Monday, August 31, 2009

St Gennadius the Patriarch of Constantinople

Commemorated on August 31

Saint Gennadius, Patriarch of Constantinople, ascended the throne of the Church of Constantinople in the year 458, during the reign of the holy emperor Leo the Great (457-474). His life is known from the book THE SPIRITUAL MEADOW in which tales of Sts Sophronius and John, monks of Salamis monastery near Alexandria, were recorded. These monks were clergy of the Church of Constantinople under Patriarch Gennadius.

St Gennadius was distinguished for his mildness, tolerance, purity and abstinence. One may get some idea of the power of his prayer from the following instance: in the church of the holy Martyr Eleutherius at Constantinople was a disreputable reader Charisius, spending his life in idleness, impurity and even occupying himself with murder and sorcery. For a long time, St Gennadius admonished him with gentleness and patience, but Charisius did not change his conduct. The Patriarch resorted to strictness and gave orders to chastize and discipline the disreputable cleric. But even after the punishment, he did not correct himself.

Patriarch Gennadius then sent his emissary in his name to the holy Martyr Eleutherius (August 4) in whose church Charisius served as a reader. Entering the temple, the emissary of the Patriarch came before the altar, stretched out his hand to the grave of the martyr and said: "Holy Martyr Eleutherius! Patriarch Gennadius declares to you, through me a sinner, that the cleric Charisius, serving in your temple, does much iniquity and creates great scandal; therefore, either improve him or cut him off from the Church."

On the following morning, Charisius was found dead.

Another instance, displaying the great strength of prayer of St Gennadius, occurred with one of the portrait painters who dared to paint an image of Christ, giving the Savior the features of the pagan god Zeus. The hand of the painter, having done such blasphemy, immediately withered. The repentant painter was brought in the church and confessed all his sins to the Patriarch. St Gennadius prayed over the sinner, and the hand of the painter was healed.

To settle iniquitous actions and false teachings arising in the Church, St Gennadius summoned a local Council which condemned the Eutychian heresy and prohibited simony (ordination for a payment of money). The saint would not ordain a man to the priesthood unless he was quite knowledgeable in Holy Scripture, and knew the Psalter by heart.

During the patriarchate of St Gennadius, a temple was built in honor of St John the Forerunner. Then a certain senator Studius of Rome founded a monastery which later became known as the Studion. The church steward under the holy Patriarch Gennadius was St Marcian (January 10). The Patriarch also ordained St Daniel the Stylite (December 11) to the priesthood.

St Gennadius was the author of dialogues and commentaries on the Prophet Daniel (the works have not survived). There is also his Encyclical Against Simony, affirmed by a Council of the year 459. St Gennadius governed the Church of Constantinople for thirteen years. He died peacefully in the year 471.

One night while he was praying, it was revealed to the saint that a powerful enemy would fall upon his flock. He incessantly offered up prayer for the peace of the Church, that the Lord would preserve it invincible against the gates of Hades.



Sunday, August 30, 2009

Translation of the relics of St Alexander Nevsky

Commemorated on August 30

The Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky (in monastic schema Alexis) died on the return journey from the Horde at Gorodtsa on the Volga, on November 14, 1263, and on November 23, 1263 he was buried in the Cathedral Church of the Nativity Monastery in the city of Vladimir (Where there is a memorial to the holy prince. Another memorial is in the city of Pereslavl-Zalessk).

Veneration of the Prince began right at his burial, where a remarkable miracle took place. The saint extended his hand for the prayer of absolution (a written document placed in the coffin). Great Prince John (1353-1359), in his spiritual testament written in the year 1356, left to his son Demetrius (1363-1389), the future victor of the Battle of Kulikovo, "an icon of St Alexander." The incorrupt relics of the holy Prince were uncovered, because of a vision, before the Battle of Kulikovo in the year 1380, and then they were sent forth for a local celebration.

Russian commanders asked for the intercession of the holy Prince, glorified by his defense of the Fatherland, in the following times: On August 30, 1721 Peter I, after a lengthy and exhausting war with the Swedes, concluded the Nishtad Peace. On this day it was decided to transfer the relics of the holy Prince Alexander Nevsky from Vladimir to the new northern capital, Peterburg, on the banks of the Neva. Removed from Vladimir on August 11, 1723, the holy relics were greeted at Shlisselburg on September 20 of that year and remained there until 1724. On August 30, they were placed in the Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, where they now rest in St Petersburg. By an edict on September 2, 1724 a feastday was established on August 30 (in 1727 the feast was discontinued because of secular matters, which involved clique struggles at the imperial court. In 1730 the Feast was again re-established).

Archimandrite Gabriel Buzhinsky (later Bishop of Ryazan, + April 27, 1731) compiled a special service in remembrance of the Nishtad Peace, combining with it a service to St Alexander Nevsky.

The name of the Defender of the borders of Russia and the Patron of Soldiers is famous far beyond the borders of Russia. The numerous temples dedicated to St Alexander Nevsky bear witness to this. The most famous of them: the Patriarchal Cathedral at Sofia, the Cathedral church in Talinin, and a church in Tbilisi. These churches are a pledge of friendship of the Russian National-Liberator with brother nations.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):

Saturday, August 29, 2009

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.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):

Friday, August 28, 2009

Righteous Anna the Prophetess and Daughter of Phanuel, who met the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem

Commemorated on August 28

Righteous Anna the Prophetess was descended from the tribe of Aser, and was the daughter of Phanuel. She lived with her husband for seven years until he died. After his death, Righteous Anna led a strict and pious life, "not leaving the Temple, and serving God both day and night in fasting and prayer" (Luke. 2: 37). When Righteous Anna was 84 years old, she saw the Infant Jesus Christ at the Temple of Jerusalem. He was brought to be dedicated to God as a firstborn child according to the Mosaic law.

Righteous Anna also heard the prophetic words of St Simeon the God-Receiver spoken to the Most Holy Theotokos. The Prophetess Anna together with St Simeon glorified God, and told everyone that the Messiah had come into the world (Luke. 2: 38).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hieromartyr and Venerable Kuksha and Venerable Pimen of the Kiev Near Caves

Commemorated on August 27

The Hieromartyr Kuksha and Saint Pimen the Faster died after the year 1114. St Simon, Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal (May 10), in a letter to St Polycarp, Archimandrite of the Caves (July 24), wrote of St Kuksha: "How can I worthily proclaim the glory of those saintly men dwelling in the holy Monastery of the Caves, in which pagans were baptized and became monks, and Jews accepted the holy Faith? But I cannot keep silent about the holy hieromartyr and Black-Robed Kuksha of this monastery. Everyone knows that he cast out devils, baptized the Vyatichi, caused it to rain, dried up a lake, performed many other miracles, and after many torments was killed together with his disciple Nikon."

The death of the hieromartyr Kuksha was revealed to St Pimen the Faster. Standing in the church of the Monastery of the Caves, he loudly exclaimed, "Our brother Kuksha was killed today for the Gospel." After saying this, he also surrendered his soul to God.

The Vyatichi, among whom the hieromartyr Kuksha preached and died, were pagans living along the River Oka, and they occupied the area of the Orlov and Kaluga districts. St Nestor the Chronicler (October 27), writing about the Vyatichi, was shocked by their brutal customs and he added that they live "only for the present day," remaining unacquainted with the Law of God, and making their own law instead.

The Hieromartyr Kuksha preached to the Vyatichi during the era of St Theoctistus, Bishop of Chernigov (August 5). He was buried, as was St Pimen the Faster, in the Near Caves. The Monks of the Near Caves are commemorated on September 28.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Commemoration of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God and the deliverance of Moscow from the Invasion of Tamerlane

Commemorated on August 26

The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was painted by the Evangelist Luke on a board from the table at which the Savior ate together with His All-Pure Mother and Righteous Joseph. The Mother of God, upon seeing this image, exclaimed, "Henceforth, all generations shall call Me blessed. The grace of both My Son and Me shall be with this icon."

In the year 1131, the icon was sent from Constantinople to Rus to holy Prince Mstislav (April 15) and was installed in the Devichi monastery in Vyshgorod, the ancient appanage city of the holy Equal of the Apostles Princess Olga.

The son of George Dolgoruky, St Andrew Bogoliubsky, brought the icon to the city of Vladimir in 1155 and installed it in the renowned Dormition cathedral which he built. At this time the icon received its name of "the Vladimir Icon." The icon was first brought to Moscow in the year 1395. Thus, the blessing of the Mother of God established the spiritual bonds of Byzantium and Rus via Kiev, Vladimir and Moscow.

The festal celebration of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos occurs several times during the year (21 May, 23 June and 26 August). The most solemn celebration occurs on August 26, the Feast established in honor of the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon upon its Transfer from Vladimir to Moscow.

In the year 1395, the fearsome conqueror Khan Tamerlane (Temir-Aksak) reached the Ryazan frontier, took the city of Elets and advancing towards Moscow he came near the banks of the River Don. Great Prince Basil Dimitrievich went with an army to Kolomna and halted at the banks of the River Oka. He prayed to the holy Hierarchs of Moscow and St Sergius for the deliverance of the Fatherland, and he wrote to the Metropolitan of Moscow St Cyprian (September 16), that the pending Dormition Fast should be devoted to zealous prayers for mercy and repentance.

Clergy were sent to Vladimir, where the famed wonderworking Vladimir Icon was. After Divine Liturgy and a Molieben on the feast of the Dormition, they clergy took the icon and brought it to Moscow. Along the way, on both sides of the road, countless people prayed kneeling: "O Mother of God, save the land of Russia!" At that same hour, when the people of Moscow were meeting the Vladimir Icon on Kuchkov Field, Tamerlane was sleeping in his tent. Suddenly, he saw in a dream a great mountain, at the summit of which were the holy hierarchs with golden staffs coming towards him. Above them, in a brilliant radiance, was a Majestic Woman. She commanded him to leave the domains of Russia.

Awakening in fright, Tamerlane asked the meaning of the vision. The experts answered that the Radiant Lady was the Mother of God, the great Protectress of Christians. Tamerlane then gave the order for his troops to retreat. In memory of this miraculous deliverance of the Russian Land from Tamerlane, they built the monastery of the Meeting on Kuchkov Field, where the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon took place. On August 26, the all-Russian celebration in honor of the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God was established.

Very important events in Russian Church history have occurred before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God: the election and elevation of St Jonah, advocate of an Autocephalous Russian Church (1448), and of St Job, first Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (1589), and of His Holiness Patriarch St Tikhon (1917). The enthronement of His Holiness Pimen, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, occurred on a day of celebration in honor of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God on May 21 (O.S.), 1971.

The historical days of 21 May, 23 June and 26 August, connected with this holy icon, have become memorable days for the Russian Orthodox Church.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):

Synergy in Christ According to Saint Maximus the Confessor (IV)

With questions for Photios and whomever else in the Comment Box.

Synergy in Christ According to Saint Maximus the Confessor

by Daniel Jones(Photios)

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IV. Synergy in Christ

As we shall see in the rich thought of the Confessor’s doctrine on free-choice, his refutation of Monenergism is dependent on a real distinction between person and nature and between nature and energy. Maximus’s doctrine of free-choice, unlike most, starts “from above” rather than “from below.”42 In other words, Maximus looks at what properties are essential to free-will and not the accidental relations that are consequences of the Fall to erect his doctrine. It is one that is centered on Christ and the Saints in the Eschaton. It is a doctrine of free-choice that is non-dialectical.43 The choices between objects, in Maximus’s thinking for Christ and the Saints, are not construed between objects of differing moral worth as they are for Origen and Monenergism.

As for Origen, Maximus is insistent that Kinesis and motion are proper to what it is to be a creature and have personhood:
Since, therefore, rational beings are created, they are doubtless subject to movement because they proceed from a source by virtue of the being proper to nature, and because they move themselves towards an end by virtue of that well-being proper to gnomie.44
Although Maximus is equally insistent that Kinesis does not produce the Fall, it is the movement towards deification:
For the divine is immovable, as filling all, and everything that passes from non-being into being is movable indeed, as impelled surely to some cause, then nothing moved has yet to come to a stop, as not yet reposing its power of movement from desire in the ultimate object of its appetite; for nothing else is apt to stop what is impelled except the appearance of that object of appetite…No created being, ever, in any manner, stands fast while being moved by [its] natural power towards the End proper to that power; neither does it cease from the energy proper to that End, [even] after it is fixed up on it.45
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There seems to be a slight problem with the Confessor’s thinking at first glance. If Adam was created “up-right,” how is he able to sin in the first place and what is Maximus’s idea of gnomie?

Following Chalcedon in Christ being “fully man,” Maximus deduces that Christ must have a natural faculty of will in both natures—a divine and a human energy:
If he hath two natures, then He surely must have two natural wills, the wills and essential operations being equal in number to the natures. For just as the number of natures of the one and the same Christ, correctly understood and explained, doth not divide Christ but rather preserveth the distinction of natures in the union, so likewise the number of essential attributes, wills, and operations attached to those two natures doth not divide Christ either.46
Pyrrhus took this passage as a denial of all of Christ’s voluntary motion, because “what is natural is compelled.” For Maximus, Pyrrhus’s presupposition was too suggestive of the Origenist problem and its dialectical opposition. The will as the ‘faculty of will’ which is the rational principle of the nature (logos) is distinguished from the ‘mode of willing’ or hypostatic use of that faculty (tropos):
The will and the mode of willing, just as the power of sight and the mode of perception are not the same...For the rational nature hath the natural ability and rational appetite [proper to it]. This is called the “faculty of will” of the rational soul. It is according to this [faculty] that we consider when willing, and in considering, we choose the things which we would…and these are not subject to compulsion.47
This answer leads us back to our original question: What is Christ’s mode of willing, and how does it differ from ours that gives him the inability to sin (non posse peccare)?

The natural faculty of will is always directed towards the good. We could even say it is irresistibly moved towards some real or apparent good. This is why even in sinful agents they
take their wrong doings as goods for them, i.e. apparent goods. The problem with a thief, however, is not his nature per se but his hypostatic use (tropos) of the natural faculties (logos), which is why the guilt of sin is personal and not natural.48 Since the personal employment and the natural faculty are not "fixed" in virtue, the thief deliberates about proposed courses of actions. He is hesitant and uncertain about the good. This hesitancy and uncertainty about the good is not because he is composite and a created hypostasis (and thus able to sin). So plurality per se is not the problem with the thief. This anxiety about courses of action and uncertainty of

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the ends of those acts is eliminated in the Saints in the Eschaton so proairesis49 is not essential to being human. The anxiety and uncertainty about the good is due to the fact that for contingent beings virtue must be exercised through habit. Virtues for Maximus are the rational principles and agencies of the Person of the Logos,50 i.e. the uncreated logoi of God,51 and they are not in human nature accidentally and subsequently to creation:
Pyrrhus: Virtues, then, are natural things?

Maximus: Yes, natural things.

Pyrrhus: If they be natural things, why do they not exist in all men equally, since all men have an
identical nature?

Maximus: But they do exist equally in all men because of the identical nature!

Pyrrhus: Then why is there such a great disparity [of virtues] in us?

Maximus: Because we do not all practice what is natural to us to an equal degree; indeed, if we
[all] practiced equally [those virtues] natural to us as we were created to do, then one would be
able to perceive one virtue in us all, just as there is one nature [in us all], and “one virtue” would
not admit of a “more” or “less.”

Pyrrhus: If virtue be something natural [to us], and if what is natural to us existeth not through
asceticism but by reason of our creation, then why is it that we acquire the virtues, which are
natural, with asceticism and labours?

Maximus: Asceticism, and the toils that go with it, was devised simply in order to ward off
deception, which established itself through sensory perception. It is not [as if] the virtues have
been newly introduced from outside, for they inhere in us from creation, as hath already been
said. Therefore, when deception is completely expelled, the soul immediately exhibits the
splendor of its natural virtue.52

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On the other hand, Adam did not start out “exercised” in virtue since he is a creature, although his faculty of willing is "naturally" directed towards virtue (either real or apparent according to his mode of willing [tropos]). This was the purpose in giving man such a simple command to obey in the garden. The idea was to fuse Adam's faculty of willing (logos), naturally directed towards the good, with his personal employment of the will. Once virtue is practiced with one’s hypostatic employment through habit (possibly through more commands and obedience), then Adam would become a morally impeccable agent and be like God unable to sin. But before created agents have exercised the natural virtues, their hypostatic employment of the will (tropos) has a distinct status which Maximus calls the gnomic will:
Gnomie is nothing else than an act of willing in a particular way, in relation to some real or assumed good. 53
The gnomic will can be defined as the personal employment of the will (tropos) that is not integrated with virtue, that is, "fixed" with the natural faculty of the will directed towards the good (logos). This is why it was possible for Adam created in innocence to sin. Theosis was open to him, but he was not created in theosis: but a state of potential deification. The devil and our first parents sinned by the gnomic will. Since the gnomic will ceases when a created hypostasis is integrated in the natural virtue, we can say that it [gnomie] is accidental to human nature and not essential. Christ lacks this personal 'mode of willing' since he is the divine uncreated Logos. Christ’s faculties of will are "fixed" with his hypostatic use of the will by his super-essential mode of existence being the Word:
These natural things of the will are present in Him, but not exactly in the same manner as they are in us. He verily did hunger and thirst, not in a mode similar to ours, but in a mode which surpasseth us, in other words, voluntarily. Thus, He was truly afraid [in Gethsemane], not as we are, but in a mode surpassing us. To put it concisely: all things that are natural in Christ have both the rational principle proper to human nature, but a super-natural mode of existence, in order that both the [human] nature, by means of its rational principle, and the Economy, by means of its super-natural mode of existence, might be believed.54
Since the gnomic will is accidental to human nature and not essential, Christ does not need to assume this mode of willing, nor could he being the Logos. Christ has an integrity of his nature and person with respect to his humanity that we lack (except in the Eschaton), and we have a "distance" between our personal employment of our faculties and the Good that our natural

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faculties are directed to (gnomie) that Christ lacks. Maximus sums it up as follows:
Thus, those who say that there is a gnomie in Christ, as this inquiry is demonstrating, are maintaining that he is a mere man, deliberating in a manner like unto us, having ignorance, doubt and opposition, since one only deliberates about something which is doubtful, not concerning what is free of doubt. By nature we have an appetite simply for what by nature is good, but we gain experience of the goal in a particular way, through inquiry and counsel. Because of this, then, the gnomic will is fitly ascribed to us, being a mode of the employment [of the will], and not a principle of nature, otherwise nature [itself] would change innumerable times. But the humanity of Christ does not simply subsist [in a manner] similar to us, but divinely, for He Who appeared in the flesh for our sakes was God. It is thus not possible to say that Christ had a gnomic will.56
Christ's statement, "Not my will, but thine will be done," in the Gethsemane text expresses that Christ initially wills two good objects. Since he has two natural faculties, each one of them directed towards the good, the 'objects of willing' are self-preservation of his life and the Salvation of humanity. Since the faculty of the will is rooted in the nature as we have stated, and nothing natural is in opposition to God, then it is not possible on the mere basis of Christ having a natural human will for him to sin in opposition to God for self-preservation of his own life which is a good to will:
For the things that exist came to be out of nothing, and have therefore a power that impels than to hold fast to existence, and not to non-existence, which [power] is simultaneously an inclination towards that which naturally maintaineth them in existence, and a drawing back from things destructive [to their existence]. Consequently, the super-essential Word, by virtue of His humanity, had of His humanity this self-preserving power which clingeth to existence. And [in fact], He exihibited both [aspects of this power], willing the inclination and the drawing back on account of His [human] energy.56
Christ then freely wills the salvation of the world without any determinism, since the choice is between two good courses of action. We see so far in this analysis of St. Maximus that the natural will does not do the choosing, but it is the hypostasis that particularizes or enhypostasizes these things in a unique and irreducible manner. Maximus’s answer to Monotheletism is not one sided, the will is not solely natural. Otherwise, Christ by taking on a natural human will would drag every person to an apokatastasis of ever-well-being in the same manner if the will is solely hypostatic (i.e. if the will is rooted in the hypotasis). This would collapse person and nature.57 The natural will presents possible courses of action to the

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hypostasis that then—in the personal mode of willing—chooses to employ the natural will toward an object that it [the natural will] is directed to. This precludes any form of determinism for a hypostasis, but the tripartite distinction of the will must be maintained: the will as the natural will, the will as the personal mode of willing, and the will as the object of the will. If Christ in Gethsemane and the Saints in the Eschaton are going to have true free-choice, then there must be alternate courses of action that are all equally good, all the while excluding the possibility of sinning. It is to the Confessor’s view of the divine simplicity and the objects of choice that we now turn.

The Confessor’s refutation of the Origenist idea of ‘definitional simplicity’ is dependent on the correct understanding of his doctrine of the logoi. Unlike Origen’s idea of the pre-existing logikoi, rational creatures in the Henad, Maximus’s logoi are rational ‘principles’ that pre-exist in God. The logoi are agencies, “blue-prints”58 in which God created the world, but are also the One Logos, which as Farrell notes places it in an important Christological context:59
Who then cannot see that the one Rational Principle is in fact many rational principles, and that created things were determined simultaneously by the agency of this distinction which is undivided, because their attributes are distinct from each other and without confusion? And again the many [rational principles] are in fact one [Rational Principle] existing without confusion by virtue of all things being offered up to Him through Him Who is their enessentialization and enhypostasization.60
This passage grounds the idea of recapitulation of the plurality of the logoi being offered up through the One Logos. The logoi are uncreated, real, and distinct; they are not to be identified with the divine essence of God or with any essence of created objects as indicated by Hans Urs von Balthasar from the Confessor’s Ambigua.61 Another interesting point we see in this passage is the Chalcedonian locus of “without division” and “without confusion” being applied to the many logoi to each other and to the One Logos. The logoi of God define the type of movement

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we are to have in Heaven which refutes the type of ‘stasis’ that Origen imagined:
We are speechless before the sublime teaching about the Logos, for He cannot be expressed in words or conceived in thought. Although he is beyond being and nothing can participate in him in any way, nor is he any of the totality of things that can be known in relation to other things, nevertheless we affirm that the one Logos is many logoi and the many logoi are One. The many rational principles are one by being providentially attached, led, and offered up, to the One Rational Principle of the many, as to a source which possesses universal sovereignty, or as to a point which predetermines and unites all the radii [emanating] straight out of it and that gather them altogether…One zealously traverses one’s course toward the beginning and source without deviation by means of one’s good will and choice. And through this course one becomes God, being made God by God. To the inherent goodness of the image is added the likeness acquired by the practice of virtue and the exercise of the will…He moves in God according to the logos of his well-being that pre-existed in God when he lives virtuously. [Finally, one] lives in God in accordance with the rational principle of [one’s] Ever-Being, [which also pre-exists] in God. In the future age when graced with divinization, he will affectionately love and cleave to the logoi already mentioned that pre-exist in God, or rather, he will love God himself, in whom the logoi of beautiful things are securely grounded.62
The language of the radii of a circle, in this passage, is close to the spatial imagery of the things moving “around” God in Plotinus’s Enneads.63 The movement of the Saints in the Eschaton according to the rational principles is defined by Maximus as an “ever-moving rest.”64 This rest is a divine logoi of God’s nature65 and one of the logoi of man’s motion in Ever-Being:66
He [God] rests when each being, having obtained the divine energy in due measure, will determine its own natural energy with respect to God.67
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This being the goal of the creature’s motion,# Maximus goes on to state that the energies are
The works of God which did not happen to begin to be in time are participated beings, in which participated beings [creatures] share according to grace, for example, goodness and all that the term goodness implies, that is, all life, immortality, simplicity, immutability, and infinity and such things which are essentially contemplated in regard to him; they are also God’s works, and yet they did not begin in time.69

At this point in the essay it is important to note the relationship the logoi have with the energies of God. As we have identified the logoi as blue-prints, predeterminations, agencies, and rational principles, they are also identified with the energies of God which will denote the kind of divine simplicity Saint Maximus has in mind:
The logoi which are in beings, in the infinity of which it contemplates the energies of God, then, to speak truly, it reproduces the numerous and infinite differences in the divine energies which it perceives. Then, as regards the employment of scientific inquiry (e)pisthmonikh=v e)reu/nhv))) into that which is really true, for reasons that one may readily appreciate (ei)ko/twv), it (the intellect) will find the power of any such inquiry [to be] ineffective and its method useless, for it has no means of understanding how God Who is truly none of the things that exist, and Who in the strict sense is all things, and yet beyond them all, [exists] in each logos of all particular things and in all the logoi together whereby all things exist. If, therefore, in a proper sense, every divine energy properly signifies God indivisibly, wholly and entirely through itself, in each thing according to the logos—whatever it may be—whereby it exists, who is capable of conceiving and of saying exactly how, being wholly and entirely and altogether common to all and yet altogether particularly present in each of these realities, God is without part and division, without [thereby] being diversely distributed in the infinite differences of these realities in which He exists as Being, and without thereby being contracted according to the particular existence of each individual [logos], and also without fusing the differences of these realities into the sole and unique totality of them all, but on the contrary that He is truly all in all, He Who never abandoned His own simplicity [which is] without parts?70
Page 17

This passage is crucial for a couple of reasons. First, it signifies that Maximus maintains that God is simple, but it is to be distinguished from the ‘definitional’ type of simplicity that we mentioned in Plotinus and Origen in the beginning of this essay, the type of divine simplicity where all predications are indistinguishable in God. Secondly, it shows that the energies are in no way separate from each other—being wholly connected to God’s essence—but neither are they to be confused with each other either. Simplicity operates for Maximus as a way to safeguard God’s utter transcendence on one hand (‘Beyond Being’71), and that God is fully manifested in each of His operations on the other.72 These divine energies are the ‘objects of willing’ for Christ and His Saints, and they are all of equally moral value which constitutes a genuine free choice for agents without the possibility of sinning.

42 Farrell. p.178
43 Ibid., p. 90
44 Ambigua 7, PG 91:1073BC; c.f. Farrell, p. 136
45 Ibid., 1069B, 1073B; c.f. Farrell pp. 134-135
46 Disputation 13, p. 4
47 Ibid. 23, 25; pp. 10-12
48 I’d like to thank my very close friend Perry Robinson at St. Louis University for pointing out this very important argument to me that I believe is especially unique to Orthodoxy.
49 Where proairesis is understood as doubt, hesitancy, and deliberation about the good. However, I’m not tying the concept of proairesis with motion or choice per se.
50 Ambigua 7, PG 91:1081D: “There can be no doubt that the one Word of God is the substance of virtue in each person…It is evident that every person who participates in virtue as a matter of habit unquestionably participates in God, the substance of the virtues,” and 1.50; 58 in Berthold pp.137-138: “But some [virtues] began to be in time, for there was a time when they were not, and others did not begin to be in time…The one who with his body is diligent for his soul in the well-ordered diversity of the virtues.” C.f. Thunberg, Gnostic CenturiesMicrocosm, p. 323-
327 for Maximus’s understanding of virtue.
51 Thunberg, Microcosm, p. 74: “The differentiated logoi pre-exist in God, who keeps them together. This preexistence of the logoi in God implies, first of all, that they are fixed in Him.”
52 Ibid. 91-95, pp. 32-33. This passage refutes the Nestorian character of Pyrrhus’s conception of the mode of the Incarnation of appropriating attributes, and the appropriation of grace being introduced into man from the outside.
53 Disputation 85, p. 30
54 Ibid. 35, pp. 17-18
55 Ibid. 87, pp. 31-32
56 Ibid. 33, pp. 16-17
57 It must be recalled here the long retrospective of St. John of Damascus and what is the common presupposition of all heresies: “But this is what leads the heretics astray, viz., that they look upon nature and person as the same thing.” An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith III.3, c.f. NPNF II, 9 p. 47b
58 Maximus also calls them “divine predeterminations and wills.” Ambigua 7, PG 91: 1085A: “With examples from Scripture St. Dionysius the Areopagite teaches us to call these logoi “predeterminations” and “the divine wills.”” On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, p. 61
59 Farrell, p. 136
60 Ambigua 7, PG 91:1073BC; c.f. Farrell, p. 136
61 Hans urs Von Balthasar, Cosmic Liturgy, p. 117-118; Thunberg, Microcosm and Mediator, p. 77
62 Ambigua 7, PG 91: 1081A,C, 1084B; Farrell pp. 137-138; On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, for an English translation of the entire Ambigua 7, see p. 57-60
63 Farrell, p. 138,143; Enneads II:2:3: “This is how intellect is moved; it is both at rest and in motion; for it moves around Him (the Good). So, then, the universe, too both moves in its circle and is at rest. “
64 Gnostic Centuries PG 90:1100C, English trans. by George C. Berthold in the Classics of Western Spirituality Series: Maximus the Confessor Selected Writings, p. 136. The phrase “ever-moving rest” implies that “rest” is the fixity of one’s habit and obtaining the goal while the phrase “ever-moving” implies that man does not cease from choice even while fixed upon a certain good. Man therefore still retains the power of self-determination towards any particular good he would wish to enjoy in God.
65 The idea of rest in Maximus is closely connected with habit: “God never ceases from good things, because he never began them.” Gnostic Centuries PG 90:1096D, Berthold, p. 135.
66 Farrell, p. 148
67 Gnostic Centuries PG 90:1100C, Berthold, p. 136.
68 Ibid., p. 150
69 Gnostic Centuries PG 90:1100D, p. 136 in Berthold
70 Ambigua 22, PG 91:1257A-B; c.f. Farrell, pp. 139-140. Compare this statement of Maximus with St. Gregory Palamas Triads III:2:7-8: “Thus, neither the uncreated goodness, nor the eternal glory, nor the divine life nor things akin to these are simply the superessential essence of God, for God transcends them all as Cause. But we say He is life, goodness and so forth, and give Him these names, because of the revelatory energies and powers of the Superessential. As Basil the Great says, "The guarantee of the existence of every essence is its natural energy which leads the mind to the nature." (Ep. 139, 6-7) And according to St. Gregory of Nyssa and all the other Fathers, the natural energy is the power which manifests every essence, and only nonbeing is deprived of this power; for the being which participates in an essence will also surely participate in the power which naturally manifests that essence…But since God is entirely present in each of the divine energies, we name Him from each of them, although it is clear that He transcends all of them. For, given the multitude of divine energies, how could God subsist entirely in each without any division at all; and how could each provide Him with a name and manifest Him entirely, thanks to indivisible and supernatural simplicity, if He did not transcend all these energies?...The superessential essence of God is thus not to be identified with the energies, even with those without beginning [Palamas was previoiusly discussing the difference between energies that have a beginning and an end in time and those that do not]; from which it follows that it is not only transcendent to any energy whatsoever, but that it transcends them "to an infinite degree and an infinite number of times" (Cent. gnost. I.7), as the divine Maximus says.”
71 von Balthasar, Cosmic Liturgy, pp. 88-89: “God’s immanent name, then, is the name Being; his transcendent name is the name Not-Being, in that he is not any of those things we can speak of as being. The second of these names is more proper to him, since such negation means a reference to God as he is in himself, while an affirmation only refers to him in his activity outside of himself. This is not contradicted by the fact that Maximus, along with the tradition reaching from Philo to Gregory of Nyssa, says we can only know God’s existence—know that he is—not his essence, or what he is…He lies far beyond both modes [affirmative and negative] of knowing.”
72 Simplicity also signifies as a means to safeguard that the Persons of Trinity are co-equal, much like the Nicene homoousion.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Saint Barses and Eulogius, Bishops of Edessa, and Protogenes the Confessor, Bishop of Carrhae

Commemorated on August 25

Saint Barses and Eulogius, Bishops of Edessa, and Protogenes the Confessor, Bishop of Carrhae, suffered from the Arians in the second half of the fourth century. The emperor Valentius (364-378), wishing to propagate the Arian heresy, fiercely persecuted the Orthodox.

In the city of Edessa he removed St Barses, a champion for Orthodoxy, from the bishop's throne. He sent him for confinement on the island of Arad. The Orthodox population there received the exiled saint with great honor. They banished him farther, to the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchos, but there also the warm welcome was repeated. Then St Barses was banished to the very frontier of the imperial realm, to the faraway city of Thenon where, exhausted by his exiles, he died.

At Edessa the emperor Valentius placed an Arian pseudo-bishop upon the episcopal cathedra. Lupus, both by name and by deed showed himself to be like a wolf, scattering the sheep of Christ's flock. The Orthodox population of Edessa, both clergy and laity, ceased to attend their church, which had been seized by the Arians. They gathered outside the city and celebrated the divine services in an open area.

After he learned of this, the emperor ordered the eparch Modestus to kill all the Orthodox who met for divine services outside the city. The eparch pitied the city, and he informed the Orthodox that they should not attend divine services. The Orthodox, fervent with the desire to receive a martyr's crown for Christ, went as one to the place where they usually gathered for prayer.

Eparch Modestus, obeying his orders, went there with his armed soldiers. Along the way he saw a woman who hastened to the services with her small child, so as not to deprive him of the martyr's crown. Shaken, Modestus turned back with his soldiers. Appearing before the emperor Valentius, he urged him to cancel the decree to kill all the Orthodox and to apply it only to the clergy.

They led persons of spiritual rank to the emperor, and in the lead the oldest presbyter Eulogius. The emperor urged them to enter into communion with the pseudo-bishop Lupus, but none of them agreed. After this they sent eighty men of clerical rank in chains to prison in Thrace. The Orthodox met them along the way, revering them as confessors, and furnished them all the necessities. Learning of this, the emperor ordered the martyrs to be taken two by two, and to disperse them to remote areas.

The holy presbyters Eulogius and Protogenes were sent to the Thebaid city of Antinoe in Egypt. There by their preaching they converted many idol-worshippers to Christ and baptized them. When the emperor Valentius perished and was succeeded on the throne by the holy emperor Theodosius (379-395). The Orthodox confessors remaining alive after the persecution were returned from exile. The holy presbyters Eulogius and Protogenes returned to Edessa. In place of the dead and banished St Barses, presbyter Eulogius was elevated to Bishop of Edessa, and the holy presbyter Protogenes was made bishop in the Mesopotamian city of Carrhae. Both saints guided their flocks until their death, which occurred at the end of the fourth century.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):

Monday, August 24, 2009

Translation of the relics of St Peter the Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia

Commemorated on August 24

Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow, died on December 21, 1326. The first transfer of his relics was on July 1, 1472 and a feastday was established. The second transfer of the relics of St Peter was after the consecration of the Dormition Cathedral, rebuilt on August 24, 1479, and the July 1 feastday was replaced.

There was a feastday of the appearance of the relics of St Peter (August 4) upon the occasion of an appearance to the wife of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584), the Tsaritsa Anastasia (1547-1560). St Peter appeared to Tsaritsa Anastasia and would permit no one to open his grave. He commanded the grave to be sealed and a feastday established.

Three epistles of St Peter are preserved. The first was to priests with an exhortation to pursue their pastoral service worthily, and to tend their spiritual children with zeal. It concluded with an account of Church law concerning widowed priests, and intended to protect them from reproach and temptation. He advised them to settle in a monastery, and for their children to be enrolledin a monastery school for upbringing and instruction. In the second missive, the saint urged priests to be true pastors and not hirelings, and to be concerned about the strengthening of themselves with Christian and pastoral virtues. In the third letter, St Peter again exhorts priests concerning their pastoral obligations, and he urges laypeople to fulfill the commandments of Christ.

Prominent in church-state affairs, there was good reason even for his contemporaries to compare St Peter with Sts Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. The principal effort of St Peter was in the struggle for an unified Russian state and the blessing of Moscow as the unifier of the Russian land.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hieromartyr Irenaeus the Bishop of Lyons

Commemorated on August 23

The Hieromartyr Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, was born in the year 130 in the city of Smyrna (Asia Minor). He received there the finest education, studying poetics, philosophy, rhetoric, and the rest of the classical sciences considered necessary for a young man of the world.

His guide in the truths of the Christian Faith was a disciple of the Apostle John the Theologian, St Polycarp of Smyrna (February 23). St Polycarp baptized the youth, and afterwards ordained him presbyter and sent him to a city in Gaul then named Lugdunum [the present day Lyons in France] to the dying bishop Pothinus.

A commission was soon entrusted to St Irenaeus. He was to deliver a letter from the confessors of Lugdunum to the holy Bishop Eleutherius of Rome (177-190). While he was away, all the known Christians were thrown into prison. After the martyric death of Bishop Pothinus, St Irenaeus was chosen a year later (in 178) as Bishop of Lugdunum. "During this time," St Gregory of Tours (November 17) writes concerning him, "by his preaching he transformed all Lugdunum into a Christian city!"

When the persecution against Christians quieted down, the saint expounded upon the Orthodox teachings of faith in one of his fundamental works under the title: Detection and Refutation of the Pretended but False Gnosis. It is usually called Five Books against Heresy (Adversus Haereses).

At that time there appeared a series of religious-philosophical gnostic teachings. The Gnostics [from the Greek word "gnosis" meaning "knowledge"] taught that God cannot be incarnate [i.e. born in human flesh], since matter is imperfect and manifests itself as the bearer of evil. They taught also that the Son of God is only an outflowing ("emanation") of Divinity. Together with Him from the Divinity issues forth a hierarchical series of powers ("aeons"), the unity of which comprise the "Pleroma", i.e. "Fullness." The world is not made by God Himself, but by the aeons or the "Demiourgos," which is below the "Pleroma."

In refuting the heresy of Valentinus, St Irenaeus presents the Orthodox teaching of salvation. "The Word of God, Jesus Christ, through His inexplicable blessedness caused it to be, that we also, should be made that which He is ... ," taught St Irenaeus. "Jesus Christ the Son of God, through exceedingly great love for His creation, condescended to be born of a Virgin, having united mankind with God in His own Self." Through the Incarnation of God, creation becomes co-imaged and co-bodied to the Son of God. Salvation consists in the "Sonship" and "Theosis" ("Divinization") of mankind.

In the refutation of another heretic, Marcian, who denied the divine origin of the Old Testament, the saint affirms the same divine inspiration of the Old and the New Testaments: "It is one and the same Spirit of God Who proclaimed through the prophets the precise manner of the Lord's coming," wrote the saint."Through the apostles, He preached that the fulness of time of the filiation had arrived, and that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand."

The successors of the Apostles have received from God the certain gift of truth, which St Irenaeus links to the succession of the episcopate (Adv. Haer. 4, 26, 2). "Anyone who desires to know the truth ought to turn to the Church, since through Her alone did the apostles expound the Divine Truth. She is the door to life."

St Irenaeus also exerted a beneficial influence in a dispute about the celebration of Pascha. In the Church of Asia Minor, there was an old tradition of celebrating Holy Pascha on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan, regardless of what day of the week it happened to be. The Roman bishop Victor (190-202) forcefully demanded uniformity, and his harsh demands fomented a schism. In the name of the Christians of Gaul, St Irenaeus wrote to Bishop Victor and others, urging them to make peace.

After this incident, St Irenaeus drops out of sight, and we do not even know the exact year of his death. St Gregory of Tours, in his Historia Francorum, suggests that St Irenaeus was beheaded by the sword for his confession of faith in the year 202, during the reign of Severus.

The Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, St Polycarp of Smyrna, and St Irenaeus of Lyons are three links in an unbroken chain of the grace of succession, which goes back to the Original Pastor, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

In his old age, St Irenaeus wrote to his old friend the priest Florinus: "When I was still a boy, I knew you... in Polycarp's house.... I remember what happened in those days more clearly than what happens now.... I can describe for you the place where blessed Polycarp usually sat and conversed, the character of his life, the appearance of his body, and the discourses which he spoke to the people, how he spoke of the conversations which he had with John and others who had seen the Lord, how he remembered their words, and what he heard from them about the Lord ... I listened eagerly to these things, by the mercy of God, and wrote them, not on paper, but in my heart" (Eusebius, Hist. Eccles.).

Troparion - Tone 4

By sharing in the ways of the Apostles,
you became a successor to their throne.
Through the practice of virtue, you found the way to divine contemplation, O inspired one of God;
by teaching the word of truth without error, you defended the Faith, even to the shedding of your blood.
Hieromartyr Irenæus, entreat Christ God to save our souls.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Afterfeast of the Dormition of the Mother of God

Commemorated on August 22

Troparion - Tone 1

In giving birth you preserved your virginity,
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos.
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,
And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.

Kontakion - Tone 2

Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2007(with 2007's link here also):

Friday, August 21, 2009

Afterfeast of the Dormition of the Mother of God

Commemorated on August 21

Troparion - Tone 1

In giving birth you preserved your virginity,
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos.
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,
And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.

Kontakion - Tone 2

Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):

I am of "The Accepted Way". Join me.

(image from here)

As readers of this blog know, I own and operate a Greek restaurant in Henderson, Nevada with my brothers Constantine and Ioannis.

Today my youngest brother and I talked at work as we always do. We talked about all the usual things that brothers may be expected to talk about at work.

He and I were putting the finishing touches on our set up of the restaurant just after 10:00 a.m. which is our showtime.

Usually between opening time and 11:30 a.m. is a lot of down time. Anticipating the action of serving the larger crowd after 11:30 produces a sort of quickened thinking and nervousness, much like what is experienced before game time or going on stage or before combat. This time is marked by conversation punctuated with short undemanding exchanges of words. Experience has taught all of us brothers and our crew that each of us is preparing to deal with the day in his own way. We tend to adopt a stoic disposition for the waiting of the action to begin and roll over us.

On most Fridays, as today, Ioannis and I are alone in the front until 12:30 p.m. when our other brother Constantine arrives to take his place on the line.

On this particular day Ioannis told me that some old friends of his and Constantine's from high school were in town. These friends whom I shall call Lance, who Constantine and Ioannis went to school with and Emily, who he married after high school, are also my friends by extension and I feel warmth towards them on many levels.

Lance and Emily have become fairly successful artists and at one point in their careers left for New York City. Living several years there and after having children, they moved to Los Angeles.

During this time in Los Angeles is when I and my brothers at different points returned to the Church. Lance and Emily have no spiritual leanings of dogmatic nature and a vague "every body's cool" notion is their general stance towards pretty much everything including religion.

Now Constantine and Ioannis are much closer to them and as my brothers began taking their spiritual life seriously, they underwent many changes including their topic of conversation at any given time involved matters of the Church and of faith and these innocently became second nature to them.

Lance and Emily are not too crazy about this and when pressed apologetically by my brothers in the past about perhaps believing in Christ were afraid that the title "Christian" should ever be attached to them.

Ioannis is an artist in his own right as well. Not long ago Emily gave him one of her pieces which Ioannis loved. Her piece was done with love and given to him with love. In gratitude Ioannis had for some time wished to as well give them one of his pieces but self consciously vacillated which one to give because he felt that none were good enough for the caliber of the art his friends produced.

He saw them last night and presented to them one of his pieces.

Several weeks ago Ioannis told me about his dilemma about wishing to present them with one of his pieces and his fear about which one. I saw one that really caught my eye and in excitement exclaimed "That's the one! If you don't give them this one I want it and will pay for it and will not accept it for free as you have given me some of your work for free before."

The piece I was excited about is the one he presented to them last night.

He and Lance and Emily caught up with their respective lives and they told Ioannis about the recent art show they attended and participated in with some of their own work, "The Blab Show!, Los Angeles" and they showed him samples of the work to be found there. The painting shown on this post is the one that adorned the show and was the show's theme. The show itself was named "The Apocalypse".

It struck me a bit that a show with this theme and this particular piece as it's official piece should not in any way be thought of as evil, satanic or wrong in any way. "The Apocalypse" and this piece just simply were what this particular show was about in a very casual manner much as the sky just happens to be blue. Lance and Emily ribbed my brother with the piece in a good natured way, "Oh, you're a Christian, isn't this evil? Ha ha."

It just makes me think some is all. Evil is not at all anymore some nefarious being holding a human child. Evil is actually thinking there is evil. Nice. The reversal is so subtle and low key.

I remember several years ago being angry with our older generation of persons in their 60's and 70's for not holding the tradition which had been in their generation when they made their mark in the world. I remember cringing to see men wearing earrings that were newly pierced showing thier solidarity with the age of today. Much the same way it bothered me to see fresh tattoos on the men and women in this age group. I just thought that they should know better, they should have because of their advanced age and wisdom have known better.

Somehow I expected that this generation that had been closer to the struggle of the Second World War and the ethos of that day, which I had thought of as somehow being purer than the ethos of our own day, to rise up and look on with disdain upon the rampant tattooing, piercing and the feminization of our men and the masculanization of our women.

But there was no voice of dissent.

And then I began to understand the Mystery of Iniquity.

It is not a sudden assault on the bulwark of tradtion but rather the slow acquiescing of those who hold any tradition within the larger masses who eagerly lick up like dogs whatever is currently fashionable and accepted and attach themselves to The Accepted Way because to not be of this way is unacceptable. choice of words, forbid, to not be of The Accepted Way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Martyr Severus and 38 Soldiers in Thrace

Commemorated on August 20

The martyrs Severus, Memnon, Philip, and thirty-seven others suffered in Philippopolis, Thrace under the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

When the governor learned that the St Severus had converted the centurion Memnon to Christ, he ordered that Memnon be tortured. They cut three strips of skin from St Memnon's back.

St Severus was raked with iron hooks. Then they put red-hot rings on his fingers and girded him with a red-hot iron belt. After these tortures, he was blinded.

The others had their hands and feet cut off and were thrown into a fiery oven.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Martyr Timothy of Palestine

Commemorated on August 19

The Martyrs Timothy, Agapius and Thekla suffered martyrdom in the year 304. The Martyr Timothy was a native of the city of Caesarean Palestine. He studied the Holy Scripture, and having received a special gift of eloquence, he became a teacher of the Christian Faith.

During the time of persecution against Christians under the co-emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311), the martyr was brought to trial by the governor Urban. St Timothy fearlessly declared himself a Christian and spoke about the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for mankind and of His coming into the world for their salvation. The martyr was subjected to cruel torture, and when they saw that he remained down, they killed him.

And in this same town and year the Martyrs Agapius and Thekla were condemned. They were thrown to be eaten by wild beasts, and suffering in this manner, they received their heavenly crowns.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link found here also):

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Repose of the Venerable John the Abbot of Rila

Commemorated on August 18

Saint John of Rila, the great spiritual ascetic of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and Heavenly Protector of the Bulgarian nation, was born in the year 876 in the village of Skrino in the Sredets district [now Sofia].

After he had been orphaned, the boy became a cowherd in order to avoid people. Once the rich man beat him for losing a cow with its calf. The boy cried long and he prayed, that God would help him. When he found the cow with the calf, the water at that time flowed high and strong in the River Struma. The young cowherd prayed, he placed his own tattered shirt on the water, made the Sign of the Cross over it, took up the calf in his arms and went with it, as though on dry land, to the other bank of the river where the cow was.

The rich man, hidden in the forest, was frightened upon seeing this miracle. He rewarded the youth generously, then sent him away from his home. Having given away his things, the boy left his village. Where and when the saint took monastic tonsure is unknown.

At the very first he pursued asceticism on a high and barren hill, eating only wild plants. His hut was of brushwood. After a short while robbers fell upon him by night, beat him, and drove him off from there. Then he found a deep cave and settled in it. Soon, his nephew St Luke also settled there.

The place was quite unpopulated, so that St John at first considered the appearance of Luke a demonic trick, but learning that the youth sought the salvation of his soul, he lovingly accepted him. Not for long, however, did they live together. St John's brother found the ascetics, and forcibly took away his son. Along the way home the youth died from the bite of a snake. The brother repented and asked forgiveness of the monk. The wanderer went then frequently to the grave of the righteous youth; his beloved place of rest was there.

St John spent twelve years in the desolate cave, and then he went into the Rila wilderness and settled in the hollow of a tree. He fasted and prayed a great deal, wept incessantly, and ate only grass. Seeing such endurance, God caused beans to grow, which he ate for a long time. The beans and his exploits made him known to people.

Once a flock of frightened sheep ran along the hilly steep paths, and did not stop until the place where the monk lived. The shepherds, following after the flock, with astonishment saw the hermit, who amicably greeted them: "You arrive here hungry. Pick some of my beans and eat." All ate and were satisfied. One gathered many beans in reserve. Along the way home he offered them to his comrades, but there were no beans in the pilfered pods. The shepherds turned back penitent, and the Elder stood there, saying with a smile: "See, children, these fruits are appointed by God for subsistence in the wilderness."

From that time they began to bring to the monk the sick and those troubled by unclean spirits, which he healed by prayer. Fleeing celebrity, the monk went from his beloved tree-hollow and settled on a high and rocky crag difficult of access, where he dwelt for seven years under the open sky. Reports about the great ascetic reached even the Bulgarian king Peter (927-969), who wanted to meet him. St John wrote a letter, refusing such a meeting out of humility.

Later on St John accepted under him the guidance of monks, who built a monastery with a church in the cave where St John formerly lived. He wisely tended his flock and died on August 18, 946 at 70 years of age.

Five years before his end he wrote in his own hand "A Testament to Disciples," one of the finest creations of Old Bulgarian literature. The holy life of the ascetic and the remarkable mercies of God through his prayers were a fine preaching of the Christian Faith in the newly-baptized Bulgarian land. In the uneasy time of struggle of Bulgaria with Byzantium, under the west Bulgarian king Samuel (976-1014), St John appeared to his disciples, commanding them to transfer his relics to Sredets (Sofia), where the Bulgarian Patriarch Damian (927-972) was hiding. It is presumed that the transfer of relics took place in the year 980.

Somewhat later, the right hand of St John of Rila was transferred to Russia (presumably to the city of Rila, where a church was constructed in the name of St John of Rila, with a chapel dedicated to the martyrs Florus and Laurus, on the day of their commemoration (August 18) on which he died).

The name of St John was known and loved by the Russian people from antiquity. Data about the death of the saint is preserved, especially in Russian sources (the MENAION for August in the twelfth century, in the Mazurinsk Chronicle).

In the year 1183, the Hungarian king Bela II (1174-1196), during a campaign against the Greeks, seized the chest with the relics of St John, together with other booty, and took it to the city of Esztergom.

In the year 1187, after he embellished the reliquary, he sent back the holy relics with great honor. On October 19, 1238 the relics of St John were solemnly transferred to the new capital, Trnovo, and put in a church dedicated to the saint. On July 1, 1469 the holy relics of St John of Rila were returned to the Rila monastery, where they rest to the present day, granting grace-filled help to all the believers.

Troparion - Tone 1

Your life was a foundation of repentance
and a model of compunction,
an image of consolation and spiritual perfection,
equal to the angels, O venerable one.
You persevered in prayer, fasting and tears, O Father John;
intercede with Christ God for our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 8

Imitating the life of the angels and forsaking all earthly things,
you fled to Christ, O venerable one.
Protecting yourself with His commandments,
you were shown to be an unshakable pillar against the attacks of the enemy.
Therefore, we cry to you: "Rejoice, O Father John, most brilliant light!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2008(with 2007's link here also):