Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Holy Zoni (Belt) of the Theotokos to visit Patras, Greece

The Holy Zoni (Belt) of the Theotokos to visit Patras, Greece (source)
The Holy and wondrous Belt (Zoni) of the Theotokos, one of the only treasures of the Theotokos to have survived to our days, and treasured by the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos, will soon make one of its rare trips outside of the Holy Mountain. On Friday November 4th, 2016, the Belt of the Theotokos will be taken to the Church of St. Andrew in Patras, Greece. This is part of the weeks of celebration in honor of St. Andrew First-Called Apostle in the city of Patras, where he was martyred and where his holy relics are treasured to this day. The Belt of the Theotokos will remain until November 9th, 2016.

This is a great and rare blessing for the people of Greece, especially for women, children, and others who cannot visit the Monastery of Vatopedi themselves. Many miracles occur through the Theotokos, especially helping couples that have difficulty having children. Please pass this on to any friends or family and take advantage of this great gift.
Most-holy Theotokos, save us!

"Having the myrrh of Christ within your soul, O Demetrios..."

St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer (source)
Having the myrrh of Christ within your soul, O Demetrios, you poured forth noetically from your members as if from your lips, a free-flowing spring of myrrh, showing you to be a sacred dwelling-place of the grace of the Spirit.

As the divine David cries in the Spirit, the joyous unity of the brethren is as myrrh*, O Glorious One, for your myrrh which is greater, O wise one, the new creation, has gathered into unity

O blessed one, the thirsty Christ picked you, the ripe grape cluster, from the divine vine, and having placed you within wine vat of Martyrdom, you were trampled upon, as he made the divine spring of your myrrh to be as new, sweet wine.
-Excerpts from the Canons of the Matins from the feast of St. Demetrios
*"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments" Psalm 133:1-2
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

St. John of Kronstadt: "God is my strength"

St. John of Kronstadt (source)
I myself am all infirmity and misery. God is my strength. To know this is to me the highest wisdom, making me blessed.
-St. John of Kronstadt, "My Life in Christ"

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

St. Luke the Surgeon on praying ceaselessly

St. Luke the Surgeon, Archbishop of Simferopol (source)
To pray ceaselessly does not mean solely to read prayers, to do prostrations and to go to church. Things aren't like that. We can pray ceaselessly always and wherever we find ourselves. The only thing that we need is for our heart to have a prayerful disposition. It should be humble and to ceaselessly mourn for its unworthiness and sinfulness. Full of fear [or awe] before the grandeur of God, Whom we insult with our sins. If our heart is thus, then we will always be in prayer, at work and at home.
-St. Luke the Surgeon

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

St. John Chrysostom: "Unspeakable is the power of the Cross..."

The Crucifixion of Christ (source)
"Unspeakable is the power of the Cross. For that being actually in the midst of horrors, He should have shown Himself above all horrors; and being in the enemy's hold should have overcome; this comes of Infinite Power. For as in the case of the Three Children, their not entering the furnace would not have been so astonishing, as that having entered in they trampled upon the fire—and in the case of Jonah, it was a greater thing by far, after he had been swallowed by the fish, to suffer no harm from the monster, than if he had not been swallowed at all—so also in regard of Christ; His not dying would not have been so inconceivable, as that having died He should loose the bands of death. Say not then, why did He not help Himself on the Cross? for He was hastening on to close conflict with death himself. (See Hooker, E. P. v. 48. 9.) He descended not from the Cross, not because He could not, but because He would not. For Him Whom the tyranny of death restrained not, how could the nails of the Cross restrain?"
-St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

St. Phanourios, the mighty Colossus of Rhodes

St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed (source)
Ye faithful, come let us extol in song the mighty Colossus that rose up in the Isle of Rhodes, who wondrously doth stand astride the ages, alive forever in Christ as a God by grace.
-from the Canon to St. Phanourios the Great Martyr

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Homily on Christ Walking Upon the Water, by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes (+2010)

Christ walking on the water (source)
Homily on Christ Walking Upon the Water (Gospel Reading of the Ninth Sunday of St. Matthew), by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes (+2010)
A school, my beloved, our Church is a school. Our teacher is Christ. We are all students, small and great. And our book? The Gospel, greater than all the books of the world. What did we hear in today's Gospel? What does it say? It relates one of the countless wonders which our Lord worked, which He works, and which He will continue to work until the close of the ages. What is the wonder?
In the Holy Lands there is a lake, which exists to this day. In this lake, the Disciples of Christ were sailing one night in a small boat. In the beginning, the sea was peaceful. But later the wind began to blow stronger and stronger. Waves were lifted up, great waves. During the night, the clouds had covered the sky, not even one star was visible. The ship was in danger. All were afraid. And where was Christ? He was not in the boat like other times. He was far away on a mountain. He was not sleeping, He was keeping vigil. All night below the stars He conversed with His heavenly Father. He was praying for the whole world.
Let me make an observation. Christ kept vigil. How much does this censure us! If we said that we were serving a vigil today, how many would come? I gave the order to serve vigils in our region. In our city, how many came? About two-hundred women and men, and a few tens of children. The rest? Sleeping, or more likely watching television. And you expect prosperity?
Let me return to the topic. That night that the Disciples were in danger, Christ was missing. And as if their fear was not enough, straightaway they saw upon the wild waves something like a ghost, and they were even more terrified. In a short time however they confirmed that it was not a ghost, it was our Lord Jesus Christ, and He was walking upon the waters. “It is I”, He told them, “Do not fear.” (Matthew 14:27) Then Peter says: “If it is you, O Lord, tell me to come towards you.” And Christ told him to do so. Immediately Peter stepped upon the waves and began to walk as if on dry land, like it was a steady road. But as he approached Christ, a wave came. Peter's eye left Christ, and he looked at the wave, and was shaken. He began to sink, and was going to be drowned, and cried out loudly: “O Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30) Then, Christ extended His hand, grabbed him, and told him: “O man of little faith! Why did you doubt?”(Matthew 14:31) Afterwards, Christ also entered the boat, and as soon as he stepped foot on the hull, the wind and the waves ceased. The Disciples were finally safe. They knelt and worshiped Him, saying: “Truly, You are the Son of God!”
This wonder teaches us many things. I will only say one thing, that this life that we are living is like a sea. From the day that we are born until we die, however many years that we life, life is like a journey on the sea. And like the sea is not always peaceful, but frequently lifts up waves and sinks ships, thus is also our life. Here, a short time ago there was a storm in the Atlantic. A whole boat was sunk and many people drowned. Like the sea can create storms and endanger men, thus is our life. Life has many dangers, it has many wild waves.
What are the waves? The various misfortunes of human life. They say that the baby, as soon as it leaves its mother's womb, cries. What does this mean? This is a foretaste, that our life is weeping, a “valley of wailing” (Psalms 83:7) It enters another world, into a sea with waves, and it senses its weakness. How can we count the waves after waves?
One wave is illness. Once, I remember a bright child came to the metropolis from northern Epirus. His father was weeping, his mother was crying, because the child could not hold his head up, he could not stand up straight, he had weakness. They went to doctors, they went here and there, nothing. You have your head upright, your eyes healthy, your ears healthy, your heart healthy, everything is healthy. Do you say thank you, or do you remain indifferent? Health is a great thing. Have you lost your health? Woe, here is a wave, a great wave of trials.
And another wave comes: poverty. Do you know what it means, to come home at noon and to not have anything to eat? Have you ever been hungry? You have not. Beforehand, children would die in the streets. They had nothing to eat. They were skeletons. And not, down in Africa, they are dying like flies. They don't have bread. And when someone brings them a little food, they fight to split it. There are places where they are suffering, and if you threw them an orange—which we throw into the trash many times—a hundred children would fight like lions for an orange, and we eat them by the handful. How thankless we are! God gives us all of our good things.
The youth, who will year this, they will tell you: “We are fine...” Yes, my beloved children, to this point you are fine, because you have just entered the sea of life. You haven't had great waves, which test us adults. You have little waves. What are the little waves? For example, problems with school lessons, the struggle during test season, the danger of misfortune. The newspapers wrote that a young girl failed her exams, and committed suicide. She did not have faith, and she was left to drown by a little wave.
Young people and children, ask your grandparents, they will tell you what they went through, what wild waves hit them. And they however were not shaken, because they believed in God. You, however, are still “mommy's boys”. You have just exited into a wave. Think about what is taking place in the world. Now you have “mommy” to look after you, and you have “daddy” to feed you. If—God-forbid--your mother or father died, you would see a terrible strike, the wave of orphanhood. How many orphans there are!
Later you will grow older and get married. You young lady, do you think that getting married will save your whole situation? What if your husband is crude, will you have patience? Another calamity is the evil match, another wave. Once, a woman came to the metropolis, battered, scratched. She was bleeding from her wounds. Her husband got drunk and struck her all night, and she called the police and ran to the metropolis. I felt sorry for her. A terrible wave is the harsh tongue of a husband, cursing and the slander of evil relatives.
You say, I will get married, I will take a good man. But at one point your husband might die. Widowhood! Do you know what it means to remain without your spouse, without your protector?
Therefore, sickness is a wave, poverty is a wave, misfortune is a wave, orphanhood is a wave, an evil spouse is a wave, widowhood is a wave, and so are the various situations of life, like slander and divisions, etc. However, a wave for the whole society are the general adversities and natural disasters, floods, droughts, etc. All of these are waves.
But I haven't yet said the greatest wave. What is it? It is sin, which we do not think about. Sin comes and strikes us, to sink the little ship of our soul, to cause us to drown. This is the most terrible wave.
What is needed? Prayer. Save us, O Lord! Let us have faith in God, and from this we will take courage. And even if in this world we are left without mother or father, even if we fall into orphanhood or widowhood, even if we are tried by hunger or thirst, even if we are found in the desert with wild beasts, or in a terrible society of injustice and indifference, even if there were an earthquake or flood, even if the earth filled with scorpions and snakes, and even if the stars begin to fall, and the earth is risen up, and if the sun were quenched, let us not loose hope. “And if nothing would remain for me within this world, where would I go, where would I stand? There on high is my God, so how could I loose hope?” Let us not be false Christians. Let us entreat God to array us with unshakable faith. Then, whatever dangers will find us, we will remain unshaken upon the rock of faith. Amen.
+Bishop Avgoustinos
(Delivered in the Holy Church of St. George Protis—Florina, 8/5/90, translated from source)
Christ walking upon the waters (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!