February 29, 2024

The Irony of the Only Greek Orthodox Church Dedicated to Saint John Cassian Being in Nicosia

It is ironic that the only Greek Orthodox Church dedicated to Saint John Cassian is located in Nicosia of Cyprus. According to a folk tradition among Greeks, which stems from the fact that Saint John Cassian is only celebrated every four years because his feast falls on February 29th, the binary leap year, he is considered the only officially "unfairly treated" Saint of the Church. It is said that this day was imposed on him because in Paradise he was being "mischeivous" and would disperse "fiery demons" from there. The respected Professor of Modern Greek History at the University of Cyprus, Mr. Petros Papapolyvios, informs us that in modern Greek literature, Georgios Vizyinos (1884) and Christos Christovasilis (1903) refer to this specific punishment. Nicosia also, as the capital of Cyprus, is divided into a binary, with half of it being under the Greeks while the other half under the Turks. During the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the invasion stopped just 30 meters away from the Church of Saint Cassian, which is considered a miracle on his part, and from there the binary division took place.

February 28, 2024

The Unorthodox Position on Holy Relics by a Cypriot Theologian

By Vasilios Haralambous, theologian

In an article published on the SigmaLive website dated 2/2/2024, titled "Theological Battle for the Holy Zoni: The Child Resurrected - Divine Grace is Not Stored," we note, among other things, the following: "A great uproar has been caused in the last few days on the subject of the circulation of relics, bones and icons for veneration."

Unfortunately, these things are mentioned on the occasion of the Holy Zoni of our Panagia arriving in Cyprus. However, there has been no commotion. No disturbance has been caused. There was no turmoil, no confusion. The Cypriot state officially welcomed the Holy Zoni of the Panagia, together with the people of Cyprus. What ruckus are they talking about?

Not even the political parties were worried about the arrival of the Holy Zoni, as a multitude of people from all parties venerated the miraculous Holy Zoni of our Panagia. Those who did not want to venerate, have not announced it.

February 27, 2024

Select Sayings of Saint Ephraim of Katounakia

- Papa-Ephraim was able to see the grace of a priest. If he saw the priest from the side door of the Sanctuary, he would perceive how much grace he has.

- Someone asked him how divine Grace is seen, and he replied: "To the beginners as a cloud, to the advanced (intermediates) as fire and to the perfect as light."

- "According to the faith and reverence you have in someone, you benefit and receive grace."

- “A person can perceive if someone is in a lower spiritual state from himself, but he cannot perceive the one who is in a higher spiritual state than himself."

Saint Joseph the Hesychast Explains Why an Icon "Spoke" to Saint Ephraim of Katounakia

Elder Gabriel lived alone his strict monastic life in a small house which was the extension of a cave, very close to the Cell of Saint Ephraim of Katounakia.

He was often visited by Elder Ephraim, to perform priestly duties.

Once, when together with Papa-Nikephoros he was celebrating the Mystery of the Prayer Oil [Holy Unction], Elder Ephraim heard a voice from the icon of the Archangels saying to him:

February 26, 2024

"From the Moment the Triodion Begins, One Must Begin to Journey Towards Golgotha" (St. Paisios the Athonite)

Saint Paisios the Athonite said:

"From the moment the Triodion begins, one must begin to journey towards Golgotha. And, if he takes advantage of this period spiritually, when he dies, his soul will ascend, without being hindered by tolls and customs.

Every year these holy days come, but every year we also lose a year and that's the point. Did we utilize it spiritually or did we waste it on material things?"

Source: Ὁσίου Παϊσίου Ἁγιορείτου, Λόγοι Στ', Περὶ προσευχῆς, p. 98. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

February 25, 2024

Homily One on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on February 25, 1945)

Great Lent is approaching, a time of prayer and repentance, the most important time of our lives, for there is nothing more important for the Christian soul than repentance and prayer.

When the Lord Jesus Christ came out to preach His message, the first thing He said was: “Repent!” (Matthew 4:17).

There are many great human deeds, but there is none so great, so important as repentance and prayer, for in prayer the spirit of man has direct communication with the Spirit of God. And the one whose prayer becomes bottomlessly deep and therefore extremely effective knows from his own experience how communication with the Spirit of God occurs. He knows that in prayer people receive direct instructions from God and the true direction of their life activities.

February 24, 2024

Before the "Triodion" (Demetrios Panagopoulos)

 By Demetrios Panagopoulos

There is a lot of talk every year during the days that the Triodion opens, both by the so-called believers, as well as by the non-believers, the indifferent, and indeed mainly by them.

But there is a misunderstanding regarding the interpretation of the words "opening of the Triodion".

Because we see the unbelievers, the cold, the indifferent in matters of religion, but also many of the Christians in name, interpreting the words "opening of the Triodion" to mean that the period has come for revelry, masquerade, debauchery, intoxication, corruption of soul and body. That is why we see so many strange things taking place these days.

However, the real interpretation of the "opening of the Triodion" is not the above, but the below.

The Findings of the Head of Saint John the Baptist

The Findings of the Head of John the Baptist are Orthodox feasts in honor of the most revered part of the relics of John the Baptist - his head. In the tradition of the Orthodox Church, there are legends about three discoveries of the head of John the Baptist; a separate celebration has been established in honor of each. The first discovery took place in the 4th century, the second in the 5th century, and the third in the 9th century. The feast of the first and second miraculous findings is celebrated by the Orthodox Church on February 24 (March 9) - in non-leap years, and on February 24 (March 8) in leap years. In addition, on May 25 (June 7) the third finding of the head is celebrated.

Currently, the actual location of the relic remains unclear, with many who claim to at least have some portion of the head. In medieval times, it was rumored that the Knights Templar had possession of the head, and multiple records from their Inquisition in the early 14th century make reference to some form of head veneration. Islamic tradition places the head of John the Baptist in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, while Catholicism places it in the Church of San Silvestro in Capite. In addition, mention is made of the front part of the skull in the Cathedral of Amiens (France), brought there from the Fourth Crusade when the crusaders looted Constantinople, and parts of the head are said to be in Turkish Antioch and in one of the monasteries of Armenia. The Romanian Prodromos Skete on Mount Athos also makes a claim, among others.

February 21, 2024

Fr. John Romanides as a Professor of Dogmatics at Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston (8 of 8)

f. Death and Selfless Love

"Death is the devil's weapon throughout the world; it is also God's weapon against the devil. God created man for selfless love. Man in turn fell into a double death. Deprived of divine grace, he is unable to do good, even if he wants to do good. As long as he is under the state of death, he is unable to live according to his original purpose.

He has within himself the instinct of self-preservation, which manifests itself in two ways - psychologically and physically. Everyone wants to secure themselves. When he tries to secure himself psychologically, he sins. When he strives psychically, then he takes steps towards salvation. Man seeks physical security, because he needs food, shelter, clothes, etc. (to be protected from the elements of nature). It is obvious that he is automatically interested in himself. If not, he will kill himself. Being concerned about physical security is a natural phenomenon. It is not a sin. Christ Himself cared about it. These are called blameless passions, but they are not considered sins (sadness, lamentation, etc. are blameless passions when they have a good purpose). According to the Platonists, all these are sins, due to the body being the prison of the soul; they belong to the appetitive and incensive parts of the soul.

February 19, 2024

"If a Priest, Be a Priest; If a Ploughman, a Ploughman" (Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By  Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
In Parliament recently, when they were debating the Bill on the "civil marriage of homosexuals" and "adoption", the phrase "If a Priest, be a Priest; if a Ploughman, a Ploughman" (ἤ παπᾶς παπᾶς ἤ ζευγᾶς ζευγᾶς) was heard as a response to the Church and its spokesmen, some journalists considered it a contemptuous response to the Archbishop, after the positions formulated by the Church on this matter.

The Origin of the Phrase

Takis Natsoulis in his book Words and Proverbial Phrases (Λέξεις καί φράσεις παροιμιώδεις) writes about the origin of this proverb:

"If a Priest, be a Priest; if a Ploughman, a Ploughman". This is also an expression that we hear regularly and the first person who said it and it reached our time was the Old Man of Morea, Theodoros Kolokotronis.

One day when they had appointed a meeting, in order to go and hold an ambush, after receiving information that they would pass through an Arvanite village, one of his lads was late in coming. He was a priest who had given up his teleliturgical duties and had dedicated himself to the holy struggle of liberating his homeland from unbelieving enemies. Where he was ready to give the order to the troops to begin, seen from afar was Papa-Lefteris coming running.

When the Old Man asked why he was late, he replied that, as he was passing through the village, he saw the widow of the ill-fated Thanasis who was killed, trying to plow her field, but it was impossible for her. "Then I felt sorry for her and remained behind to help her."

"If a Priest, be a Priest; if a Ploughman, a Ploughman," Kolokotronis told him then and ordered them to begin.

February 18, 2024

Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday of Matthew (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday of Matthew

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin 

What should we do, listeners, in such a case when we do not receive from God what we ask for, despite the fact that we ask ourselves for something good, we ask with all our hearts, we ask with repentance for our sins? What to do? We must continue to pray more and more, and we will receive what we pray for.

The Canaanite woman mentioned in the current Gospel serves as the surest proof of this. She had a sick daughter possessed by an evil spirit. Jesus Christ appears in the country where she lived. Knowing about His miraculous power, the Canaanite woman hurried to Him and began to ask for the healing of her daughter. Jesus Christ at first did not answer a word to her request. She, despite this, did not retreat from Him. Jesus Christ refused her, but she did not stop asking, and even more persistently asked Him. How did it end? The mother’s prayer was heard: her daughter immediately recovered (see: Matt. 15:22–28).

Seventeenth Sunday of Matthew Resource Page

Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
(2 Corinthians 6:16-18; 7:1)

February 16, 2024

The Childhood Home of Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi Consecrated in Cyprus

In the village of Druseia of Paphos, a large number of people arrived from various regions of Cyprus to attend the consecration of the restored family home of Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi, who reposed in 2009 at Vatopaidi Monastery on Mount Athos.

It was in this house where he lived his childhood years with his peasant family and from where he left for Mount Athos to become a monk at the age of 15. Prior to this, he had to drop out of elementary school in the 4th grade in order to help his parents with the agricultural work.

This house, once deserted after the death of his parents Pantelis and Eugenia, was left to remind the few relatives of the humble mother and father of the late Elder, but also of the childhood of little Socrates, which was Elder Joseph's name before his monastic tonsure.

February 15, 2024

On Jealousy (St. Anthimos of Chios)

On Jealousy

By St. Anthimos of Chios

This passion can bring someone into great harm. Jealousy makes you abuse the other, criticize them, envy them, slander them, betray them. As a man grows, so does this passion. By no other means can it be eradicated except by supplication to God, by clear confession and contempt for this passion.

Even animals are jealous. But the animals as well children if they are jealous they do not feel it, but we who possess reason should we also possess such passions? Those who feel jealous never progress, we all have this evil, but some fight it and others mitigate it. When you fight it, it doesn't hurt you. This passion makes you to be envious, to hate your sibling, to be angry, to be full of malice. If one does not take care to eliminate it from themselves it will consume them.

Source: From the book Άγιου Ανθίμου Χίου, Διδαχές Πνευματικές – Άρτος Ζωής, published by the Monastery of the Panagia Voithia in Chios. Translated by John Sanidopoulos. 

February 13, 2024

Homily on Saint Martinian (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On Saint Martinian

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on February 13/26, 1948)

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For 'the two,' He says, 'shall become one flesh'” (1 Cor. 6:15–17).

These words of the holy Apostle Paul penetrated the heart of that Venerable Martinian, whose memory we are now commemorating, penetrating with such force that they took possession of his whole heart. All his thoughts were focused on maintaining purity, so as to never, ever fall into fornication, for fornication is something that defiles us like nothing else.

February 12, 2024

Homily for the 16th Sunday of Matthew on the Parable of the Talents (Patriarch Germanos II of Constantinople)

Sixteenth Sunday of Matthew

Parable of the Talents

(Matthew 25:14-30)

By Patriarch Germanos II of Constantinople (+ 1240) 

The farmers who guard the fields and orchards of their masters are in the habit of gathering whatever flowers they find beautiful and fragrant, and offering them to their masters; and if they have other friends, they give them to them as well. Those receiving the lilies with joy, they thank and give gifts to the farmers, although they receive no other benefit from those flowers than that they please the sight for a little while and that they perfume their sense of smell. And we, the spiritual farmers and teachers, to whom the Lord has entrusted us with the evergreen meadow of the holy Gospel and we tend such a beautiful and fruitful orchard, do not only once a year offer you, our beloved brethren and friends, bountiful flowers of the summer, but daily we collect spiritual words from the evergreen Paradise of Scripture and teach you with much desire and diligence, delighting your souls with various admonitions and examples, by which you benefit, repent of your sins and find eternal salvation. Therefore, receive the teaching with joy, brethren, and expel the stench of sin with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit; and after you are thus cleansed, you will become the temple of God and dwelling places of divine grace. Therefore listen to today's parable of our Lord, and may you receive much benefit in your soul, especially those who are negligent and idle, who do not take care to transmit to their brethren and neighbor the gift that each one has according to his art and science. Take heed therefore with much precision.

February 11, 2024

Homily for the Sixteenth Sunday of Matthew (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 16th Sunday of Matthew

Parable of the Talents

(Matthew 25:14-30)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on October 7, 1951)

You heard a very important parable of Christ in this Gospel reading. Try to delve into it and understand it properly.

You know the content of this parable, but I will begin my homily from the end of it, from the words with which our Savior ended it: “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”

If these words are heard by a person who is not spiritual, but soulful, a man of this world, he will not only not understand them, but will be indignant: how is it that he who has much will have more, and whoever has nothing will have his last taken away?

Homily for the Epistle Reading on the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost (St. Luke of Simferopol)

16th Sunday after Pentecost

Be Afraid to Accept the Hour of Death Without Repentance

(2 Corinthians 6:1-10)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

Enemies constantly pursued the prophet David and tried to kill him many times. Once, being in extreme danger, he said to those around him: “I am only one step away from death.”

I remember these words now because a week ago I had to repeat them. Only one step was between me and death - for several hours I lay completely without a pulse, from minute to minute my heart was ready to stop. But the Lord had mercy on me. True, I still feel weak, so I can only talk to you while sitting. But I want to tell you about remembering the hour of death, for each of us must die, and this can happen suddenly.

Our life is short, we cannot waste short days and hours in carelessness. We must always remember the hour of death and be faithful to Christ as He Himself commanded in the Revelation of the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian - when he spoke about the seven Angels of the Asia Minor Churches, He called the bishops of these Churches Angels and said to one of these Angels: “Be faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).

Homily on the Parable of the Talents (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

Homily on the Parable of the Talents

On God-Created Inequality

(Matthew 25:14-30)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

God creates inequality; men grumble at it. Are men wiser than God? When God creates inequality, it means that inequality is wiser and better than equality. God creates inequality for man’s good, but men cannot see the good in their inequality. God creates inequality because of the beauty of inequality, but men can see no beauty in it. God creates inequality out of love, that is aroused and sustained by inequality, but man can see no love in it.

This is a primitive human revolt of blindness against perception, of folly against wisdom, of evil against good, of ugliness against beauty, of malice against love. Eve and Adam gave themselves into Satan’s power in order to become equal with God. Cain slew his brother Abel because their sacrifices were not equally righteous in God’s sight. From then till now, sinful men have waged war on inequality. Before then, though, God created inequality, and it is still with us. Before then, we say, because God created the angels unequal.

Sixteenth Sunday of Matthew Resource Page

February 10, 2024

"Hands up. Knives down. Tonight there was a miracle of Saint Haralambos at the Polyclinic!"

Nikolaos and Andreas Alivizatos, founders of the Athens Polyclinic in 1903

A miracle of Saint Haralambos for Konstantinos Livadas, an employee of the Hellenic Court of Audit, when he was young. Here's how he describes it:

"In January 1931 I was hospitalized at the Athens Polyclinic with an abscess in the liver. For four weeks I was tormented by fever. I had a temperature between 38-40 °C (100-104 °F) at night and terrible pain. It was decided to do an operation.

It was the eve of Saint Haralambos, February 9, 1931. In the evening and while I was in a lethargic and exhausted state due to the high fever, I saw a priestly man with a long beard enter my room. He approached me and not the patient across from me who was suffering from peritonitis.

He caressed my head and said:

"Don't be afraid... Tomorrow you will be perfectly fine. You're a good kid."

February 8, 2024

Homily on the Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Stratelates (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On the Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Stratelates

By S. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

Recently I spoke in the cemetery church about the very important significance for us of the lives of the saints.

Yesterday in Alushta there was a temple feast in memory of the transfer of the relics of the Holy Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates. I would like to introduce you to the life of this great saint.

He was a Stratelates, that is, a military leader in the city of Heraclea near the Black Sea and lived at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th century after the Nativity of Christ.

The news reached Emperor Licinius that Theodore was a Christian and was turning the inhabitants of Heraclea away from the pagan gods, and he demanded Theodore to come to Nicomedia.

February 7, 2024

Fr. John Romanides as a Professor of Dogmatics at Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston (7 of 8)

...continued from part six.

e. Orthodox Anthropology

"According to Plato, the real human being is in the intelligible world. In order to see the intelligible world, one must start from the phenomena, which reflect the idea, and reach the prototype. The real knowledge of the truth is to know the idea. This is why the philosopher studies the phenomena in the world.

For the Platonists, this world is a bad copy. The Papists identify the ideas of Plato with the essence of God. Plato's intelligible world is the Sophia or the Logos for the popes. For them there is no distinction between essence and energy. When God, they say, created the world, He simply copied His essence. That is, the world is a copy of the archetype. The first to make such an identification was Augustine. If we accept these conditions we will notice what is the position of the Natural Theology of the Western Church. According to Westerners, a simple man can learn about the essence of God, if he studies the present world. The Gnostics say that an inferior creator god did a bad copy of the intelligible world. This is because God is perfect and the perfect cannot be copied. 'Be perfect, as our Father is perfect.'"

February 6, 2024

The Controversial Canonization of Saint Photios the Great

There is evidence showing that the veneration of Patriarch Photios I the Great of Constantinople as a saint has origins going back to the 10th century, as we see also in his veneration in the West until the 12th century.

His official canonization as a saint, however, was accomplished by the Patriarchate of Constantinople under Patriarch Anthimos VI in 1848, in the context of acute opposition to the proselytism of Catholics and other Western confessions in the territory under Ottoman rule. Because Patriarch Anthimos VI had issued anti-Russian statements during the Crimean War and later proclaimed the Bulgarian Schism in 1872, the canonization was not accepted in the calendar of the Russian Church. On the 1000th anniversary of the death of Saint Photios, on February 6, 1891, an official celebration took place at the Theological School of Halki; the Russians were not invited.

There were three different views of Patriarch Photios among the Russians at the time: Slavists, who valued Patriarch Photios for his role in the Christian education of the Slavs; Graecophiles, who demanded that the name of Patriarch Photios be included in the Russian calendars; Anti-"Eastern Papists", who recognized the historical and theological merits of Patriarch Photios, but firmly stood on the non-recognition of his canonization because Constantinople instituted it.

A Portion of the Skull of Saint Photios the Great

A portion of the sacred skull of Saint Photios the Great is kept at Kykkos Monastery in Cyprus.

Replica of a 42 Foot Statue of Emperor Constantine the Great Reconstructed in Rome

According to the Associated Press (Feb. 6, 2024):

Emperor Constantine, the 4th century ruler whose embrace of Christianity helped spread the Christian faith throughout the Roman Empire, now has a reconstructed statue befitting his larger-than-life role in history.

Rome authorities on Tuesday unveiled a massive, 13-meter (yard) replica of the statue Constantine commissioned for himself after 312 AD. It was imagined using 3D modelling technology from scans of the nine giant original marble body parts that remain.

The result: An imposing figure of a seated emperor, draped in a gilded tunic and holding a sceptre and orb, gazing out over his Rome from a side garden of the Capitoline Museums. The reconstructed statue is located just around the corner from the museum courtyard where the original fragments of Constantine’s giant feet, hands and head are prime tourist attractions.

Reconstituted into its original whole, the statue inspires awe in the smaller viewers below – just as Constantine originally intended for his subjects, officials said at the unveiling.

“In this statue there’s not just beauty, there’s the violence of power,” said Salvatore Settis, an archaeologist and art historian who is on the steering committee of the Fondazione Prada, the cultural and educational arm of the Milan-based fashion house which financed the project.

Officials declined to say how much the initiative cost, but the actual replica was made by the Factum Foundation, a Madrid-based non-profit that creates high-resolution digital replicas of the world’s cultural patrimony.

“This whole dynamic about how you use technology to transform our understanding of and the importance of cultural heritage is the core mission of Factum Foundation,” said the group’s founder Adam Lowe.

The statue itself is made from resin, polyurethane and marble powder for the body, and gold leaf and plaster for the gilded tunic that drapes over it.

A second version of the statue is to be installed in northeast England, where Constantine guarded the Hadrian’s Wall fortification before being crowned emperor in Rome.

See also: Re-creating the Colossus of Constantine


February 5, 2024

On Spiritual Love (St. Theoleptos of Philadelphia)

 By St. Theoleptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia (1250-1322)

1. I would like to praise the virtue of love, but its greatness cannot be described in words. Because this, the most important among all the other virtues, as the head of the good, can only be understood empirically, that is, when one operates it and experiences it as his personal possession. That is why this wonderful virtue of love is known to those who have been found worthy to walk its path.

Love is described by many in words, but only those who have made it the possession of their hearts, show it in their God-pleasing works. These latter are much more worthy of admiration. However, since the great value of the virtue of love exceeds the capacity of my speech, I will venture to extol it briefly, in order to motivate many to embrace it and practice it.

2. Love, my beloved sisters, is a work that takes place in the soul, it warms the heart, illuminates the nous, activates the intellect to study the word of God and stimulates all the psychosomatic forces to work on God's commandments.

God has given the gift of love to man since the moment of his creation. Man received it and wore it as a beautiful and dignified garment, but the robber of our souls, the devil, tore it and left man naked and ashamed.

February 4, 2024

Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday of Matthew (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On the Insufficiency of Good Deeds Alone

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on July 4, 1948)

Among the people around us, there are people who do not believe in God, but who are nevertheless kind and do many good deeds. We often hear the question: “Well, isn’t this enough, won’t they be saved by their good deeds?” I have to give an answer. No, they will not be saved. Why won't they be saved? Because this is what our Lord and God Jesus Christ said when “the lawyer, tempting Him, asked, saying: 'Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law?' Jesus said to him, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart. ...This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is similar to it: love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matthew 22:35–39).

If faith in God, if love for God is the first and most important commandment in the law, and the second commandment about love for one’s neighbor follows from this first, receives its strength from love for God, then in order to be saved, one must love God with all one’s heart, for this is the first and greatest commandment of the law.

Gospel Commentary for the Fifteenth Sunday of Matthew (St. John Chrysostom)

Homily 71 on Matthew

By St. John Chrysostom

"But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together; and one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" (Matt. 22:34-36)

Again does the evangelist express the cause, for which they ought to have held their peace, and marks their boldness by this also. How and in what way? Because when those others were put to silence, these again assail Him. For when they ought even for this to hold their peace, they strive to urge further their former endeavors, and put forward the lawyer, not desiring to learn, but making a trial of Him, and ask, "What is the first commandment?"

For since the first commandment was this, "You shall love the Lord your God," thinking that He would afford them some handle, as though He would amend it, for the sake of showing that Himself too was God, they propose the question. What then says Christ? Indicating from what they were led to this; from having no charity, from pining with envy, from being seized by jealousy, He says, "You shall love the Lord your God. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39).

February 3, 2024

Fifteenth Sunday of Matthew Resource Page

Fifteenth Sunday of Matthew
(Matthew 22:35-46)

Saint Ignatios, Metropolitan of Mariupol (+ 1786)

By Monk Moses the Athonite

He was born at the beginning of the 18th century on the island of Thermi. This is probably Kythnos, in the Cyclades, which was also known as Thermia, because of the healing hot springs there. He was the scion of the well-known and devout Yezedinos family.

As a young man he went to the Holy Mountain, where a relative was a monk at the Monastery of Vatopaidi. Because he loved the monastic state with his whole heart, he abandoned every worldly vanity and was tonsured a monk with the name of Ignatios. Later he was ordained priest.

Because of his virtue, he was invited to be the shepherd of a far away flock, which was under the harsh yoke of the Tartars. In 1769, he was consecrated Bishop of Gothia and Caffa [Готфейский и Кефайский] in the Crimea. He was known as a kind-hearted and indefatigable bishop, who won the love and respect of his downtrodden flock. As a reward for his great service, the Patriarch of Constantinople gave him the title of Archbishop and made him a member of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

February 2, 2024

The Justinianic Bubonic Plague of 542 and the Establishment of the Feast of the Reception of Christ

By St. Dimitri of Rostov

The celebration of the Reception of the Lord was established in the reign of Justinian,1 but earlier, although the Reception of the Lord was commemorated in the Church,2 it was not solemnly celebrated. The pious Emperor Justinian established that this feast should be celebrated as a feast of the Lord and the Theotokos, along with other great feasts. Special circumstances motivated the establishment of this festival. During the reign of Justinian in Byzantium and its environs, for three months, starting from the last days of October, there was a strong plague, so that at first five thousand people died a day, and then ten thousand; the bodies of even rich and high-ranking people were left without burial, for the servants and slaves all died and there was no one to bury the masters themselves.

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