Friday, November 30, 2012

Apostle Andrew, the Holy and All-Praised First-Called

Commemorated on November 30

The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was the first of the Apostles to follow Christ, and he later brought his own brother, the holy Apostle Peter, to Christ (John 1:35-42). The future apostle was from Bethsaida, and from his youth he turned with all his soul to God. He did not enter into marriage, and he worked with his brother as a fisherman. When the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John began to preach, St Andrew became his closest disciple. St John the Baptist himself sent to Christ his own two disciples, the future Apostles Andrew and John the Theologian, declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God.

After the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, St Andrew went to the Eastern lands preaching the Word of God. He went through Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, he reached the River Danube, went along the coast of the Black Sea, through Crimea, the Black Sea region and along the River Dniepr he climbed to the place where the city of Kiev now stands.

He stopped overnight on the hills of Kiev. Rising in the morning, he said to those disciples that were with him: "See these hills? Upon these hills shall shine forth the beneficence of God, and there will be a great city here, and God shall raise up many churches." The apostle went up around the hills, blessed them and set up a cross. Having prayed, he went up even further along the Dniepr and reached a settlement of the Slavs, where Novgorod was built. From here the apostle went through the land of the Varangians towards Rome for preaching, and again he returned to Thrace, where in the small village of Byzantium, the future Constantinople, he founded the Church of Christ. The name of the holy Apostle Andrew links the mother, the Church of Constantinople, with her daughter, the Russian Church.

On his journeys the First-Called Apostle endured many sufferings and torments from pagans: they cast him out of their cities and they beat him. In Sinope they pelted him with stones, but remaining unharmed, the persistent disciple of Christ continued to preach to people about the Savior. Through the prayers of the Apostle, the Lord worked miracles. By the labors of the holy Apostle Andrew, Christian Churches were established, for which he provided bishops and clergy. The final city to which the Apostle came was the city of Patra, where he was destined to suffer martyrdom.

The Lord worked many miracles through His disciple in Patra. The infirm were made whole, and the blind received their sight. Through the prayers of the Apostle, the illustrious citizen Sosios recovered from serious illness; he healed Maximilla, wife of the governor of Patra, and his brother Stratokles. The miracles accomplished by the Apostle and his fiery speech enlightened almost all the citizens of the city of Patra with the true Faith.

Few pagans remained at Patra, but among them was the prefect of the city, Aegeatos. The Apostle Andrew repeatedly turned to him with the words of the Gospel. But even the miracles of the Apostle did not convince Aegeatos. The holy Apostle with love and humility appealed to his soul, striving to reveal to him the Christian mystery of life eternal, through the wonderworking power of the Holy Cross of the Lord. The angry Aegeatos gave orders to crucify the apostle. The pagan thought he might undo St Andrew's preaching if he were to put him to death on the cross.

St Andrew the First-Called accepted the decision of the prefect with joy and with prayer to the Lord, and went willingly to the place of execution. In order to prolong the suffering of the saint, Aegeatos gave orders not to nail the saint's hands and feet, but to tie them to the cross. For two days the apostle taught the citizens who gathered about. The people, in listening to him, with all their souls pitied him and tried to take St Andrew down from the cross. Fearing a riot of the people, Aegeatos gave orders to stop the execution. But the holy apostle began to pray that the Lord would grant him death on the cross. Just as the soldiers tried to take hold of the Apostle Andrew, they lost control of their hands. The crucified apostle, having given glory to God, said: "Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit." Then a blazing ray of divine light illumined the cross and the martyr crucified upon it. When the light faded, the holy Apostle Andrew had already given up his holy soul to the Lord. Maximilla, the wife of the prefect, had the body of the saint taken down from the cross, and buried him with honor.

A few centuries later, under the emperor Constantine the Great, the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew were solemnly transferred to Constantinople and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles beside the relics of the holy Evangelist Luke and St Paul's disciple St Timothy.


Andrew, first-called of the Apostles
and brother of the foremost disciple,
entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world
and to our souls great mercy.


Let us praise Andrew, the herald of God,
the namesake of courage,
the first-called of the Savior's disciples
and the brother of Peter.
As he once called to his brother, he now cries out to us:
"Come, for we have found the One whom the world desires!"


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Martyr Anna

Commemorated on November 28

Saint Anna was a noblewoman who sold all her possessions and gave the money to the poor. She received the monastic tonsure from St Stephen the New while he was living on Mt Auxentius in Bithynia. He sent her to live in the women's monastery called Trichinarion (Community of hairshirt-wearers).

When the iconoclasts tried to turn St Stephen from venerating the holy icons, they tried flattery, bribery, and threats, but all their efforts were in vain. Then they accused him of visiting the Trichinarion Monastery at night and falling into sin with the nun Anna. Although her own maidservant testified against her (she was promised her freedom and marriage to a nobleman if she did), St Anna denied any guilt.

The emperor's soldiers came to the monastery and seized St Anna and brought her before him, but she refused to lie about St Stephen. Therefore Emperor Constantine threw her into a dungeon in Constantinople.

The next morning the emperor sat in a public building with an assembled crowd, and had St Anna brought to his presence. Since she insisted that both she and St Stephen were innocent, the emperor had her stripped naked in the sight of all. During her interrogation, she remained silent. Meanwhile, her maidservant falsely swore that St Stephen had sinned with her mistress.

Angered by her refusal to speak, the emperor had St Anna stretched out on the ground, where soldiers beat her with rods. During this torment, she said, "I have never sinned with Stephen. Lord, have mercy." The soldiers continued to beat her until she was almost dead.

The emperor returned to his palace, leaving orders that St Anna be imprisoned in one of the city's abandoned monasteries. There she departed to the Lord, receiving from Him the twin crowns of virginity and martyrdom.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Stylianos the Monk of Paphlagonia

November 26

St. Stylianos was from Paphlagonia living in the latter 6th century and early 7th century. He loved the Lord Jesus Christ with his whole heart and lived in strict asceticism. When he fell asleep in the Lord, his face shone like the sun and an angel appeared to take his soul to Glory. His prayers have worked many miracles, both during his earthly life and since. He is of special help to children who are ill and to childless couples. He is known as a protector of orphans.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

13th Sunday of Luke

November 25

Tone of the week: Plagal of the Fourth Tone

Third Eothinon

Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
You descended from on high, O compassionate One, and condescended to be buried for three days, so that from the passions You might set us free. Our life and resurrection, O Lord, glory be to You.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.

Resurrectional Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Arising from the tomb, O mighty Saviour, Thou didst rouse the dead; Thou didst raise Adam; while Eve danceth in her joy at Thy blest Resurrection, O Lord. And the world's farthest regions keep the festival on Thine arising from the dead with gladness and thanksgiving, O Thou Who art greatly merciful.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Afterfeast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple

November 23

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Today is the prelude of God's pleasure and the proclamation of man's salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, "Hail, fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Afterfeast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple

November 22

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Today is the prelude of God's pleasure and the proclamation of man's salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, "Hail, fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple

November 21

According to the tradition of the Church, the Theotokos was brought to the Temple at three years of age, where she was consecrated to God and spent her days until she was fourteen or fifteen years old; and then, as a mature maiden, by the common counsel of the priests (since her parents had reposed some three years before), she was betrothed to Joseph.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Today is the prelude of God's pleasure and the proclamation of man's salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, "Hail, fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Forefeast of the Presentation of the Theotokos into the Temple

November 20

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
By blossoming forth the only Ever-virgin as fruit, today holy Anna doth betroth us all unto joy, instead of our former grief; on this day she doth fulfill her vows to the Most High, leading her with joy into the Lord's holy temple, who truly is the temple and pure Mother of God the Word.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
The whole world is filled today with joy and gladness on the Theotokos's auspicious and resplendent feast, whereon with great voice it crieth out: The heavenly tabernacle is she in truth.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Repose of St Philaret (Drozdov) the Metropolitan of Moscow

Commemorated on November 19

Saint Philaret (Drozdov) was born on December 26, 1782 in Kolomna, a suburb of Moscow, and was named Basil in Baptism. His father was a deacon (who later became a priest).

The young Basil studied at the Kolomna seminary, where courses were taught in Latin. He was small in stature, and far from robust, but his talents set him apart from his classmates.

In 1808, while he was a student at the Moscow Theological Academy at Holy Trinity Lavra, Basil received monastic tonsure and was named Philaret after St Philaret the Merciful (December 1). Not long after this, he was ordained a deacon.

In 1809, he went to teach at the Theological Academy in Petersburg, which had been reopened only a short time before. Hierodeacon Philaret felt ill at ease in Petersburg, but he was a very good teacher who tried to make theology intelligible to all. Therefore, he worked to have classes taught in Russian rather than in Latin.

Philaret was consecrated as bishop in 1817, and was appointed to serve as a vicar in the diocese of Petersburg. He soon rose to the rank of archbishop, serving in Tver, Yaroslavl, and Moscow. In 1826, he was made Metropolitan of Moscow, and remained in that position until his death.

The Metropolitan believed that it was his duty to educate and enlighten his flock about the Church's teachings and traditions. Therefore, he preached and wrote about how to live a Christian life, basing his words on the wisdom of the Holy Fathers. His 1823 CATECHISM has been an influential book in Russia and in other countries for nearly two hundred years.

The reforms of Tsar Peter the Great had abolished the patriarchate and severely restricted the Church, placing many aspects of its life under governmental control. Metropolitan Philaret tried to regain some of the Church's freedom to administer its own affairs, regarding Church and State as two separate entities working in harmony. Not everyone shared his views, and he certainly made his share of enemies. Still, he did achieve some degree of success in effecting changes.

One day, Archimandrite Anthony (Medvedev), a disciple of St Seraphim of Sarov (January 2), paid a call on his diocesan hierarch. During their conversation, Fr Anthony spoke of the patristic teaching on unceasing prayer, and he may have told the Metropolitan something of St Seraphim. St Philaret felt a deep spiritual kinship with Fr Anthony, who soon became his Elder. He made no important decision concerning diocesan affairs, or his own spiritual life, without consulting Fr Anthony. St Seraphim once told Fr Anthony that he would become the igumen of a great monastery, and gave him advice on how to conduct himself. It was St Philaret who appointed him as igumen of Holy Trinity Lavra.

Metropolitan Philaret wanted to have the Holy Scriptures translated into modern Russian, so that people could read and understand them. Fr Anthony, however, criticized the unorthodox ethos of the Russian Bible Society, which was popular during the reign of Alexander I. In his eagerness to have the Bible translated into modern Russian, St Philaret at first supported the Bible Society without realizing how dangerous some of its ideas were. The first Russian translation of the Bible was printed during the reign of Tsar Alexander II.

Under the direction of his Elder, Metropolitan Philaret made great progress in the spiritual life. He also received the gifts of unceasing prayer, clairvoyance, and healing. It is no exaggeration to suggest that St Philaret himself was one of the forces behind the spiritual revival in nineteenth century Russia. He defended the Elders of Optina Monastery when they were misunderstood and attacked by many. He protected the nuns of St Seraphim's Diveyevo Convent, and supported the publication of patristic texts by the Optina Monastery.

Metropolitan Philaret was asked to dedicate the new Triumphal Gate in Moscow, and Tsar Nicholas I was also present. Seeing statues of pagan gods on the Gate, the Metropolitan refused to bless it. The Tsar became angry, and many people criticized the saint's refusal to participate. He felt that he had followed his conscience in this matter, but still felt disturbed by it, and so he prayed until he finally dropped off to sleep. He was awakened around 5 A.M. by the sound of someone opening the door which he usually kept locked. The Metropolitan sat up and saw St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25) leaning over his bed. "Don't worry," he said, "it will all pass." Then he disappeared.

Two months before his death, St Philaret saw his father in a dream, warning him about the 19th day of the month. On November 19, 1867, he served the Divine Liturgy for the last time. At two in the afternoon, they went to his cell and found his body. He was buried at Holy Trinity Lavra.

St Philaret was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1995.


Having acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit
O divinely wise and holy hierarch Philaret,
You preached truth and righteousness to the people with enlightened understanding;
With a contrite heart you showed peace and mercy to the suffering;
And as a teacher and tireless guardian of the Faith
With the staff of uprightness you preserved the Russian flock.
Therefore, as you have boldness before Christ our God,
Pray that He preserve the Church and salvation to the people and our souls.


As a true imitator of the venerable Sergius;
You loved virtue from childhood, O divinely blessed Philaret.
As a righteous pastor and blameless confessor you were subject to mockery and abuse by the ungodly after your holy repose,
But God has glorified you with signs and miracles
And shown you to be the helper of our Church.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saint Kosmas the Aetolian as a Missionary

From here.

Saint Kosmas the Aetolian as a Missionary
+Metropolitan Augustinos (Kantiotes) of Florina[1]
1. Introduction.

A holy anniversary has recently been celebrated in Greece: this past 24th of August marked the passage of 180 years from the very day on which a glorious son of a Northern Epirian village on the shore of the Apsus River, next to the city of Veratios, finished the course of his life as a martyr. His very name - Kosmas that Aetolian (1714-1779) – continues to stir us even today.

Newspapers and periodicals of both the Capital and the provinces published articles marking this anniversary, however, as one journalist has remarked, most of these do not paint a true picture of Saint Kosmas. Each attempts to shade the picture according to his own preferences, thoughts, and sentiments so that the ideas of worldly circles have found expression through the mouth of the saint: were he alive today to hear these things, the saint would be distraught, seeing that the meaning of his struggle had been so manipulated and distorted. For example, because in some exceptional case the saint allowed the materials from a destroyed church to be used in order to erect a school, the conclusion has been drawn that Saint Kosmas did little more than destroy churches in order to build schools. Who did this? He who, if he commended learning, did so solely as an aid to moral and religious man's formation, saying that the school ought to open the way to the Church, to monasteries? Thus any school which lacks a religious foundation, which does not have as its foundation the great commandment of love - love of both God and neighbor – but which is instead cold, indifferent, an enemy of the true faith, this school has become destructive, it has fallen away from its true end, and is dynamite to the foundation of Orthodox community. As the Saint has prophetically said, "Great evils will come to humanity through those who are well read." In another case, because Saint Kosmas sought to stop the flow of sin and immorality, checking the lack of compassion and the injustice exhibited by the wealthy and those in the community who held high offices, some drew the conclusion that the Saint was nothing more than a social reformer, suggesting that he was simply engaging in class conflict, rousing the weak against the strong. In yet another case, because he checked certain shortcomings of the clergy, and even of the hierarchs, there were those who concluded that Saint Kosmas was against the hierarchy. Since he spoke in the language of the people – thus say the proponents of the 'vernacular' language – Kosmas was a demotikistis,[2] who thought that the world would be saved through language! Finally, judging from certain of his sayings and actions, others said that he was an agent of foreign powers, of the Muscovites, and that he was in league with Orloff and his movement (1770). This accusation was used against him primarily by his enemies the Jews.
How limited was their understanding of Saint Kosmas! Saint Kosmas was certainly a multi-faceted personality, like a multi-faced diamond. Each face of this spiritual diamond, however, reflected the same light; the unfading light of the Resurrected Lord. At the depths of his being, Saint Kosmas was purely spiritual, purely evangelical, and purely metaphysical; he was an ambassador of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ. He was a true missionary, fulfilling the commandment of the Lord to, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,"[3] a commandment which has yet to be fulfilled in many corners of the earth. How many millions of people await new evangelists!

If we are to grasp the full meaning of Saint Kosmas' mission we must turn to look at the era in which he lived and what he did; we must, in other words, look at the historical context within which his missionary activities took place, as well as what he did and how he did it.

2. Context.

The century within which St Kosmas lived and suffered martyrdom was one of great trial for the Orthodox Faith, for Christianity in the East. Satan, to use the expression found in the Gospel, held the sifter and was sifting the Christians of that era (Luke 22:31).[4] His tools, the lesser and greater rulers of the Ottoman Empire, all fanatical followers of Mohammed, pressured Christians to abandon their faith in a variety of ways.

With little cause these rulers seized thousands of Christians, putting them in prison. The iron-clad doors of these dreadful jails would only open to free prisoners once they had denied their faith and shown themselves to have embraced the religion of their false prophet. In addition, heavy taxes, difficult to bear, and which had to be collected no matter what, were laid on the shoulders of Christian slaves. From these there existed only one means of escape – conversion; in other words, he who was free of these taxes was he who had converted. The eunuchs of the Sultan's palace snatched the most beautiful young Greek girls from the arms of their mothers and entrapped them in dens of debauchery - the notorious harems. Officers of the Ottoman army rounded up the Christian's healthiest and most intelligent children in order to make them Janissaries.[5]

Under such pressures, weaker characters broke: not only individual, but even whole families and villages, together with their priests abandoned their faith. It is no exaggeration to suggest that many Turks living in the wealthiest areas of Asia Minor today are the direct descendants of Christians who betrayed their faith. The ever-memorable Chrysanthos, Archbishop of Athens, and former Metropolitan of Trebizond, writes, "...none of Turkish descent are found in the whole area surrounding Trebizond, nor even within the more expanded circumference of Chaldia. All of these (Turks) are Greeks, descended from Greeks. All of these people, as a whole, renounced their faith." Islamification proved particularly serious in Macedonia and Epirius, but above all in Albania where the number of Christians was reduced from 550 thousand to 50 thousand – and even these stood in danger of falling away. Those who remained stable in the faith of the Fathers met with harsh persecution, often spilling even the last drop of their blood in martyrdom: during this catastrophe in Asia Minor, Christians were like marked sheep.[6] In all, the number of these new martyrs totals 2.5 million.

At the end of the 18th century (concerning which we have been speaking), a most ferocious beast, Sultan Mustafa IV, appeared on the forefront of history. He conceived of a satanic plan for a new Babylonian exile, to move, in other words, all of the Christians from Greece into the Middle East, to Mesopotamia, and to settle in their place violent peoples – the Abkhazians, the Cicussians, and the Kurds. Had this plan been successfully carried out it would have meant the complete annihilation of Christian Greece.

The sons of Satan conceived of a plan for the complete eradication of the Orthodox Christian world and sought to execute it. The most-high God, however, who planted the tree of Orthodoxy that it might flower and bear fruit, and that under its shadow the weary and heavy laden of all ages might find rest, did not allow these plans to come to fruition. For this task God chose the right tools, breathing a spirit of zeal, of holy enthusiasm, of self-denial, of courage, and of wisdom into certain souls, and sending them out as new apostles, and evangelists wherever the faith was in danger. One of these tools selected by Divine Providence was Saint Kosmas.[7]

3. St. Kosmas in historical context.

Where was Saint Kosmas during this dark period of the Orthodox Church's history? He lived in the desert of the Holy Mountain, having taken up the monastic life in Philotheou Monastery. Oh, how beautifully he spent those days of his life! Psalmody, vigils, the reading of the Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers, conversations with holy brethren and spiritual guides, and, above all, communion with the Heavenly Father through noetic prayer. These things created an ideal spiritual climate which was reminiscent of the summit of Mount Tabor. Here he was far from the noise of the world, from the tempest which raged in the cities and villages of the Orthodox. As far as he was, however, the heartbreaking cries, the lamentations of the countless Christians who suffered various forms of martyrdom reached his ears. Sorrowful news arrived each day, telling of the havoc Satan was wreaking everywhere, but especially in Macedonia, Epirus, and Albania. Orthodox Christians were abandoning their faith, trampling on the Lord's cross and bowing before the crescent moon of Mohammed. Saint Kosmas was unable to remain indifferent in the face of all this. In solitude he began to think: "Am I to remain here on the summit of a mountain, immune to the torment and suffering while those in the foothills, in the villages and cities, are suffering martyrdom? Should I not be rushing to their aid? Yes, I help them from here by my prayer, since praying for others with faith and a pure heart is equal to contending for the faith, but in the case of such harsh trials is not some active participation required? Do those in prison not stand in need of visitation? Do those brethren who are afflicted not need personal contact, a comforting word, some small advice, some display of mercy - one tear shed in solidarity with those who are suffering - are these not invaluable contributions to the struggle for the faith? Am I capable of such a mission? Will I be a help, or will I just cause more harm? Do I have the strength to withstand the temptations of the world? Is there a danger that I will lose my own soul trying to save the souls of others? What am I to do, Most High? 'Cause me to know, O Lord the way wherein I should walk'".[8]
Saint Kosmas wrestled with his thoughts. Now in agony, he had reached his life's Gethsemane as happens to every man who is called to undertake a significant mission in the world. A bitter cup has been prepared for him. In his anguish, the voice of God provided him with an answer to his question. Opening the Scriptures, his gaze fell on a line from Saint Paul which read, "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth".[9] The line cast heaven's light on his heart; it was as if the Holy Spirit was saying, "Kosmas! Think not solely of your own spiritual advantage, but also of that of your brothers. This requires that you leave your hermitage, take up your walking stick and launch yourself into the great tasks of leading souls to the Gospel.

The illumination which he received through this scriptural saying alone was not enough to satisfy Saint Kosmas, however. He desired to see if he had properly understood the Holy Spirit's advice. He sought out the advice of spiritual fathers, and even traveled to Constantinople to visit Patriarch Seraphim, expressing to him his innermost thoughts and desires. The Patriarch approved his plan and provided him with written permission to preach. Now convinced through the voice of his conscience through the voice of the Scriptures, through the advice he received from spiritual fathers, that he was called to work for the salvation of souls, Saint Kosmas departed for his mission. To battle Lucifer, to battle the beast on his own ground, to awaken the oppressed conscience, to console, to wipe away tears, to rouse the mind, to stir the emotions of the faithful, to stop the wave of Islamification, to exalt the horn of the Orthodox Christians, and ultimately to fall in defense of the faith: behold, Saint Kosmas' mission!

4. Saint Kosmas' Method.
Saint Kosmas would indeed fulfill this important mission; through this faithful servant of God consciences were awoken, minds were roused, emotions were stirred, and the wave is Islamification was stopped. How did he do this? What was his method? What means did he use to fulfill his holy aims?


One might ask, 'What kind of preaching'? Did he employ the kind in which the preacher tries to wow his audience through rhetorical devices and fireworks? What kind of preaching? The kind where the preacher employs lofty language, inaccessible and incomprehensible to most people? What kind of preaching? The kind which is continually speaking of social problems and never turns its attention to the most central of matters, the kingdom of the heavens? No! Saint Kosmas' preaching bore the mark of genuine apostolic preaching. First, that which the Apostle Paul said concerning himself together with the remaining apostles, that, "we also believe, and therefore speak,"[10] is fully applicable to this holy man. Saint Kosmas believed in all the saving truths of the Orthodox faith. "I have read much concerning the Jews, the impious, the heretics and the atheists. I have studied the depths of wisdom. This I understand to be true: the faith of the Orthodox alone - to believe and to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – this alone is good and holy. To conclude I tell you this: you ought to rejoice in the fact that you are Orthodox Christians and weep for the impious and the heretics who are in darkness." He preached this faith with impressive simplicity, with such simplicity, in fact, that even children were able to understand him. He preached with emotion. He preached with tears. He preached in the shadow of the Cross. He cut the spiritual bread into small pieces and distributed it to all just as the priest distributes Holy Communion, the precious body and blood of the Lord, with the holy spoon. The one who preaches the Gospel truly undertakes a holy work. United to God through prayer, he knew how to communicate to the souls of his listeners for whom his words represented spiritual elation. Even today, whoever reads his teachings, which were preserved by his disciples, feels as if he has been grasped by a spiritual power, lifted up above the earth, and transported to some spiritual and immaterial world on the wings of eagles, on the wings of angels. Such was the impression that this simple preaching – simple but yet endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit – created. Thus, with tears in their eyes his listeners entreated him to remain with them and speak again, while thousands of laymen and clergy followed him great distances, not wanting to be deprived of such a precious preacher of the Gospel, such a director of souls. 
Teaching Individuals

Saint Kosmas did not rely on his preaching alone, though it reached thousands of hearers. In imitation of Paul, the leader of the apostles, who giving a brief apology for the work of the apostles in Ephesus said, "by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears,"[11] and following the God-man who beside the Well of Sychar had an audience of one lone soul, the Samaritan woman, Kosmas taught each person individually, as much as it was possible. During the period of his missionary work, he came into contact with people living in a variety of conditions. He conversed with the poor, but also with the rich and those who held office at that time. He even held conversations with men of other religions. This he did with one sole aim: to enlighten, to save, to draw each soul out of darkness and towards the glorious light. He had a great talent for speaking to souls; he was able to communicate with ease and precision. He also held the secret to answering each person with what was useful and necessary for him particularly, and for informing the mind, and comforting the heart. As a well-experienced doctor, he correctly diagnosed spiritual illnesses and prescribed the right medicine in its proper dosage.

Let us here make mention of two anecdotes taken from his years as a missionary. Besieged by an illness which no doctor could cure, a certain Bey turned to the Saint for help.[12] Saint Kosmas listened to him with great attention and after some thought said, "Listen to me! If you want to be cured the first thing you must do is stop drinking raki (for the Bey was an alcoholic),[13] second, in proportion to the evil that you have done, you must now do good, and third, you must ever be giving charity - at least one-tenth of your goods." The Bey was worried, particularly on account of the first medication prescribed by the Saint, i.e., that he cease from drunkenness and from the consumption of alcoholic drinks, but in the end consented. After demonstrating that he has heeded this advice, he was cured and thus became an admirer of the Saint.

On another occasion he met a band of thieves, the leader of which (followed by his band) approached to kiss his hand. Such devotion breathed even within these savage natures! Seeing this devotion, the Saint offered them spiritual instruction and the thieves were moved by his advice. What was the result? Laying down their weapons, some left to take up the monastic life, lamenting the evil they had done, while others went on to live a quiet life in the world, amongst those Christians from whom they had previously stolen.

On many occasions, he would call upon one of his listeners in the middle of one of his homilies, entering into a dialogue with him. He did this with the aim of learning through his questions if, or to what extent, his listeners kept the royal commandment, the commandment of love, if they possessed love for God and neighbor. "I want," he would say, "to test your love, to see if it is genuine."

Saint Kosmas did not want that which he had taught through his homilies and personal conversation to be forgotten after his departure; he did not want the valuable seed of truth which he had planted in those who came to hear him to be uprooted by the evil spirits, leaving nothing behind in their memories. He wanted this divine teaching to be guarded in the depths of his listeners' existence that they might continually be reminded of their moral and religious obligations. To this end he called on them to gather together somewhere and, instead of discussing useless and vain things, discuss his homily, or some passage of the Holy Scriptures which he had interpreted. "Now, since I have come here and toiled, is it not proper that I receive some consolation, some payment? What payment do I seek? Money? What would I do with it? By God's grace I have no sack, no house, no second cassock; the stool which I have belongs to you. It represents my grave. This grave has the authority to teach kings, patriarchs, bishops, priests, men, and women, young and old, and the entire world. If I were to travel about for money, I would be crazy and foolish. What is my payment, then? It is for you to sit five or ten together and discuss the divine teachings, to put them inside your heart so that they may bring you eternal life...Now if you were to do these things and put them in your mind, my labor would seem to me to be nothing. But if you don't do them, I shall leave saddened with tears in my eyes."[14]
The Radiance of his Love

Saint Kosmas did not want his listeners to stop on the theoretical level, at the beneficial discussion of the Scriptures and other religious books, in the dry fulfillment of their basic duties as Christians. He did not want their faith to be dead. He wanted their faith to be alive, a motivating power behind all that is beautiful and good in the world. He wanted the faithful to play a leading role in every good work; he wanted those who heard his homilies to carry out all of the Lord's commandments, from the greatest to the smallest, that they might be found worthy to be called 'blessed'. "[B]lessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."[15]

Following in the footsteps of the Apostle to the Gentiles, who, writing to his faithful disciple Titus, advises him to continually exhort the faithful to good works: "And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful."[16] Thus the Saint too, having the heart of a father, continually urged his listeners to do good works. He felt the pain of others; he suffered together, and was crucified together with the Lord's people, who daily suffered a myriad of crucifixions. He felt the needs of the Christian community – both spiritual and material – as if they were his own and heard the cries of pain issuing from those who were experiencing hardship. Moved by the sight of human sorrow, the Saint, spoke artfully, plucking the heartstrings of his listeners, inspiring sympathy in them, rousing philanthropic sentiments in them like no other and moving them to work for the common good.

What did this man not do for the benefit of the Greek nation!

First, the young Christian women serving as wet-nurses to the tyrants' children in the palaces of the Beys and Pashas were in constant danger of being lured away from the faith through various temptations, or of being lead into debauchery, and therefore of being lost completely. Saint Kosmas succeeded in convincing many Turks to release such women from their service by telling them that they would insight the wrath of Uranus on account of their debauchery and their mingling with women of foreign religions, and that their race would thus be wiped off the face of the earth. "Where," he asked, "has your former glory gone? Are you not the ones who under Sulayman conquered lands as far away as Vienna? Your debauchery had humbled and destroyed you. Repent, cast out the Christian women you have in your palace." On the other hand, he advised Christian women not to become wet-nurses to Turkish children lest they suffer the same fate as the hen who hatched the viper's eggs in the Aesopian fable.[17] According to Vasileios Zotos, author of The Dictionary of all the Saints of the Orthodox Church, some 1500 Christian wet-nurses who had been serving in the palaces of the Pashas and the Beys were set free as a result of the Saint's activities.

Second, the villages of Epirius, Macedonia and Albania did not, for the most part, have baptismal fonts, and thus their infants were not receiving proper baptism.[18] Saint Kosmas was shocked by this sin, i.e., that Orthodox children were not being baptized canonically and thus convinced the wealthy Greeks of Constantinople, Ioannina, and other Hellenic cities to donate money in order to have baptismal fonts crafted. As a result, 4000 copper-plated baptismal fonts were made and sent to all the village churches which did not have them.

Third, a great number of starving, half-dressed orphans, whose heroic fathers had been killed by the Turks, were found wandering the streets during this period. What could be done for these forgotten victims of the nation's tragedy? Here again the love of a caring father worked wonders. In his teachings he strongly encouraged all Christians, particularly those couples which had no children, to take into their families one or two orphans. He encouraged them to do so irregardless of their financial status and as a result the rich blessing of God was visited upon their homes. Oh, how many orphans and poor children were saved as a result of the fatherly interest shown by this missionary preacher!
Fourth, from his touring the Greek countryside Saint Kosmas concluded with deep sorrow that there were virtually no schools to be found that Greeks might attend. Nearly all of the Christians, both men and women, were illiterate; one could, in fact, count on the fingers of a single hand the number of people in each village who were able to read and write. He spoke to the people with fervor concerning the great worth of education, of the necessity of Christian education, and of the how the next generation ought to be brought up, things which would later lead to the miracle of the revolution in 1821. "Open schools!" he cried everywhere, "Study, learn letters to the extent that you are able, my brothers. If you are unable to learn, fathers, have your children study and learn Greek instead since everything in our Church is in the Greek language. If you do not learn Greek, my brothers, then you will not understand that which our Church confesses. Better it is for you to have a Greek school in your village than for you to have springs and rivers, for when your child learns letters then he can truly to be called a man. The school opens churches; the school opens monasteries."[19]

As a result of the Saint's activities, some 210 Greek schools were erected, and 1100 other smaller schools began to function at which Greek children were taught to read and write. A light – the light of Christian education, lit by the Saint himself - was cast upon a people who sat in darkness of ignorance. One lone man stood in for the Ministry of Education which remained inoperative during Turkokratia.
Where did the Saint find the sum of money needed to fund the construction and day-to-day operation of these schools, one might ask? He had no money of his own; like Christ he was poor and had nothing of his own. "I, my brothers," he said, "by the grace of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, the Crucified One, I have neither purse, nor house, nor chest, nor another cassock than the one I am wearing. And I still beseech my Lord to never allow me to acquire until the end of my life a purse, for if I ever begin to take money, I have immediately lost my brethren. I cannot serve both; it is either God or the devil."[20] And yet this monk who possessed nothing of his own managed to collect such huge amounts of money for his work. How did he do this? Listen and I will tell you! During his travels, this missionary preacher, he noticed that women, no matter what their financial status, loved luxury, dressing in silken clothing, wearing rings, bracelets, earrings, chains, and ribbons of gold in their hair. Great wealth rested on the fingers, chests and heads of wealthy women; they were adorned with vanity! Saint Kosmas put a stop to this adornment. Through his teaching against such luxury, he persuaded Christian women to give up all this useless treasure, this gold, this silver, the precious stones for the good of the nation, for the establishment and operation of schools and, what wonder, they gave it all up! These treasures which he collected, then, represented the very beginning of a special fund, a fund from which alms might be given. The aforementioned author (V. Zotos) lifts up his voice to the most-high God in praise of these women who, at the moment they heard the Saint preach hastened to offer their expensive adornments, in praise of these admirable women as well as the Saint's other co-laborers, offering the following moving words: "Merchants, builders, iconographers, teachers, priests, monastics and those living in the world followed the Saint's teachings, facilitating the work of establishing schools and churches. We sing, 'Memory Eternal' to those women of Epirius who built 210 schools from the money attained from their jewellery and who endowed them with the extra which they had. A thousand times 'Memory Eternal'!"[21]

Fifth, by means of his fiery preaching the Saint managed to end the practice of opening the markets on Sunday, seeing that these were moved to Saturday (a fact which caused the Jews great sorrow, and lead them to bear a hatred-unto-death for him). He taught the importance of Sunday like no other, heaping burning coals on those who profaned it. He wanted Christians to love labor, to be ever cultivating the earth, and particularly to be planting trees. "Those who do not love trees and plants will live in poverty."[22] On account of the emphatic recommendation of the Saint, thousands of wild trees were grown and eventually bore fruit.

5. Prophesies and miracles.

Saint Kosmas' great influence cannot be entirely explained without taking into account another important element which contributed significantly to the tremendous progress he made in his missionary work. This element is exactly that which is noted at the end of Saint Mark's gospel: "And they [the Apostles] went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen"[23] And signs followed the Saint's teaching for he has not only the gift of speech, but also the gift of working miracles and prophesying concerning the future.

6. Conclusion.

Beloved! What a missionary – a missionary "equal to the Apostles" as the hymnographer who wrote his service writes – Saint Kosmas was shown to be. Honoring his holy memory, let us give thanks to the Lord for this new luminary of the Orthodox Church, and let us also ascribe honor to those people who cooperated in Divine Providence, in the development of this great missionary figure of the later times. Let us first ascribe honor to his devout parents, who from his infancy nourished him with the pure milk of Orthodoxy, then to his teachers, to the wise Evgenios of Bulgaria, to his spiritual fathers and brethren on Mount Athos amongst whom he trained to become a true struggler for the faith. Finally, let us ascribe honor to the Patriarchs Seraphim and Sophronios of blessed memory, who encouraged him in his missionary work and furnished him with letters commending him to all the bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

This last aid was inestimable since without the permission and commendation of the Patriarchate, Kosmas would not have been able to circulate freely in Turkish-occupied Greece. This immediately brings the thought to mind: if Kosmas lived in our day, would he have received such support from the hierarchy of the contemporary Church? It is our fear that this apostolic man, who did not sugar-coat the weaknesses of those in ecclesiastical authority, but rather checked vice wherever he saw it (even if it was in Episcopal or Patriarchal courts), would not have been granted permission to preach. He would have been sentenced to return to the monastery of his repentance as a troublemaker and a threat.
Any who would cast a glance at the life of the contemporary Church would sigh bitterly at the lack of missionary figures like Saint Kosmas the Aetolian. If he tries to find the reason for this lack, he will find a multitude of causes; one of these, in my own view, is that the missionary inclinations of pure servants of the Gospel do not only receive no support in our day, but are condemned. They are condemned first and foremost by those who ought to be supporting them. This is a sorrowful observation.

[1] This article may be found under the title "Ὁ Ἱεραπόστολος" in Metropolitan Avgoustinos' book, "Κοσμᾶς ὁ Αἰτωλός", 29-50. (ed.) Translation by Fr John Palmer.
[2] One who is an advocate of simplified Demotic Greek as opposed to the more complex katharevousa. (ed.)
[3] Matthew 28:19 (ed.)
[4] "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat..." (Luke 22:31). (ed.)
[5] The Janissaries were an elite infantry unit which served as bodyguards to the Sultan. (ed.)
[6] "For Thy sake we are slain all the day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter" Psalm 43:23 (ed.)
[7] We write here that Saint Kosmas was one of these tools since, beside the Saint, other preachers of lesser ability and spiritual radiance had also been raised up for the salvation of the people. According to certain historical information another five heiromonks, burning with the fire of divine zeal, joined the mission. Of these, however, only the heiromonk Naum (and the most remarkable of all, Kosmas) never returned to base of his mission, having met a martyric death at the hands of the Muslims in Serbia.
[8] Psalm 142:8 (ed.)
[9] 1 Corinthians 10:24 (ed.)
[10] 2 Corinthians 4:13 (ed.)
[11] Acts 20:31 (ed.)
[12] 'Bey' is the title given to a local governor in the Ottoman system of administration. (ed.)
[13] Raki is an anise-flavoured hard alcohol which is popular in the Balkans. (ed.)
[14] From Saint Kosmas' First Teaching. (ed.)
[15] Luke 11:28 (ed.)
[16] Titus 3:14 (ed.)
[17] There was a hen who had no nest of her own. One day she found some little eggs in the field. 'Dear me!" said the kind-hearted old hen. "Here are some little eggs and nobody to care for them! I will take care of them myself." So she sat upon them for several days and kept them warm. By-and-by little snakes began to peep out of the eggs. "Hiss, hiss!" said the little snakes. "Bad luck! bad luck!" cried the hen. "I should say bad luck," answered a swallow from the tree top. "It is a good thing to be kind-hearted. But it is well to be sure what kind of people you are helping." "O what shall I do?" wept the hen. "The best thing you can do now is to get out of their way before they bite you," answered the swallow. And away he flew, saying, "What fools hens are!" See Pratt-Chadwick, Mara Louise. Aesop's Fables (Educational Publishing Company, 1892), 38-39. (ed.)
[18] Saint Kosmas describes what is meant by uncanonical baptism in the following passage found in Seventh Teaching: "Holy priests, you must have large baptismal fonts in your churches so that the entire child can be immersed. The child should be able to swim in it so that not even an area as large as a tick's eye remains dry. Because it is from there (the dry area) that the devil advances, and this is why your children become epileptics, are possessed by demons, have fear, become unlucky; they haven't been baptized properly." (ed.)
[19] See Saint Kosmas' Fifth Teaching. (ed.)
[20] See Saint Kosmas' First Teaching (ed.)
[21] Zotos, Vasileios. The Dictionary of All Orthodox Saints. 620. 
[22] From Saint Kosmas' Prophesy Ninety-Six. (ed.)
[23] Mark 16:20 (ed.)

9th Sunday of Luke

November 18

Tone of the week: Grave Tone

Second Eothinon

Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Grave Tone
By means of Your Cross, O Lord, You abolished death. * To the robber You opened Paradise. * The lamentation of the myrrhbearing women You transformed, * and You gave Your Apostles the order to proclaim to all * that You had risen, O Christ our God, * and granted the world Your great mercy.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.

Resurrectional Kontakion in the Grave Tone
No longer will the dominion of death be able to keep men captive; for Christ hath descended, destroying and dispelling the powers thereof. Hades is bound; the Prophets rejoice with one accord, saying: A Saviour hath come for them that have faith. Come forth, ye faithful, for the Resurrection.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Venerable Lazarus the Iconographer, of Constantinople

Commemorated on November 17

Saint Lazarus the Iconographer lived in Constantinople. He was a priest, led a strict ascetic life and painted holy icons. He fought against all heresy, enduring many afflictions from the Nestorians, Eutychians, and iconoclasts. Under the iconoclast emperor Theophilus (829-842), he was arrested and after cruel tortures, thrown into prison. Theophilus ordered horseshoes to be placed in a fire until they glowed red with the heat. Then they were put upon the iconographer's hands, because he dared to paint icons of Christ and the saints. He was saved from execution by the intervention of the empress Theodora.

St Lazarus died in the year 857 while returning from Rome, where he had been sent in a delegation on church matters to Pope Benedict III (855-858). His remains were taken to Constantinople and buried in the church of St Evandrus.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Icon of the Mother of God of Kupyatitich

Commemorated on November 15

The Kupyatitch Icon of the Mother of God appeared in the year 1180 near the village of Kupyatich in the area of the former Pinsk district of the Minsk governance. The icon was found in the forest on a tree by the peasant girl Anna, a cattle herder. The image, in the form of a cross, shone with an unusual light.

On the spot of the miraculous appearance of the icon, peasants built a church in the name of the Most Holy Theotokos, and placed the icon within it. After some years, Tatars burned the church. The icon was found a second time after many years by a traveler named Joachim. Peasants transferred the cruciform-icon to the village church. Joachim remained at the church as church attendant, by God's will.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Kupyatitch monastery was built next to the church, which the Roman Catholics seized at the end of the century, and later on, Uniate monks. Orthodox monks, when they abandoned the monastery, took with them the holy icon of the Kupyatitch Mother of God. They transferred the wonderworking icon to the Kiev Sophia cathedral.

The Kupyatitch Icon is a small copper cross. On one side of the cross the Mother of God is depicted with the Pre-eternal Infant, and on the other side, the Crucifixion.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki

November 14

This divine Father, who was from Asia Minor, was from childhood reared in the royal court of Constantinople, where he was instructed in both religious and secular wisdom. Later, while still a youth, he left the imperial court and struggled in asceticism on Mount Athos, and in the Skete at Beroea. He spent some time in Thessalonica being treated for an illness that came from his harsh manner of life. He was present in Constantinople at the Council that was convened in 1341 against Barlaam of Calabria, and at the Council of 1347 against Acindynus, who was of like mind with Barlaam; Barlaam and Acindynus claimed that the grace of God is created. At both these Councils, the Saint contended courageously for the true dogmas of the Church of Christ, teaching in particular that divine grace is not created, but is the uncreated energies of God which are poured forth throughout creation: otherwise it would be impossible, if grace were created, for man to have genuine communion with the uncreated God. In 1347 he was appointed Metropolitan of Thessalonica. He tended his flock in an apostolic manner for some twelve years, and wrote many books and treatises on the most exalted doctrines of our Faith; and having lived for a total of sixty-three years, he reposed in the Lord in 1359.His holy relics are kept in the Cathedral of Thessalonica.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise Gregory, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
With one accord, we praise thee as the sacred and divine * vessel of wisdom and clear trumpet of theology, * O our righteous Father Gregory of divine speech. * As a mind that standeth now before the Primal Mind, * do thou ever guide aright and lead our mind to Him, * that we may cry: * Rejoice, O herald of grace divine.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

St John Chrysostom the Archbishop of Constantinople

Commemorated on November 13

Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, one of the Three Hierarchs [January 30], was born at Antioch in about the year 347 into the family of a military commander. His father, Secundus, died soon after the birth of his son. His mother, Anthusa, widowed at twenty years of age, did not seek to remarry but rather devoted all her efforts to the raising of her son in Christian piety. The youth studied under the finest philosophers and rhetoricians. But, scorning the vain disciplines of pagan knowledge, the future hierarch turned himself to the profound study of Holy Scripture and prayerful contemplation. St Meletius, Bishop of Antioch (February 12), loved John like a son, guided him in the Faith, and in the year 367 baptized him.

After three years John was tonsured as a Reader. When St Meletius had been sent into exile by the emperor Valens in the year 372, John and Theodore (afterwards Bishop of Mopsuestia) studied under the experienced instructors of ascetic life, the presbyters Flavian and Diodorus of Tarsus. The highly refined Diodorus had particular influence upon the youth. When John's mother died, he embraced monasticism, which he called the "true philosophy." Soon John and his friend Basil were being considered as candidates for the episcopal office, and they decided to withdraw into the wilderness to avoid this. While St John avoided the episcopal rank out of humility, he secretly assisted in Basil's consecration.

During this period St John wrote his "Six Discourses on the Priesthood," a great work of Orthodox pastoral theology. The saint spent four years struggling in the wilderness, living the ascetic life under the guidance of an experienced spiritual guide. And here he wrote three books entitled, "Against the Opponents of Those Attracted to the Monastic Life", and a collection entitled, "A Comparison of the Monk with the Emperor" (also known as "Comparison of Imperial Power, Wealth and Eminence, with the True and Christian Wisdom-Loving Monastic Life"), both works which are marked by a profound reflection of the worthiness of the monastic vocation.

For two years, the saint lived in a cave in complete silence, but was obliged to return to Antioch to recover his health. St Meletius, the Bishop of Antioch, ordained him deacon in the year 381. The following years were devoted to work on new theological writings: "Concerning Providence" ("To the Ascetic Stagirios"), "Book Concerning Virginity," "To a Young Widow" (2 discourses), and the "Book of St Babylos, and Against Julian and the Pagans."

In the year 386 St John was ordained presbyter by Bishop Flavian of Antioch. St John was a splendid preacher, and his inspired words earned him the name "Golden-Mouthed" ("Chrysostom"). For twelve years the saint preached in church, usually twice a week, but sometimes daily, deeply stirring the hearts of his listeners.

In his pastoral zeal to provide Christians with a better understanding of Holy Scripture, St John employed hermeneutics, an interpretation and analysis of the Word of God (i.e. exegesis"). Among his exegetical works are commentaries on entire books of the Holy Scripture (Genesis, the Psalter, the Gospels of Matthew and John, the Epistles of the Apostle Paul), and also many homilies on individual texts of the Holy Bible, but also instructions on the Feastdays, laudations on the Saints, and also apologetic (i.e. defensive) homilies (against Anomoeans, Judaizers and pagans). As a priest, St John zealously fulfilled the Lord's command to care for the needy. Under St John, the Antiochian Church provided sustenance each day to as many as 3,000 virgins and widows, not including in this number the shut-ins, wanderers and the sick.

St John began his commentary on Genesis at the beginning of Great Lent in 388, preaching thirty-two homilies during the forty day period. During Holy Week he spoke of how Christ was betrayed, and about the Cross. During Bright Week, his pastoral discourse was devoted to the Resurrection. His exegesis of the Book of Genesis was concluded only at the end of October (388).

At Pascha in the following year the saint began his homilies on the Gospel of John, and toward the end of the year 389 he took up the Gospel of Matthew. In the year 391 the Antioch Christians listened to his commentary on the Epistles of the holy Apostle Paul to the Romans and to the Corinthians. In 393 he explained the Epistles to the Galatians, the Ephesians, Timothy, Titus, and the Psalms. In his homily on the Epistle to the Ephesians, St John denounced a schism in Antioch, "I tell you and I witness before you, that to tear asunder the Church means nothing less than to fall into heresy. The Church is the house of the heavenly Father, one Body and one Spirit."

The fame of the holy preacher grew, and in the year 397 with the death of Archbishop Nectarius of Constantinople, successor to St Gregory the Theologian, St John Chrysostom was summoned from Antioch, and elected to the See of Constantinople. At the capital, the holy archpastor was not able to preach as often as he had at Antioch. Many matters awaited the saint's attention, and he began with the most important -- the spiritual perfection of the priesthood. He himself was the best example of this. The financial means apportioned for the archbishop were channeled by the saint into the upkeep of several hospices for the sick and two hostels for pilgrims. He fasted strictly and ate very little food, and usually refused invitations to dine because of his delicate stomach.

The saint's zeal in spreading the Christian Faith extended not only to the inhabitants of Constantinople, but also to Thrace to include Slavs and Goths, and to Asia Minor and the Pontine region. He established a bishop for the Bosphorus Church in the Crimea. St John sent off zealous missionaries to Phoenicia, to Persia, and to the Scythians, to convert pagans to Christ. He also wrote letters to Syria to bring back the Marcionites into the Church, and he accomplished this. Preserving the unity of the Church, the saint would not permit a powerful Gothic military commander, who wanted the emperor to reward his bravery in battle, to open an Arian church at Constantinople. The saint exerted much effort in enhancing the splendor of the church services: he compiled a Liturgy, he introduced antiphonal singing for the all-night Vigil, and he wrote several prayers for the rite of anointing the sick with oil.

The saintly hierarch denounced the dissolute morals of people in the capital, especially at the imperial court, irrespective of person. When the empress Eudoxia connived to confiscate the last properties of the widow and children of a disgraced dignitary, the saint rose to their defense. The arrogant empress would not relent, and nursed a grudge against the archpastor. Eudoxia's hatred of the saint blazed forth anew when malefactors told her that the saint apparently had her in mind during his sermon on vain women. A court was convened composed of hierarchs who had been justly condemned by Chrysostom: Theophilus of Alexandria, Bishop Severian of Gabala, who had been banished from the capital because of improprieties, and others.

This court of judgment declared St John deposed, and that he be executed for his insult to the empress. The emperor decided on exile instead of execution. An angry crowd gathered at the church, resolved to defend their pastor. In order to avoid a riot, St John submitted to the authorities. That very night there was an earthquake at Constantinople. The terrified Eudoxia urgently requested the emperor to bring the saint back, and promptly sent a letter to the banished pastor, beseeching him to return. Once more, in the capital church, the saint praised the Lord in a short talk, "For All His Ways."

The slanderers fled to Alexandria. But after only two months a new denunciation provoked the wrath of Eudoxia. In March 404, an unjust council was convened, decreeing the exile of St John. Upon his removal from the capital, a fire reduced the church of Hagia Sophia and also the Senate building to ashes. Devastating barbarian incursions soon followed, and Eudoxia died in October 404. Even pagans regarded these events as God's punishment for the unjust judgment against the saint.

In Armenia, the saint strove all the more to encourage his spiritual children. In numerous letters (245 are preserved) to bishops in Asia, Africa, Europe and particularly to his friends in Constantinople, St John consoled the suffering, guiding and giving support to his followers. In the winter of 406 St John was confined to his bed with sickness, but his enemies were not to be appeased. From the capital came orders to transfer St John to desolate Pityus in Abkhazia on the Black Sea. Worn out by sickness, the saint began his final journey under military escort, traveling for three months in the rain and frost. He never arrived at his place of exile, for his strength failed him at Comana.

At the crypt of St Basiliscus (May 22), St John was comforted by a vision of the martyr, who said, "Despair not, brother John! Tomorrow we shall be together." After receiving the Holy Mysteries, the hierarch fell asleep in the Lord on September 14, 407. His last words were, "Glory to God for all things!"

The holy relics of St John Chrysostom were solemnly transferred to Constantinople in the year 438. The disciple of St John, the venerable Isidore of Pelusium (February 4), wrote: "The house of David is grown strong, and the house of Saul enfeebled. He is victor over the storms of life, and has entered into heavenly repose."

Although he died on September 14, St John's celebration was transferred to this day because of the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross. St John Chrysostom is also celebrated on January 27 and January 30.


Grace shining forth from your lips like a beacon has enlightened the universe.
It has shown to the world the riches of riches poverty; it has revealed to us the heights of humility.
Teaching us by your words, O Father John Chrysostom,
intercede before the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls!


Having received divine grace from heaven,
with your mouth you teach all men to worship the Triune God.
All-blest and venerable John Chrysostom,
we worthily praise you, for you are our teacher, revealing things divine!


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Icon of the Mother of God "the Merciful"

Commemorated on November 12

The All-Merciful Kykko Icon of the Mother of God: This icon was painted, according to Tradition, by the holy Evangelist Luke. It received its name "Kykkiotisa" from Mount Kykkos, on the island of Cyprus. Here it was placed in an imperial monastery (so designated because it was built with donations from the Emperor), in a church named for it. Before coming to the island of Cyprus, the wonderworking icon of the Mother of God was brought throughout the region by the will of God. At first, it was in one the earliest Christian communities in Egypt, and then it was taken to Constantinople in 980, where it remained in the time of Emperor Alexius Comnenos (end of the eleventh to early twelfth century).

During these years it was revealed to the Elder Isaiah through a miraculous sign, that by his efforts the wonderworking image painted by the Evangelist Luke would be transferred to Cyprus. The Elder exerted much effort to fulfill the divine revelation.

When the icon of the Mother of God arrived on the island, many miracles were performed. The Elder Isaiah was instrumental in building a church dedicated to the Theotokos, and placing the Kykko Icon in it. From ancient times up to the present day, those afflicted by every sort of infirmity flock to the monastery of the Mother of God the Merciful, and they receive healing according to their faith. The Orthodox are not the only ones who believe in the miraculous power of the holy icon, but those of other faiths also pray before it in misfortune and illness.

Inexhaustible is the mercy of the Most Holy Theotokos, Mediatrix for all the suffering, and Her icon fittingly bears the name, the "Merciful." The wonderworking "Kykkiotisa" Icon of the Mother of God possesses a remarkable peculiarity: from what time period is unknown, but it is covered by a half shroud from the upper left corner to the lower right, so that no one is able to see the faces of the Mother of God and the Divine Infant. The depiction of the Mother of God appears to be of the Hodigitria ("Directress") type, as is also the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God. The head of the Mother of God is adorned with a crown.

A copy of this icon is particularly venerated at the women's Nikolsk monastery in the city of Mukachev.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2011(with 2010's link here also and further, 2009, 2008's, even 2007!)