May 31, 2023

Holy Hieromartyr Neophyte the Cretan (+ 1753)

St. Neophyte the Cretan (Feast Day - June 16)

Metropolitan Neophyte the Cretan, of Greek origin, was born around 1690, on the island of Crete, and reposed on June 16, 1753, in Bucharest.

He came to Wallachia when he was a hieromonk, in the entourage of Constantine Mavrocordatos (in the third reign: 1735-1741), as a teacher of his children. Born in Constantinople as a Phanariote member of the Mavrocordatos family, Constantine succeeded his father, Nicholas Mavrocordatos, as Prince of Wallachia in 1730, after obtaining boyar support.

Also with the help and support of Prince Constantine Mavrocordatos, he became "titular" (honorary) Metropolitan of Myra in Lycia (ordained in Bucharest January 27, 1737), and, a year later, he was elected Metropolitan of Wallachia on November 7, 1738, where he served as a shepherd of Christ's flock until his death.

May 30, 2023

The 23 Turkish Martyrs of Thyatira (+ 1649): Account by a 17th Century Jesuit Missionary to Smyrna

The following narrative is translated from an old volume in French (Auguste Carayon, Unpublished Relations of the Missions of the Company of Jesus Christ in Constantinople and the Middle East in the XII Century, Poitiers – Paris 1864), containing some account of the Jesuit missions in Constantinople and the Levant during the seventeenth century. The translation, which had come into the hands of Rev. Marcellus Bowen, formerly missionary at Smyrna, has been kindly furnished by him.

By Francis Lucas
Jesuit Missionary of Smyrna (17th century)

A notorious martyrdom of twenty-three Turks occurred in the town of Thyatira,* famous in old times, of which St. John made mention in the Revelation, since there were more than 200,000 inhabitants, despite the fact that the plague killed more than 50,000 during the year 1656. It is still among the most populous cities of Asia Minor. In our times, God chose this city to become the arena of twenty-three athletes of Jesus Christ, that He willfully crowned with immortal glory, after much more struggling than naturally expected from such people.

May 29, 2023

May 29th - A Day of Repentance and a Day of Orthodoxy

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Until the fall of Constantinople, the positive dimension of Romiosini functioned, while after its fall, the negative dimension of Romiosini functioned and flourished, since despite the difficulties it highlighted the new martyrs, who according to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite revived our martyrology, that is, the martyric spirit of the Orthodox Church.

It can be emphasized that until 1453 the Orthodox Church showed its confessional spirit, after it established the Orthodox teaching, as it also established its martyric and hesychastic spirit. In fact, as has been observed, hesychasm, which is the quintessence of the Orthodox teaching, developed even more towards the end of the Roman Empire and it was what kept the Orthodox Church alive and dynamic during the Turkish rule and it animated the entire subjugated race and showed, as previously mentioned, the martyrs and confessors of the faith.

May 28, 2023

Homily on the Gospel Reading for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on July 30, 1950)

In today's reading, you have heard the extremely important words of our Lord Jesus Christ, which I need to explain so that you understand them properly and imprint them in your hearts.

The Lord Jesus Christ, before His terrible sufferings, prayed to His Father like this: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:1-3).

What is eternal life? This is the same as the Kingdom of Heaven.

May 25, 2023

Christ Ascended on a Cloud of Uncreated Glory (Fr. John Romanides)

By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides

One hears that Christ ascended into heaven in a cloud. On the one hand, if this person can think for himself, if this person has nothing to do with the experience of theosis, and if he has not even heard about it, he will start laughing when he reads such an account. He will say, “How is it possible for a man to sit on a cloud?” On the other hand, if this person is a superstitious Orthodox Christian, he will say, “Oh look, our sweet little Jesus did this miracle, too! He sat on a cloud and ascended into heaven.” And he will believe it. Someone else might even imagine that at the Ascension Christ began to be lifted up on a cloud as though it were an elevator.

May 24, 2023

Pascha as a Passage (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Pascha as a Passage

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

I have the great joy today, on the day of Pascha, of the Resurrection of Christ, to have this communication through television and the internet with all the Christians who live both in the Sacred Metropolis of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou as well as in the Sacred Metropolis of Aetolia and Akarnania, of which I am the Vicar during this time, and to address this bright greeting, "Christ is Risen!"

There is no greater greeting that has within it the element of joy, hope, optimism and love. It is the day of the Resurrection of Christ. We say "Pascha, the Lord's Pascha." The word Pascha is Hebrew and means "passage". It is a passage.

Papa-Fotis the Fool for Christ Sends Paschal Greetings from Paradise

Christ is Risen from Paradise!
Father N. is a simple Levite and above all one who is in dire straights, with many personal problems, but he was a dear friend of Papa-Fotis Lavriotis the Fool for Christ. Many times when he saw him, Papa-Fotis teased him, because Father N. is a very simple soul, pure, childlike I would say... and Papa-Fotis found comfort in such souls!

This year (2020) he received an order from the Bishop to officiate on Bright Tuesday in a church in another village, as he did. On his way home, he had to pass by the cemetery where Papa-Fotis is buried, and he was thinking about it.

When he got very close, he saw Papa-Fotis standing in front of him, dressed in a white priestly garb, and very radiantly smiling and greeting him!

May 23, 2023

Saint Eumenios Saridakis and the Drought of 1993

By Monk Simon

At the beginning of the 1990's, our country* was plagued by drought. The authorities were worried about a major water shortage, and the media had added a water bulletin to the news reports. Every day they told us that Lake Marathon** had so many cubic meters of water, which was enough for so many days. They recommended us not to waste water needlessly and to take various measures to limit its consumption.***

Saint Eumenios Saridakis (+ 1999) from the Leper Hospital of the Municipality of Agia Varvara was hospitalized at that time in Evangelismos, for about three months, seriously ill and with the prospect of the doctors amputating his leg. On the day of Great Saturday, in the morning, he told me to take him and go to the Metropolis to attend church, since we had previously received permission to leave the hospital.

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2020 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Pascha in the Pandemic

To the Clergy, monks and laity
of our Sacred Metropolis

Beloved in the Lord,
Christ is Risen!

This year we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ in a special way, due to the pandemic of the new virus. This also happened during Holy and Great Week of the Passion and the Cross of Christ. This pandemic is testing our faith, our endurance, our patience, but also our obedience to the Holy Synod, which dealt with this issue with seriousness and responsibility.

The Holy Synod emphasized that "the temporary stay of Christians at home for prayer does not imply any doubt or, much more, it does not mean questioning the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist." And that "any suspicion of the transmission of diseases from the Divine Eucharist is condemnable, because it violates doctrinal Truth and the Apostolic Faith and Tradition of the Church."

May 22, 2023

Third Homily for the Sunday of the Blind Man (St. Luke of Simferopol)

The Kingdom of God Is Within Us
 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 30, 1954)
I know that all of you believe in eternal life, I know that you are striving to gain access to the Kingdom of Heaven, but I am not sure that you understand correctly what eternal life is and what the Kingdom of Heaven is.

I know that there are many people who completely misunderstand the Kingdom of Heaven. Their idea is very close to the primitive idea of Muslims: they think that the Kingdom of Heaven is a joyful life in luxurious gardens of Eden, where beautiful young women will delight them with their singing, dancing and music, where they will enjoy luxurious dishes.

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2019 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 The Apolytikion and Icon of the Resurrection of Christ

To the Clergy, monks and laity
of our Sacred Metropolis

Dear brethren,

Christ is Risen!

We were found worthy to celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection Pascha again this year, that is, to share in the mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ. Christ on the Cross defeated death, sin and the devil and with His Resurrection He gave His Disciples His peace, but He also gave the Holy Spirit to forgive the sins of people who want it.

These events are moving, but unfortunately, when we don't have spiritual feelings, we consider them as an opportunity for excursions, physical relaxation, as a period of vacation or even as days to satisfy our passions.

The Church celebrates these events with its theology and its own rhythm. The whole meaning of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ is expressed in the troparia, the services, especially in the Divine Liturgy, and in its iconography.

The theological meaning of every Despotic and Theometoric feast, as well as every Saint's feast, is expressed in a simple but wonderful way in the apolytikion and the sacred icons. The apolytikia are small troparia, which are chanted before the dismissal of the Vesper service, that is why they are called apolytikia (dismissal hymns), and the sacred icons are painted in a theological way, they are processed by the priests and placed in a certain place so that the veneration is paid to the one depicted by the faithful.

Within this context we must view the apolytikion and the icon of the feast of the Resurrection of Christ.

The apolytikion of the Resurrection of Christ is the well-known hymn, which is the spiritual paean of Christianity, that we solemnly chant these days and we cannot get enough of repeating it many times: "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life." That is, Christ rose from the dead, after he had conquered and defeated death with His death, and gave life to those who are in the tombs.

The icon of the Resurrection of Christ is an iconographic presentation of this troparion. It shows Christ having defeated death, "trampling down death by death". It also shows that with His two hands He raises Adam and Eve from their graves and gives them life. He does not simply free their souls from Hades, but also resurrects their bodies from the graves, thus attributing the phrase "to those in the tombs bestowing life." In general, this icon shows the Resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of people from their graves.

Thus, during the season of Pascha we kiss the sacred icon of the Resurrection and at the same time we chant "Christ is Risen" with the panegyrical and triumphant sound of the plagal of the first mode. Both are coordinated with each other, since the apolytikion shows the content of the feast and the icon depicts the theological meaning of both the apolytikion and the feast.

The Fathers of the Church arranged everything well and blessedly, so that we can chant the triumph of the Resurrection of Christ and the abolition of death, so that we can hear it, but also see it with the sacred icon, as well as touch this great mystery with the honorary kiss of the icon.

In this way, all the senses, psychic and physical, receive information and empirical knowledge of the Resurrection of Christ and the abolition of death, so that we can acquire unshakable faith and certain hope, that with Christ we can be spiritually resurrected from sin and physically with our bodies at the Second Coming of Christ, according to what we confess in the Creed: "I expect the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come."

And with all this, the Church aims not only to expel from us the fear of death, but also to fill us with the fullness of life and indeed with the hope of eternal life and faith in our meeting with Christ, the conqueror of death.

Therefore, when we chant "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life," we must remember the icon of the Resurrection of Christ that expresses it, and when we venerate the icon of the Resurrection of Christ we must chant "Christ is Risen", so that our lives can be filled with hope, light and truth. This is the great mystery of our faith.

Christ is Risen, brethren!

With resurrectional paternal blessings,


Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

May 21, 2023

First Homily for the Sunday of the Blind Man (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on June 24, 1945)

Today we heard the Gospel story about one of the great miracles of Christ - about the healing of the man born blind (see John 9:1-38). As the man born blind himself said, from time immemorial it has not been seen that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind (see John 9:32). Did you pay attention to how this healed man answered the Pharisees, to his amazing courage and nobility?

He was not at all ashamed before them, who had the power to excommunicate him from the synagogue, speaking without any fear and even reproaching them. How many of us, giving answers to those who have power over us, will be able to behave like this blind man? Most people behave differently. Before the powerful, they stand in awe, they respond cowardly, cunningly and trying to hide the truth, slandering their neighbors, blaming them, and shielding themselves.

May 20, 2023

Funeral Oration for Eldress Galaktia (+ May 20, 2021)


(March 5, 1926 - May 20, 2021)

by Archimandrite Antonios Fragkakis,
Preacher of the sacred Metropolis of Gortyna and Arkadia

Early yesterday morning a great and venerable person of Crete, who had loved Orthodoxy very much, shed her spider-veined and earthen skin as well as her perishable body – a body that she had crucified during her worldly struggles – and flew quietly into the arms of the Lord to receive from His omnipotent hands the rewards of her spiritual ascent.

After her 95 years of radiant life on earth, she was now in the arms of the Lord whom she fervently loved since childhood and whom she followed with Apostolic-like love and self denial. Perhaps, this was the first time this tireless lady allowed “her eyes to sleep and her eyelids to slumber” (Ps. 132:4 (131 LXX) ­– a lady who from the depths of her heart lived and breathed the goal of inheriting the Kingdom of God.

The Stone of Christ's Tomb (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

After the crucifixion and the death of Christ, the events of the burial followed. According to the Evangelist Mark, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected man of the council, asked Pilate for the Body of Christ. And after wrapping the Body of Christ in a clean shroud, he then "laid it in a memorial, which was hewn out of stone" and immediately after that "he rolled a stone over the door of the memorial" (Mark 10:46). Thus, the Body of Christ which had not been separated from His divinity, at the moment when His soul together with the divinity was in Hades, was inside the new memorial and was covered by a large stone.

The problem of the large stone puzzled the thoughts of the Myrrhbearing women, when they went to the memorial on Sunday morning to anoint the Body of Christ with perfumes. And in fact, as they were advancing towards the memorial, they said: "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the memorial?" (Mark 8:3).

May 19, 2023

The Church That Became Synonymous With Hell: A True Story of the Pontic Genocide

An image of hell from the Church of Saint George in Patlama.

Perhaps the most heinous crime of the first period of the Pontian Genocide, by the Young Turks (1914-1918), took place at the Church of Saint George in Patlama of Kerasunda.

Patlama was a small seaside suburb of the city of Kerasunda (mod. Giresun), near the river of the same name, which was about two kilometers from it. During the First World War, its inhabitants were exiled to the interior of Asia Minor, where they were decimated, 80% by hunger, diseases and hardships.

25 families lived in this suburb of Kerasunda and it was known for the Church of Saint George, where a big festival was held every year. The Church of Saint George was used as a prison in 1917 for the detention of exiled natives of Tripoli and other Greeks, against whom the Turks committed horrific atrocities and crimes inside and outside its sacred space.

It is one of the most shocking chapters of the genocide of Pontic Hellenism.

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2017 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 The Confirmation of the Resurrection

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Every year on the day of Pascha we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, this great event in the history of humanity and ecclesiastical life. We celebrate it brilliantly, we celebrate it solemnly, we rejoice heartily. The Resurrection of Christ, together with His Cross, is the center of ecclesiastical life.

The Resurrection of Christ is not simply an fact of the faith of the Apostles, it is not a fact of a simple tradition that we received and preserve, it is not only a central point of our culture and our customs, which we accept without being able to prove it.

It is mainly a fact which is confirmed in every era.

May 17, 2023

An Atheist at the Grave of Saint Paisios

By Archimandrite Ephraim of Vatopaidi

This man Saint Paisios has done so many miracles, that it makes you wonder:

"But is it so? Is it possible?"

And yet it is possible! An acquaintance of mine that came to see me told me, as he says:

"We were with the family at our house and since we are near Souroti,* we said we were going to visit the grave of Saint Paisios."

Saint John Maximovitch and the Jewish Patient Near Death

Once, during Bright Week in Shanghai, Saint John Maximovitch went to the Jewish hospital to visit the Orthodox Christian patients there. 
Passing through one ward, he stopped in front of a screen, concealing the bed upon which an elderly Jewish woman lay dying. Her family members were nearby awaiting her death. 
The Saint raised a cross above the screen and loudly proclaimed:  "Christ is Risen!"  upon which the dying woman regained consciousness and asked for water. 

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2016 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Spiritual Adoption

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

We passed Holy and Great Lent with fasting and prayer, asceticism and repentance and we reached the great day of Christ's Resurrection. On the night of the Resurrection, the hymn of victory against death, sin and the devil is chanted triumphantly, the well-known: "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life."

In addition, the catechisms of the Catechumens who were preparing for Holy Baptism, which took place on Great Saturday, took place during this holy period in the olden times. Thus, from the night of the Resurrection, the Gospel of John the Evangelist was read in the sacred temples, since they were found worthy to become members of the Body of Christ, members of the Church. This Gospel is called a "spiritual" Gospel, i.e. theological, since it brings the mind of man to the height of Orthodox theology.

May 16, 2023

Monk Christophoros Panagiotopoulos, the so-called "Papoulakos", Has Been Proposed for Canonization by the Church of Greece to the Ecumenical Patriarchate

With much joy, the Sacred Metropolis of Kalavryta and Aegialia has informed its pious people that the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, during its session on May 11, 2023, decided to forward to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for final approval the proposal of the Metropolis of Kalavryta regarding the canonization of the Venerable Monk Christophoros Panagiotopoulos, the so-called "Papoulakos" (+ 1861), from Armpounas of Kalavryta, who was a "chosen vessel" of the Lord during the difficult period of the 19th century to be a new Apostle of Orthodoxy to the people of Greece.

Metropolitan Hieronymos of Kalavryta and Aegialia has expressed his heartfelt and grateful thanks on his own behalf and on behalf of his flock to His Beatitude Archbishop Hieronymos of Athens and all Greece and the Seven Members of the Permanent Holy Synod for the solemn approval of the canonization proposal in question. His Eminence Metropolitan Kallinikos of Artis, a Regular Member of the Synodal Committee, drafted the above-mentioned theologically documented and highly detailed proposal.

Ecumenical Patriarch Parthenios II, Who Was Strangled by Janissaries on May 16th 1651

Patriarch Parthenios II, who was also known as Goliath or Kekeskines, came from Ioannina in Epirus. Having become a Hieromonk and then Metropolitan of Ioannina, with the actions of his spiritual father Patriarch Parthenios I he took over the Metropolis of Adrianople (1639-1644). Living mainly in Constantinople and as a member of the Local Synod, he was associated with the followers of Cyril Loukaris and especially with their leader Theophilos Korydaleas. On September 8, 1644, he was elected Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople supported by the loyalists of Loukaris.

He was known to be greedy and violent and followed an anti-papal policy. On December 12, 1644 he sent two letters to all the bishops asking them for additional money to pay off the debts of the Patriarchate, stipulating that whoever fails or refuses should be deposed. He overturned and annulled the decisions of the Synod of Iasi and the so-called "Orthodox Confession" of the Metropolitan of Kiev Peter Mogila, which caused the enmity of the Ruler of Moldavia, Vasile Lupu, who, questioned by the Turks, demanded that the Patriarch be thrown in prison. In 1646, he abolished all patriarchal exarchies and ordered them to be assigned to the local bishops.

Resurrection Messages That Are Devoid of Life's Meaning (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Resurrection Messages That Are Devoid of Life's Meaning

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The feast of the Resurrection of Christ, which is solemnly celebrated by the Orthodox people, gives the opportunity to ecclesiastical and political leaders to express in writing and orally their wishes to the people under their responsibility, but also to the people who belong to the Church in general.

Reading the wishes, messages of various competent people in our society, I find that they weaken the deep meaning of the Resurrection of Christ and secularize it, making it a populist message. They talk about the Risen Christ who gives optimism to man, about the creation of a new civilization that contrasts with other civilizations, about the transcendence of ethnicity and language, about the dignity of man, about social solidarity, about the overcoming of the economic crisis and religious fanaticism, for the praise of man and the defense of human rights, for social justice, for the offering of care to others, for the improvement of society and discussion, for overcoming geopolitical games and rivalries, for the light of Hellenism that defeats all darkness, etc.

May 15, 2023

The Mother of Elder Philotheos Zervakos and Her Miraculous Healing by the Panagia the Giatrissa

In his autobiography, Elder Philotheos Zervakos writes about a miraculous healing that took place on behalf of his mother by the Panagia the Giatrissa (a miraculous icon of the Mother of God which is often translated as the Panagia the Healer, though more accurately as the Panagia the Physician). His mother fell seriously ill and was on the verge of death shortly before he departed his homeland of Pakia in Laconia to follow the path of monasticism. This is what he records about the miracle:

Seeing her in danger of dying, I thought that if my mother remains ill, I will not be able to follow Christ, because my father would be left alone, with my little sister, and therefore I would not be able to abandon them.

The day before my mother's illness, a fellow villager gave me and I read a book, which contained miracles of the Most Holy Theotokos called "Panagia the Giatrissa".

Her temple is located on the slopes of Mount Taygetus, as is her miraculous icon. At the beginning of the book, on the first page, there was a copy of the sacred icon of the Panagia.

National and Global Mourning (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The recent accident with the collision of the two trains in Tempe (2/28/23) plunged our country into a "national mourning" that manifested itself in various ways. It wasn't just the half-mast flags, but the deep pain that one could see in the people one met and talked to.

The incidents that were reported to the public, the conversations between those responsible for safety in transportation, the photos and videos, the reports and the testimonies of the rescued and their relatives stimulated this national mourning even more from the deep trauma.

At the same time, harsh questions were raised about the irresponsibility of those responsible for the safety of transportation, about the non-existence of security systems, etc.

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2014 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

A Paschal Encyclical for the Sacred Metropolis of Fokidos
The Resurrection Life

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

All religions have a mortal leader and founder, who was once born and died, while Christianity, which is not a simple religion, but a Church, has as its head the Risen Christ, who lives forever and enlivens the members of His glorious Body. He Himself affirms: "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death" (Rev. 1:17-18). This is the reason for which we Orthodox Christians praise and glorify the Risen Christ throughout the Pentecostarion period, but also on every Sunday, which is the weekly Pascha.

The Church, however, is not only above every religion, but is the Body of the Risen Christ. In this reality, all the Holy Mysteries are celebrated, culminating in the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist, where we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. Ecclesiastical life is not an emotional life, it does not consist of any morals and customs, but it is an experiential and resurrection life. In the Church we repel despair and the fear of death, sadness and gloom, individualism and selfishness, and we are filled with faith, love, hope and light.

May 14, 2023

First Homily for the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on June 3, 1945)

Is it possible to remain calm and indifferent while listening to the conversation of the Lord Jesus Christ with the Samaritan woman (see John 4:5–42)? This is one of His most important and deepest discourses. Our hearts should be filled with amazement before the mystery and depth of His words.

The Lord walked on a long journey from Jerusalem to Galilee, walked through the mountains, in a hot season, and, tired, on a hot afternoon, sat down to rest at the well of Jacob near the city of Sychar. A Samaritan woman came up to draw water from the well. Jesus asked for a drink. The Samaritan woman was surprised: "How can You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink? After all, the Jews do not communicate with the Samaritans" (John 4:9). The Lord answered: "If you knew Who says to you: 'Give Me a drink,' you yourself would ask Him, and He would give you living water" (John 4:10).

May 13, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2013 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 "It is a Festival of Passage"

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Christ is Risen!

Every Divine Liturgy is resurrectional, but the Divine Liturgy celebrated on the night of the feast of the Resurrection of Christ, i.e. Pascha, has a special grace and splendor. This happens because there was a preparation period of almost fifty days, throughout Holy Week we experienced the Passion and the Cross of Christ in the sacred services, and of course the Resurrection Divine Liturgy takes place at night in a brilliant flood of light.

The Saints of our Church celebrate Pascha from the perspective of the eternal Pascha, the Kingdom of God. They leap for joy, because on this day and period they partake of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, but they also anticipate eternal good things. Their life has perspective and meaning, it is not closed in a narrow space, full of spiders and melancholy.

May 12, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2012 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

A Cross-Resurrection Pascha

Our journey through the sea of Holy and Great Lent with the services of the Church, fasting and intense spiritual life, with the reminder of all the spiritual meanings of each Sunday, led us to Holy Week, where we saw the love of the Bridegroom Christ and we have reached the great feast of the Resurrection of Christ. Our Church with these events colors our life and gives it meaning, but above all it gives us perspective and fills us with the life of Christ. And this happens because they are not just external events, but mystically and through them we meet Christ, the Panagia and His Saints.

These days we talk about Pascha and chant many hymns that refer to this sweet and blessed word. Pascha in the Hebrew language means "passage", and it denotes the passage of the Israelite people from Egypt to the Promised Land, through the crossing of the Red Sea. The passage of the Jews through the Red Sea was a great and wonderful event. Moses struck the Red Sea with his rod, it split in two, a wall of water formed, the wind dried the bottom and a whole population of people passed through it. Subsequently, with the intervention of God through Moses, this passage was closed and the Egyptian army that was persecuting the Israeli people was overwhelmed.

May 11, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2011 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The First and Second Resurrection

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Resurrection of Christ, which we solemnly celebrate, after many days of fasting, repentance and prayer, is the central mystery of our faith and life in Christ. Without the Resurrection of Christ we would be under the rule of death, sin and the devil and there would be no gateway for life. That is why the Apostle Paul proclaims: "If Christ is not raised, your faith is in vain and you are in your sins" (1 Cor. 10:17). Christ with His Resurrection gave us the grace to be resurrected spiritually from this life, but also physically at the Second Coming of Christ, as we confess in the Creed: "I expect the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come."

Usually, when we examine the subject of the Resurrection from the point of view of the liturgical typikon, we speak of a first Resurrection, which is the Matins and the Divine Liturgy that takes place on Pascha night, and a second Resurrection, which is the Vespers of Love, which takes place on the day of Pascha, that is, in the afternoon of Pascha Sunday. However, in Holy Scripture the expression first and second resurrection is associated with faithful Christians and refers to the spiritual life. Characteristic is the passage of John the Evangelist written in the Apocalypse: "Blessed is he who has part in the first resurrection" (Rev. 20:5). This means that there is a first resurrection, in which the saints participate, and a second resurrection.

Homily for the Thursday After the Sunday of the Paralytic - Let Us Imitate the Long-Suffering Job (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 27, 1948)

The Holy Apostle Paul says this about himself: "But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left" (2 Cor. 6:4–7). He is a holy example for all of us Christians. We must, like him, be true Christians. Take a look at the last words. It is known that there are people who equally own the right and left hand. The words "right" and "left" have a spiritual connotation. To the right is everything that is good, pure, true, and holy. On the left - everything evil, crafty, terrible, painful, deceitful. And we must have two spiritual hands, equally active.

May 10, 2023

Homily for the Epistle Reading of Mid-Pentecost (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 14, 1952)

You know little of the Slavic language and do not listen well to the apostolic reading, but the current reading from the Acts of the Apostles deserves deep attention and reasoning.

Listen to it in Russian, listen to every word.

“In Lystra, a certain man, who could not control his legs, sat lame from his mother’s womb, and never walked. He listened to Paul speaking, who, looking at him and seeing that he had faith to receive healing, said with a loud voice: 'I say to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ: stand up straight on your feet.' And he immediately jumped up and began to walk. But the people, seeing what Paul had done, raised their voice, saying in Lycaonian: 'The gods have come down to us in human form.' And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of the idol of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, having brought oxen to the gate and brought wreaths, wanted to make a sacrifice together with the people” (Acts 14:8-13).

May 8, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2009 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 The Prophecy of the Resurrection

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The resurrectional atmosphere of these days brings joy to all of us, because we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, Who is the Head of the Church, but also because we gain the certainty of our own resurrection. It is a feast that refers to Christ, but also to ourselves.

Christ rose and gave us the hope of our resurrection, first from our passions, which are an experience of death, and then from the death of our body. Man was not created by God to live with the passions of carnality, pretention and avarice, but neither to die. In Paradise, before the fall, man lived differently than he lives today, he had real communion with God, and with all creation, and he had the possibility of remaining immortal. But after the fall, pleasure and pain developed in man, and death came into his being. Thus, now with the Resurrection of Christ a new life begins, man experiences his own resurrection from the passions, he is freed from the tyranny of pleasure and pain, but he also acquires the certainty of the future resurrection of his body.

May 7, 2023

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

 By St. Luke of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 27, 1945)

On the fourth Sunday after Pascha, the Holy Church commemorates the great miracle of the healing of the paralytic. That is why it is called the Sunday of the Paralytic. You heard the Gospel reading about this miracle (see John 5:2–15). But did you pay attention to how the person healed by the Lord Jesus Christ reacted to his healing and to his Divine Benefactor? He did not know who healed him, and to the question of the enemies of Christ, the scribes and Pharisees: "Who is the Man who said to you: 'Take up your bed and walk?'" - he answered: "I do not know." But then the Lord met him in the temple and said: "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you" (John 5:12-14).

What did the healed man do? He immediately went to the chief priests and reported that it was Jesus who healed him. The healing took place on the Sabbath. And for all the deeds of Christ performed on the Sabbath, the scribes and Pharisees burned with fierce anger at Him and sought to destroy Him as a violator of the law of Moses. And so the one whom He raised up from the bed of a grave illness, assisted them, showing terrible ingratitude to his Great Benefactor.

May 6, 2023

Why Does Saint Paul Call Christ the "Firstborn From the Dead"? (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

"He Became the Firstborn of the Dead."

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Resurrection of Christ, the supreme event in the mystery of the divine economy, gives us every year the opportunity to delve deeper into this event and little by little to share in the mystery of the Resurrection with our own resurrection. This, after all, is the purpose of establishing the annual Paschal celebration cycle.

In the joy of the Resurrection of Christ, we should remember that Christ in Holy Scripture and in the liturgical texts is described as "firstborn". After all, in one of the resurrection troparia we sing: "He became the firstborn of the dead."

The word "firstborn" denotes the first of the children in a family. This name is attributed to Christ in many ways. The Apostle Paul writes that the Son and Word of God is "the firstborn of all creation" (Col. 1:15), "the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29) and "the firstborn from the dead" (Col. 1:18).

May 5, 2023

The Veneration of Saint Ephraim of Nea Makri in Romania

Radu-Vodă Monastery

In the working session of May 22, 2014, which took place at the Patriarchal Residence, under the presidency of Patriarch Daniel, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church decided to register in the Calendar of the Romanian Orthodox Church the Holy Great Martyr Ephraim the New of Nea Makri, who had been previously canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and his feast day was designated for May 5.

The Mystery of the Tomb of Christ (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Despotic feasts were determined by the Church to be celebrated over the course of the year and to remember the great events that took place with the Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection of Christ, but above all and most important to experience the mystery of Christ and the mystery of our rebirth. This is the reason why the celebration of these events is preceded by a period of repentance, fasting and prayer, and all these are connected with the Divine Liturgy and the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, which means our own existential participation in these great and wonderful events.

Regarding the feast of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, the central points of the celebration are the terrible Golgotha and the life-bearing Tomb of Christ, which are located in Jerusalem and are the center of our love and worship towards the suffering and resurrected Christ. Golgotha is connected with the Cross of Christ and His Tomb with His holy Resurrection.

On the occasion of the feast of the Resurrection of Christ, today we should turn our attention to the Tomb of Christ, the empty memorial, in which the glorious Body of Christ was placed, after His death on the Cross and His removal from it .

May 4, 2023

The Eight Times the Icon of the Panagia of Axion Estin Left Mount Athos

The Panagia of Axion Estin icon is widely considered the most important treasure of Mount Athos, and is normally kept in the Protaton Church in Karyes, the capital of the Holy Mountain. The miracle associated with the icon goes back to the year 980, and for nearly a thousand years after that it never left the Holy Mountain. However, beginning in 1963, it has come out of Mount Athos on eight occasions to be venerated by the faithful for special reasons. These eight occasions are as follows:

1. 1963 - The first time the Panagia of Axion Estin icon left Mount Athos was during the celebration of the Millennium of the Athonite Monastic State, or the thousand year anniversary since the establishment of monasticism on Mount Athos as it was officially recognized by the Roman Empire. On April 17th 1963 the icon arrived at Piraeus from Dafni of Mount Athos with the warship ASPIS. In Athens, it went up by roadway via Neo Faliros and Syngrou Avenue. After it was received by Archbishop Chrysostomos II in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it was taken in a procession to the Metropolis and placed in the Church of Saint Eleutherios, where it was venerated by thousands of the faithful, among them the then King Pavlos of Greece. It returned to Piraeus on April 25th 1963 where it boarded the warship PIRPOLITIS bound for Dafni of Mount Athos.

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2006 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

And again this year, after the solemn Holy Week, we were found worthy to brilliantly celebrate the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. It is not only a natural event (spring), nor a cultural event, but par excellence ecclesiastical, theological and human, since it refers to the hope of our own resurrection.

Indeed, Christ, who, according to the Apostle Paul, is the "originator and perfecter of our faith" (see Heb. 12:2), but at the same time the Head of our Church (see Eph. 1:22), resurrected three days after His death. When we speak of the Resurrection of Christ, we mean the resurrection of His Body that had died on the Cross.

According to the teaching of our Church, Christ from the moment of his conception took on human nature, pure and holy, but with corruption and mortality, in order to defeat death and corruption. Thus, according to the testimony of the holy Apostles and the confirmation of our Church, on the third day, after His death and burial, He resurrected His body, with His divinity. Actually His soul along with the divinity descended into Hades, and His body, along with the divinity, remained in the tomb, therefore His body remained incorruptible, undissolved. This body was resurrected by His divinity and thus the Disciples saw it, touched it and of course "rejoiced when they saw the Lord" (John 20:20).

May 3, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2005 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

In the season of spring we celebrate the spring of life, which is connected with the Resurrection of Christ, which is the prelude to our own resurrection. The Resurrection of Christ is the sweetest milestone in the history of humanity, but also the faith and life of true Christians.

The Orthodox Church is and is called the Church of the Resurrection. And this is important because Western Christianity honors more the Birth of Christ and His Crucifixion, while the Orthodox Church, without underestimating these two Great Despotic Feasts, gives great importance to the Resurrection of Christ, since Christ with His Resurrection defeated death and gave the certainty to all of us that we too will defeat death in Christ and taste of the first and second resurrection. The words of the Apostle Paul to the Christians of Corinth are important: "If Christ is not raised, our preaching is empty, and your faith is also empty...your faith is in vain" (1 Cor. 10:14, 17).

May 2, 2023

Greek Customs and Folk Traditions Associated With the Feast of Saint Athanasios the Great

"Ai-Thanasis" is especially beloved among Greek Orthodox Christians. In the villages and towns, where there are parish churches dedicated to him, his winter feast (January 18) is celebrated in them. This is when people named Thanasi, Thanos and Athanasia celebrate their name day. However, for the May 2nd celebration, this is when chapels or cemetery churches that bear his name celebrate.

The people use the etymology of his name (Athanasia = Immortality) and for this reason have dedicated several cemetery churches to his memory, to banish death. The expression is also common in several regions of Greece: "He is ready for Ai-Thanasis," that is, he is about to die.

The paretymology of his name is due to some funeral customs or acts of longevity of the people. In Eastern Thrace, for example, on his feast day, in January, they slaughtered a rooster "for their health," while on the May 2nd festival in many places in his cemetery churches the Divine Liturgy is held and they share kollyva (combining his memory with the memory of the dead).

Chapel of Saint Matrona of Moscow in Paphos, Cyprus

Saint Matrona is considered one of the greatest Saints in Russia. She lived from 1881 and passed away in 1952. Having been blind and destitute from birth, she was also persecuted by the then Soviet regime, who saw her spiritual gifts as a threat. Despite all this, she was found worthy by God to do many wondrous things due to her great virtue, especially her patience and the support and love she showed towards others.

In Paphos, Cyprus there is a chapel dedicated to Saint Matrona, located in a panoramic location in the area of Toxeftra in Peyia. It was built in return for a vow made by two young people, Maria Aeriniotis and Andreas Athanasiadis, after their recovery from an illness, thanks to the Saint. They also had the support of Metropolitan George of Paphos, since the space for the construction of the church was granted by him.

"If God Heals Your Son, Will You Believe in God?" - A Miracle of Saint Matrona of Moscow

Zinaida Vladimirovna Zhdanova says that in 1946, a woman came to their apartment, where Matrona also lived back then. The woman was a high official. Her only son had gone insane, her husband had been killed at war, and she herself was an atheist of course. She had taken the sick son to Europe, but no famous psychiatrists could help him.

“I have come to you out of despair," she said to Matrona, "I have nowhere else to go to.”

Matrona asked, “If God heals your son, will you believe in God?”

The woman said, “I don’t know what it means to believe.”

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2004 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

The Resurrection of Christ, which we celebrate these days, is an event that marked great changes in history, first in people's lives and then in society and culture. In this theological climate of the Resurrection of Christ, as proclaimed by the Church, life was given meaning, death took on another meaning, relationships between people were redefined, all the considered details of our lives acquired a purpose, existence was filled with eternal life of those who were associated with the Risen Christ.

Communicating with you today, on the occasion of the feast of the Resurrection of Christ, I would like to identify an event that is of particular importance for our Church. And this is that the resurrected Christ appeared to His Disciples, who had communion with each other, mainly during a meal.

1966 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

 Christ is Risen!

“Even though You descended into the grave, O Immortal One, You destroyed the power of Hades.”

“I will go down to hades mourning for my son” (Gen. 37:35), the forefather Jacob said when he heard about the imaginary death, as if Joseph had died, though in reality he was sold by his brothers. Although Jacob was righteous and received many favors from God, constantly feeling the Hand of the Lord guarding him, he did not expect anything else in the future except hades. Deep was the fall of the forefathers in paradise, and with them all their offspring. Although many tried to live pleasing to God, they only outwardly fulfilled the law of God - it did not penetrate into their hearts and souls - they remained far from God in their spirit. Therefore, at that time there was no paradise for the descendants of Adam, they could not feel the radiance of the glory of God on themselves, their souls could not stay with the angels. Out of communion with God were all the souls of the dead, remaining in darkness and vexation of the spirit.

May 1, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2003 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

And again we have been found worthy to celebrate the events of the Resurrection of Christ. It was preceded by the veneration of the Cross of Christ and today we enjoy His glorious Resurrection.

These are not conventional and repetitive events, offered for a physical rest, but events that give meaning to our lives. With the Resurrection of Christ our whole life, with its sorrows and joys, with its sufferings and pleasures, but also the whole creation and the future of the world take on another meaning and another perspective. Without the Resurrection of Christ everything is dark, trivial, meaningless, without meaning, purpose and life.

With His Cross and Resurrection Christ defeated the devil, sin and death, the three great evils that are the source of evil in the entire world. Thus the Resurrection of Christ became "the beginning of the reformed creation", according to Saint Cyril of Alexandria, since with His Resurrection, above all, Christ became Lord of the world. Saint Nicholas Cabasilas will say that "resurrection, by nature, is correction." In other words, the Resurrection of Christ made it possible for things to return to their previous position and to rise higher. This is the magnitude of the Resurrection of Christ.

1963 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen! The resurrected Creator in heaven is praised by angels. With incessant songs they glorify the Conqueror of the devil and death. All the forces of nature rejoice, all the elements triumph and glorify the Risen One. Evil and corruption have been defeated, everything that is filthy, which entered nature during the fall of Adam, disappears. Now all nature will be renewed for incorruption, for the eternal Kingdom of God, in which there will be no filthiness!

The dead now rejoice. Forgotten by them are the illnesses and sorrows that they endured in earthly life. The light of the Trinity illuminates them, their joy is inexpressible in earthly words, life fills them.

The forefathers rejoice, remembering their departure from hades and glorify their Liberator.

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