April 30, 2023

First Homily for the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 20, 1945)

On this third Sunday after Pascha, the Holy Church remembers and glorifies the holy Myrrhbearing women, the first witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ, because the Lord was pleased that they were the first to see Him risen from the dead.

Who were these holy women? Why are they called Myrrhbearers? They loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all their hearts, served Him with their care for all His material needs, learned together with the apostles, listened to His holy discourses; to some extent, they can even be called female apostles: one of them, the first and most ardent, Mary Magdalene, is called Equal-to-the-Apostles.

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2002 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 "Enduring the cross and abolishing death and rising from the dead, grant peace to our lives, O Lord, for You alone are the almighty."

My beloved brethren,

The events of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, which are the greatest world events, because they are connected with the rebirth of people and the renewal of the entire creation, took place twenty centuries ago in Jerusalem, which for all Christians is a beloved city. There are kept all the sacred places which are connected with the life of Christ, there is the terrible Golgotha, the happy tomb of Christ and in general Jerusalem and Palestine are the city and the land on which Christ walked during His earthly life, but also there He revealed and continues to reveal His glory.

1962 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

 Christ is Risen!

“Your resurrection, Christ the Savior, angels sing in heaven, and grant us on earth a pure heart to glorify You.”

Now everything is filled with light, the sky, the earth and the underworld, the whole creation rejoices and is glad. The earth rejoices, freed from the curse for the sin of Adam. The heavens rejoice, seeing Him who descended from them to earth, now ascending from the underworld and leading out those who were languishing there. Angels sing, glorifying the Conqueror of death, their Creator, now visible. All creatures praise the Lord, all the forces of nature. Each of them sings in their own way and extols the Risen One. Something unusual is happening all over the world. The sacred and saving night is replaced by the luminiferous Great Day.

April 28, 2023

Miracles of the Panagia of the Life-Giving Spring at Longovarda Monastery in Paros: Miracle 3 (Elder Philotheos Zervakos)


3. Another miracle happened during the blockade in 1917,* when there was no wheat on the island** due to the blockade by the Anglo-French. Many of the poor of the island and the refugees took refuge in our Sacred Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring at Longovarda; the majority of rich people, in such circumstances, hide the wheat in order to sell it at inflated prices for profit. The Fathers of the Monastery, feeling sorry for the hungry, provided everyone with bread for food and other supplies that the Monastery had. Then it was time to marvel at the miracles of the Life-Giving Spring, because while the Fathers were giving one by one to those who came and the grain was scarce, but according to the calculations of some who were weak in faith, the grain in the storehouse would soon be exhausted, others on the other hand believed the All-Immaculate Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring with her blessings would prove it inexhaustible. The wheat did not run out, but was preserved to the astonishment and admiration of those who saw it until the new harvest. But what can I say? The Sacred Monastery has shown to be an unfathomable and inexhaustible river. For who, poor or widowed, or orphaned or sick or suffering, either physically or mentally, coming to the Monastery with faith does not receive their request? All become healthy, both of soul and body enjoying health, they leave giving thanks to the Mother of God and recounting the multitude of her miracles.

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2001 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

After forty days of fasting, prayer and spiritual struggle, we arrived at the day of Pascha, which is the feast of the Resurrection of Christ, "the feast of feasts and celebration of celebrations." The Resurrection of Christ is the supreme event of the mystery of Christ's incarnation, a central event in the festive cycle of our Church that defines the entire ecclesiastical year.

The Orthodox Church is and is called the Church of the Resurrection, because the Resurrection of Christ determines our lives both in the present and in the future. The Apostle Paul clearly says: "If Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain" (1 Cor. 10:17). And in the Catechetical Discourse of Saint John Chrysostom, which we read in the Resurrection Divine Liturgy, among other things it says: "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep."

1961 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

 Christ is Risen!

"Proclaim, O earth, the glad tidings of great joy, 
and ye heavens, praise the glory of God." 
"The Angel cried to the Lady full of grace: Rejoice, O pure Virgin!"

What kind of joy does the Archangel announce? About the one that the whole earth is called to evangelize. The Son of God, the Son of the Virgin, empties Himself, and therefore Gabriel preaches grace.

But now, on the day of the Annunciation, the Virgin weeps bitterly, seeing her Son crucified on the Cross. Where is the joy when the Son Himself cries out: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”

April 27, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2000 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

The Orthodox Church is and is called the Church of the Resurrection, because it is closely connected with the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ. The Resurrection is a historical event, which is confirmed by the testimonies of various historians, but mainly by the testimonies of eyewitnesses and people who sacrificed their own lives because of this event. The Apostles and the Myrrhbearing women saw Christ, heard Him and some of them touched Him. And, of course, they then gave their personal testimony about Him.

Christ after His Resurrection did not appear to His crucifiers and enemies to miraculously confirm His value. He could have done this to prove His divinity. But Christ has no need of worldly means to prevail. Christ appeared to His Disciples and the Myrrhbearing women, because they had properly prepared to see Him and thus this vision became life for them. According to the teaching of the holy Fathers of the Church, the vision of God and the presence of the Risen Christ is reached by the person who has previously been purified and illumined by the Grace of God, because he is able to withstand the sight of His great light.

1959 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

 Christ is Risen!

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Let us rejoice and be glad now. Let us rejoice, for Christ is risen from the dead.

Just as the bright rays of the sun disperse the darkness after a dark night, so the Risen Christ destroys the darkness of our souls!

Once upon a time, Adam, who had sinned, plunged into spiritual darkness. He ate from the tree, about which God told him: “On the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Outwardly, Adam did not die on that day, but spiritually death came for him then.

The seal of death fell on him, the joy of communion with God, the Source of Life, disappeared. Sorrow fell on his heart, sorrows began to overwhelm his soul. His spirit carried the seed of death until finally his body died and his soul descended into hades.

Holy New Martyr Noultsos of Kastoria and Those With Him (+ 1696)

St. Noultsos of Kastoria (Feast Day - April 27)

Noultsos, a faithful Christian about whom we do not have much information, lived in the 17th century and was from Kastoria.

According to a codex at the Metropolis of Kastoria written by the hand of Metropolitan Dionysios Mantoukas of Kastoria (1694-1719), who was from Moschopolis in Northern Epirus: "In 1696, April 21, Noultsos with his brother and his son-in-law were hanged, and it was a great kindness to the Christians to see him on the gallows, and they glorified God on the second day because their end was in great glory, and in this way may God grant many such Christians as Noultsos to receive glory."

April 26, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 1999 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

The Resurrection of Christ is a celebration of life, because He offered life to the whole world. That is why we Greeks celebrate this event very brightly. We feel that it is not an ordinary celebration, but the hope of our life. It is a celebration that causes the pain from our soul and life to flee, since it offers a new perspective to our existence.

Indeed, the Resurrection of Christ created a new perspective for man, opened the horizons of his thinking and life. It is not only an event that refers to Christ, but also extends to mankind, since it is effectively connected to man's salvation. This can be seen from the gifts that the Risen Christ gave to His disciples, and of course to all people.

When He appeared to His disciples who were locked in the upper room for fear of the Jews, He gave them peace: "Peace be with you" (John 6:21) He said to them. The disciples' souls had been seized by fear from what had previously taken place, that is, from the events that came from the hatred of the Scribes and the Pharisees, from the frivolity, but also the murderousness of the Jewish mob. At the same time they had great insecurity, from the absence of their great Teacher and uncertainty about the future. That is why Christ gave them this great good of peace.

1957 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

Christ is Risen!

“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"

Come, people, let us sing and worship Christ, glorifying His resurrection from the dead.

Today is the salvation of the world: the terrible and hitherto invincible enemy of the human race and the whole world, death, was trampled and defeated.

Man was created immortal, but sin struck him with death.

Many of the first people lived for centuries, but death came for them too.

There were strong men who defeated all opponents, conquered countries and peoples for themselves, but none of them could defeat death.

April 25, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 1998 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

the Sacred Clergy and the pious people
of our Sacred Metropolis

My beloved brethren,

After His Resurrection, Christ appeared to His Disciples and showed them the wounds formed on His body by the spear and the nails of the Cross. This was His mark of recognition.

There is a beautiful image in the Book of the Apocalypse of John which graphically presents the sacrificial work of Christ, that He was crucified on the Cross and then resurrected, thus offering His love to the human race. This is the image of the "slain" Lamb. The Evangelist John says: "And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth" (Rev. 5:6).

1956 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

"Let us cleanse our senses and see through the gleaming, unapproachable light of Christ's Resurrection."

Now is everything filled-full with light — the heavens, the earth, and the underworld. All is presently bathed in light: Christ is risen from the dead. The heavens make merry, the earth rejoiceth, the underworld exulteth.

The Angels in Heaven hymn Thy Resurrection, O Christ-Saviour. Do Thou make us, on earth, also worthy to glorify Thee with a pure heart.

The Angelic Choir, horrified at seeing Its Creator and Master dead, doth now, in joyous song, glorify Him resurrected. Today doth Adam exult, and Eve rejoiceth; and with them do the Prophets and Patriarchs sing worthy songs to the Creator of all and to our Deliverer, Who did descend into the underworld for our sake.

April 24, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 1997 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

Throughout Great Lent, which just passed, the Church prepared us to celebrate, as best as possible, the Passion, the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, in fact to love more the Suffering, Crucified and Resurrected God-man Christ.

From the middle of Great Lent, the apostolic readings of the Sundays came from the Epistle to the Hebrews of the Apostle Paul and referred to the high priestly attribute of Christ. Indeed, Christ, as the High Priest of the New Testament, performed the great sacrifice on Golgotha and rose from the dead. In this way He healed man from sin, which is inherent in man's nature and which caused decay and death, not only in man, but also in the whole creation. With the Cross and His Resurrection, Christ "became perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:8-10).

1955 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

 “If anyone is pious and God-loving, let him enjoy this good and bright celebration.”

Now all is filled with light, heaven and earth and the underworld.

The resurrection of Christ is sung by angels in heaven. Praise the pure hearted people on earth. Today every creature rejoices and is glad, as Christ is risen.

Today Adam rejoices and Eve rejoices.

Now the apostles rejoice, having seen their Teacher resurrected.

The myrrhbearing women rejoice, having found alive Him Whom they considered dead.

All who love Christ rejoice in His rising from the dead.

April 23, 2023

Saint George and the Lord That He Longed For

 By Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol

There is a moving snapshot in the life and martyrdom of the Holy Great Martyr George the Trophy-Bearer, which I really say often but is so important and so telling.

It says in the life of Saint George that among the many tortures endured by this Martyr, this brave Martyr, this diamond of Christ and the Church, a young lad of 20-22 years, they led him to the stadium with a crowd of people who were shouting and saying different things. And what did they do?
They took iron shoes which had nails in them. Think about this, how sometimes a small stone gets into our shoe and we can't walk, it hurts us, we want to take it out, we can't, it's very painful and annoying. He had nails in his iron shoes and they put them in the fire and made them so fiery hot, says his biography, that they became one with the fire. Those shoes were completely red-hot.

The 172 Anonymous Venerable New Martyrs of Panagia Eikosifoinissa Monastery (+ 1507)

In 1472 the retired Saint Dionysios I, Patriarch of Constantinople, made his residence in the Sacred Monastery of Panagia Eikosifoinissa in Serres. During his long stay at the Monastery, he erected many new buildings and repaired old ones. In his time the Monastery acquired great prosperity and glory. Thus, according to information from a chronicle of the 16th century, in the year 1507, 24 hieromonks, 3 hierodeacons and 145 monks lived in the Monastery, i.e. a total of 172. They would go through Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, strengthened Christians in their faith and prevented conversions to Islam. This action of theirs caused the wrath of the Turks, who on April 24, 1507 slaughtered all 172 monks. They did not destroy the temple and the buildings, but the Monastery remained deserted and uninhabited for 13 years.

Homily One for the Sunday of Thomas or Antipascha (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 13, 1945)

Not immediately and with great difficulty did all the holy apostles believe that their Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ, had risen from the dead. Even for them, who had seen more than once how He raised the dead, it was not easy to believe that a dead man, immovable and lifeless, in whom there is neither thought nor feelings, can resurrect Himself. This is much more incomprehensible than the great miracle of the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus (see Mark 5:40–43) or the son of the widow of Nain (see Luke 7:11–15). Later, the holy Apostle Thomas believed in this. It was so difficult for him to fit into his consciousness the amazing fact of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus that he categorically declared: “I will not believe until I put my fingers into the wounds from the nails and my hand into the wound on His side” (see Jn. 20:25).

April 22, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 1996 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Pascha 1996

Pastoral Encyclical


by the mercy of God Bishop and Metropolitan

of the God-saved Sacred Metropolis of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

To the Clergy, Monks and Laity

of our Sacred Metropolis

To the Christ-named Plenitude of our Sacred Metropolis

My beloved,

The Resurrection of Christ, apart from being a great historical event, at the same time has great anthropological, cosmological and global dimensions. Christ, with His Resurrection, ontologically defeated death and gave people the certainty of their resurrection. Thus we understand that death is not a tragic element in human life, but a simple event, just as night is not a permanent state, but a transitory event, since the day succeeds it.

Therefore, with the Resurrection of Christ, the Christian has the possibility to confess: "I expect the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come." This confession is our only hope, the joyous shout of the triumph of victory and glory. That is why the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ is a celebration of life, Bright, Pascha, a passage "from death to life".

1954 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

“Having seen the Resurrection of Christ, let us bow down to the holy Lord Jesus, the Only Sinless One.”

Come, believers, let us venerate the holy Resurrection!

Today is the salvation of the world, let us sing to the Risen One from the grave and the Head of our life!

This day, which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Today all creation rejoices and is glad, for Christ is risen and hades is taken captive.

April 21, 2023

Miracles of the Panagia of the Life-Giving Spring at Longovarda Monastery in Paros: Miracles 1 and 2 (Elder Philotheos Zervakos)

Elder Philotheos Zervakos praying to the Panagia of the Life-Giving Spring in Longovarda
By Elder Philotheos Zervakos

In order to conclude the innumerable miracles of our Lady the Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring, we cite here also the following miracles performed in the Sacred Monastery of Longovarda, before the Life-Giving Spring, in these days.

1. In the first days of the past forty-day fast, of the year 1927, a villager from the village of the island known as Lefkes, whose name is George Rangousis, came here. He begged me for him to bring his 18-year-old son Demetrios to our Sacred Monastery, suffering from paralysis of all his body parts and unable to walk. I, having unwavering faith in the unfailing help of the Theotokos and in the multitude of Her infinite miracles, said to the man: "Go, bring your son to the Monastery, and have faith and hope that the All-Immaculate Lady, the Life-Giving Spring, will heal him." Going from there to the village, he brought his son, for whom we began to repeat the prayers of Basil the Great and Sacred Chrysostom, anointing him with oil from the vigil lamp of the icon of the Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring. O the miracle! After a few days of his sojourn inside, the one who was unable to stand on his feet beforehand now began to walk freely, praising and blessing God and the All-Praised Theotokos, the Life-Giving Spring, who provided him with healing, soul and body. He is now in our Monastery working in the shoemaker's shop (he happens to be a shoemaker) and he will leave for his homeland to the joy and gladness of his parents, who have spent a lot on doctors for the treatment of their son without benefit.

1947 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

 Christ is Risen!

“This is the appointed and holy day, the first Sabbath of the king and Lord, the feast of feasts and the festival of festivals.”

There are days in the year that the Lord elevated and sanctified (Sir. 33:9), days honored by people for great deeds and glorious events done in them.

But none of them can compare with the Bright Day of Christ's Resurrection.

On this day, the innocently condemned Teacher has risen from the dead, the Savior of the world has risen from the tomb.

On this day, death is mortified, the fruits of sin are destroyed, the power of the devil is crushed, his power is overthrown.

Third Homily on the Second Day of Holy Pascha (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 Immortality Is An Unconditional Requirement of the Christian Soul

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 7, 1945)

Two holiest, deepest aspirations elevate us above all creatures: the desire for truth and immortality. They are peculiar only to a high soul, living a spiritual life. Justice requires that mortal human sins not go unpunished, that all sinners receive recompense. But we see that in earthly life this is by no means always the case; often the opposite is true: the sinners prosper, while the righteous suffer. Our heart cannot resign itself to the fact that the spirit of such a great saint as our Venerable and God-bearing Father Seraphim of Sarov disappeared somewhere, completely ceasing to exist. It requires that Saint Seraphim and all the great saints, martyrs, righteous people, all pious and pure people live in eternal life, with God, so that the great goodness of their souls would never cease to grow in eternity and infinity, so that they would always draw near to God, residing in the New Jerusalem, in the Kingdom of Heaven.

April 20, 2023

1940 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

Christ is Risen!

"Let us arise in the deep dawn, and instead of myrrh offer a hymn to the Lord."

We forestall the rising of the sun, and hasten in the depth of night to meet the Sun of Righteousness.

The present night is not an ordinary night! Brighter than day, it fills our souls with light!

The rays of the Sun of the world illumine us and the whole universe, enlightening all who come to His light.

The warmth poured out through His rays penetrates all our members, filling our souls with deep peace, even healing our bodily illnesses.

Synaxarion of Saint Euprepia

 By Metropolitan Kyrillos (Kogerakis) of Rhodes

On Thursday of Renewal Week, we commemorate Saint Euprepia.


Seemly living the law of God,
You attained glory, Holy One.


We have no information about Saint Euprepia. In a place known as "Argala" on the island of Lesvos, a cruciform martyrium (a church built over the site of where a martyrdom took place or a martyr was buried) with two graves containing crushed bones was found during excavations in 1931. This archaeological site is located before the airport, next to the Elysion hotel. Also in the same area were found the ruins of a large basilica with a baptistery, which are considered to be buildings of the 6th century AD. On top of these ruins was the old Chapel of Saint Euprepia, which still exists today. Since there is no Saint with this name in the list of Saints of the Church, the question remains whether some unknown Saint with this name was martyred in Lesvos, which would explain the existence of this ancient chapel in her name.

April 19, 2023

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent: Homily on Repentance (Bishop Elias Meniates) - Part 5 of 5

Section Two

I think today's discourse will seem very harsh to you. It's a sharp blade that wounds the heart, but what can we do? When the wound is festering it does not need light emollients. It needs fire and iron. And for our case there is no need for flattering and sweet words, but bitter and terrible. This is a great truth.

We do not repent because we hope that we will always have time. But we are wrong. To repent properly, we lack the will, which cannot leave the habit. We still lack the grace of God, which can no longer endure, tolerate sin.

The devil invented this art. That is, to lead people to perdition, with the hope of later repentance. Hades will be full of people who hoped to reach Paradise! Ah! The false hope of our salvation, is the true cause of our hell!

1938 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

 Christ is Risen!

Jesus rose from the tomb, as He had foretold.

The Lord is risen... The sealed tomb did not hold Christ back, the soldiers placed at the tomb did not block His way.

He is Risen, as He foretold. What He said, He did. There is no power that can overcome the Lord, no power that can prevent Christ from doing His will.

Sampson gave himself time to be bound, laughing in his heart at his enemies (Judges 15:13). But then, filled with the Spirit of the Lord, he broke the bonds and struck down his enemies.

April 18, 2023

1937 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

 Christ is Risen!

“Though you descended into the tomb, O Immortal One, yet you destroyed the power of Hades.”

The tomb and hades are the consequences of sin. Sin has produced death that separates the soul from the body. Dying, a man, before the coming of Christ, with his body descended into the grave, and with his soul into hades. “I will descend to my son, lamenting into hades” (Gen. 37:35), the righteous Jacob even said when he heard the news of the death of his son Joseph.

Homily Before the Epitaphion on Great Friday (St. John Maximovitch)

By St. John Maximvoitch

A mournful meeting. A sad spectacle. Before us is a dead man, moreover, an unusual dead man. The King of heaven and earth, the Creator of the entire universe, lies before us. He died for us. We sinned, but He suffered. People have violated the commandments of God, departed from God, and God, wanting to draw us to Himself with His love, suffers and dies for us. God could not suffer and die as a Deity, therefore He incarnates, and suffers and dies in His human nature, without ceasing to be God. All this He does for us to show His love for us.

Fourth Homily for the First Day of Pascha (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 6, 1945)

The Holy Apostle Peter said: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who in His great mercy has regenerated us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to a living hope" (1 Pet. 1:3).

It was hard and mournful for the apostles when their Sun set, when their Teacher died a terrible death on the Cross, beloved by them with all their heart, the One Whom they confessed as the Messiah, the Son of God, Christ. It seemed to them that everything perished with this death, everything collapsed: all their hope, all their faith. How did the Greatest Good not triumph, how did not Holy Love Itself, descended from heaven, overcome evil?

When the holy apostles Luke and Cleopas were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they were met on the way by the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. But, as the Scripture says, their eyes were held back so that they did not recognize Him (Luke 24:16). They entered into conversation with Him as with a mere companion. When the Lord asked them why they were so sad, they responded with surprise, “You alone in Jerusalem do not know what has happened these days. Don't you know that they crucified our Lord, our Teacher, the One in Whom we believed? We hoped that He was the one who should deliver the people of Israel. But now, this is the third day since it happened” (see Luke 24:17-21).

April 17, 2023

Second Homily on the Second Day of Holy Pascha (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

Only once a year is the first chapter of the Gospel of John read, and it is read solemnly, by many priests, in different languages. Why was this passage chosen? Because it contains the deepest and most important mysteries of theology for us.

The Holy Apostle John the Theologian was a simple fisherman, he did not study anywhere, but the grace of God completely regenerated him and made him one of the wisest people in the world. He is called the Theologian, and none of the theologians can compare with him. From beginning to end, his Gospel amazes with the depth of understanding of the teachings of Christ. It differs from the other Gospels - from Matthew, Mark and Luke - because these evangelists present mainly what concerns the life and deeds of the Lord Jesus Christ after His incarnation. None of them speaks with such miraculous power as Saint John, about the eternal existence of God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. No one has so convincingly confirmed our faith in His Divinity, no one has expounded His most secret teachings and most important revelations and deeds so deeply as Saint John.

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent: Homily on Repentance (Bishop Elias Meniates) - Part 4 of 5

...continued from part three.

There are many examples in Holy Scripture, but among the others is the deplorable one of King Zedekiah of Judah. When he began to reign he was a young man, about twenty years old. His youth led him to many blunders, certainly having the possibility that royal authority gave him. Transgressing every divine and human law, he ran like an unbridled horse without fear towards all impiety and wickedness, dragging into this perdition, by his example, the priests, the rulers and all his people. God wanted the return of the ungodly king, so He mostly sent the prophet Jeremiah, as well as other prophets to instruct him, so that he would return. Jeremiah did it with so much desire, that he did not stop day and night, secretly and openly, sometimes to invite him to repentance, sometimes to rebuke him and sometimes to strike fear in him. But, as the Holy Spirit says, "When an ungodly man comes into a depth of evils, he despises." Zedekiah's heart became very hard. "He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord."

April 16, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2023 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

by the mercy of God Bishop and Metropolitan
of the God-saved Sacred Metropolis
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

the Clergy, Monks and Laity
of our Sacred Metropolis

Beloved children in the Lord,

This year we are again celebrating the great event of the Resurrection of Christ, which is the triumph of life over death, showing that death has been defeated, Hades has been put to death, life has risen from the grave. All the resurrection troparia speak of this great event. In this perspective we celebrate Pascha, as we chant: "Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha; for Christ God has brought us from death unto life, and from earth unto Heaven."
However, we all continue to be, to varying degrees, under the state of death, spiritual and physical death, since other people live without the Risen Christ, in the darkness of sin, and in general, when the time comes, we all die, and that is why we weep over the death of our loved ones, but we also live with the fear of our own death. The question is how is it explained that we celebrate Christ as the victor of death and that death continues to exist and torment us?

April 15, 2023

Journey Through Holy Week: Holy and Great Saturday

 The Entombment of Christ and His Descent Into Hades

According to the Holy Evangelist Mark, Jesus was suspended on the Cross for about six hours on Great Friday:

9:00 AM - "Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him" (Mk. 15:25).

12:00 noon - "Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour" (Mk. 15:33).

3:00 PM - "And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' which is translated, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' ... And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last" (Mk. 15:34, 37).

A First Look at the Holy Light (Holy Fire) of Jerusalem 2023

Today in Jerusalem the Holy Light, known in the West as Holy Fire, once again descended into the Tomb of Christ as Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem knelt in prayer within the Holy Sepulchre. This ceremony has taken place just about every year for hundreds of years on Holy Saturday, shortly after 2:30pm. With 33 candles in each hand he distributed the Holy Light to the many present. Following the Holy Light ceremony, the flame is taken by plane to other Orthodox communities in countries such as Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania. In Greece the Holy Light is usually received with the welcome of a Head of State.

April 14, 2023

Fifth Homily for Holy and Great Friday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

A Homily Before the Epitaphios on Great Friday
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

The Sun of Truth - Christ our God - hid His rays. The sun of heaven, created by Him, also dimmed, seeing what the accursed people were doing with the Savior of the world.

The abyss of God's love for the human race was illuminated with a dazzling Divine light.

The satanic darkness of sin, evil and untruth thickened as never before, and premature joy reigned in hades.

For countless multitudes who believed in the incarnate Son of God and loved Him with all their hearts, the way to the Kingdom of Heaven was opened.

Second Homily for Holy and Great Friday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

Lessons in Love from the Cross

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

Here we come again to hear about the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is extremely important.

What we hear and see deeply affects our souls, leaves a deep imprint on them. Whether we hear evil, whether we see crimes, we shudder, we are horrified. Are we witnesses of the good, pure and lofty - then we are touched in the heart and in the mind we say: “I would do the same!”

There have been many terrible crimes in the history of the human race. Conscience protests against them. But no matter how terrible all these atrocities are, they are nothing, a speck of dust compared to a huge mountain, they are a drop of water compared to the ocean, if you think about the greatest of atrocities, the terrible execution of the Son of God, the One who came down to earth from heaven to save the human race, the One Who was meek and quiet, Who “did not quench the smoking flax, did not break the bruised reed” (see Is. 42:3), Who was full of love for the human race, unearthly love, such as the earth has never sen and could not imagine. He is executed, His blood flows on the Cross...

First Homily for Holy and Great Friday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

Weeping Over the Epitaphios

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 4, 1945)

Behold, the sun has gone down. The earth shuddered and trembled. The temple veil separating the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom, for the Lord Himself opened for us the entrance to the Holy of Holies - to heaven itself, to the Throne of His Father.

Hades shuddered, for its strength and power collapsed. The rocks split, the tombs hewn in them were opened, and the bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep rose up, and came out of the tombs, and appeared to many in Jerusalem, proclaiming to everyone: “It is finished.”

What happened? The work of saving the human race from the power of the devil has been completed, the ancient Old Testament prophecies have come true.

Homilies on the Passion - The Veneration of the Cross (St. Luke of Simferopol)

The Veneration of the Cross
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

In Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the great prophet Moses, it is written: “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Deut. 21:23). The chief priests, scribes and Pharisees, who crucified the Lord Jesus Christ as the villain who ruined the law of Moses, decided to put Him to the most shameful death in order to forever brand His name with a curse.

Oh, envy and human malice! They dared to call Him a villain, a violator of the law, Who raised the dead, raised even the four-days-dead Lazarus, Who opened the eyes of the blind, worked countless miracles, commanded the waves of the sea and the winds. But the Lord Jesus Christ Himself spoke of Himself that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.

Homilies on the Passion - The Thief (St. Luke of Simferopol)


 The Thief

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on February 23, 1949)

Throughout His life, the Lord teaches us how we should treat our sorrows and those who cause these sorrows. Stunningly terrible, but also full of Divine majesty, were the last hours of His earthly life. With malice and hatred, but not without fear, His mortal enemies watched the torment of the Crucified One. The Lord, despite the terrible suffering, continued to love and save.

With deep attention and surprise, I listened to His meek prayer for His crucifiers: “Father, forgive them this sin, they do not know what they are doing.”

The thief crucified to His right, the Son of God more than once turned His holy head to him and with a bright, all-seeing gaze gazed intently into his eyes and heart. The thief had never seen such a beneficent look in the eyes of ordinary people. He was also amazed that he did not hear from the crucified Jesus, who was undergoing severe torment, not only cries, but not even a single groan. And more and more he was imbued with the consciousness that next to him was crucified not an ordinary person, but the One Who is immeasurably higher than all people.

Homilies on the Passion - The Way of Sorrow (St. Luke of Simferopol)

The Way of Sorrow
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

We have already said that the torment of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, began in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then He was beaten on the cheeks, pushed, dragged with beatings to Jerusalem, to the high priest Caiaphas, where His worst enemies gathered and where they mocked Him, spat in His face, struck Him and boldly asked: “Prophesy to us who struck You” (Matt. 26:68).

The mockery continued all night, and early in the morning the Lord was taken to the praetorium, to be judged by Pilate. Frightened by the cries of the furious, wild crowd, Pilate handed Christ over for scourging. They beat Christ on a grand scale, whipping Him with a Roman scourge, which had a short handle and a whole bundle of belts, tightly woven and interlaced with copper wire, with pieces of bone tied in places. Flagellation was such a terrible torture that often those who were scourged died from it. The blood of the unfortunates flowed in a stream, the body was torn, pieces of skin and muscles were torn off.

Journey Through Holy Week: Holy and Great Friday

The Revered Passion

On Holy and Great Friday, we remember the holy and saving and dreadful Passion of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ: the spittings, the blows on the face and the blows on the neck, the insults, the laughter, the fake red cloak, the reed, the sponge, the vinegar, the nails, the spear and above all the Cross and Death, which He willingly accepted for us. We also remember the saving confession made on the cross by the grateful thief who
was crucified with Christ.

Tonight, the Matins of Great Friday will be celebrated. It is called the Service of the Passion or the Service of the Crucifixion.

The Twelve Gospel readings of the day describe these shocking events with modest majesty and dispassion, proof of the authenticity of the events, the authenticity of the meanings, but also of the "Royal" (divine) origins of the Crucified One.

April 13, 2023

Homilies on the Passion - The Garden of Gethsemane (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 The Garden of Gethsemane

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

Do not think that only on the Cross, the Lord endured indescribable suffering, terrible torment. Torment, even more terrible, began in the Garden of Gethsemane, under the light of the moon. How He suffered! How fervently He prayed to His Father: “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from me, however, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).

Insolent people, perhaps, will think: “What cowardice is this? Why did He ask the Father to allow the cup of suffering to pass from Him, if He came into the world for these sufferings?” Unfortunately, not everyone understands what the Lord experienced in His heart. Not everyone knows why His prayer to God the Father was so painful. Not everyone shudders at the thought of bloody sweat dripping from His face. However, everyone should know this - to know that the spiritual struggle that the Lord experienced when praying to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane was the greatest and at the same time the hardest and most terrible test in His life.

Homily for Holy and Great Thursday (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery, Mount Athos

Today our Church "commemorates" the Lord's Secret Supper, during which the Lord delivered the terrible mysteries of the Divine Eucharist, His Body and Blood, and His words were fulfilled: "Take, eat, this is my Body" and "drink of it all of you, for this is my Blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mat. 26:26-28).

Thus the Lord left to humanity an ever-flowing source of deification for people, the forgiveness and remission of their sins and their revitalization, in His all-holy Body and Blood. Without them the Church would not exist. Because the Body and Blood of Christ exists, the Church exists. That is why today we celebrate not only the birthday of the mystery of the Divine Eucharist, but also the birthday of the Church. Great is the feast! Great is the gift!

Judas in Orthodox Hymnography (Fr. George Metallinos) - 1 of 3

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Metallinos

The figure of Judas is a protagonist in the hymnography of Holy Week. His treacherous attitude is contrasted with the repentant attitude of the “sinful woman" and the confession of love from the thief. The passion of avarice is the main motive for his betrayal of his teacher. A "painful death" becomes the real reward of Judas.

1. Judas in the Hymns of Holy Week

The figure of Judas has occupied Art in all its forms. The same goes for Orthodox hymnography,1 which dissects the Gospel narrative around his person in a vivid and penetrating way. Hymnography constitutes the heart of Orthodox-ecclesiastical worship,2 and was the most important poetic creation of Byzantium/Romania.3 In fact, the possibilities offered by poetic discourse make Hymnography the most suitable means for the continuous mystagogy of the ecclesiastical pleroma, with a discourse that is delightful, wrapped in the modest and attractive garment of the ecclesiastical melody.4 The pleroma, listening to or even participating in the chanting of the hymns, experiences and confesses the faith by "weaving from words a melody to the Word."5 Through the poetry of hymns, the worship of Orthodoxy becomes its enduring mouth. The hagiographic and patristic discourse thus becomes the daily song of God's people, who sing their faith and confess it.

Homily for Holy and Great Thursday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 The Secret Supper of Christ

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 3, 1945)

The Secret Supper of Christ is so mysterious, so profound, so infinitely important, that our hearts are filled with trembling. For at this Holy Supper the Lord Jesus Christ washed the feet of His disciples, instituted the Mystery of Holy Communion, and for the first time Himself celebrated this Mystery, for the first time He communed His disciples.

The Lord showed His greatest humility by deed, washing the dusty feet of the disciples, who were greatly struck by this: “Lord, are You washing my feet?!” In bewilderment, they all remained silent and, silently, with trembling, obeyed the Lord Jesus Christ. Only fiery Peter could not bear it: “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” And the Lord answered: “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Journey Through Holy Week: Holy and Great Thursday

"He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth." (Prophet Isaiah 53:7)

On Holy and Great Thursday, our Holy Fathers, who legislated everything correctly, handed down to us one after the other in succession, reaching back to the Apostles and the Evangelists, to celebrate four events: The Holy Basin (where Christ washed the feet of of His Disciples), the Secret Supper (the tradition of the Divine Liturgy), the prayer of Christ in Gethsemane, and His betrayal by Judas.

This evening the Matins of Holy Thursday is chanted.

April 12, 2023

Second Homily for Holy and Great Wednesday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

The Heart That Became the Habitation of the Devil

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

With a shudder of heart we listen to the terrible story of Judas' betrayal of his Divine Teacher. Of course, deep indignation against the one about whom our Lord Jesus Christ Himself said to His disciples, “Did I not choose you twelve? But one of you is the devil” ( John 6:70 ), is quite understandable and legitimate.

Probably, the question arose in you more than once: why did the Lord, the Omniscient God, choose Judas among the twelve apostles, knowing what kind of person he was, knowing that he would betray Him?

Remember Your End, and You Will Never Sin (A Homily of St. Luke of Simferopol)

 Remember Your End, and You Will Never Sin

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

Homily for the Thursday of the Week of the Last Judgment

Mark 13:33–37

(Delivered on February 4, 1948/February 17, 1949)

Blessed are those whom the Son of God, coming to earth for the second time, will find awake, for He warned: “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming — in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning — lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:33-37).

Great honor and joy await those who are awake at that hour: the Lord will come and serve them, give glory and honor to His faithful servants who feel like travelers walking along the short path of life with lamps in their hands, according to what was said: “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning" (Luke 12:35).

Fifth Homily for Palm Sunday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1957)

Jerusalem was overflowing with people who had come from all over for the great feast of the Passover. Thousands of mouths passed the news of an amazing, never before heard miracle performed by the Lord Jesus Christ in nearby Bethany. By a single word of His, Lazarus, entwined in funeral shrouds, resurrected and came out of the tomb cave, who died four days prior and, of course, had already begun to decompose.

All Jerusalem was in a joyful movement. Everywhere there were groups of people discussing how to meet the Lord Jesus Christ. They came up with a meeting simple, but full of love and the deepest respect for the Wonderworker, unprecedented in the world, and much better than the famous Roman triumph, which met the leaders and conquerors of the peoples, a triumph full of loud glory.

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