May 20, 2024

Homily Two for the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women (St. John of Kronstadt)


Homily on the Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearing Women and Righteous Joseph

By St. John of Kronstadt

“Amen, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Matthew 26:13).

This week, beloved, our holy mother Church remembers the holy Myrrhbearing women and the Righteous Joseph, who took down the body of the Lord from the cross. How good it is to serve the Lord Almighty with all your heart, no matter what! What a reward this man received from the generous God! The reward is within yourself - in your conscience, the reward outside of you - is in the grateful memory of people, but what is higher and dearer than all is the reward in the memory, in the eternal memory of you of the Lord God Himself and in eternal glorification from Him in heaven! Here is an example from the Gospel. Once, when our Savior was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, a woman approached Him with a vessel of precious ointment, broke the vessel and poured myrrh on His head, and anointed His feet, which she wiped with her hair. The whole house was filled with the fragrance of peace. When others were indignant at the waste of the precious ointment, the Lord praised her and said: "For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her" (Matthew 26:6-13).

May 19, 2024

Homily One on the Holy Myrrhbearing Women (St. John Maximovitch)


An Appeal from Bishop John

By St. John Maximovitch

(Delivered in 1936 in Shanghai)


When Christ was condemned to death by Pilate and carried His cross to Golgotha, many people followed Him.

Among Him walked both the enemies of Christ and His followers.

However, the majority of the latter hid their closeness to Christ, and only women openly cried and wept for their Teacher.

Therefore, Christ turned to them alone on His way to Golgotha.

Even after the crucifixion, Christ’s disciples did not dare to approach Him, except for one virgin, John the Theologian.

But the women who came with Him from Galilee, with His Most Pure Mother at their head, did not leave Him here either.

Homily Three for the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

Today the Gospel was read about the burial of the dead and life-giving body of Christ by Joseph of Arimathea, about the journey of the Myrrhbearing women with spices to the Holy Sepulcher to anoint the body of Christ, and about the joyful news of the Resurrection of Christ from the Angel sitting in the tomb. There is an instructive lesson to be learned from this present Gospel for men and women, rich and poor, high and low.

The rich and noble Joseph serves as a good example of faith and zeal for Christ for all the rich and noble, who even now can demonstrate in various ways, prove their faith and zeal for Christ spiritually or materially, although not to Him personally, but to His members, the lesser brethren, the poor and unfortunate, the sick and ailing, immersed in ignorance and vices, dying in squalor and poverty.

The Myrrhbearers serve as a good example of the zeal and ardor of love for Christ for all women, who even now can, in various ways, according to their strength, means and circumstances, express their ardent love for Christ who died and rose again, with various virtues, for example: sympathy and condolences for the mourning, fidelity to one’s Christian and family responsibilities, charity to the poor, etc.

May 16, 2024

Homily for the Sunday of Saint Thomas (St. John of Kronstadt)


Homily on the Sunday of Thomas

By St. John of Kronstadt

Christ is Risen!

Beloved brethren, Bright Week has passed and taken our deeds with it to the throne of the heavenly Lord and Judge: there, brethren, there now are our deeds. I say this in order to frighten with the fear of heavenly judgment those who spent the feast of the Holy Resurrection of Christ unworthily and in a non-Christian manner, and to console those who spent it in abstinence and spiritual joy.

How did many people celebrate and spend the feast of Bright Resurrection? I would not like to bring to mind the wicked deeds of men, but we must remember them and condemn them on behalf of God, along with the persons who did them. The all-bright feast was greeted after the bright Paschal service with dark deeds: intemperance and drunkenness, fights, foul language and every kind of sin. You might think that we fasted before the feast only in order to rush with greater greed into all carnal sinful deeds, so that with greater shamelessness and impudence we could indulge in all kinds of lawlessness. Alas! woe, woe to us!

May 13, 2024

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


“My Lord and My God!”

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 28, 1946)

You know how difficult it was for the holy apostles to believe in the resurrection of Christ. You know that even when they saw the Lord appear with their own eyes, some of them doubted, thought that it was a ghost. The most difficult was for the Apostle Thomas to believe.

How can we explain his disbelief? Is it possible to think that his mind was similar to the mind of materialists who believe only in what they can touch, what they can know through rational thinking? Of course not! Saint Thomas, like all the apostles, was very far from this way of thinking, and yet you see how difficult it was to believe.

The fact is that the Apostle Thomas had a fervent, ardent mind. This fervor of mind manifested itself more than once, and was especially pronounced when the Lord Jesus Christ, at the call of Martha and Mary, decided to go to Bethany to resurrect their dead brother Lazarus. His disciples were horrified and said to Him: “Rabbi, how long have the Jews been looking to stone you, and are You going there again?” (John 11:8). And the Apostle Thomas said: “Let us go and we will die with Him” (John 11:16).

May 9, 2024

Rare Icons of Saint Nicholas the New of Vounenis in Gortynia


Saint Nicholas the New of Vounenis is especially honored in the Peloponnesian region of Gortynia where there are many temples dedicated to him and rare icons of him. The Doctor of Byzantine Archaeology, Father Nektarios N. Pettas, with the blessing of Metropolitan Jeremiah, spoke on this topic at the 9th International Conference of the Peloponnesian Studies Society, which took place from 10/30 to 11/2/2015 in Nafplion, with the support of the Municipality of Nafplion. The presentation was titled: "Depictions of Martyr Nikolaos Vounenis in the Peloponnese."

Among other things, Father Nektarios announced:

The original text of the Saint's biography was written by another Nicholas, around the middle of the tenth century. The lack of rich biographical material combined with the later adaptations, modifications and additions of fictional elements to the original text, have sufficiently altered the image we have today of the life and activities of Saint Nicholas of Vounenis. It should be noted that the altered texts were published several times and caused no small amount of confusion, making it impossible to find the truth. However, in the year 1972, the brilliant Doctoral thesis of the late Demetrios Sophianos was published, which shed a lot of light on the case and laid the appropriate scientific foundations for further research into the Saint's life. The same researcher in his next work titled "Saint Nicholas the New of Vounenis (10th century)" provides additional evidence, anecdotal hagiological texts of Maximos (1620) and others, and confirms the historical truths about the Saint, based on new elements that have come to light in recent years.

May 8, 2024

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2024 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2024
 
To the Clergy, Monks and Laity
of our Sacred Metropolis

Beloved children in the Lord,

We once again celebrate the Resurrection of Christ as a historical event, which took place during the time when Pilate as a Roman governor was in charge of the administration of Palestine, but also as a spiritual and ecclesiastical event. All the historical events connected with the incarnation of the Son and Word of God, His Passion, His Cross, His Burial and His Resurrection are connected with the salvation of man. Thus we celebrate the event of the Resurrection of Christ, as seen in the Service of Matins and in the Divine Liturgy that follows.

Among the other things that we observe in the Resurrection Divine Liturgy is that we chant instead of the Trisagion Hymn ("Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us"), the "Those who have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!" And we sing this not only at the Divine Liturgy on the evening of Christ's Resurrection, but throughout Renewal Week until the Saturday before Thomas Sunday.

May 7, 2024

Homily on Holy Pascha -1905 (St. John of Kronstadt)


Homily on Holy Pascha

The Victory Over Death and the Triumph of Eternal Life.
The Triumph of Truth and the Shaming of Falsehood.


By St. John of Kronstadt

(Delivered in 1905)

“When I [John the Theologian] saw Him [Jesus Christ; this was on the island of Patmos], I fell at His feet as if dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, '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).

Christ is Risen!

Glory to God - Christ has risen from the dead! The Sun of Truth, though temporarily was as if extinguished and hidden in the grave, shone again and illuminated the whole world with all-joyful, life-giving rays. In the past days of the Passion of Christ, these sufferings brought upon us great sorrow, and in some they brought forth tears — either of compassion for Him who suffered for us, or tears of repentance for our sins, which caused such suffering to our Lord, who bore upon Himself all our punishments for our sins. And now, on the day of resurrection, a common joy illuminated the hearts and faces of all believers, for our life has again shone from the grave, granting everyone forgiveness of sins and the hope of resurrection and eternal life, "for Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor. 15:20). Where is the malice and envy of the scribes and Pharisees, where is the mockery of the dead by the Jewish high priests? Where is Pilate's guard? Where are the seals of Christ's tomb? Everything disappeared, everything changed with the resurrection of Christ: the enemies were put to shame; all their machinations served only for the greater glory of the Crucified and Risen One, and, most importantly, for the salvation of the whole world; all the fears of the apostles and all the faithful disappeared with the rise of Christ from the tomb; death itself, the terror of all earthly beings, has been defeated; hades, which laughed, has been destroyed; the gatekeepers of hades, guarding the eternal prison, scattered from fear. The Risen One took possession of the keys of hades and death, having snatched them from Satan, "who had the power of death" (Heb. 2:14), and reigns forever in heaven and on earth.

May 6, 2024

Homily on the Name Day of the Most Pious Empress Alexandra Feodorovna - 1905 (St. John of Kronstadt)


Homily on the Name Day of the Most Pious Empress Alexandra Feodorovna

By St. John of Kronstadt

(Delivered on April 23, 1905)

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4).

Today the Church celebrates the glorious memory of the Holy Great Martyr George and the Martyr Empress Alexandra, the former wife of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and all of Imperial Russia celebrates the name day of the royal wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. The Holy Empress Alexandra suffered for her firm confession of Christ as the true God when she looked at the inhuman cruel torture of the Great Martyr George by the executioners. The emperor condemned her to death. This was during the persecution of Christians in the 3rd century. The whole pagan and Jewish world then took up arms with ferocity against the confessors of the name of Christ. To incline them to the pagan faith, the most cunning ingratiations and promises of earthly benefits and the most terrible tortures and torments were invented and used. There seemed to be no more terrible torment left than those that, in multitudes, up to a thousand types, were newly invented specifically for Christians. Today's throwing of deadly, explosive projectiles would then be considered a mercy for the martyrs if they were used against them - compared with the torture and torment of that time.

Homily on the Name Day of the Most Pious Empress Alexandra Feodorovna - 1904 (St. John of Kronstadt)

 
Homily on the Name Day of the Most Pious Empress Alexandra Feodorovna

By St. John of Kronstadt

(Delivered on April 23, 1904)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (Rom. 8:35–36; Psalm 43:23).

The Holy Church now commemorates the Great Martyr George the Trophy-Bearer and the Martyr Empress Alexandra, wife of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who lived and suffered for the confession of the faith of Christ at the beginning of the third century after the Nativity of Christ; and today the Church and State celebrate the name day of the Most Pious Empress Alexandra Feodorovna with common prayer.

Saint George was a brave commander of a detachment of Roman troops. The pagan emperor Diocletian at first loved and respected him; but, having learned that George was a Christian, he ordered him to be imprisoned.

Homily on Holy Pascha -1904 (St. John of Kronstadt)


Homily on Holy Pascha

By St. John of Kronstadt

(Delivered on March 28, 1904)

“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).

“Thus says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” (Rev. 3:7).


Christ is Risen!

On the bright Resurrection of Christ, I greet you all and on such a great and holy day I want to speak with you, dear brothers and sisters, about the above words of Holy Scripture; and I call you dear because you are very dear to our Lord Jesus Christ, who redeemed us all at an immeasurably dear price - with His most pure Blood, shed on the cross for our salvation. Remember this, and do not forget, do not forget what you were redeemed from at a great price: from sin, the curse and death, temporary and eternal death. Beware with all your might of sin, which has caused so many troubles in the world, and is even now creating all sorts of troubles, even the real Japanese war: - may the Risen and almighty King of creation, the Lord Jesus Christ, end it, and may He break the weapons of our adversaries, and with His omnipotent power establish peace on earth, which our Tsar together with Russia so much desired and desires. So I repeat again: Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Homily One for the Feast of Saint George (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 23, 1947)

"The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them." (Wisdom of Solomon 3:1)

How was this torment not felt by the Holy Great Martyr George the Trophy-Bearer? How were the torments not felt of multitudes of martyrs?

From the lives of the saints it is known that there were many martyrs, including Saint George the Trophy-Bearer, who did not feel their torments.

This may seem paradoxical, impossible to you, but it is a fact that does not only concern the martyrs. This fact is quite well known in history: when in the Middle Ages they subjected to torture the unfortunate women, whom they considered to be witches, then it was often observed that during the torture these unfortunate women fell into a state of bliss. At first they cried out, they were tortured, they suffered, then when the tortures intensified, when they became unbearable, their faces lit up with the feeling of bliss, they did not feel the tortures.

May 5, 2024

Homily on Holy Pascha (Archimandrite Kirill Pavlov)


Homily on Holy Pascha

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)
 
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit! Christ is Risen!

I congratulate you, dear brothers and sisters, on the great, joyful feast, the worldwide joy of the Bright Resurrection of Christ! In the language of church hymns, the feast of the Holy Resurrection of Christ is called the feast of all feasts and the celebration of all celebrations. The bright Resurrection of Christ is the triumph and affirmation of our Christian faith, the triumph of our Christian hope and the affirmation of Christian love. The triumph and affirmation of all that is good, bright, holy and dear to us.

We said that the Holy Resurrection of Christ is the confirmation, the triumph of our Christian faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ, having incarnated on earth, taking upon Himself our human nature, taught the human race the true teaching about everything that exists: about God, about His being, His nature and His works; and about the origin of man, his nature, purpose, present state and future destiny; and about the world, the origin of the world, its nature, the purpose and future fate of the world. But what can be a firm guarantee that the true teaching about everything that exists, taught to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, is Divine teaching, the true revelation of God? He who taught it is the true God. And that is why the very teaching of Christ bears the stamp of Divine origin both in its character and in its content and dignity, and it is, of course, more sublime and holier, and differs radically from the teaching of the sages of this world. There is no foreign admixture of truth, lies and delusion in it, which we notice in the works of people with a limited human mind.

Homily on Holy Saturday: At Last Death Has Been Trampled (Archimandrite Kirill Pavlov)

 
Homily on Holy Saturday

At Last Death Has Been Trampled

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1964)
 
"Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and in itself consider nothing earthly; for the King of kings and Lord of lords cometh forth to be sacrificed, and given as food to the believers...."

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Today the Holy Church commemorates the descent of the Lord Jesus Christ into hades and His bringing out from there the souls of all the Old Testament righteous who were imbued with faith in the coming Messiah.

The present day, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, once became a day of decisive and final struggle, a struggle for life and death between two kingdoms - the kingdom of darkness and evil and the kingdom of good and light. Satan, disgraced by Jesus Christ in the desert, has by now managed to inflame the hearts of the Savior’s enemies with the strongest anger against Him - to such an extent that no human is ever able to reach.

May 4, 2024

The Seven Sayings of Christ from the Cross (Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos) - 2 of 2


...continued from part one.

4. "My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?"


The fourth saying of Christ on the Cross is a misunderstood saying for many, but not for the Fathers, which is: "My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 16:46), that is, Christ said this to His Father.

This saying is a mystery, because Christ as God was never separated from His Father. Is it possible for the Son and Word of God to be separated from His Father? We know that they have the same essence, the same energy, the Word of God is of one essence with the Father. He Himself said to His Disciples that they will abandon Him and leave Him alone, but He will not be alone, because "the Father is with Me" (John 10:32).

Then why does He say "My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?" Does He say this because the two natures were separated in Christ? We know that in Christ the two natures, the divine and the human, were united in the hypostasis of the Word. Could it be, then, that on the Cross the divine nature left the human nature for a while, as some say, so that Christ could suffer a lot? This did not happen, because the Fourth Ecumenical Synod confessed that the two natures in Christ are always united ""unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably," therefore, the two natures were never separated and never divided.

The Blessing of the Sheep on Good Friday: A Unique Tradition from a Monastery in Crete

 
Again this year, the flocks of sheep whose fold is close to the Sacred Monastery of Saint George in Epanosifis, a village of Heraklion, Crete, received the blessing of the God-man Christ, just hours before the proclamation of His Resurrection.

Hundreds of believers gathered on the evening of Good Friday in the beautiful centuries-old Monastery to take part in the Procession of the Epitaphios, and of course to pass under it themselves, as is the tradition before re-entering the church after the outdoor procession, to be blessed and sanctified.

At the Monastery of Epanosifis, the procession takes place both around the katholikon (central church) of the Monastery as well as the cells of the monks, then a few hundred meters further down to the cemetery of the Monastery and a nearby barn of a cattle breeder.

Homily on Holy and Great Saturday (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

"O Life, how can You die?" (Lamentations of Holy Saturday Matins)

Come, all creation: let us offer parting hymns to the Creator. Countless hosts of heavenly powers! All rational earthly inhabitants! Come, let us offer parting hymns to our common Creator, Who, after the most severe suffering, rests peacefully in the tomb!

Let us draw closer to Him and ask Him: “Why are You counted among the dead, Who lives in the highest, and Whom the heavens cannot contain, and now strangely lies in the tomb?” How is it that You, the immortal Creator of life, tasted death Yourself, and how was it that You were laid in the tomb? How did it happen that Your feeble but wicked creatures, people, brought You to the tomb? It is clear You deigned to ascend the cross with Your flesh, otherwise, who would dare to touch You, O Almighty? Clearly there is a great mystery here, which Your enemies and the prince of darkness himself did not know. And in fact, people did not know what they were doing to Jesus. It is clear that from this extreme condescension of Yours towards people, much good took place on their behalf, because You do everything only to increase the goodness and blessings of creatures. You must have suffered out of great need, with the most gracious and wise purpose: You “have created all things with wisdom” (Ps. 103:24), and You are “good to all” (Ps. 145:9).

Homily on Holy and Great Friday (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

“My God, My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)

Thus, the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, cried out for the sins of the world, and therefore for you and me, brothers and sisters. “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?" He cried out because of His human nature, which had weaknesses and not sins. But how could God the Father, who sent Him into the world to save the world, abandon His only begotten, His beloved Son? The Divinity was inseparable and will remain inseparable forever along with the human nature of Jesus Christ. This abandonment means, beloved brethren, that human nature in Jesus Christ was exposed to all the torment, all the horror of the sufferings on the cross, all the terrible, mortal grief that He experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane before His capture by a gang of villains led by Judas Iscariot. He then began to be horrified and grieved, and said to his disciples: “My soul grieves unto death; abide here and watch with Me” (Matthew 26:38). Imagine what the physical torment was like, what was the sorrow of the all-righteous and all-loving, sensitive soul of the God-man, who suffered execution for all human sins, for the sins of Adam and Eve and all their descendants without exception, and therefore for you and me! And you and I, brethren, are more sinners and are guilty of countless punishments for our countless iniquities.

A First Look at the Holy Light (Holy Fire) of Jerusalem 2024


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.

Given the security situation in the Middle East, and following consultations with Israeli police, clergy in charge of the 2024 event ruled that no more than 4200 people could be in attendance in the church and its courtyard for the Holy Light ritual. According to the Russian news agency Sputnik, the number of visitors this year is much lower than in previous years due to the escalation of the conflict in Gaza and the resulting logistical problems. Many airlines, in fact, continue to avoid flying to Israel.

May 3, 2024

The Seven Sayings of Christ from the Cross (Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos) - 1 of 2

 
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Christ was crucified on Friday at twelve noon, or the sixth hour as it was called at that time, and He remained on the Cross until three o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, that is, until the ninth hour. So He remained on the Cross for three hours. Saint John Chrysostom says that this event is our feast: "Today our Lord Jesus Christ is on the cross, and we celebrate it, so that you may know that the cross is a spiritual feast and celebration."

During these three hours darkness fell on the whole creation. During these three hours on the Cross, in the darkness, Christ spoke seven sayings. When I say sayings, I don't mean that He gave sermons and speeches, but He said a word or a phrase. When one reads the Gospels, one sees exactly these seven sayings that Christ spoke on the Cross, which have great theological power.

I will analyze, as quickly as possible, the seven sayings that Christ said on the Cross, which also show the theology of Christ's Passion and His Crucifixion, since, according to the sacred Chrysostom, "the cross is the symbol of the kingdom." "I proclaim him king, therefore, because I see him crucified, for it becomes a king to die for his subjects." Christ speaks as the King of heaven and earth, as the Lord of life and death.

Thus, today "standing beside the King, let us observe this feast, celebrating the memory of the cross," we celebrate the Cross of Christ and are initiated into the theology of the Cross and the theology of glory.

Homily Four on Holy and Great Friday Before the Shroud (St. John of Kronstadt)

 
By St. John of Kronstadt

I see a man tortured, killed, wrapped in linen and placed in a tomb. But who is it? Who is this victim of malice and revenge? Not only a man, but the God-man, the Son of the living God, Jesus Christ. Why was the innocent, sinless, righteous and immeasurably loving God-man killed? Who killed Him and where are the killers?

He was killed because He loved people as no one had ever loved; and those who needed to understand this love did not want to understand.

Because He did them many, countless good deeds, which no one has done; and meanwhile, these benefits were interpreted incorrectly.

Homily Three on Holy and Great Friday Before the Shroud (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

“If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to Myself” (John 12:32), that is, if I am lifted up on the cross, then with My sufferings on the cross I will redeem the whole world, and by the power of My cross I will draw to Me a multitude of the elect. This is what our Lord Jesus Christ said, by the way, not long before He suffered for us. Oh Christ, our love, and again I will say: oh Christ, our love! What has Your love for us brought You to? You were spat upon, strangled, wounded, and died in the unspeakable suffering of the cross. Oh Christ, our love! How deeply You loved us!

Your sufferings for the world are immeasurably great, but the fruits of your sufferings are immeasurably greater: “By your wounds we are all healed” (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5). You endure suffering in order to free us from passions; accepted the crown of thorns so that our hearts would not be tormented, like prickly and burning needles, by the thorns of sins; accepted wounds so that repentant sinners could take refuge in Your wounds from the arrows of heavenly wrath; endured the cross in order to give us a strong weapon against our invisible enemies, who are strongly fighting against us; and I will say finally, you endured the fierce torment of the cross in order to deliver your faithful followers from the cruel, unceasing torments of hell, and the end of all this is to draw us to Himself and unite us with Himself forever.

Homily Two on Holy and Great Friday Before the Shroud (St. John of Kronstadt)

 
By St. John of Kronstadt

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)

Behold, my brethren, the Lamb of God, who took upon Himself our sins, my sins, the sins of each of you. Here is the incarnate Son of God, the only begotten, tormented by human envy and malice! What humanity! Oh, how gloomy and disgusting is the picture of human malice! Let us fall down before Him in confession and weep before the Lord who created us and at the end of the ages suffered and died for us. With fear and love, let us fall with our hearts and lips to these wounds; with fear: for until now our sins stink before Him and cry out for punishment for us; with love: for these wounds and His death were taken by Him out of inexpressible love for us, and naturally call us to love!

Homily One on Holy and Great Friday Before the Shroud (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

“Behold the man!” (John 19:5)

This is how our sinless and most holy Lord Jesus Christ was mocked, wounded, and tortured! What need was there for the impassible God to suffer so terribly from people in His flesh? What need did the God-man Himself have to endure these seemingly hellish torments on earth? There was no need, brethren, for God to subject Himself to such dishonor and such suffering on earth: His self-sacrifice was completely voluntary, and He could not but be incarnate, suffer and die. Only then would we all, as sinners and as enemies of God, be forever captives and slaves of the devil and would all perish forever. Then there would not be these two sides: right and left, and it would not be said that the righteous will go into eternal life, and sinners into eternal torment, but there would be one terrible fate for everyone - eternal torment. And it’s scary to think about!

May 2, 2024

The Judases of the Church (Fr. George Metallinos)


By Protopresbyter Fr. George Metallinos

1. Shortly before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Christ comes to Bethany. He visits His friend Lazarus and His other friends there on a farewell visit before His passion. Someone even invited Christ to dinner.
 
During the dinner, Lazarus' sister Mary, overwhelmed by the secret joy of the Lord's presence, lets her gratitude for her brother's resurrection overflow. So she takes a precious myrrh and anoints Christ's feet with it. And the quantity and quality of the myrrh show the love and devotion of the woman to the Master. That is why her initiative, which has the meaning of adoration and honor towards the Great Benefactor of mankind, Christ, would certainly emotionally move, as it still emotionally moves us today, as a manifestation of faith and reverence.

2. However, there is also someone who thinks differently. It is the dark Judas, who hastens to criticize the woman's actions. Unmoved by the magnificent spectacle of grateful love, cold and indifferent to the touching event, he lets his materialistic disposition show. However, he does not dare to reveal his true self. He covers the sterility of his heart with the veil of hypocrisy. He wears a mask, a phantasmagoric mask. It is the mask of a philanthropist and lover of the poor that is presented protesting (allegedly) on behalf of the poor. "Why was this myrrh not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?"

Homily on Great Wednesday (St. John of Kronstadt)

 
By St. John of Kronstadt

Brethren! This day is the day of betrayal towards the suffering and death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Faithful souls know how to appreciate and feel the greatest self-sacrifice for our salvation, that of the Lord and friend common to all of us!

From this day forward, guard your heart in the most careful way for Him alone, and do not let anything worldly, corruptible, or any passion take possession of you.

The Traitor Judas and the Harlot Woman (St. Luke of Simferopol)


The Traitor Judas and the Harlot Woman

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 2, 1945)

On Great Wednesday we remember the prodigal woman, about whom our Lord Jesus Christ said that as long as the gospel is preached in the world, her deed will be remembered. We also remember the most vile, shameful, most terrible of all human deeds - the betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ by the Apostle Judas.

And here before us is the state of the hearts of these two people - the harlot woman and the apostle of Christ, who accepted the great grace and honor of being chosen as one of the twelve closest disciples of Christ. The harlot, rejected by everyone, poured precious ointment on the feet of Jesus, and the closest disciple betrayed Him.

April 30, 2024

Homily on Holy Tuesday: About the Need to be Watchful (Archimandrite Kirill Pavlov)

 
Homily on Holy Tuesday

About the Need to be Watchful

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1962)
 
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Beloved brothers and sisters, approaching the days of His suffering, the Lord was especially close and frank with His disciples. "I no longer call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I called you friends, because I told you everything that I heard from My Father" (John 15:15), the Savior said to the Apostles. Now He was no longer covertly, but with particular clarity, announcing to them that He needed to suffer in order to thus prepare them for His suffering: "You know that in two days there will be Passover, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified" (Matthew 26:2). Seeing the grief that gripped the Apostles, He consoled the disciples with the promise that He will not leave them.

Homily on the Hymn "Behold the Bridegroom Comes in the Middle of the Night" (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

You have just heard, beloved, a touching hymn: “Behold the bridegroom comes in the middle of the night,” which is sung at Matins in the first three days of Holy Week. In order that it may be comprehensible to all, and that it may be of the desired benefit to all, let me offer an explanation of it to your love. The hymn: "Behold, the bridegroom comes in the middle of the night" reminds us of the parable of the Savior, in which He likens the kingdom of heaven to ten virgins, who, according to ancient custom, took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. The compiler of the hymn had this parable in mind. We will present it here and explain it briefly.
 
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins," says the Savior, "who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."
 

Escaping the Judgment of the Fig Tree (St. Theophan the Recluse)


 By St. Theophan the Recluse

(Mark 11:11–23)

The Lord took away His blessing from the fig tree which was rich with leaves but had no fruit, and it dried up. This is a lesson in action. The fig tree represents people who in appearance are proper, but in essence are not worthy of approval. Who are these people? They are those who eloquently discourse about the faith, but do not have that faith—they hold the objects of faith in the intellect only. They are those whose outward behavior is proper but their feelings and dispositions are very improper, and they manifest proper works only to hide their impropriety from people; whenever possible, they do not do these works. For example, such a person gives alms when someone asks of him in front of people, but ask him in private and he will berate you. He goes to church to pray to God, prays in sight of everyone, and prays at home as well, so as to not bring shame upon himself before his household. But as soon as he is alone, he does not even make the sign of the cross over his brow. He does not have any idea about turning to God with the mind and heart. Let us pray that God will not allow us to be as these. For then we will not escape the judgement pronounced over the fig tree.

- Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, January 19/February 1 

April 29, 2024

Homily on Great Monday (St. John of Kronstadt)

 
 
By St. John of Kronstadt

Today, beloved brethren, at the morning service three parables were read: the first - about the barren fig tree, the second - about a father who had two sons: one, to the father’s request: "Child, go work in my vineyard today," answered: "I don’t want to," and then changed his mind and went; and the other, in response to the same request, said, “I will go,” but he didn’t go; and finally, the third parable is about a man who, having a vineyard, surrounded it with a fence, dug a winepress in it, built a tower, gave it to the workers and left, and then, when the time came for harvesting the fruits, he sent his servants to the workers of the vineyard to receive the fruit. The workers, in their bitterness, beat some of the slaves, killed others, and finally killed His Only Begotten Son (Matthew 21:18-43).

Let's talk at this time about the first parable. “Having spent the night in the village of Bethany, in the morning the Lord,” says the Evangelist Matthew, “returning to the city of Jerusalem, became hungry. And seeing a fig tree along the road, He approached it, and finding nothing on it except some leaves, He said to it: 'Let there be no fruit from you henceforth forever.' And the fig tree immediately withered. Seeing this, the disciples were surprised and said: 'How did the fig tree suddenly dry up?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea,” it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer in faith, you will receive'” (Matthew 21:17-22).

April 28, 2024

Homily on the Entry of our Lord Into Jerusalem: About Meeting the Lord (Archimandrite Kirill Pavlov)


Homily on the Entry of our Lord Into Jerusalem

About Meeting the Lord

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1964)
 
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Today, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, the Holy Church, and with her we, festively commemorates the solemn greeting of our Lord Jesus Christ at His entry into Jerusalem, arranged for Him by the best part of the people of Israel. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in fulfillment of the prophecy about Him as a meek and righteous King, after the miraculous resurrection of Lazarus, six days before His death, reveals Himself to the Jews, resolutely making them understand that He is truly the Messiah and King for whom they are waiting.

April 27, 2024

Christ, Lazarus and the Cross (Monk Moses the Athonite)


By Monk Moses the Athonite

The resurrection of Christ's friend Lazarus in Jerusalem a week before the Jewish Passover, where a crowd of celebrants had gathered for the feast, definitely increased Jesus' popularity. He did not cause it, He was not interested in it and He had no desire for self-advertisement and self-promotion. He never wanted to create noise around His person. He didn't want fans cheering and clapping. Nevertheless, the scribes, Pharisees and chief priests of the Jews became seriously worried.

The physically dead Lazarus came out of the tomb with a word from the Lord. The spiritually dead are very difficult to raise. All the spiritually dead considered the presence of Christ near them dangerous. They were afraid of being exposed, revealed and unmasked. They are meeting to exterminate Him by any means. They don't want to allow this miracle worker to bother them anymore, who spoils their plans and takes the people away from them, sowing weeds on their prestige and authority. They wanted to destroy Lazarus as well, so the people would forget the miracle. But it's not that easy.

On the Resurrection of Lazarus (St. Gregory of Nyssa)


By St. Gregory of Nyssa
 
It is not the Human Nature that raises up Lazarus, nor is it the power that cannot suffer that weeps for him when he lies in the grave: the tear proceeds from the Man, the life from the true Life. 
 
(Against Eunomius, Bk. 5)

* * *

April 26, 2024

Homily Twenty-Seven on the Passion (St. Luke of Simferopol)


Homily Twenty-Seven on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 9, 1958)

The terrible scene of the arrest of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane has just passed before your eyes.

Have you seen the unfortunate Judas the traitor at the head of a crowd of servants of the high priest, armed with swords and stakes; have you heard the devilish words of the traitor who betrayed his Divine Teacher with a kiss; they saw the outburst of anger of the fiery Apostle Peter, who struck the servant of the high priest, Malchus, with a sword and cut off his right ear; have you heard the meek word of the Savior, who healed Malchus’ ear and commanded Peter: “Return your sword to its place, for all who take up the sword will perish by the sword; or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will present to Me more than twelve legions of Angels?” (Matthew 26:52–53).

Homily Twenty-Six on the Passion (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
Homily Twenty-Six on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 2, 1958)

From Pilate's palace, where the unjust trial of our Lord Jesus Christ took place, and from the praetorium, in which Pilate's soldiers tortured Him, there was a long path outside the city, to the terrible Golgotha, where the death penalty was carried out.

This terrible, sorrowful path, Via Dolorosa, as the Roman Christians call it, had to be traversed by our Savior, the Son of God, carrying his terrible, heavy cross on His shoulders.

But He could not walk... After walking a few steps, He fell to the ground, and He had to be raised, removing the heavy cross from Him.

April 25, 2024

Homily Eighteen on the Passion (St. Luke of Simferopol)


Homily Eighteen on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1954)

At all the Passions you hear the terrible story of how one of Christ's Apostles, Judas Iscariot, betrayed his Teacher and Lord, even to death. All the horror of this deed cannot be contained in our consciousness...

How, for more than three years, did he constantly follow Christ, listen to His Divine teaching, see the innumerable miracles of Christ, in which His Divine authority was manifested – after all this, did he betray his Teacher?!

Never, never could we find an explanation for this unbelievably vile and terrible betrayal, could we never understand what was going on in Judas's soul. The answer to this question is given to us by the Gospel, for we read in the great Evangelist John the Theologian about Judas that he was a thief: he carried a box into which donations were put for the great teacher and His apostolic retinue, and stole part of this money.

April 24, 2024

The Miraculous Events Behind the Changing of the Vestments of Saint John the Russian


The wonderworking and incorrupt relics of Saint John the Russian were brought from Prokopi in Asia Minor to New Prokopi in Evia in October 1924 by Greek refugees. A beautiful temple was built in New Prokopi to house these relics beginning in 1930 and it was completed in 1951. This is when the Saint came to reside in his new home and he has remained there since. Today it is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Greece, due to the many miracles still performed there to those who hasten to it with faith.

The silver and glass coffin of the Saint never opens unless there is a reason to do so, and this usually takes place when the Saint indicates for it to be done. This is done when the vestments of the Saint are ready to be changed. It happens in the following manner, according to the narration of Father John Vernezous:

"The Saint himself asks us to change his vestments. Then we can also open the coffin. The coffin does not open whenever we want, but when the Saint wants.

How does he notify us about the changing of his vestments? Well, he comes, for example, to a good soul and says to them in their sleep (in different places, in New York, in Australia, in Thessaloniki), 'Come and greet me, I am John from Russia, come to my church and tell the priest the time has come to change my robes.' This is how it happened in 1937, in 1955, and in 1977 when I became a recipient. I got the information from the faithful.

In 2005 the Saint again asked for a change of vestments after 28 years that had passed since 1977.

I have been here for 43 years as a clergyman and three years before as a layman, a total of 46 years and we have seen thousands and millions of believers pass in front of Saint John.

What do we have to testify? What did we see in the changes? The shocking thing as we said is that he informs us himself! Thus he said to a girl:

'Come see my pillow that will be full of tears. We weep for you young people. We pray especially for you to God to support you.'

When in 1977 we opened and saw the pillow it was completely clean, but here next to the eyes it was wet with a big stain from tears.

We saw the whole head of the Saint moving, with His Eminence and the other priests.

It was shocking! 
 
We take the coffin and come to two tables and place the Saint there. God Himself has respected, honored, graced and glorified this relic, having bestowed on him the gift of incorruption until the Second Coming."

On Thursday the 18th of April 2024, the relics of the Saint had their vestments changed once again, behind closed doors, privately and unannounced, by the local bishop and priests with prayer and fasting, during the night when pilgrims are no longer allowed to enter. According to Father John Markos, the priest of the church in New Prokopi, Saint John the Russian recently appeared to 35 different people around the world, informing them to tell the priest of his church in New Prokopi that the time had come to once again change his robes. This time he specifically requested that his vestments be white and decorated with roses. Previous times the vestments had been blue. These previous vestments are cut into pieces and distributed to the faithful.

It should be noted that this year, 2024, marks the 100th anniversary of the transfer of the relics of the Saint from Asia Minor to Greece. In honor of this, many events have been planned, especially for May 27th, which is the feast of the Saint. The calendar of events can be seen here.
 
 




 
 

Homily Seventeen on the Passion (St. Luke of Simferopol)


Homily Seventeen on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1954)

A large crowd of people came to Golgotha to watch the execution of the Lord Jesus. As always, this crowd consisted of average people, neither smart nor stupid, neither evil nor good, and mediocre in everything. These were people who were instigated by the scribes and Pharisees, and who madly shouted at the trial of Pontius Pilate: “Crucify Him, crucify Him! His blood is on us and on our children!” They, along with the priests and Pharisees, mocked Jesus hanging on the cross, saying: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.”

And now, when the sun darkened and darkness fell throughout the entire earth, they shuddered in horror, realizing their grave sin, and slowly dispersed, hanging their heads low and beating their chests.

But not everyone shuddered: a part of the hopelessly stubborn remained, those who cruelly persecuted the Apostle Paul and stoned him, those whose descendants to this day do not want to know their Messiah.

April 23, 2024

Homily Two for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

The memorable days of the world-saving sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ will soon come, and on this Sunday the Church has decided to read the Gospel, in which the Lord predicted His future sufferings as if they were present. It was He who said: “Behold, we are ascending to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the high priests and scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him over to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and beat Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him; and on the third day he will rise again” (Mark 10:33–34). So the Lord knew in advance everything that would happen to Him in Jerusalem, all the details of His humiliation, His suffering and death, and did not shy away from them, but gladly and cheerfully went to drink the bitter cup of suffering for the world and for the ungrateful Jews themselves who crucified Him, in order to serve the common salvation of all. Oh, immeasurable love! Oh, immeasurable condescension! Oh, wonderful patience!

Homily Sixteen on the Passion (St. Luke of Simferopol)


Homily Sixteen on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1954)

Blood... blood... blood everywhere... It has been pouring on the earth since the human race began to exist. It flows continuously to this day...

The whole earth is soaked in blood... If it were possible to collect this blood and pour it onto the earth again, then the earth would be covered with blood “even to the horse’s bridles.”

The devil himself taught to shed this blood. It was shed by love of money, lust for power, pride, debauchery, ambition, and envy. It was shed by human malice and hatred.

The murderers who shed this blood will appear at the Last Judgment - they will appear with bloody hands, in clothes stained with blood, and will hear from the terrible Judge: “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

April 22, 2024

The Virtues of Saint Savvas of Kalymnos


Eldress Philothei, Abbess of the Sacred Monastery of All Saints, described the virtues of Saint Savvas of Kalymnos as follows:

He was lenient and merciful to the sins of others, he did not tolerate blasphemy and condemnation.

These two greatly disturbed him.

His severe asceticism gave him the fragrance of his body, but also the disease.

As with all God's people, Fr. Savvas did not lack "the thorn in the flesh." He suffered with his prostate and a severe abdominal condition. He had an operation for the prostate and was cured.

When they told him to go to Athens to be treated for the abdominal disease, he replied:

Homily One for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

Beloved brothers and sisters! I want to tell you today and somewhat explain today’s reading from the Apostle and the Gospel. From the Apostle - there was a reading of part of the epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to the Hebrews about the cleansing power of the blood of Christ the Savior, who offered Himself as a sacrifice to God the Father for the sins of the whole world (Heb. 9:11-14); and from the Gospel - the story of the Evangelist Mark was read about how the Lord Jesus Christ predicted in advance to His twelve apostles, including Judas the traitor, that He, our Lord, “will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again” (Mark 10:33–34). Further, in the Gospel it was read about the inappropriate request of two disciples, the brothers James and John, that they should take first places when Jesus Christ was glorified, and how the Lord meekly rebuked them, saying “that the way to His glory is the way of the cross, suffering and death"; about the indignation of the other disciples at the claims of James and John, and about the instruction that the Lord gave them all on this matter, namely, that “whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant; and whoever wants to be first among you must be slave of all,” as He Himself “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43–45).

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