast days. After the harvest was gathered, people in villages celebrated it with songs, dances and crafts fairs.

The event in Kolomenskoe featured all these, accompanied by the sound of an old metal musical instrument, melodies of which resemble bell ringing.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Venerable Pimen the Great

Commemorated on August 27

Saint Pimen the Great was born about the year 340 in Egypt. He went to one of the Egyptian monasteries with his two brothers, Anoub and Paisius, and all three received monastic tonsure. The brothers were such strict ascetics that when their mother came to the monastery to see her children, they did not come out to her from their cells. The mother stood there for a long time and wept. Then St Pimen said to her through the closed door of the cell, "Do you wish to see us now, or in the future life?" St Pimen promised that if she would endure the sorrow of not seeing her children in this life, then surely she would see them in the next. The mother was humbled and returned home.

Fame of St Pimen's deeds and virtues spread throughout the land. Once, the governor of the district wanted to see him. St Pimen, shunning fame, thought to himself, "If dignitaries start coming to me and show me respect, then many other people will also start coming to me and disturb my quiet, and I shall be deprived of the grace of humility, which I have acquired only with the help of God." So he refused to see the governor, asking him not to come.

For many of the monks, St Pimen was a spiritual guide and instructor. They wrote down his answers to serve for the edification of others besides themselves. A certain monk asked, "If I see my brother sinning, should I conceal his fault?" The Elder answered, "If we reproach the sins of brothers, then God will reproach our sins. If you see a brother sinning, do not believe your eyes. Know that your own sin is like a beam of wood, but the sin of your brother is like a splinter (Mt. 7:3-5), and then you will not enter into distress or temptation."

Another monk said to the saint, "I have sinned grievously and I want to spend three years at repentance. Is that enough time?" The Elder replied, "That is a long time." The monk continued to ask how long the saint wished him to repent. Perhaps only a year? St Pimen said, "That is a long time." The other brethren asked, "Should he repent for forty days?" The Elder answered, "I think that if a man repents from the depths of his heart and has a firm intention not to return to the sin, then God will accept three days of repentance."

When asked how to get rid of persistent evil thoughts, the saint replied, "This is like a man who has fire on his left side, and a vessel full of water on his right side. If he starts burning from the fire, he takes water from the vessel and extinguishes the fire. The fire represents the evil thoughts placed in the heart of man by the Enemy of our salvation, which can enkindle sinful desires within man like a spark in a hut. The water is the force of prayer which impels a man toward God."

St Pimen was strict in his fasting and sometimes would not partake of food for a week or more. He advised others to eat every day, but without eating their fill. Abba Pimen heard of a certain monk who went for a week without eating, but had lost his temper. The saint lamented that the monk was able to fast for an entire week, but was unable to abstain from anger for even a single day.

To the question of whether it is better to speak or be silent, the Elder said,"Whoever speaks on account of God, does well, and whoever is silent on account of God, that one also does well."

He also said, "If man seems to be silent, but his heart condemns others, then he is always speaking. There may be a man who talks all day long, but he is actually silent, because he says nothing unprofitable."

The saint said, "It is useful to observe three things: to fear God, to pray often, and to do good for one's neighbor."

"Wickedness never eradicates wickedness. If someone does evil to you, do good to them, and your goodness will conquer their wickedness."

Once, after St Pimen and his disciples arrived at the monastery of Scetis, he learned that the Elder living there was annoyed at his arrival and was also jealous of him, because monks were leaving the Elder to see Abba Pimen.

In order to console the hermit, the saint went to him with his brethren, taking food with them as a present. The Elder refused to receive them, however. Then St Pimen said, "We shall not depart from here until we are permitted to see the holy Elder." He remained standing at the door of the cell in the heat. Seeing St Pimen's humility and patience, the Elder received him graciously and said, "Not only is what I have heard about you true, but I see that your works are a hundred times greater."

He possessed such great humility that he often sighed and said, "I shall be cast down to that place where Satan was cast down!"

Once, a monk from another country came to the saint to receive his guidance. He began to speak about sublime matters difficult to grasp. The saint turned away from him and was silent. They explained to the bewildered monk that the saint did not like to speak of lofty matters. Then the monk began to ask him about the struggle with passions of soul. The saint turned to him with a joyful face, "Now you have spoken well, and I will answer." For a long while he provided instruction on how one ought to struggle with the passions and conquer them.

St Pimen died at age 110, about the year 450. Soon after his death, he was acknowledged as a saint pleasing to God. He was called "the Great" as a sign of his great humility, uprightness, ascetic struggles, and self-denying service to God.

Troparion - Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance.By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!Our Father Pimen, pray to Christ God to save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 4
The memorial of your illustrious struggles delights the souls of the devout today, Pimen, our venerable father, wise in God.


Christ is in our Midst XXVII(letter 37)

... " You write: 'I am afraid of my unworthiness and many backslidings.' Do not forget that the Lord Jesus Christ took on our flesh and was a perfect man - without sin - not for the righteous, but for sinners.

' Glory to thy mercy, O Lord!'

The Lord knows our weakness and has granted us the healing of repentance. According to the law of spiritual knowledge, the more a man succeeds in the spiritual life, the more sinful he sees himself to be. St Peter Damascene writes: 'If a man sees his sins as sands of the sea, this is a sign of a healthy soul'. With these feelings there is no room for despair; one's soul is filled with tenderness and love towards all that live on earth. Blessed are such people, those who reach that state. It is God's reward for deepest humility and is called dispassion. "

Read the previous post in this series:

Icons of the Orthodox Church I

Hope you enjoy. I do.


Dr. Christos Evangeliou
Professor of Philosophy

This I found to be an intersting History/Opinion article dealing with Turkey's possible future if she were to grant Orthodox Christianity and the Ecumenical Patriarch the respect and role he feels should be granted for the reasons he cites.


Turkey as a nation is proud of its long history and rightly so. The
glorious path of this history, as taught in its schools, took the nomad Turks
out of the steppes of central Asia and spread them in all directions. Especially
in the South and the West, they were able to establish themselves as the rulers
over other and older nations such as the Persians, the Arabs and the Byzantine
Greeks. It is not surprising then that even today Western authors who wish to
ingratiate themselves with the Turkish ruling elite (and the powerful military
that supports it) publish books with such flattering titles as Sons of the
Conquerors. Certainly, it would not be fair to belittle the manliness and the
military prowess, which are naturally bred by the Asiatic steppe or the Arabic
desert. On the other hand, no one should underestimate the fanatical zeal the
religion of Islam can, and historically has inspired the holy warriors to spread
their faith to the infidels, to fight them to submission, enslave them in the
name of Allah and rule over them for centuries. But, in the case of the Turkish
conquest, as well as in the case of the Arabic rapid expansion, goddess tyche or
luck was certainly a factor in their military successes.

By the time when Prophet Mohammed preached his message to the faithful
Arabs in Mecca and Medina and his successors were ready to spread it to the
infidels by the force of neophyte zeal (7th century), the Persians and the
Byzantine Greeks had exhausted themselves by constant fighting that went on for
many centuries. Besides, the endless Byzantine controversies regarding the shape
of the Christological dogma had alienated the Christian populations of the
Middle East, Egypt, and North Africa.

Read the rest here:

Archaeologists Claim Last Romanovs Found

Monday, August 27, 2007. Issue 3729. Page 1.

By Nikolaus von Twickel

Staff Writer

Claims published Friday by archaeologists that they have found the remains of two of the children of the last tsar, Nicholas II, have brought the controversy surrounding the fate of the royal family's remains to the surface again.

Almost 90 years after they were shot by the Bolsheviks in the basement of the Yekaterinburg building where they were being held, the news that the remains of Tsarevich Alexei, Nicholas' son and former heir to the throne, and his sister Maria may have been discovered near the city has led prosecutors to reopen the investigation into the circumstances of the shootings.

Scientific officials from the Sverdlovsk region, where Yekaterinburg is located, and representatives of the Romanov family and the Russian Orthodox Church over the weekend voiced extreme caution at the findings.

"This set of facts, the location ... and the results of the anthropological analysis make it possible to conclude that the ... remains of members of the Romanov imperial family, Tsarevich Alexei and his sister, Grand Duchess Maria, hidden by revolutionaries in 1918, have been found," Sergei Pogorelov, an archaeologist from the Sverdlovsk regional administration, said in a statement posted on the web site.

Read the rest here:

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Evangelicals Turn Toward ... the Orthodox Church?

This is a wonderful two page convert story. Like I have said before, I love these stories. They help me see the Church in a differnt way, as that Promised Land people have been searching for all their lives and often knew it not.


The Iconoclasts
by Jason Zengerle
The ministry is a calling, but it is also a career, and, in 1987, a Baptist
minister named Wilbur Ellsworth was given the career opportunity of a lifetime.
After nearly two decades of pastoring modest congregations in California and
Ohio, Ellsworth, at the age of 43, was called to lead the First Baptist Church
of Wheaton, Illinois--one of the most prominent evangelical churches in what was
then the most prominent evangelical city in the world. Often called the
"Evangelical Vatican," the leafy Chicago suburb is home to Wheaton College--the
prestigious evangelical college whose most famous graduate is Billy Graham--and
a host of influential evangelical figures, a number of whom worshipped at First
Baptist. "I was now preaching to these people every Sunday," Ellsworth recalls.
"It was all sort of heady and exciting."

From a professional standpoint, Ellsworth thrived. He oversaw the
construction of a majestic new building for First Baptist with a 600-seat
sanctuary and a 100-foot steeple that towered over Wheaton's Main Street. And,
due to the prominent evangelicals he now ministered to, he became something of a
prominent evangelical himself--routinely meeting with the many evangelical
leaders who constantly came through Wheaton. "I was at the very center of the
religious world that I'd been a part of for most of my life," he says. "It was
quite a promotion from where I was before."

From a spiritual perspective, however, Ellsworth was suffering. Over
the past 20 years, a growing number of evangelical churches have joined what is
called the "church growth movement,"....

Read the rest of this two page story here:

Raptakis, Greek Orthodox Church seek to help victims of Greece fires

August 25, 2007 - 7:30PM

Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis is raising funds for victims of uncontrolled fires that have killed dozens of people in southern Greece.

Raptakis is launching the effort together with the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Cranston.

At least 47 people were reported dead by Saturday afternoon.

Since yesterday morning, more than 170 blazes have been burning and dozens of new blazes have broken out Saturday.

Raptakis says he wanted to organize the Greek community in Rhode Island to provide financial support in the wake of the disaster.

He and Theofanis Markos, President of the Annunciation Church's Parish Council, have created a Hellenic Fire Relief Fund.

Raptakis is urging other Greek-American communities across the United States to help the victims.

Greek soldiers and military helicopters have been reinforcing firefighters.

But some village have been cut off by towering walls of flames.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Martyr Adrian of Nicomedia, Martyr Natalia of Nicomedia and the 33 Martyred Companions of Natalia and Adrian, of Nicomedia

Commemorated on August 26

The Martyrs Adrian and Natalia were married in their youth for one year prior to their martyrdom, and lived in Nicomedia during the time of the emperor Maximian (305-311). The emperor promised a reward to whomever would inform on Christians to bring them to trial. Then the denunciations began, and twenty-three Christians were captured in a cave near Nicomedia.
They were tortured, urged to worship idols, and then brought before the Praetor, in order to record their names and responses. Adrian, the head of the praetorium, watched as these people suffered with such courage for their faith. Seeing how firmly and fearlessly they confessed Christ, asked: "What rewards do you expect from your God for your suffering?" The martyrs replied: "Such rewards as we are not able to describe, nor can your mind comprehend." St Adrian told the scribes,"Write my name down also, for I am a Christian and I die gladly for Christ God."
The scribes reported this to the emperor, who summoned St Adrian and asked: "Really, have you gone mad, that you want to die? Come, cross out your name from the lists and offer sacrifice to the gods, asking their forgiveness."
St Adrian answered: "I have not lost my mind, but rather have I found it." Maximian then ordered Adrian to be thrown into prison. His wife, St Natalia, knowing that her husband was to suffer for Christ, rejoiced, since she herself was secretly a Christian.

She hastened to the prison and encouraged her husband saying: "You are blessed, my lord, because you have believed in Christ. You have obtained a great treasure. Do not regret anything earthly, neither beauty, nor youth (Adrian was then 28 years of age), nor riches. Everything worldly is dust and ashes. Only faith and good deeds are pleasing to God."

On the pledge of the other martyrs, they released St Adrian from prison to tell his wife about the day of his execution. At first St Natalia thought that he had renounced Christ and thus had been set free, and she did not want to let him into the house. The saint persuaded his wife that he had not fled from martyrdom, but rather had come to give her the news of the day of his execution.

They tortured St Adrian cruelly. The emperor advised the saint to have pity on himself and call on the gods, but the martyr answered: "Let your gods say what blessings they promise me, and then I shall worship them, but if they cannot do this, then why should I worship them?" St Natalia did not cease to encourage her husband. She asked him also to pray to God for her, that they would not force her into marriage with a pagan after his death.

The executioner ordered the hands and the legs of the saints to be broken on the anvil. St Natalia, fearing that her husband would hesitate on seeing the sufferings of the other martyrs, asked the executioner to begin with him, and permit her to put his hands and legs on the anvil herself.

They wanted to burn the bodies of the saints, but a storm arose and the fire went out. Many of the executioners even were struck by lightning. St Natalia took the hand of her husband and kept it at home. Soon an army commander asked the emperor's approval to wed St Natalia, who was both young and rich. But she hid herself away in Byzantium. St Adrian appeared to her in a dream and said that she would soon be at rest in the Lord. The martyr, worn out by her former sufferings, in fact soon fell asleep in the Lord.

Troparion - Tone 4
Your holy martyrs Adrian and Natalia, O Lord,through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.Through their intercessions, save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 4
Martyr of Christ, Adrian,you kept the words of your godly and devoted wife Natalia in your heart.With her you accepted every kind of suffering and obtained the crown of victory!

Christ is in our Midst XXVI(letter 33)

" Yes, the spiritual life is complicated. It requires deep humility and cannot be understood by reason; it is grasped only by experience, when one tries to live in accordance with the counsels of the Holy Fathers. If someone asks your advice, answer what you know, but pray inwardly beforehand and put yourself under God's will. Speak simply, do not philosophize, do not try to influence the person. If what you say is useful, it is by the grace of God. N is spiritually a babe and needs to be fed with milk. Listen patiently to all she says: when she has expressed everything it will be a relief to her. Tell her not to pay attention to others and not to observe their shortcomings, for every person will have to answer for himself before God. Let them work out their own affairs. There is no commandment that we should require others to love and to live a correct life. Let those who have been appointed for the purpose by God's Providence look after others."

Read the previous post in this series:

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pontiaka Ioannidis Serra Dance Group of Athens

It is difficult to explain why these Pontain Dances have such appeal to me.

As a teenager and a young man, I did not really have any liking for Greek music of any kind. My tastes were thoroughly of the "average" American taste. Rock n' Roll ruled for me and when I became 17 years old or so, Punk Rock in particular was king.

Punk defined me during this time. It gave me meaning and an outlook on life that I carried thereafter until only recently, in the last 6 or 7 years, I have pretty much opened myself up to much else musically.

The reason I mention Punk in this post is that somehow this Pontian rhythm brings that out, that old inner something I used to feel with Punk Rock.

If any punk rockers should read this, maybe you will see what I see here in these Pontian dances, music, ethos of why these people are dancing and so on.

Real quick background, the Greek Nation was overrun and occupied by the Ottoman Turks for about 400 years. The garb of the people in these dances is(I think) from the early to mid 1800's when Greece fought for and recovered independence from under the Turks.

On another note, Americans who have a love for Southern, bluegrass, or Hillbilly music may "get" these Pontian videos.

Anyway, whoever, enjoy.

Return of the Relics of the Apostle Bartholomew from Anastasiopolis to Lipari

Commemorated on August 25

The Transfer of the Relics of the Apostle Bartholomew took place at the end of the sixth century. His apostolic activity and martyr's end are remembered by the Church on June 11. The Apostle Bartholomew suffered for Christ in Armenian Albanus (now Baku) in the year 71, where his holy relics were. Numerous miracles occurred from the relics of the holy Apostle, and many of the unbelieving were converted to Christ. Under the emperor Anastasius (491-518) the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew were transferred into the newly constructed city of Anastasiopolis (or Dura) and remained there until the end of the sixth century.

When the city of Anastasiopolis was captured by the Persian emperor Chozroes, Christians took up the chest with the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew and fled with it to the shores of the Black Sea. Having overtaken them, pagan priests threw the chest with the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew into the sea.

Four other chests containing the relics of the holy Martyrs Papian, Lucian, Gregory and Acacius were also thrown into the sea. By the power of God the chests did not sink into the depths of the sea, but miraculously floated upon the waves and reached Italy. The chest with the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew came to land at the island of Lipari, and the remaining chests continued their journey and came to land at various places in Italy. The chest with the relics of the Martyr Papian halted at Sicily, the Martyr Lucian at Messina, the Martyr Gregory at Calabria, and the Martyr Acacius at Askalon.

The arrival of the relics of the holy Apostle Bartholomew was revealed to Bishop Agathon of the island of Lipari, who went with clergy to the shores of the sea, took the chest from the waters and solemnly transferred it to church.

Myrrh flowed from the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew, healing people of various illnesses. The holy relics remained in the church of the island of Lipari until the middle of the ninth century when the island was captured by pagans. Christian merchants took up the holy relics of the Apostle Bartholomew and transferred them to the city of Beneventum, near Naples, where they were received with great veneration and placed in the main church of the city.

Troparion - Tone 3
Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Titus,Entreat the merciful God,To grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.

Kontakion - Tone 4
You appeared as a great sun to the world with miracles and rays of teaching.You guide to the light all who venerate you,O Apostle of the Lord, Bartholomew.


eastern orthodox

This is simply gorgeous. set to music by Tchaikovsky, Cherubim Hymn with icons.

Christ is in our Midst XXV(letter 30)

" 30

5 January 1948

The Lord knows our weakness and He has granted us daily repentance until we die. St John of the Ladder writes: 'Previous habit often tyrannizes even over him who deplores it. And no wonder! The account of the judgements of God and our falls is shrouded in darkness, and it is impossible for us to comprehend it' [5,29]. He says further: 'Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly the angel who guards you will honour your patience' [5,30]. St Abba Dorotheos says: 'A man who drinks once is not called a drunkard, nor is a person who once commits fornication called a fornicator . . . but only when these are habits' [p. 179]. According to spiritual knowledge, even punishments differ. Lenience should be shown towards a person who strives for virtue and falls, for he was not aiming at sin, but was unexpectedly tempted. But severe punishment is needed for one who does not strive for virtue so that he may come to his senses and do so. Thus your single weakness too deserves lenience; a mere trifle. More likely a touch of pride is disturbing you. 'How could I let this happen?'

The Lord keep you."
Father John, in his last statement to his spiritual child mentions pride back behind the actual sin.
Meaning, the sin, as an act, was committed. The reasons for committing sin, especially at the beginning of the spiritual life are often murky and are not able to be discerned. If they are able to be discerned to any degree, attached to the slight discernment are a jumble of emotions, intentions, regrets, fear of future failures and the like. Even these attachments to the discernments are murky in the understanding of them.

Once the sin has been given life, has been brought into actuality, it is a time/space event that in one fashion may be approached as a "fact", just simply something that happened, say like "Yesterday at 2:00 p.m. I took my lunch break." This event proceeded forth from within me and occurred and having occurred, it can be examined in many aspects or one of my choosing(or my spiritual father's or whomever).

I should note that here I am not discussing what spiritual effect of damage to myself the sin has caused and is causing, nor how God may be viewing it(the particular sin committed) although by not mentioning these things does not imply unimportance but they do not fall into the scope of what I am attempting to explain.

Why I sin, beyond the textbook answers to this question(the story of the Fall and its myriad results and the need of the Savior to raise fallen man to God) does not answer the question of why I, Sophocles, the man writing this work as the unique creation brought forth in the year of our Lord 1970, born as the son of Christos and Anastasia Frangakis, who through choices known and unknown, has become a sinner in practice and deed rather than only in potential and I sin.
I have made choices that have created habits that have now become ingrained into the fiber of my psyche.

In this direction therefore I turn. These choices. What were they? In what circumstances was I in to be presented with these choices in the first place? When I made the choices, what effect was I hoping for? Did I receive the desired effect? What, in other words was my motivation?
Simply offering the blanket statement that I'm a sinner is not of aid to me to overcome the particular sin. Examination must take place and honest self appraisal with the aid of an outside person, my spiritual father.
Much before I am able to arrive here, to be able to "see" my sins at all, I am surprised that I , self-sufficient me, Sophocles, could actually allow myself to do such a thing.

Father John in bringing to the attention of his spiritual child that beyond the actual sin itself is this incredulity that this could happen to her that she could let this happen.

That she could let this happen implies she has power over her ability to not sin. I believe the teaching of our Holy Faith is that no one, not this spiritual child of Father John's, not even I have this power. It has not been granted to the sons of men in their essence. It is granted only in union with the Creator, our Holy God, in Him and Him in us.

Pride in our own ability to not sin is itself sin because here, once again, God is excluded. "I'm going to not sin on my terms, my way" is usually, it seems, my own attitude before my fall.

Orthodox church school to open

Friday, August 24, 2007

Of The Patriot-News

While the new Orthodox Christian Academy has met with some challenges, organizers plan to open the school for kindergartners and first-graders on Sept. 4 as planned.

Classes will be held in the parish hall of the Holy Annunciation Macedonian-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church, 721 N. Front St., Steelton.

Plans to use three rooms and an office at the former Town and Country Day School in Lower Paxton Twp. fell through when the new owners set the monthly rent at $2,006, said the Very Rev. Daniel D. Ressetar, president of the academy board of directors.

"We could not afford that," he said.

So the organizers searched and found space at the Steelton church. Now somebody has stepped up to pay the $400 a month rent there, Ressetar said.

Next, the academy needs more students. About 50 parents attended an open house on Sunday, with five students committed to attend, the priest said.

Organizers would like to have 20 students for the first year of operation.

Many Orthodox children attend private Roman Catholic and Protestant schools and public schools, Ressetar said.

While the academy is Orthodox faith-based, it is open to other students. Services and festivals of the Orthodox Christian Church will be built into the schedule.

The organizing churches are Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Wormleysburg, Christ the Saviour Church of Lower Paxton Twp., St. Nicholas Serbian Church of Oberlin, Holy Annunciation Church and Holy Apostles Church of Mechanicsburg.

The school will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to accommodate working parents.

The staff will consist of a headmaster and his wife, who are teachers, and will be supplemented by qualified volunteers.

JUDITH PATTON: 255-8177 or


24 Orthodox priests and two monks murdered in Russia during 17 years

24 August 2007, 17:50

Moscow, August 24, Interfax - 24 Orthodox priests and two monks have been murdered in Russia since 1990.

According to the Moscow Patriarchate’s website, the murder of Archpriest Alexander Men is the first of the list of those notorious crimes. Fr. Men was died at his home because of blood loss after he was hit with something heavy in the morning September 9, 1990 near the Semkhoz railways station.

Three monks of the Optina Pustyn monastery, Hieromonk Vasily Roslyakov, Monk Trofim Tatarnikov and Monk Ferapont Pushkaryov were murdered on the Easter Day, April 18, 1993. Their murderer Nikolay Averin said that the devil made him do that.

The rector to the church of Archangel Michael in Grozny Fr. Anatoly Chistousov was murdered on February 14, 1996 by a Chechen gang led by Ahmed Zakayev after he refused to urged Russian soldiers to surrender. The priest was tortured before being shot dead.

Archpriest Alexander Zharkov was murdered on September 14, 1997 in St. Petersburg. Shortly before that he left the Moscow Patriarchate for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

Archpriest Peter Sukhonosov, the rector of the church of the Intercession of the Mother of God in Sleptsovsakay, Ingushetia, was kidnapped from his church on March 28, 1999 by a group of four bandits, and subsequently murdered.

Hieromonk Grigory Yakovlev, the rector of the church in the town of Tura, Krasnoyarsk Region, was murdered on March 21, 2000 in the church of the Holy Trinity. The murdered, Ruslan Lyubetsky, 26, severed the priest’s head and placed it on the holy table. The same day he was arrested. He said it was ‘the god Krishna’ who made him do that.

Priest Andrey Nikolayev, the rector of the Holy Trinity church in the village of Pryamukhino, Tver Region, was burned in the night on December 1 to 2, 2006 in his house together with his wife Ksenia and their three kids.

Priest Oleg Stupichkin, the rector of the church of SS. Peter and Paul in the town of Neyvo-Shaytansky, Sverdlovsk Region, was murdered on the Christmas Eve, December 6, 2007. His murderers, Roman Sukhachyov and Sergey Davlyatchin, who had already spent some time in prison before, stayed in church after the service and killed the priest with a cut of the iron pipe. After that, the criminals stole twenty icons and tried to burn the church. They were detained the same night. Fr. Stupichkin was married and had four children.

Hegoumen Avenir Smolin, the rector of the church of the Ascension of Our Lord in the town of Furmanov, Ivanovo Region, was murdered in the night on the August 21 to 22, 2007 in his house. His murderer, a formerly convicted townsman of Furamnvo, confessed that he with his accessory killed the priest in order to rob him.