Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hieromartyr Abibus, Bishop of Nekressi in Georgia

Commemorated on November 29

Saint Abibus of Nekresi was one of the Thirteen Syrian Fathers who arrived in Georgia in the 6th century under the leadership of St. John of Zedazeni.

With the blessing of his instructor, St. Abibus began his apostolic activity in Nekresi, a village set among the hills in the eastern region of Kakheti. For his virtuous deeds, St. Abibus was soon consecrated bishop of his diocese.

According to the chronicle Life of Kartli, St. Abibus converted not only Georgians but also most of the mountain tribes—including the Dagestani/Didoians—to the Christian Faith. Abounding with apostolic zeal, St. Abibus journeyed throughout the villages of his diocese, preaching the Truth and calling upon all to strengthen the true Faith.

The time that St. Abibus was serving as bishop coincided with a dark period of Persian rule in eastern Georgia. The Persians exerted every effort to implant their faith—the worship of fire—and everywhere erected altars where the fire burned without ceasing. Once in the village of Rekhi the holy hierarch, finding a group of fire-worshipers forcing the Georgian faithful to worship the flame, poured water on their fire to extinguish it. The enraged pagan priests bound St. Abibus, beat him cruelly, locked him up, and reported the incident to the marzban. The marzban ordered that the bishop be brought to him at once.

St. Abibus was a friend of the holy wonderworker Simeon the Stylite of the Wonderful Mountain. St. Simeon received a sign from God of the imminent martyrdom of St. Abibus and, in order to console him, sent him a letter, an evlogia (a blessing—probably a piece of prosphoron or some other holy object) and a staff. While Abibus was being escorted to the marzban, in the village of Ialdo he met a messenger from Antioch who presented him with St. Simeon’s gifts. The letter and gifts gladdened the holy hierarch and strengthened him for his martyrdom. Then St. Abibus was approached by a group of Christians who offered to help him escape, but he graciously declined.

Having arrived in Mtskheta, the saint prayed at Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, then requested that the guards permit him to meet with St. Shio of Mgvime. The Persians granted his request, and the spiritual brothers greeted one another with love and prayed together to the Lord.

St. Abibus was brought before the dread marzban and asked how he could dare raise his hand against the Persian god. He replied with complete composure, saying, “I did not kill any god; rather I extinguished a fire. Fire is not a god, but a part of nature, which is created by God. Your fire was burning wood, and a little water was enough to extinguish it. The water turned out to be stronger. Your fury amazes me. Isn’t it humiliating to call something a god which has no soul?”

Furious at this response, the marzban ordered the holy hierarch’s execution.

The executioners mercilessly beat the blessed Abibus and shattered his skull with stones. Then they dragged his body through the city, cast it to the beasts, and assigned a guard to ensure that the Christians did not come to steal it. Nevertheless, that night the priests and monks of Rekhi came, took the body of the holy martyr, and buried it with great honor at Samtavisi Monastery (located midway between Mtskheta and Gori).

Many miraculous healings have taken place over the grave of St. Abibus. During the rule of Prince Stepanoz of Kartli, the incorrupt relics of St. Abibus were translated from Samtavisi to Samtavro Monastery in Mtskheta, according to the decree of Catholicos Tabori. They were buried under the holy altar at Samtavro Church.



ANTI Ecumenism - SUPERB American Orthodox docum PART 12 of15

Part 12.

ANTI Ecumenism - SUPERB American Orthodox docum PART 12 of15
Uploaded by anti_ecumenism

A fatal heresy, increasing in prevalence today, directly counters these instructions that St. Paul commands us to follow. This heresy appears not to divide the church, but rather unite it; it appears to be loving, accepting and good. But this is not the case - what it really does is undermine the foundations of the Church and tear it apart internally, allowing for innovations and changes in traditions and practice, putting physical unity above truth, and preparing for the antichrist. It is the heresy of ecumenism, a terrible and false teaching as deceitful and destructive as a wolf in sheep's clothing. Rather than attacking the Church though the open teaching of heresy, as did Arianism, Monophysitism and Iconoclasm, ecumenism poses a different and even more terrible assault to the church; it gathers power and a following while still appearing to remain in the bounds of the Church and adhere to her traditional dogmas. In accepting all beliefs, ecumenism divides the church, as we cannot be perfectly of one mind with those who believe false heresies ad have false ways of life.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Martyr Irenarchus at Sebaste

Commemorated on November 28

The Holy Martyr Irenarchus was from Sebaste, Armenia, and lived during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). When he was young, he would minister to the martyrs in prison after they were tortured.

He once saw seven women being tortured for Christ, who bravely endured their torments. St Irenarchus marveled at this because they showed great courage in standing up to the tyrant, even though they were weak by nature.

Illumined by divine grace, St Irenarchus confessed Christ. First he endured trials by fire and water, then he was beheaded with the seven holy women in the year 303.



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Commemoration of the Weeping Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign" at Novgorod

Commemorated on November 27

The Icon of the Mother of God "Of the Sign", depicts the Most Holy Theotokos with prayerfully uplifted hands, and the Divine Infant is at Her bosom in a mandorla (or sphere). This depiction of the Mother of God is regarded as one of the very first of Her iconographic images. In the mausoleum of St Agnes at Rome is a depiction of the Mother of God with hands raised in prayer with the Infant Christ sitting upon Her knees. This depiction is ascribed to the fourth century. There is also an ancient Byzantine icon of the Mother of God "Nikopea" from the sixth century, where the Most Holy Theotokos is depicted seated upon a throne and holding in Her hands an oval shield with the image of the Savior Emmanuel.

Icons of the Mother of God, known as "The Sign", appeared in Russia during the eleventh-twelfth centuries, and were so called because of a miraculous sign from the Novgorod Icon in the year 1170.

In that year the allied forces of Russian appanage princes, headed by a son of Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky of Suzdal, marched to the very walls of Great Novgorod. For the people of Novgorod, their only remaining hope was that God would help them. Day and night they prayed, beseeching the Lord not to forsake them. On the third night Bishop Elias of Novgorod heard a wondrous voice commanding that the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos be taken out of the church of the Savior's Transfiguration on Ilina street, and carried about on the city walls.

When they carried the icon, the enemy fired a volley of arrows at the procession, and one of them pierced the iconographic face of the Mother of God. Tears trickled from Her eyes, and the icon turned its face towards the city. After this divine Sign an inexpressible terror suddenly fell upon the enemy. They began to strike one another, and taking encouragement from the Lord, the people of Novgorod fearlessly gave battle and won the victory.

In remembrance of the miraculous intercession of the Queen of Heaven, Archbishop Elias established a feastday in honor of the Sign of the Mother of God, which the Russian Church celebrates to the present day. The Athonite hieromonk Pachomius the Logothete, who was present at the festal celebration of the Icon in Russia, composed two Canons for this Feast.

On certain Novgorod Icons of the Sign, the miraculous occurrences of the year 1170 were also depicted. For 186 years afterwards, the wonderworking icon remained in the Savior-Transfiguration church on Ilina street. In 1356 it was transferred to a church built in Novgorod in honor of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "of the Sign," which became the cathedral church of the monastery of the Sign.

Numerous copies of the Sign Icon are known throughout Russia. Many of them were also glorified by miracles in their local churches, and were then named for the place of the appearance of the miracle. Similar copies of the Sign Icon are the icons of Dionysievo-Glushets, Abalaka (July 20), Kursk, Seraphim-Ponetaev and others.



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Venerable Nikon "Metanoeite," the Preacher of Repentance

Commemorated on November 26

Saint Nikon Metanoeite ("the Preacher of Repentance") was born at Pontus Polemoniacus at the beginning of the tenth century. He was the son of a wealthy landowner, and he was given the name Nicetas in Baptism.

Since he had no desire to take over the management of his family's wealth and estates, Nicetas entered the monastery of Chrysopetro, where he shone forth in prayer and asceticism. When he received the monastic tonsure, he was given the new name Nikon. The new name symbolizes a new life in the Spirit (Romans 7:6), and the birth of the new man (Ephesians 4:24). A monk is expected to stop associating himself with the old personality connected to his former life in the world, and to devote himself entirely to God.

St Nikon had a remarkable gift for preaching. When he spoke of virtue and spiritual matters, his listeners were filled with heartfelt compunction and love for God. His words produced such spiritual fruit in those who heard him that he was asked to travel through the eastern regions to preach. He visited Armenia, Crete, Euboea, Aegina, and the Peloponnesus, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.

"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." This was the message of St John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2), and of Christ Himself (Matthew 4:17). This was also the message of St Nikon. Wherever he went, he would begin his sermons with "Repent," hence he was called "Nikon Metanoeite," or "Nikon, the Preacher of Repentance."

At first, people paid little heed to his message. Then gradually he won their hearts through his preaching, his miracles, and his gentle, loving nature. He stressed the necessity for everyone to repent, warning that those who utter a few sighs and groans and think that they have achieved true repentance have deluded themselves. St Nikon told the people that true sorrow for one's sins is cultivated by prayer, self-denial, almsgiving, ascetical efforts, and by confession to one's spiritual Father.

After sowing the seeds of piety, St Nikon began to see them bear fruit. People started to change their lives, but he urged them to strengthen their souls in virtue and good works so that they would not be overwhelmed by the cares of this world.

Eventually, St Nikon settled in a cave outside Sparta. Soon he moved into the city, because so many people were coming to hear him. In the center of Sparta, he built a church dedicated to Christ the Savior. In time a monastery grew up around the church.

St Nikon never ceased to preach the Word of God, and to lead people back to the spiritual life of the Church. He also healed the sick, and performed many other miracles.

St Nikon fell asleep in the Lord in 998, and his memory was honored by the people around Sparta. During the Turkish occupation of Greece, however, he was all but forgotten, except in Sparta. After the Greek Revolution in 1821, a service to St Nikon was composed by Father Daniel Georgopoulos, and was based on the saint's Life, which had been written by Igumen Gregory of St Nikon's Monastery in 1142.

St Nikon was recognized as the patron saint of the diocese of Monemvasia and Lakedaimonia in 1893 when the cathedral church in Sparta was dedicated to St Nikon, the Preacher of Repentance.



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hieromartyr Peter the Archbishop of Alexandria

Commemorated on November 25

The Holy Hieromartyr Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria, was born and raised at Alexandria. He was a highly educated man, and was head of the school of Alexandria. In the year 300 he became the archpastor of the Alexandrian Church, succeeding his teacher and spiritual guide, the holy Bishop Theonas.

Forced into exile from the city during the anti-Christian persecutions under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, St Peter traveled through many lands, encouraging his flock by letter. Again returned to his city, in order to guide the Alexandrian Church personally during this dangerous period. The saint secretly visited Christians locked up in prison, encouraging them to be steadfast in faith, assisting the widows and orphans, preaching the Word of God, constantly praying and officiating at the divine services. And the Lord kept him safe from the hands of the persecutors.

During this time of unrest the iniquitous heretic Arius, who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ, sowed the tares of his impious teaching. When Arius refused to be corrected and submit to the truth, St Peter anathematized the heretic and excommunicated him from the Church. Arius then sent two of St Peter's priests to beg the saint to lift the excommunication from him, pretending that he had repented and given up his false teachings. This was not true, for Arius hoped to succeed St Peter as Archbishop of Alexandria. St Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, saw through the wickedness and deceit of Arius, and so he instructed his flock not to believe Arius nor to accept him into communion.

Under the wise nurturing of St Peter the Church of Alexandria strengthened and grew in spite of the persecutions. But finally, on orders from the emperor Maximian (305-311), the saint was arrested and sentenced to death. A multitude of people gathered at the entrance of the prison, expressing their outrage. Wanting to avoid bloodshed and a riot by the people, the saint sent a message to the authorities, in which he suggested that they make an opening in the back wall of the prison, so that he might be taken away secretly to execution.

In the dark of the night St Peter went with the executioners, who took him beyond the city walls and beheaded him at the same spot where formerly St Mark had been executed. That night a certain pious virgin heard a Voice from heaven saying, "Peter was first among the Apostles; Peter is the last of the Alexandrian Martyrs." This took place in the year 311. In the morning, when people learned of the death of their bishop, a crowd gathered at the place of execution. They took up the body and head of the martyr and went to the church, dressing him in his bishop's vestments, they sat him in his throne at the high place in the altar. During his life St Peter never sat on it, but sat on a footstool instead. The saint once explained that whenever he approached his throne he beheld a heavenly light shining on it, and he sensed the presence of a divine power. Therefore, he didn't dare to sit there.

The Lord Jesus Christ once appeared to St Peter as a twelve-year-old child wearing a robe that was torn from top to bottom. St Peter asked the Savior who had torn his garment, and He replied, "That madman Arius has torn it by dividing the people whom I have redeemed by My blood. Do not receive him into Communion with the Church, for he has worked evil against Me and My flock."

St Peter, a great champion of Orthodoxy, is known also as a profound theologian. Passages from his book, "On the Divinity (of Jesus Christ)", were consulted at the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. Of all his works, the most widely known and highly esteemed by the Church are his "Penitential Canons".

Troparion - Tone 4
O God of our Fathers,always act with kindness towards us;take not Your mercy from us,but guide our lives in peacethrough the prayers of the hierarchs Clement and Peter.

Kontakion - Tone 4 Podoben: "Today You have shown forth..."Unshakeable and godlike towers of the Church,truly inspired and mighty pillars of the Faith,all-praised Clement and Peter, protect us all by your prayers.



Monday, November 24, 2008

Greatmartyr Mercurius of Caesarea, in Cappadocia

Commemorated on November 24

The Holy Great Martyr Mercurius, a Scythian by descent, served as a soldier in the Roman army. The impious emperors Decius (249-251) and Valerian (253-259) issued a decree ordering all Roman citizens to worship the pagan gods, and condemning Christians to torture and death unless they obeyed the decree.

At that time barbarians attacked the Roman empire, and the emperor Decius went on campaign with a large army. In one of the battles an angel of the Lord appeared to Mercurius in the guise of a nobleman and presented him a sword saying, "Fear not, Mercurius. Go forth bravely against the enemy, and when you are victorious, do not forget the Lord your God." With this sword the holy warrior cut through the ranks of the barbarians. He also killed their king, winning victory for the Romans. The grateful Emperor Decius rewarded St Mercurius for his bravery, and made him commander of the entire army.

The angel of the Lord appeared again to the holy warrior, who had received great honors and riches, and reminded him by Whom the victory had been given. He also told General Mercurius that he would suffer for Christ, and would receive a crown of victory in His Kingdom. Mercurius recalled that his father Gordian had also confessed the Christian Faith. Although the saint had been baptized, he felt he had not devoted his life to God as his father and grandfather had done. Thus, he was weeping and lamenting when he was summoned before the emperor.

Decius consulted Mercurius on matters of state, then suggested that they offer sacrifice in the temple of Artemis. Not wishing to do this, the saint returned to his home. He was denounced as a Christian by a nobleman, whose name was Catullus. The emperor would not believe this, however, until he himself had questioned the saint. Openly declaring himself a Christian, Mercurius threw down his military belt and cloak at the emperor's feet, and he repudiated all the honors he had received. The angel of the Lord again appeared to St Mercurius in the prison, encouraging him to endure every suffering for Christ.

They stretched the holy martyr between four pillars and lit a fire beneath him. They cut his body with knives, and so much blood flowed from his wounds that it extinguished the fire. When they threw him back into the prison nearly dead from his wounds, St Mercurius was healed by the Lord, demonstrating the great power of Christ to the impious pagans. Condemned to death, the saint was deemed worthy of a vision of the Lord, Who promised him a quick release from his sufferings. The Great Martyr Mercurius was beheaded at Caesarea in Cappadocia. His holy body emitted a fragrance like myrrh and incense. Many of the sick were healed at his tomb.

Even after his death the warrior of Christ performed a soldier's service for the good of the earthly Church. St Basil the Great (January 1) once prayed before an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, upon which St Mercurius was depicted as a soldier holding a spear. He asked God not to permit the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) to return from his war against the Persians and resume his oppression of Christians. The image of the holy Great Martyr Mercurius, depicted on the icon beside the image of the Most Holy Theotokos, became invisible. It reappeared later with a bloodied spear.

At this very moment Julian the Apostate, on his Persian campaign, was wounded by the spear of an unknown soldier, who immediately disappeared. The mortally wounded Julian, as he lay dying, cried out, "Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!"

The Most Holy Theotokos, through the prayers of St Basil, had sent St Mercurius to defend the Christians from the apostate Julian. May we also be preserved from God's foes, overcoming them through the prayers and assistance of St Mercurius.

Troparion - Tone 4
Your holy martyr Mercurius,O Lord,through his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries,and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.Through their intercessions, save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 4 In battle an invincible warriorand in calamity a bold protector;we bless Mercurius and we praise him with songs:for he saves from calamities and sorrowsthose who joyously celebrate his memory.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Afterfeast of the Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple

Commemorated on November 23

Troparion - Tone 4
Today with the most revered of all cities we fittingly celebrate your honored translation to heaven, Father of Fathers, wise Proclus.

Kontakion - Tone 4
The most pure Temple of the Savior;the precious Chamber and Virgin;the sacred Treasure of the glory of God,is presented today to the house of the Lord.She brings with her the grace of the Spirit,therefore, the angels of God praise her:"Truly this woman is the abode of heaven."



Saturday, November 22, 2008

Martyr Michael the Prince of Tver

Commemorated on November 22

The Holy Right-Believing Prince Michael of Tver was born in the year 1272, already after the death of his father Great Prince Yaroslav Yaroslavich, a brother of holy Prince Alexander Nevsky (November 23). On the journey to the Horde, Prince Yaroslav fell ill, and was tonsured a monk with the name Athanasius, then died. Michael's mother, Xenia, raised her son in fervent love for God. Michael was educated and studied under the guidance of the Archbishop (probably Clement) of Novgorod. He took the place of his older brother Svyatoslav in the principality of Tver.

In 1285 he built a stone church in honor of the Savior's Transfiguration in place of the wooden church of Sts Cosmas and Damian. Upon the death of Great Prince Andrew Alexandrovich (+1305), Michael went to the Horde and received the grant to the great princely throne by right of seniority. But Prince Yurii Danilovich of Moscow would not submit to this, because he sought the princely rule for himself. He was often at the Golden Horde of the new Khan Uzbek, who had accepted Mohammedanism and was distinguished by his cruelty and fanaticism. Prince Yurii knew how to please the Khan, and he married his sister Konchaka and became Great Prince.

Even then he did not calm down, but instead began an internecine war with Tver. In Yurii's army was a detachment of Tatars sent by Uzbek, with Kavgadi at the head. But the men of Tver, with holy Prince Michael at the head, on December 22, 1317 defeated Yurii. Many captives were taken, including Kavgadi, whom St Michael released, and the Moscow prince's wife Konchaka, who unexpectedly died at Tver.

Prince Yurii slandered St Michael before the Khan, accusing him of poisoning Konchaka. The Khan became enraged, threatening to destroy St Michael's princely holding, and demanded that he appear to give an account. Not wishing to spill Russian blood in an unequal struggle with the Khan, St Michael humbly went to the Horde, knowing that this meant death for him. He bid his his family and the Tver people farewell, and received a blessing for his exploit of martyrdom from his spiritual Father Igumen John.

"Father," said the saint, "I was much concerned for the peace of Christians, but through my sins, I was not able to stop internecine war. Now give me your blessing, so that if my blood is spilled for them, they might have some respite, and that the Lord will forgive my sins."

At the Horde an unjust trial was held, which found the saint guilty of disobedience to the Khan, and sentenced him to death. They removed him under guard and put him in a heavy wooden stock. As was his habit, St Michael constantly read the Psalter in prison and blessed the Lord for granting him to suffer for Him. He asked not to be abandoned in his present torments. Since the hands of the holy sufferer were secured in the stock, a boy sat before him and turned the pages of the Psalter. The holy captive languished at the Horde for a long time, enduring beatings and ridicule. They suggested that he flee, but the saint bravely answered, "In all my life I never fled from an enemy. If I save myself and my people remain in peril, what glory is that to me? No, let it be as the Lord wills."

Through the mercy of God, he was not deprived of Christian solace: Orthodox priests attended to him, the igumens Alexander and Mark. Each week he made his Confession and received the Holy Mysteries of Christ, thus receiving a Christian preparation for his death. At the instigation of Prince Yurii and Kavgadi, who took revenge on the holy prince for their defeat, assassins rushed into the encampment where the captive was held. They fiercely beat the martyr and kicked him with their feet, then one of them stabbed St Michael with a knife.

The holy martyr's naked body was exposed for abuse, and later they covered him with a cloth and placed him on a large board attached to a cart. By night two guards were set to watch the body, but fear seized them and they fled. In the morning, his body was not on the board.

On the previous night many, not only Orthodox but also Tatars, had seen two radiant clouds shining over the place where the body of the martyr lay. Although many wild animals roamed the steppes, not one of them had touched him. In the morning everyone said, "Prince Michael is a saint, and was innocently murdered." From the Horde the body of the prince was transferred to Moscow, where they buried him in the church of the Savior-Wood in the Kremlin.

Just a year later, in 1319, the people of Tver learned the fate of their prince. At the wish of his wife, the right-believing Princess Anna of Kashin (October 2), and at the request of the people of Tver, the relics of St Michael were transferred to his native city, and on September 6, 1320 were placed in the church he built in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Local veneration of the holy Prince began soon after the transfer of his relics to Tver, and the general Church glorification of the saint took place at a 1549 Council.

On November 24, 1632 the incorrupt relics of St Michael were uncovered. The holy Prince has often helped the Russian land. In 1606 the Polish and Lithuanians besieging Tver repeatedly saw a wondrous horseman ride out from the city upon a white horse with sword in hand , turning them to flight. Later, when they saw an icon of holy Prince Michael, they affirmed with an oath to Archbishop Theoctistus of Tver that the horseman was indeed St Michael himself.



ANTI Ecumenism - SUPERB American Orthodox docum PART 11 of15

Part 11.

ANTI Ecumenism - SUPERB American Orthodox docum PART 11 of15
Uploaded by anti_ecumenism

This verse clearly and directly states that Christians must stay together, speaking, thinking and believing the same things. Orthodoxy, which has held the Christian faithful together in one divine body for two millennia, is the perfect fulfillment of these instructions. In the Orthodox Church, the faithful conform their minds and will to the sacred teachings of the faith, and this brings perfect spiritual unity.

A fatal heresy, increasing in prevalence today, directly counters these instructions that St. Paul commands us to follow. This heresy appears not to divide the church, but rather unite it; it appears to be loving, accepting and good. But this is not the case - what it really does is undermine the foundations of the Church and tear it apart internally, allowing for innovations and changes in traditions and practice, putting physical unity above truth, and preparing for the antichrist. It is the heresy of ecumenism, a terrible and false teaching as deceitful and destructive as a wolf in sheep's clothing. Rather than attacking the Church though the open teaching of heresy, as did Arianism, Monophysitism and Iconoclasm, ecumenism poses a different and even more terrible assault to the church; it gathers power and a following while still appearing to remain in the bounds of the Church and adhere to her traditional dogmas. In accepting all beliefs, ecumenism divides the church, as we cannot be perfectly of one mind with those who believe false heresies ad have false ways of life.

Part 9.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Venerable Gregory Decapolite

Commemorated on November 20

Saint Gregory the Decapolite was born in the Isaurian city of Decapolis (ten cities) in the eighth century. From his childhood he loved the temple of God and church services. He read the Holy Scripture constantly and with reverence.

In order to avoid the marriage which his parents had intended for him, he secretly left home. He spent all his life wandering: he was in Constantinople, Rome, Corinth, and he lived as an ascetic on Olympus for a while. St Gregory preached the Word of God everywhere, denouncing the Iconoclast heresy, strengthening the faith and fortitude of the Orthodox, whom the heretics in those times oppressed, tortured and imprisoned.

Through his ascetic effort and prayer, St Gregory attained the gifts of prophecy and wonderworking. After overcoming the passions and reaching the height of virtue, he was permitted to hear angelic singing in praise of the Holy Trinity. St Gregory left the monastery of St Menas near Thessalonica, where he had labored for a long time, and he went again to Constantinople in order to combat the Iconoclast heresy. At the capital, a grievous illness undermined his strength, and he departed to the Lord in the year 816.

St Gregory was buried at a monastery in Constantinople, and many miracles took place at his tomb. As a result, the monks removed the holy relics of St Gregory and enshrined them in the church where people could venerate them.

When Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, the relics of St Gregory were carried to the region of the Danube by a Turkish official. In 1498 Barbu Craiovescu, the Ban of the Romanian Land (Wallachia) heard of the miracles performed by the holy relics and bought them for a considerable sum of money. Barbu Craiovescu placed the relics in the main church of Bistritsa Monastery which he founded in Rimnicu Vilcea, where they remain to the present day.

A small book describing the miracles and healings performed by St Gregory the Decapolite in Romania has been written by Abbess Olga Gologan, who reposed in 1972.

Troparion - Tone 4
The twofold lamps of divine gifts,Proclus, shepherd of New Rome, and Gregory, scion of Decapolis, guide us by the light of grace as divinely-inspired fathers.Let us draw near and eagerly beseech them, that we may receive forgiveness and salvation of our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 3
The Church knows you to be a brilliant sun enlightening all with the rays of healing and the beauty of virtue.Therefore, as we celebrate your honored memory, we glorify your struggles, ever-blest and all-wise father Gregory.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Martyr Barlaam of Caesarea, in Cappadocia

Commemorated on November 19

The Holy Martyr Barlaam lived in Antioch of Syria. During Diocletian's persecution against Christians, the aged St Barlaam was arrested and brought to trial, where he confessed himself a Christian.

The judge, wanting to compel the saint to renounce Christ, ordered that St Barlaam be brought to the pagan altar. His right hand was placed over it, and a red-hot censer burning with incense was put into his hand. The torturer thought that a physically weak old man could not endure the pain and would drop it on the altar. In this way he would involuntarily be offering sacrifice to the idol. However, the saint held on to the censer until his hand fell off. After this, the holy Martyr Barlaam surrendered his soul to the Lord.

Troparion - Tone 4
Your holy martyr Barlaam, O Lord,Through his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries,And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.Through his intercessions, save our souls!

Troparion - Tone 4
Armed with youthful fervor,you endured martyrdom in old age and glorified Christ.You offered Him your right hand as a whole burnt offeringand your holy soul as a blameless sacrifice.Intercede that all may be granted forgiveness, Great-martyr Barlaam.

Kontakion - Tone 3 Though weak with old age you vanquished the evil one,in your mighty contest, O Barlaam.You endured the rack like one without a body, and steadfastly endured the burning of your hand.Therefore, God the Word has crowned you with a crown of glory.



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Martyr Roman the Deacon of Caesarea

Commemorated on November 18

The Holy Martyr Roman was deacon at a church in Palestinian Caesarea. During one of the persecutions against Christians he moved to Antioch, where he encouraged Christians in the faith by his example and fervent preaching.

When the Antiochian governor Asklepiades was considering the destruction of the Christian temple, St Roman called on the believers to stand up for their sanctuary. He persuaded them that if they managed to protect the church, then there would be rejoicing on earth in the Church Militant, and if they should perish in defense of the church, there would still be rejoicing in the heavenly Church Triumphant. Seeing such a firm resolve among the people, the governor did not dare to carry out his plans.

Some time afterwards, there was a pagan celebration in the city and many people came to Antioch from the surrounding area. St Roman began denouncing the idol-worship and called on all to follow Christ. They arrested him and subjected him to torture. During his torments the martyr saw a boy, a Christian named Barulas in the crowd. He directed the governor's attention to him saying, "This young man is wiser than you, though you are older than he, because he knows the True God. You, however, worship lifeless idols."

The governor Asklepiades gave orders to bring the boy to him. To all the questions of the governor, Barulas firmly and without fear confessed his faith in Christ, the True God. Asklepiades in a rage gave orders to whip Barulas, and then behead him. Before his death the holy child asked his mother, who was present at the execution, to give him something to drink. The mother called out to him to endure bravely to the end. She herself carried her son to the place of execution, and later buried him.

St Roman was sentenced to burned alive, but a heavy rain extinguished the fire. The saint began glorifying Christ and insulting the pagan gods. The governor commanded that his tongue be cut out, but even deprived of his tongue, St Roman loudly continued to glorify the Lord. Then the torturers placed a noose around his neck and choked him to death.

Troparion - Tone 4
Your holy martyrs Plato and Roman, 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
Your holy memory delights the universe,Bringing us together to honor you in our joy.We praise your great deeds with hymns, O Plato,Crying out to you with faith:O holy one, save our land from its enemies!



Monday, November 17, 2008

Venerable Nikon the Abbot of Radonezh the Disciple of the Venerable Sergius

Commemorated on November 17

Saint Nikon, Abbot of Radonezh, a disciple and successor of St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25 and July 5), was born at Yuriev-Polsk. Having heard of the angelic life of the Radonezh Wonderworker, the young man came to St Sergius and requested to be tonsured into the angelic schema.

St Sergius did not accept Nikon, whether because of his youth or for some other reason. Instead, he sent him to his disciple St Athanasius (September 12) at Serpukhov. But St Athanasius would not accept him right away. Only after seeing the young man's persistence did he tonsure him into the monastic schema.

St Nikon struggled in prayer, studied Holy Scripture and persevered in virtue and purity. Because of his humility and the way he fulfilled each task assigned him without argument, St Nikon was called a "zealot of obedience." When he reached the age of thirty, he was ordained to the priesthood. After a certain while, St Athanasius blessed him to go see St Sergius. St Sergius, catching sight of him, said, "It is good that you have come, my child Nikon," and happily received him.

At first, he gave orders for St Nikon to serve the brethren. The disciple passed whole days in monastic matters, and his nights in prayerful conversation with God. St Sergius was comforted by his virtuous life. Having received a special insight concerning him, St Sergius bade his disciple to dwell with him in his own cell, so that he might share in spiritual attainment. He instructed him in every monastic virtue, and explained much about the essence of spiritual life. St Sergius assigned St Nikon to the duty of assisting him, but six months before his repose, he appointed his disciple as his successor. Then St Sergius withdrew into seclusion.

After the death of St Sergius (September 25, 1392), Nikon carried out his duties exactly as he was instructed by the founder of the monastery. He had the habit of attending all the monastic services, and never did he forsake common tasks, working on a equal footing with all the brethren. But the burden of being the igumen of the monastery weighed upon St Nikon. Recalling his quiet life in the Serpukhov Vysotsk monastery with St Athanasius, and later with St Sergius, he gave up his position and retired to his own cell.

For six years the monastery was guided by St Sava of Storozhevsk (December 3). In the year 1400 St Sava founded his own monastery near Zvenigorod, and the brethren entreated St Nikon to again take over its direction. He consented, but allotted himself a certain time each day for silence, so as to stand alone before God.

When reports began to spread about an invasion of the Russian land by Khan Edigei (1408), St Nikon zealously prayed to God to spare the monastery. In a dream the Moscow hierarchs Peter (December 21) and Alexis (February 12) together with St Sergius appeared to him and said that he should not grieve over the destruction of the monastery, since it would not become desolate, but would flourish all the more.

The monks left the monastery, taking with them relics, books, and consecrated vessels. When they returned, they saw that their beloved place had been reduced to ashes. But St Nikon did not despair, and the brethren began to restore the monastery. First of all a wooden church was built in honor of the Most Holy Trinity. It was consecrated on September 25, 1411, the anniversary of the repose of St Sergius.

The monastery was restored, and St Nikon began construction of a stone church over the grave of his spiritual Father, St Sergius. The work crew digging the foundations uncovered the incorrupt relics of St Sergius on July 5, 1422. Amidst universal rejoicing they placed the relics in a new reliquary and at the new site a wooden church was built (now the church in honor of the Descent of the Holy Spirit is at this place). St Nikon later built a new stone church in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity. In honor and memory of his spiritual Father, he transferred the holy relics into this newly built church.

St Nikon brought in the finest iconographers, Sts Andrew Rublev (July 4) and Daniel Cherny (June 13) for the adornment of the temple. Then St Andrew painted the Icon of the Most Holy Trinity (Hospitality of Abraham), embodying what was revealed to St Sergius. St Nikon was occupied with the construction of the Trinity church until the end of his life.

St Nikon's final resting place was revealed to him in a vision before his death. He summoned the brethren and gave them instructions. After receiving the All-Pure Body of Christ and His Precious Blood, St Nikon gave the brethren a last blessing and said, "Go forth, my soul, with joy to the place where repose is prepared for you. Christ is calling you."

Having made the Sign of the Cross, St Nikon died on November 27, 1426. He was buried near the reliquary of St Sergius. Under the hierarch Jonah (1448-1461), the hieromonk Pachomius the Logothete wrote the Service and Life of St Nikon. In the year 1547 a generally observed celebration to him was established. In the year 1548 a church named for him was built over the grave of St Nikon. In 1623 a new one was constructed in its place, in which the relics of St Nikon rest in a crypt. The 500 year anniversary of the repose of St Nikon was solemnly observed in 1976 at the Trinity-Sergeev Lavra.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

St Hypatius of Gangra

Commemorated on November 16

Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Gangra, was bishop of the city of Gangra in Paphlagonia (Asia Minor). In the year 325 he participated in the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea, at which the heresy of Arius was anathematized.

When St Hypatius was returning in 326 from Constantinople to Gangra, followers of the schismatics Novatus and Felicissimus fell upon him in a desolate place. The heretics ran him through with swords and spears, and threw him into a swamp. Like the Protomartyr Stephen, St Hypatius prayed for his murderers.

An Arian woman struck the saint on the head with a stone, killing him. The murderers hid his body in a cave, where a Christian who kept straw there found his body. Recognizing the bishop's body, he hastened to the city to report this, and the inhabitants of Gangra piously buried their beloved archpastor.

After his death, the relics of St Hypatius were famous for numerous miracles, particularly for casting out demons and for healing the sick.

From of old the hieromartyr Hypatius was particularly venerated in the Russian land. Thus in the year 1330 the Ipatiev monastery was built at Kostroma, on the place where the Mother of God appeared with the Pre-eternal Christ Child, the Apostle Philip, and the hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Gangra. This monastery later occupied a significant place in the spiritual and social life of the nation, particularly during the Time of Troubles.

The ancient copies of the Life of the hieromartyr Hypatius were widely distributed in Russian literature, and one of these was incorporated into THE READING MENAION of Metropolitan Macarius (1542-1564). In this Life there is an account of the appearance of the Savior to St Hypatius on the eve of the martyr's death.

The entry for the saint's Feast consists of his Life, some prayers, and words of praise and instruction. The pious veneration of St Hypatius was also expressed in Russian liturgical compositions. During the nineteenth century a new service was written for the hieromartyr Hypatius, distinct from the services written by St Joseph the Studite, contained in the March MENAION.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Venerable Paisius Velichkovsky

Commemorated on November 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the books that St Herman brought with him to America was the Slavonic PHILOKALIA, printed in 1794. He absorbed the spiritual wisdom that it contained, and imparted it to others.

Troparion - Tone 2 Having become a stranger on earth,You reached the heavenly fatherland, O venerable father Paisius.You instructed the faithful to lift up their minds to GodAnd to cry out to Him with all their hearts,O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.



ANTI Ecumenism - SUPERB American Orthodox docum PART 9 of 15

Part 9.

ANTI Ecumenism - SUPERB American Orthodox docum PART 9 of 15
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O Holy Lord Jesus Christ, help us to remain steadfast in the holy teachings of Thy church and disallow false ways of believing, thinking and living to corrupt and scatter Thy flock! Grant that we may preserve unsullied the pearl of great price given unto us, keeping it inviolate for all generations to come, through the prayers of Thy most pure Mother and of all the saints. Amen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

St Philip the Abbot of Irap Near Novgorod

Commemorated on November 14

Saint Philip, Abbot of Irap near Novgorod, in the world Theophilus, was the founder of the Irap wilderness-monastery. As an orphan and not remembering his parents, the twelve-year-old Theophilus wandered about and eventually settled near the Komel monastery and lived on charity.

St Cornelius (May 19) accepted the pious youth into the monastery and after three years tonsured him a monk with the name Philip. Meek, humble and hard-working, at the request of the brethren he was ordained to the priesthood. His striving for greater efforts led him to withdraw to the outskirts of White Lake.

Here, having the patronage of Prince Andrew Sheleshpansky, who had allotted him land near the River Irapa, 45 versts from Cherepovets, the monk built a chapel in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity and a cell for himself. News about the holy wilderness-dweller spread throughout all the surrounding area, and monks began to flock to him. The laity also went to him for spiritual counsel, and St Philip would instruct them in the virtues which those living in the world ought to possess.

Soon at the place of the chapel a church was built in the Name of the Holy Life-Creating Trinity. St Philip dwelt in the wilderness for fifteen years and died in 1537 at age 45. His relics were placed beneath a crypt in the Trinity temple. Over his grave was an icon, painted by the monk Theodosius. Soon after the death of St Philip, the Krasnoborsk Philippov monastery arose on the place of his struggles.

The celebration of St Philip was established at the end of the sixteenth century. The manuscript service to him dates from the end of the sixteenth century.



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Venerable Nilus the Faster of Sinai

Commemorated on November 12

Saint Nilus the Faster of Sinai, a native of Constantinople. He lived during the fifth century and was a disciple of St John Chrysostom. Having received a fine education, the saint was appointed to the important post of prefect of the capital while still a young man. During this period, Nilus was married and had children, but the pomp of courtly life bothered the couple. St John Chrysostom exerted a tremendous influence upon their lives and their strivings. The spouses decided to separate and devote themselves to the monastic life.

The wife and daughter of Nilus went to one of the women's monasteries in Egypt, and St Nilus and his son Theodulus went to Sinai, where they settled in a cave dug out by their own hands. For forty years this cave served as the dwelling of St Nilus. By fasting, prayer and works, the monk attained a high degree of spiritual perfection. People began to come to him from every occupation and social rank from the emperor down to the farmer, and each found counsel and comfort from the saint.

At Sinai, St Nilus wrote many soul-profiting works to guide Christians on the path of salvation. In one of his letters there is an angry denunciation of the emperor Arcadius, who had exiled St John Chrysostom. The ascetic works of the venerable Nilus are widely known: they are perfectly executed in form, profoundly Orthodox in content, and are clear and lucid in expression. His Ascetic Discourse is found in Volume I of the English PHILOKALIA.

St Nilus suffered many misfortunes in the wilderness. Once, Saracens captured his son Theodulus, whom they intended to offer as a sacrifice to their pagan gods. Through the prayers of the saint the Lord saved Theodulus, and his father found him with the Bishop of Emessa, who had ransomed the young man from the barbarians. This bishop ordained both of them as presbyters. After ordination they returned to Sinai, where they lived as ascetics together until the death of St Nilus.

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 Nilus, pray to Christ God to save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 8
By your vigilant prayer you cut away the undergrowth of the body's insurgent passions.As you have boldness before the Lord, free me from every danger so that I may cry to you: "Rejoice, universal father Nilus."



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Martyr Victor at Damascus

Commemorated on November 11

The Holy Martyr Victor at Damascus was a soldier during the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius the Philosopher (161-180). When the emperor began a persecution against Christians, Victor refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Such obligatory sacrifices were a test of a soldier's loyalty to the gods, the emperor and the state. The saint was given over to torture, but he came through all the torments unharmed. By the power of prayer he was victorious over a sorcerer, who from that point gave up give sorcery and became a Christian.

Through St Victor's prayers, blind soldiers suddenly received their sight. Witnessing the miracle worked by the Lord through St Victor, Stephanida, the young Christian wife of one of the torturers, openly glorified Christ, for which she was condemned to a cruel death. She was tied to two palm trees bent to the ground, which when released, sprung back and tore her apart. She was fifteen years old.

The torturer ordered that the holy Martyr Victor be beheaded. Hearing the commander's order, St Vincent told his executioners that they would all die in twelve days, and that the commander would be captured by the enemy in twenty-four days. As he foretold, so it came to pass.

The martyrs suffered in the second century at Damascus, where their venerable relics were buried.

Troparion - Tone 4

Your holy martyrs, 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 8

Today the church honors those who fought the good fight and died for their faith:The victorious Menas, the noble Victor and the ascetic Vincent.The church glorifies their divine struggle and cries out with love:Glory to You, O Christ, the lover of mankind.



Monday, November 10, 2008

Martyr Constantine the King of Georgia

Commemorated on November 10

The 9th century was one of the most difficult periods in Georgian history. The Arab Muslims wreaked havoc throughout the region of Kartli, forcibly converting many to Islam with fire and the sword. Many of the destitute and frightened were tempted to betray the Faith of their fathers.

At that time the valorous aristocrat and faithful Christian, Prince Constantine, was living in Kartli. He was the descendant of Kakhetian princes, hence his title “Kakhi.”

As is meet for a Christian believer, St. Constantine considered himself the greatest of sinners and often said, “There can be no forgiveness of my sins, except through the spilling of my blood for the sake of Him Who shed His innocent blood for us!”

While on a pilgrimage to the holy places of Jerusalem, Constantine distributed generous gifts to the churches, visited the wilderness of the Jordan, received blessings from the holy fathers, and returned to his motherland filled with inner joy. After that time Constantine would send thirty thousand pieces of silver to Jerusalem each year.

In the years 853 to 854, when the Arab Muslims invaded Georgia under the command of Buga-Turk, the eighty-five-year-old Prince Constantine commanded the army of Kartli with his son Tarkhuj.

Outside the city of Gori an uneven battle took place between the Arabs and the Georgians. Despite their fierce resistance, the Georgians suffered defeat, and Constantine and Tarkhuj were taken captive.

The captive Constantine-Kakhi was sent to Samarra (a city in central Iraq) to the caliph Ja’far al Mutawakkil (847–861). Ja’far was well aware of the enormous respect Constantine-Kakhi received from the Georgians and all the Christian people who knew him. Having received him with honor, he proposed that Constantine renounce the Christian Faith and threatened him with death in the case of his refusal. Strengthened by divine grace, the courageous prince fearlessly answered, “Your sword does not frighten me. I am afraid of Him Who can destroy my soul and body and Who has the power to resurrect and to kill, for He is the true God, the almighty Sovereign, Ruler of the world, and Father unto all ages!”

The enraged caliph ordered the beheading of St. Constantine-Kakhi. Bowing on his knees, the holy martyr lifted up a final prayer to the Lord. St. Constantine-Kakhi was martyred on November 10, 852, the day on which Great-martyr George is commemorated. The holy martyr’s body was hung from a high pillar to intimidate the Christian believers, but after some time it was buried.

A few years later a group of faithful Georgians translated St. Constantine’s holy relics to his motherland and reburied them there with great honor. In that same century the Georgian Orthodox Church numbered Prince Constantine-Kakhi of Kartli among the saints.

Troparion - Tone 4
Your holy martyr Constantine, O Lord,Through his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries,And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.Through his intercessions, save our souls!



Sunday, November 09, 2008

Martyr Onesiphorus of Ephesus

Commemorated on November 9

The Holy Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius of Ephesus suffered during the persecution against Christians by the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They beat them and burned them. After this, they tied the saints to wild horses, which dragged them over the stones, after which the Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius died. Believers gathered the remains of the saints and reverently buried them.

Troparion - Tone 4
Your holy martyrs, Onesiphorus and Porphyrius, 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 2
The pair of glorious martyrs, Onesiphorus and Porphyrius,endured their suffering with strength,dashing down to the earth the arrogance of the enemy,and shining with the grace of the uncreated Trinity;together with the angels, they unceasingly pray for us all.



Saturday, November 08, 2008

Archangel Gabriel

Commemorated on November 8

The Archangel Gabriel whose name means "the strength (power) of God," is the herald and servitor of Divine omnipotence (Dan 8:16, Luke 1:26). He announces the mysteries of God.

On icons the Archangels are depicted in according to the character of their service:

Gabriel appears with a branch from Paradise, presented by him to the Most Holy Virgin, or with a shining lantern in his right hand and with a mirror made of jasper in his left.

Troparion - Tone 4
Commanders of the heavenly hosts,we who are unworthy beseech you,by your prayers encompass us beneath the wings of your immaterial glory, and faithfully preserve us who fall down and cry to you:"Deliver us from all harm, for you are the commanders of the powers on high!"

Kontakion - Tone 2
Commanders of God's armies and ministers of the divine glory, princes of the bodiless angels and guides of mankind, ask for what is good for us, and for great mercy, supreme commanders of the Bodiless Hosts.



ANTI Ecumenism - SUPERB American Orthodox docum PART 8 of 15

Part 8.

ANTI Ecumenism - SUPERB American Orthodox docum PART 8 of 15
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If we are not of one mind, we are in direct disobedience to the Gospel, to the Church, and to Christ. To be of one mind, we must follow the teachings of and conform ourselves to the ancient Christian Church, the true Church of Christ, the Orthodox Church.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Finding of the relics of the Venerable Cyril the Abbot of Novoezersk, Vologda

Commemorated on November 7

Saint Cyril of New Lake was born into a pious family. The Lord marked him as one of the chosen even before he was born. Cyril's mother was praying in church during the Divine Liturgy, and the infant in her womb cried out, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth!"

From his childhood the saint was fond of solitude and prayer, and he dreamt of monastic life. At fifteen years of age Cyril secretly left his parental home, intending to enter the Pskov Caves monastery. He did not know the way to the monastery, and took nothing from home for the journey. He went his way, putting all his trust in the Lord and His All-Pure Mother. Twenty versts from the city the youth met a magnificent monastic Elder, who led him to the monastery. As he left, he blessed him with the words, "May God bless you, my child, and grant you the angelic schema, and may you be a chosen vessel of the Divine Spirit." Having said this, the Elder became invisible. The boy realized that this had been a messenger from God, and he gave thanks to the Lord.

The igumen St Cornelius (February 20) saw with his clairvoyant eye the grace manifest in the young man. He provided him with much guidance and tonsured him into the monastic schema with the name Cyril. The fifteen-year-old monk astonished the brethren with his efforts. He emaciated the flesh through fasting and prayer, and zealously fulfilled obediences. Day and night he was ready to study the Word of God. Even then he thought to end his days in solitude in the wilderness.

The boy's parents mourned him as one dead, but once an Elder of the monastery of St Cornelius came to them and told them about their son and his life at the monastery. The joyful news confirmed in Cyril's mother her love for God. She spoke with her husband about leaving to the monastery her portion of the inheritance, then left the world and became a nun with the name Elena (Helen). She died in peace a short time later.

The saint's father came to the monastery, and Igumen Cornelius told Cyril to meet with him. The saint was troubled, but not daring to disobey the igumen, he fell down at his father's feet, imploring forgiveness for secretly leaving home. The father forgave his son, and he himself remained at the monastery. St Cornelius tonsured him into monasticism with the name Barsanuphius, and gave him to his son for instruction.

Three years later, he peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. His son continued to toil more fervently for the Lord, disdaining his own will, and in was obedient not only to the igumen, but also to the brethren. He thirsted to go about all the Russian land, venerating its holy shrines and to find for himself a wilderness place for a life of silence.

With the blessing of St Cornelius, St Cyril left the monastery in which he had grown strong spiritually, and he went to the coastal regions, roaming through the forests and the wild places, eating tree roots and berries. The saint spent about twenty years in this difficult exploit of wanderer, and he went to the outskirts of Moscow, Novgorod and Pskov, but he never entered any house nor did he accept alms. He wandered about during the day, and spent his nights at prayer on church porches, and he attended the church services.

Once while at prayer, St Cyril saw a heavenly light indicating the direction where he should found a monastery. He set off on his way at once, and having reached the Tikhvin monastery, he spent three days and three nights there in ceaseless prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos. The Mother of God appeared to him in a dream. Showing Her approval of him, She said, "My servant Cyril, pleaser of the Most Holy Trinity, go to the Eastern region of White Lake, and the Lord My Son will show you the place of rest for your old age."

The saint proceeded to White Lake, weeping copious tears at the miraculous vision. On the lake he saw a small island, from which a pillar of fire rose up to the sky. There, beneath a centuries old spruce tree, St Cyril built a hut, and then set up two cells: one for himself, the other for future brethren. The hermit also constructed two small churches, one in honor of the Resurrection of Christ and the other in honor of the Mother of God Hodigitria. He underwent many temptations from invisible enemies, and from idlers roving about, but he overcame everything by brave endurance and constant prayer. News of his holy life spread everywhere, and brethren gathered around him.

There were many instances of healing through his prayers, and the Lord also granted His saint the gift of foresight. Sensing his impending end, St Cyril summoned the brethren. With tears of humility the saint instructed his spiritual children one last time, until his voice gave out. For a long time then he was silent, but suddenly he cried out with loud sobbing, "I go to the Lord into life eternal, but I entrust you to God the Word and His Grace, bestowing an inheritance and sanctification upon all. May it help you. But I beseech you, do not become lax in fasting and prayers, guard yourself from the snares of the Enemy, and the Lord in His ineffable mercy will not condemn your humility."

Having said this, the saint gave a final kiss to the brethren, received the Holy Mysteries, signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and with the words "Glory to God for everything!" he gave up his pure soul to the Lord on February 4, 1532.



Thursday, November 06, 2008

Venerable Barlaam the Abbot of Khutyn, Novgorod

Commemorated on November 6

Saint Barlaam, Abbot of Khutyn lived in the twelfth century, the son of an illustrious citizen of Novgorod, where he spent his childhood years. Withdrawing at an early age to the Lisich monastery near the city, St Barlaam was tonsured there. Later he settled on a solitary hill below Volkhov, in a place called Khutyn, ten versts from Novgorod.

St Barlaam led a strict solitary life, occupying himself with unceasing prayer and keeping a very strict fast. He was a zealous ascetic in his labors: he cut timber in the forest, chopped firewood and tilled the soil, fulfilling the words of Holy Scripture, "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thess. 3: 10).

Certain inhabitants of Novgorod gathered around him, wanting to share in monastic works and deeds. Instructing those who came, St Barlaam said, "My children, beware of all unrighteousness, and do not give in to envy or slander. Refrain from anger, and do not practice usury. Beware of unjust judgment. Do not swear an oath falsely, but rather fulfill it. Do not indulge the bodily appetites. Always be meek and bear all things with love. This virtue is the beginning and root of all good."

Soon a church was built in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and a monastery founded. Because of his service to others, the Lord granted St Barlaam the gifts of wonderworking and discernment.

When St Barlaam's life was drawing to a close, the hieromonk Anthony came from Constantinople by divine Providence. He was of the same age and a friend of St Barlaam. The saint turned to him and said, "My beloved brother! God's blessings rest upon this monastery. Now I leave this monastery in your hands. Watch over it and care for it. Although in the flesh I am leaving you, I shall always be with you in spirit." After instructing the brethren, commanding them to preserve the Orthodox Faith and to dwell constantly in humility, St Barlaam fell asleep in the Lord on November 6, 1192.

In Slavonic practice, St Barlaam is commemorated during the Proskomedia along with the venerable and God-bearing Fathers who shone forth in asceticism (sixth particle).