March 31, 2023

THE AKATHIST HYMN (Its Historical - Doctrinal - Symbolic Elements)

By Panagiotis S. Martinis, ThD

Among the solemn services of Great Lent is also included the Service of the Akathist Hymn, this wonderful Hymn to the Mother of God with its many historical, doctrinal and symbolic elements, which make it unparalleled from a literary point of view.

As is well known, many of the events associated with the Mother of God are related to the Queen City of Constantinople, since the Theotokos was its "Champion General" and its overseer.

In particular, the Service of the Akathist Hymn was connected to the Monastery of Blachernae, where, after the siege of the Avars and the Persians, it was chanted at every vigil of the monastery. The composition of this Hymn is attributed to the famous hymnographer of the 6th century, Romanos the Melodist, the creator of the Kontakion.

Synaxarion of the Holy Hieromartyr Hypatios, Bishop of Gangra

St. Hypatios of Gangra (Feast Day - March 31)

 By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite


A woman slays by casting a stone in a vital area,
Hypatios, alas wretched woman!
On the thirty-first Hypatios was carried off to life.
Our Holy Father Hypatios lived during the reign of Constantine the Great from the year 318, and is recognized as one of the God-bearing Fathers of the first synod of Nicaea who gathered together in the year 325. Because of his virtuous and godly conduct, he performed great miracles, and many crowds of unbelievers he brought to Christ, and building a house, he received those of that generation that hastened to him.

One time he caused to vanish those who encircled the land known as Asplanga. When he would walked around at night, he was illuminated by a divine and bright light. And bitter waters he was able to change and make sweet.

March 30, 2023

Faith and Works: An Orthodox Philokalic Perspective (4 of 6)

 ... continued from part three.

4. The Negative and Positive Dimension of the Ascetic Struggle

We now continue with the Orthodox position, as it is expressed through the Philokalic experience. Good works or, to express ourselves in the philological idiom, "acts" (praxis) as "work of the commandments" are not meritorious; however, they are certainly not useless or unprofitable. However, the "act" or good works are understood divinely and Christ-centeredly within a charismatic context as manifestations of "faith by grace" (Gregory of Sinai). In fact, Saint Mark appears to recognize a primarily negative function for them, in the sense that every virtue (even the death of the Martyrs!) is understood as a "prison of the purity given to us (meaning in Baptism)" and therefore as a free "abstinence from sin" and certainly not as "an exchange for the Kingdom".

Homily on Being Absent-Minded During Prayer (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On Being Absent-Minded During Prayer
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 10, 1948 - Saturday of the 4th week of Great Lent)

Many times before and until now I have been asked and continue to be asked how to learn to pray, how to get rid of absent-mindedness during prayer. They say that during prayer, everything distracts and disperses the mind, even a ray of light falling on the icon distracts from prayer and the splendor of the hierarchal worship. They say, "We can't concentrate, we can't pray properly." And they ask you to teach them.

Is it simple? Oh no, it's not at all easy. What are they asking me to teach? The greatest, most astounding, most difficult of all human affairs. For what is prayer, real prayer? This is a direct communication of the human spirit with God.

Well, if you understand prayer in this way, I will give you the main and most important answer to the question of how to get rid of absent-mindedness. I will tell you that if prayer is communion with God, then one must be worthy of this communion, one must be capable of it. But is it possible for a person who is always in the bustle of the world, who hardly, rarely remembers God, a person mired in passions, lusts and sins - how can such a person easily and simply enter into communion with God?

March 29, 2023

Homily on Being a Servant and Child of God (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On Being a Servant and Child of God
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 6, 1947 - Tuesday of the 4th week of Great Lent)

“For God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). He gave for our salvation, gave in order to deliver us from our sins, to deliver us from unrighteousness, from our uncleanness. The Son of God fulfilled this greatest work, and saved us all, and taught us how we should live, gave us His holy commandments.

Glorify the name of Christ in your hearts! Remember, put this forever in your hearts, that this is the greatest mercy of God. If you do this, you will be intelligent, deeply intelligent, you will know the truth and reality. But it is not enough to know - one must fulfill, one must follow this path, and to follow the path of Christ means to fulfill the commandments of Christ.

March 27, 2023

Second Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 The Wisdom of the World and the Wisdom of a Pure Heart

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

To you, my flock, I will say the words that the Holy Apostle Paul wrote to his Philippian flock, and may you put them in your heart: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9-10).

How to understand this? How should our love grow in knowledge and all discernment? There are two completely different areas of knowledge. One is the one that all scientists are engaged in: they explore nature and everything that happens in it, accumulate vast knowledge of the wisdom of this world, and the other is the one that even people who are completely unlearned reach; to perceive this knowledge, one must only have a pure heart.

The Last Niece of Saint Nikephoros the Leper Has Reposed

The Sacred Metropolis of Kissamos and Selinos sorrowfully announced the death and funeral of Ioanna (Yiannoula) Mandrabazakis, the last living niece of our Venerable Father Nikephoros the Leper, on March 23rd 2023. She was the daughter of the sister of Saint, Smaragdas Nikolakakis, of the Tzanakakis family.

Metropolitan Amphilochios of Kissamos and Selinos noted:

"It is with reverence and emotion that we send off today, on the journey of eternity, our revered eldress Ioanna (Yiannoula) Mandrabazakis, the last living niece of our Holy Father Nikephoros the Leper. Our late sister Yiannoula, as we all knew her, was a graceful and blessed person, with an unfeigned and deep faith in God and a heartfelt devotion to Saint Nikephoruo. Her 'uncle', as she called the Saint, whom she had met and loved through the stories of her late mother, Smaragdas Nikolakakis, of the Tzanakakis family, the sister of Venerable Nikephoros according to the flesh.

March 26, 2023

Homily Three on the Annunciation of the Theotokos (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1957)

The Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos is one of the greatest events in the history of the world, which we now celebrate not only with joy and love, but also with tremulous fear, for this is the “foremost”, that is, the beginning of our salvation.

I will not retell the only great conversation in the history of the world between the Archangel Gabriel and the Blessed Virgin Mary, I will dwell only on the words: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

No one and never, from the creation of the world to the end of it, was born and will not be born like the God-man Jesus Christ. No one has ever been born without a father. Nobody was born and will not be born by the influx of the Holy Spirit. No one has ever been indwelled by the Spirit of God with such complete fullness as He indwelled in the Blessed Virgin Mary. No one was overshadowed by the power of the Most High and no mother's womb was sanctified with such fullness and power as the womb of the Blessed Virgin.

Homily One on the Annunciation of the Theotokos (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 7, 1945)

“Today marks the crowning of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery before all ages. For the Son of God becomes the son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaims the grace.”

Now the great mystery of our Christian faith has been fulfilled, what the holy prophet Isaiah predicted seven hundred years before the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel, which means: 'God is with us'” (Is. 7:14).

Why did this holy prophet say that the Lord would be called Emmanuel, while the Archangel Gabriel, who now greeted the Blessed Virgin Mary, said that She would call His name Jesus? What does this mean? This is explained by the meaning of the name Emmanuel: "God is with us."

First Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent (St. Luke of Simferopol)

From Your Words You Will Be Condemned

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 15, 1945 - 4th Sunday of Great Lent)

Today we celebrate the memory of our venerable father John of the Ladder. Saint John belonged to a very noble family and received a high education for that time, but he despised everything and in his youth he went to Mount Sinai, and lived for forty-five years in the wilderness, at the foot of this mountain.

The Church honors his memory, because he wrote a book of great significance for the entire Christian world, which is called The Ladder. In this book, Saint John expounded the doctrine of all Christian virtues and the means of ascending their steps to perfection. Much could be said about this holy book, but today we will talk about what extremely strongly hinders us on the path to salvation - about the word.

March 25, 2023

Two "Hails" Are the Essence of Romiosini and Modern Hellenism

March 25th marks the fact that two "Hails" are the essence of Romiosini, of modern Hellenism:

"Hail Mary full of grace!"

"Hail, O hail to freedom!"

Two nights fade, and two dawns appear in the air.
Two freedoms merge into the same day.
Two bloodstained freedoms, children of great toil,
the freedom of the Greek and the freedom of man.

                             - Kostis Palamas, poet (+ 1943)

Homily Two on the Annunciation of the Theotokos (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1948)

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).

An ineffable light illuminated the world on this blessed day, the day of the revelation of the deepest mystery, proclaimed at the beginning of the ages to the primordial people by God Himself at the expulsion of them from paradise:  “The seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent.” To this blessed Woman, whose seed was to bruise the head of the serpent, the holy Archangel Gabriel was sent from heaven; was sent in order to announce to Her that the time had come for the fulfillment of the deepest, mysterious prophecy of Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel, which means: God is with us” (Is. 7:14).

The holy Archangel appeared with fear before the One Whom God had chosen from the whole human race, he appeared with an amazing, extraordinary greeting: “Rejoice, you who are full of grace! The Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:29). He called her full of grace... Which woman was ever called "grace", and the holy Angel called her "full of grace".

March 24, 2023

Homily on Praying for Everything You Need (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 Pray for Everything You Need

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 8, 1948 - Thursday of the 4th Week of Great Lent)

Some of you are embarrassed, thinking within yourself: “How dare I turn to the Great and Terrible God with my prayer, with a prayer for everyday troubles and sorrows? Do I dare to disturb the Great God with my petty needs, petty sufferings? Do I dare to ask for all this?”

Whoever thinks so is wrong. Why is it wrong? Because God cares about all people. The world was created by the outpouring of God's love. The love of God is a spiritual energy, a great, precious power, from which all other forces, all forms of physical energy have their origin: both light energy, and thermal, and electrical energy, everything is from this spiritual energy, God's love. And if the whole world was created by the love of God, if God, at the end of each of the six days of creation, reviewed what He had created and said that “everything is good”, if so, is it really all the good that He created, left without His care? Love is characterized by concern for what it is directed to. We have care for everyone we love, we care about them, and God loves the whole world created by Him.

Fifth Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 Fifth Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross

On Patience

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

In the Gospel of Luke we read the deeply important words of Christ: "By your patience you will gain your souls" (Luke 21:19). Oh, our Lord, Lord! What are you saying!? Is the value of the virtue of patience so immense, so immeasurable, that it can even save our souls?

If, according to the word of Christ, patience is so saving, then it can be placed next to the queen of all virtues - humility, next to meekness, and we need to think deeply about the word of the Lord about patience. Let us try, to the extent of our weak mind, to understand the meaning of the words of Christ. To do this, we need to remember that a person consists of a spirit, soul and body, and that everything difficult in our life - illnesses, worldly sorrows, disappointments and insults - we endure everything with this three-part nature of ours - spirit, soul and body. Physical pains, suffering from illnesses, are often perceived to the strongest degree by our soul and spirit. Our brain and entire nervous system are in charge of all normal and painful processes in our body, regulating and coordinating them. And our spirit rules over the soul.

That the Most Holy Theotokos was a Jewess (A Homily of St. Luke of Simferopol)

That the Most Holy Theotokos was a Jewess

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 3, 1947 - Saturday of the 3rd week of Great Lent)

My task - to teach you the basics of the Christian faith - is already difficult in itself; it is made very difficult by the fact that some of you, perhaps even many, are not at all prepared to perceive my words, understand them improperly, and often distort them.

Recently, with extreme surprise, I heard that my words about the Most Holy Theotokos in one of my sermons, in which I said that She was Jewish, struck some of you very unpleasantly. “What, our Most Holy Theotokos is a Jewess!?”

Well, you want her to be Russian? But the Russian people did not yet exist then. If so, then the French will want Her to be French, and the Germans will want Her to be German, the Italians to be Italian. But she was Jewish. They say: “What, and Jesus Christ was a Jew!? So, we, then, worship the Jew crucified on the Cross!?”

March 23, 2023

Mid-Lent: Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross

Just as we have the more well-known Feast of Mid-Pentecost during period of the Pentecostarion, half way between Easter and Pentecost, so also we have the Feast of Mid-Lent, which is the half way point on the third Sunday of Great Lent.

During Matins in the fourth week of Great Lent, we chant the following hymns:

In the middle of the Fast, the all-revered Wood, all are invited to venerate, who worthily come with their passions, to the passion of Christ. Come all you faithful, let us venerate the Wood, the awful mystery.

Midway on the road of the Fast, the day of the carrying of your honorable Cross, was seen by Abraham and he rejoiced, when the mountain was as a tomb, which received Isaac alive, may it please you to also rescue us faithful from the enemy, to partake in your secret Supper, crying out in peace: our Illuminator and Savior, glory to you.

We climbed with painful sorrow the great mountain of fasting and reached the middle of the course. We made the decision to sacrifice everything, small joys and pleasures to appease the Lord, as Abraham hastened with pain but also fear of God to carry out his act of faith. And behold, in the middle of the mountain of sacrifice, we see the Cross and on it the Lord saying to us: "Behold! Rejoice because I sacrificed myself for you and freed you from tyranny and I become an gracious to those who follow me!"

And thus strengthened and filled with the joy that Abraham had on that day of his redemption, we look, not far off now to the glorious Day of Resurrection to shine forth and espouse the common Hope.

History and Purpose of Mid-Lent

On March 21, 629, Tuesday of the fourth week of Great Lent, the emperor Heraclius handed over the holy Cross that the Persians had stolen to Saint Modestos, Patriarch of Jerusalem. Then the Feast of the Veneration of the Cross was instituted for the third Sunday of Great Lent. (cf. St. Savvas 366 anthology 13th cent. f. 22v.)

On the special day of Mid-Lent, the veneration of the Cross and a vigil took place, according to the Evergetis Typikon of Constantinople in the 12th century. The kontakion of this day foreshadows what is to come on Great Friday:

No longer does the flaming sword guard the gate of Eden, for a marvelous quenching is come upon it, even the Tree of the Cross. The sting has been taken from death, and the victory from Hades. And, You, my Savior, has appeared unto those in Hades saying: Enter again into Paradise.

Setting up the Cross in the middle of Great Lent, as we struggle in the stadium of virtues with ascetic toil and fasting, we withdraw to remember what the purpose is all about, to carry our cross and be crucified with Christ as the Lord carried His and voluntary offered Himself as a sacrifice.

A Letter of the Venerable New Martyr Euthymios to His Trainer and Elder Written On the Day of His Martyrdom

In the Life of the Venerable New Martyr Euthymios, we have preserved five letters he wrote on the day of his martyrdom in Constantinople, which took place on Palm Sunday the 22nd of March in the year 1814. 
One of these letters is addressed to his trainer and elder Akakios, who trained and prepared him to face his voluntary martyrdom, since prior to this, while in the world, Euthymios had become a Muslim in Constantinople, even though he was a baptized Orthodox Christian. When he repented of his apostasy, he fled to Mount Athos to confess his sin, become a monk, and under his elder Akakios he trained in extreme ascetic feats to return to Constantinople, publicly renounce Islam, and confess his Christian faith, thereby completing his repentance, which he knew would result in torture and martyrdom. 
Below is the letter he wrote to his trainer and elder Akakios on the day of his martyrdom.

March 22, 2023

Saint Niketas the Confessor of Apolloniada as a Model for our Lives

St. Niketas the Confessor (Feast Day - March 22)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Niketas the Confessor lived in the 8th century AD, when the heresy of iconoclasm prevailed and those who remained steadfast in the Orthodox faith and venerated and honored the holy icons were persecuted. He courageously and boldly professed the Orthodox faith, developing the theology of holy icons, that the icons of Christ, the Most Holy Theotokos and the Saints are not worshiped, but venerated. He was persecuted by the iconoclasts, exiled and suffered many hardships, but he remained "faithful unto death", and received from God, the giver of the prize, "the incorruptible and undefiled crown of confession". He settled on the throne of the Diocese of Apolloniada, which was a city in Bithynia of Asia Minor, and as a Diocese was subject to the Sacred Metropolis of Nicomedia.

Saint Niketas was an excellent scholar of the Holy Scriptures, a skillful handler of discourse and a piercing preacher, a good shepherd of Christ's rational sheep and most merciful, and especially a Confessor of the Orthodox faith.

March 21, 2023

The Plane Tree of the Greek Revolution at the Monastery of Megistis Lavra in Kalavryta

In the Monastery of Megistis Lavra (or Agia Lavra) in Kalavryta, Greece is where, in the middle of March 1821, unknown exactly which day, but probably on March 21st, Metropolitan Germanos of Old Patras (who was born in Dimitsana on March 25, 1771) blessed the weapons of a group of 600 revolutionary fighters, had them take an oath and raised the flag of the revolution and the banner of the struggle, which was the curtain of the Beautiful Gate of the temple. On this curtain was depicted an icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. The call was then repeated by all: "Freedom or Death!"

Before entering the monastery, you will see a huge plane tree, on the trunk of which a marble slab has been placed, which states the following: "Under the historical plane tree, the Sworn Protagonists and their troops of the Greek Revolution gathered with Germanos of Old Patras and after making a prayer to God for the success of their struggle, with the Sacred Banner as a flag they set out to occupy Kalavryta on March 21, 1821. Similarly, here were found in the Monastery the fathers that were killed by the German invaders on December 14, 1943."

March 20, 2023

Homily on the Veneration of the Honorable and Life-Giving Cross (St. Theodore the Studite)

Homily on the Veneration of the Honorable and Life-Giving Cross

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Great Lent

By St. Theodore the Studite

The present day is a day of joy and gladness, because now a sign of joy is offered. Now a hymn of praise and confession is heard, because the most holy tree appears. O, most precious gift! Look what a radiance before your eyes! This is not the tree of the simultaneous knowledge of good and evil, like the one in Eden; no, this tree is completely magnificent and beautiful both for the look and for the taste. For this tree gives us life, and not death, enlightens us, and does not darken, leads us into Eden, and does not drive us out of it. This tree, on which Christ ascended, as a king on his chariot, struck the devil, who had the power of death, freeing the human race from heavy slavery: This tree is exactly the one on which the Lord, being wounded, like a warrior during a battle, in the feet, and in the divine ribs, he healed the ulcers of sin, that is, our nature, struck by the evil dragon. And, if another praise should be added, this tree is the one to which the blood of the Lord has flowed out to give such invincible power that demons are cast down by it and the world is enlightened.

March 19, 2023

Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (St. John Maximovitch)

 By St. John Maximovitch

“We Venerate Your Cross, Master.”

Why do we venerate the Cross of the Lord? What is the Cross of the Lord?

The Cross of the Lord is a weapon.

The Cross of the Lord saved us from eternal death. In paradise, man wanted to become equal to God, and he succumbed to the temptation of the devil. When he allowed this thing into his heart, he lost reverence and love, violated the commandment of the Lord. Then paradise closed for him in reality. The man was proud, he believed Lucifer, who dreamed of being equal to the Son of God. The devil was cast out of heaven by the Archangel Michael. Man believed the devil - the tempter - and wanted to equal himself with God. He thought, i.e. He didn’t think, but suddenly the thought came to him: what is it worth eating from that tree - I will know everything and will be perfect like God, perfect not in His properties, but in strength and power. But as soon as a man dreamed about this, as soon as he exalted himself, he immediately fell into the abyss. He fell away from God, became mortal. Now the door to the sweetness and beauty of paradise was closed, the Kingdom of Heaven was closed to him.

Fourth Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 23, 1952 - Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross)

"Comfort, comfort my people."

These are the words of the ancient great prophet Isaiah, words addressed to us, your shepherds, for it is our duty not only to teach you, not only to show the path of Christ, but to show you our heartfelt love and care for you.

And I love you, the flock given to me by God, as the people closest to me, but don’t I know how many sorrows you have, how many tears, shouldn’t I comfort you?

And I will try to fulfill this on this day, the great day of veneration of the cross of Christ.

March 18, 2023

Third Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1954)

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon You and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

I know, I know how burdened you are with life and work, how much peace you need. Let us go to Him, our Savior, Who calls us, let us learn from Him - and we will find the only true and blissful peace.

Let us learn from Him humility, which was so clearly manifested already at His birth in the cattle pen, in the manger of Bethlehem.

Let us think about what persecutions He was subjected to throughout His life: already as a newborn baby He escaped to Egypt from Herod, who wanted to kill Him.

March 17, 2023

Homily on Saint Alexios the Man of God (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"Who will separate us from the love of God" (Rom. 8:35).

You, listeners, no doubt know how the Venerable Alexios the Man of God lived and was saved. The son of wealthy and noble parents, having renounced all worldly joys and pleasures, who was most innocent and sinless in his flourishing youth, he voluntarily became a beggar - he drank, ate, dressed like a beggar, lived and was treated like the beggars, and so lived for more than thirty years, enduring from everyone all sorts of insults and bitterness, scolding and ridicule.

Rare people are given from God the grace of a life like him; and people like him, one might say, have been in our teaching for centuries. What can we learn from Alexios the Man of God?

March 15, 2023

The "Hagiorite Tome" of Saint Gregory Palamas

The "Hagiorite Tome"
 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

1. Introduction

St. Gregory Palamas was a true Hagiorite. He lived a large part of his life on the Holy Mountain, was connected with the holy Fathers who lived the ascetic life with him, and therefore expressed the experience of the Hagiorite Fathers, which in reality is the experience of the Orthodox Church.

As we see from other writings of St. Gregory, there were hesychastic Fathers living on the Holy Mountain who were preserving the essence of the monastic and Christian life, which is participation in the purifying, illuminating and deifying energy of God. It is in this light that we should look at the important role of the Hagiorite Fathers in presenting the orthodox theology about the essence and energy of God and about participation in divine energy.

March 12, 2023

Homily for the Second Sunday of Great Lent: For the Life of the World (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 Homily for the Second Sunday of Great Lent:
For the Life of the World

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

No matter how often you are in the temple during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, knowledge of the most important and most holy part of the great mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ is inaccessible to you, for it is performed by the priest secretly, with the royal gates closed, and only individual exclamations of the priest reach your ears.

But it is important for you to know that with the royal doors closed, when the choir sings “We sing hymns to you, we bless you ...”, by the infusion and action of the Holy Spirit, through the prayer of the priest, the great mystery of the Transubstantiation of bread and wine into the true Body and Blood of Christ for the life of the world is performed.

March 11, 2023

Homily for the Second Sunday of Great Lent: The Teachings of Christ and the Teachings of Men (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 Homily for the Second Week of Great Lent:
The Teachings of Christ and the Teachings of Men

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

If on the first Sunday of Great Lent, as you remember, the Holy Church triumphed at the affirmation of Orthodoxy by Seven Ecumenical Synods, then on the second Sunday she honors the memory of Saint Gregory Palamas, the great defender of Orthodoxy.

He lived in the 14th century, almost six centuries after the last Ecumenical Synod. He received a comprehensive education, was close to the Byzantine Emperor and served with him, but then left court life and retired to Mount Athos, for his soul strove for constant and inseparable communion with God. In his days, blasphemy arose against monasticism, and especially against the monks of Athos, who were reviled for devoting their entire lives only to serving God, contemplating God and praying.

Holy Synod of the Church of Albania: "A Pan-Orthodox response is required as soon as possible"

On the occasion of recent publications on the Internet, the Church of Albania clarifies that it will not be drawn into the method of counter-complaints, rebuttals, insults, inaccuracies and slanders, as attempted by incompetent laymen on Internet sites.

The Albanian Orthodox Church, therefore, declares in all directions that it is not prepared to publicize on the internet and in general in the mass media its opinions and judgments, regarding the attitude and behavior of other local Orthodox Churches and their Primates.

March 10, 2023

Homily on the Friday of the First Week of Great Lent - The Fight Against the Passions (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 Homily on the Friday of the First Week of Great Lent

The Fight Against the Passions

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on February 24, 1950)

"When we fast bodily, brethren, we fast spiritually." Let us delve into these words, for they explain the purpose and importance of fasting.

What are fasts for? To teach us to abstain. Abstain from what? Directly - to abstain from hearty and tasty food, but the importance of fasting does not end there: this is only a bodily fast, and it should be a way for us to learn about spiritual fasting. What is a spiritual fast? This is abstinence from everything harmful to us, from everything that corrupts our soul, that is, from the passions that underlie all our sins. The Holy Fathers distinguished eight main passions: gluttony, fornication, avarice, anger, sorrow, despondency, vanity and pride. Why is the passion of gluttony placed first? Because the one who does not conquer this lower, animal passion, will not be able to conquer all other passions.

A Homily on Repentance (St. John Maximovitch)

By St. John Maximimovitch

“Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life!”

Repentance is expressed by the Greek word "metanoia". In a literal sense, this means changing your mind, your thoughts. In other words, repentance is a change in one's disposition, one's way of thinking, a change in a person within himself.

Repentance is a revision of one's views, a change in one's life.

How can it happen? Just as when someone enters a dark room that becomes illuminated by the sun's rays: while he was looking at the room in the dark, it seemed to him in one form, but he did not see much that was there, and did not even imagine what was really in there. Many things seemed to him completely different from what they really are. He had to move carefully, as he did not know where the obstacles were. But now, the room has become bright, he sees everything clearly and moves freely.

The same thing happens in the spiritual life.

March 9, 2023

Homily on the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 9/22, 1945)

Today we celebrate the memory of the glorious martyrs of Sebaste.

It was a long time ago, in the fourth century. They were soldiers of the Roman army and professed Christianity. The head of the army demanded that they renounce Christ. They refused, and then they stripped them naked and drove them into the lake. It was a dank March night, the lake was covered with ice, and a cold wind was blowing. For temptation, a bathhouse was built on the shore. The holy martyrs stood in the water until midnight, courageously enduring torment. Only one of them could not stand it and ran to the bath, but on the threshold he fell dead.

Bryana the Nun and the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

At the Monastery of Savvathianon in Crete, there is a nun named Bryana who is an iconographer. Once, when she thought she had completed an icon of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, who are the patron saints of their katholikon, unknowingly she only depicted 39 martyrs instead of 40. As she looked at the icon that afternoon and wondered if it was good or not, suddenly a knock was heard at the door of her cell. Opening the door, she saw a young man who introduced himself as Severian. She greeted him and asked him to wait a moment before she came out to see him. When she returned to speak with the young man who was unknown to her, he was nowhere to be found. After inquiring about him, she realized that the young man who introduced himself as Severian was one of the Forty Martyrs she had forgotten to depict.

With the Forty Martyrs We Also Have Forty Intercessors

By Elder Gabriel,
Abbot of the Monastery of the Venerable David in Evia

(Delivered during Great Vespers on March 8, 2021)

Forty are the Martyrs. Their intercessions are also forty now and we ask them with faith, with fervor, with humility, to beg the Lord on our behalf even in this period in which we live, with so many difficulties and so many trials, and for them to help us, in their turn and for their part, that we may be given faith, strength, patience and the determination that we each bear our own Cross, but also the general Cross that we all bear.

And if, with the Grace of God, we succeed then we too will each receive a place there in the Kingdom of God, when the time will come for each of us, and we pray this through the intercessions of our Panagia, our Saint David, our Saint Iakovos, the prayers of our Holy Elder Kyrillos, that all of you and all of us will succeed in this. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

March 8, 2023

Seismic Problems (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

We watched with deep pain the earthquakes that occurred in Turkey and Syria. Every earthquake creates problems, causes pain, but this earthquake, which had a large extent and intensity, created many problems for us.

From what was written about these earthquakes in the newspapers, I singled out what the "leading seismologist" Euthymis Lekkas said, from what he himself experienced during his seven-day stay with the Greek mission at the site of the disaster, and what he told the journalist Katerina Rovva (NEA, 2/13/2023).

Euthymis Lekkas is President of the Earthquake Protection Organization and Professor of Geology at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens.

Fifth Homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On Iconoclasm

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 26, 1950)

Holy Orthodoxy, having conquered all heresies, was established forever.

Many false teachers and schismatic or heretical teachers have risen since ancient times. There were heresies that shook the Church for centuries, such as the heresies of Arius, Macedonius, Eutychius, Dioscorus, Nestorius, and the iconoclastic heresy. They brought an innumerable, the gravest sufferings to the Church, and there were many confessors and martyrs who shed their blood for true Orthodoxy in the struggle against these false teachers and heretics. Many great saints were exiled, some were even deprived of their office several times. Saint Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, at what was called a "robber synod", and headed by the heretic Dioscorus, was beaten so hard that he died three days later.

The iconoclastic heresy was one of the fiercest. It began under the emperor Leo the Isaurian, who came to the throne in 717. He was a protege of the army and completely dependent on them, and in the army there were many opponents of the veneration of holy icons. Wanting to please the army, he began a cruel persecution of the Orthodox.

Homily on the First Sunday of Great Lent (St. John Maximovitch)

 By St. John Maximvotich

(Delivered on March 7/20, 1954)

Great Lent — all of its services are united by the idea of preparing for Holy Pascha, to meet the risen Christ with a clean heart.

Why do we prepare in this manner? What is Pascha? Pascha is a taste of the joy of paradise! What is this joy? It is that we see God and His glory!

The Church loves the glory of the Lord! When she celebrates the Triumph of Orthodoxy, she keeps the festival of the day of the restoration of the veneration of icons.

March 7, 2023

Saint Ephraim of Antioch as a Model for our Lives

 By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Ephraim lived in the 6th century AD. He came from the city of Amida, which is located near the Tigris River. He was count of Antioch, in the years of Emperor Justin of Thrace. For his education, and above all for his virtue, he was elected Patriarch of Antioch, and he fought, as Saint Photios the Patriarch of Constantinople says in his work "Myriobiblos", with all his might against the heresy of Monophysitism. With his fiery sermons and his powerful written word, as well as with the miracles he performed with the power of the Triune God, he managed to convert many Monophysites to the Orthodox faith. Among them was an austere monk, who was sitting on a pillar. Therefore, he visited the Stylite monk with the aim of helping him to renounce the heresy and confess the Orthodox faith, so that he would not lose the labors of his strict and long-term asceticism.

What Does It Mean To Be An Orthodox Christian? (St. John Maximovitch)

Orthodox Christianity
By St. John Maximovitch

Soon after the spread of the teachings of Christ among the pagans, those who believed in Christ and became His followers began to be called Christians in Antioch.

The word Christian indicated that the one who bore that name had given himself to Christ, belonged to Him in his heart, and would follow His teachings.

The name Christian, which well defined the essence of the followers of Christ, entered their hearts, and calling themselves Christians, from Antioch the name quickly spread everywhere. Christians cherished that name, being glad to call themselves by the name of their beloved Teacher and Lord. Often, when asked what their name is, Christians answered that their name was "Christian."

March 6, 2023

Fourth Homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On the Beatitudes

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 27, 1949 - Sunday of Orthodoxy)

We talked about the fact that a terrible iron chain is forged by the devil from our passions, which descends deep, deep into the very abyss, dragging along those who, without practicing abstinence, give free rein to their passions. Now my discourse is about another chain, golden and holy, which is forged for us by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. I called her golden, but this name is insignificant for her, for she is immeasurably, infinitely more precious than gold. This chain will easily lift us up, to the very Throne of God. What are the links in this chain? Those commandments of beatitude that you hear at every Liturgy and must keep deeply in your heart.

The Triumph of Orthodoxy and the Meaning of "Anathema" (St. John Maximovitch)

The Triumph of Orthodoxy

By St. John Maximovitch

The Triumph of Orthodoxy was established in the 9th century under the Patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Methodios, after the final victory over Iconoclasm, as a triumph of victory over all false teachings-heresies. Orthodoxy is pure Christianity, without introducing human inventions into it. It is based on Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition coming from the apostles, sent by the Son of God Himself after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them to preach the Truth to all nations. Later, the Ecumenical Synods and the Holy Fathers of the Church only established what was in agreement with Holy Scripture and the teaching of the Holy Apostles.

March 5, 2023

Survivor of the Deadly Train Collision in Tempi, Greece Attributes His Survival and Ability to Help Others to Saint Luke of Simferopol

A passenger train carrying more than 350 people and a freight train were in a head-on collision on Tuesday evening, February 28th, in Tempi, near the city of Larissa. The death toll is at 57.

March 3, 2023

The 20-year-old student studying commercial engineering, Michalis Klapsis from Leipsoi, speaking on T. Stefanidou's "T-Live" show today, attributed to Saint Luke of Simferopol the Physician and to his icon of him that he always has with him his salvation in the carnage in Tempi, but also that he was found worthy to help and save his fellow human beings, among them a baby. 
"Everything I did I did thanks to him," he declared "... the strength I got to do all this, I believe my patron Saint Luke the Physician gave me because I always carry his icon with me."

Sermon on the Sunday of Orthodoxy (St. John Maximovitch)

 By St. John Maximovitch

In the midst of two thieves, Thy Cross was found to be
a balance of justice; for the one was borne down to hades
by the weight of his blasphemy; the other was raised up
from his sins to the knowledge of theology.
O Christ our God, glory be to Thee.

(Doxastikon of the Ninth Hour)

This is what is said about the Cross of the Lord. A balance of justice was found between two thieves. Pilate erected three crosses on Golgotha — two thieves and one Life-giver. But only the Cross of the Saviour provided salvation for all mankind, that Cross which stood in the center; it is a weapon of peace, an invincible victory — victory over the devil and victory over death. As for the two remaining crosses, one was soul-saving for the one who hung on it, while the other was for the second thief a ladder to hades.

Third Homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On the Fate of Heretics
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 25, 1945 - Sunday of Orthodoxy)

On the first Sunday of Great Lent, which is called the week of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the Holy Church celebrates the affirmation and strengthening of the Orthodox faith, victory over the numerous heretics condemned by the Seven Ecumenical Synods.

You know that even in the days of the apostles many false teachers appeared, and their number kept multiplying and multiplying over the centuries. Heretics rebelled, distorting the holy Orthodox faith, introducing their impious changes into the Creed, falsely teaching about the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. And many followed their wickedness, many perished in eternal death.

All this was foretold by the holy apostles. Here is what the Holy Apostle Peter in his second universal epistle says: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” (II Pet. 2:1-2). Also, Saint Paul warned the Ephesian Christians: “I know that after my departure, fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and out of yourselves men will arise who will speak perversely in order to draw disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

March 4, 2023

Open to Me the Door of Repentance, O Giver of Life (St. John Maximovitch)

 By St. John Maximovitch

"Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life."

It is difficult to repent, to change internally, to be reborn. What is needed is a consciousness of the need for change, a desire for it, and grace-filled help is needed. The more consciously and resolutely we begin repentance, the wider we open the doors of the soul, the more successfully we achieve the goal.

An example of such a complete rebirth is St. Mary of Egypt, a sinner known throughout Alexandria since childhood. Where people gathered - there she was for sin. When she was among the pilgrims going to Jerusalem, not for the sake of God but for the sake of entertainment and sin, she confused everyone with her behavior.

March 2, 2023

When Saint Nicholas Planas Healed a 10 Year Old Girl of Typhoid Fever

 By Dr. Kyprianos Christodoulidis

With the New Calendar today, March 2, the memory of Saint Nicholaos Planas is honored. I don't usually refer to miracles that have happened in my personal life. There are many and I've never attributed what I've experienced to chance.

But today, in honor of the celebrating Saint, I will refer to one, which is directly related to the fact that I can convey this narrative to you.

In 1928-30 there was an epidemic of typhoid fever in Athens. There was no treatment then and anyone who knows what typhoid fever means, the progression of the disease is fatal (without treatment) at a very high rate. Many died then. Among the patients was my then 10-year-old mother. She was being treated at our house.

March 1, 2023

As the Great Fast Begins (St. John Maximovitch)

 By St. John Maximovitch

The doors of repentance are opening, Great Lent is coming. It is repeated every year, and each time it will be of great benefit to us if we properly carry it out. Great Lent is a preparation for the future life, and in the closest way, preparation for the Bright Resurrection.

Just as a staircase is arranged in a high building so that it is easy to climb the steps to the height of the building, so the different days of the year are steps for our spiritual elevation and ascent.

These especially include the days of Great Lent and Holy Pascha.

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