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).

Homily on the Passion for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent: On the Need for Prayer Amid Temptations

Homily on the Passion for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent

On the Need for Prayer Amid Temptations

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1964)
"Watch and pray, so that you do not fall into temptation: the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).

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

It was a terrible night, beloved brothers and sisters, which began with the sorrows of our Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane. That night He endured a painful internal struggle within himself, terrible mental suffering, which was a foretaste of the torments of the cross. He grieved that night and was horrified by the sorrowful cup that He had to drink from. This night ended with the initial suffering of the God-man in the courtyard of the high priest Caiaphas.

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

Homily Fifteen on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1954)

The holy head with the crown of thorns sank low onto his chest...

This head was beaten with sticks, and the sharp thorns pierced it deeply. Blood dripped and flowed down his face onto his parched lips. It's still dripping...

For what?! For what?!

Because the mouth full of righteousness rebuked the chief priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees. Also so that this mouth would be silent and not dare to rebuke again. So that the great truth of God, pouring out of Him, would not overshadow the truth of the Old Testament and would not interfere with the authority of the leaders of the people, who were alien to the truth.

April 21, 2024

Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent - Saint Mary of Egypt (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

(Delivered in 1999)

Today, the Fifth Sunday of the Holy Fast, our holy Church puts forward the figure of Saint Mary of Egypt. Her life is moving. Seventeen years in sin. She lured many people into sin. When she heard that people were going on a pilgrimage, she also wanted to go to Jerusalem to see what was going on. Mostly out of curiosity. But beneath the curiosity lay some spark of God's Grace.

And as you know, for her fare, because she had no money for the ship from Alexandria to Palestine, she gave her body to sin with the sailors. And when she arrived in the Holy Land of Jerusalem and saw all the people going to the Church of the Resurrection to venerate the Honorable Cross, this unfortunate woman also went to enter, but an invisible force pushed her away, and did not let her go in. She was hindered by her sins.

April 20, 2024

Homily Two on the Passion for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent: On the Suffering of the Savior

Homily Two on the Passion for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent

On the Suffering of the Savior

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1963)
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18).

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

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, the Holy Gospel has now revealed before our mind’s eye a stunning picture of the terrible suffering and death of the God-man – Christ the Savior. What Christian heart will not tremble and be moved by tenderness when hearing about such painful sufferings of our Lord? All the more should we be distressed in our hearts from the realization that each of those standing here is to some extent guilty of the torments of the Divine Sufferer on Golgotha.

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

Homily Fourteen on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 23, 1952)

The narrative about the last days and hours of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ, which you have just heard, is full of the deepest edifications for us.

You must think deeply about every word of this terrible story and keep it in your heart.

I know that these holy words shake you. I know that you listened with amazement to the words of the thief crucified with Jesus: “Remember me, Lord, when You come in Your Kingdom.”

And the answer of the Lord Jesus amazed you even more: “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

April 19, 2024

Akathist Hymn: The History of a Hymn in Honor of the Panagia

By Spyros Symeon

The Akathist Hymn, or as it is known in more popular language as the Salutations to the Panagia, was chanted for the first time in the Temple of Blachernae in Constantinople in the 7th century and is a masterpiece of Byzantine hymnography.

During it, all the faithful stood up for joy but also to pay honor to the Panagia to whom the hymn refers, hence the name Akathist [Non-Sitting] Hymn.

It glorifies the Panagia and through her the All-Good God, which is done with many expressions of joy in a triumphant tone and with the use of many flattering adjectives and figures of speech with metaphors and contrasts to emphasize the graces of the Panagia.

It consists of 24 oikoi, i.e. stanzas, that each begin with one of the corresponding 24 letters of the Greek alphabet and all these oikoi are in absolute alphabetical order from Alpha to Omega, while at the same time they are written with isosyllabic and homophonic and in many cases rhyming canons.

Homily One on the Passion for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent: Our Sins Are a Reason for Tears

Homily One on the Passion for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent

Our Sins Are a Reason for Tears

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1961)
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

"Daughters of Jerusalem! Weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children" (Luke 23:28). These words were spoken by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the difficult moments of His suffering, the sorrowful story of which you have just heard from the Holy Gospel of Luke. Delivered into the hands of enemies through the treachery of one of His close disciples, the Divine Sufferer was dragged from court to court, from one trial to another, and He Who had not committed the slightest sin was greeted everywhere as a notorious villain worthy of the most cruel and shameful execution.

Neither in the courts of Annas and Caiaphas, nor in Pilate’s praetorium, nor in the house of Herod - nowhere does He see fair attention, greetings, or compassionate participation. His appearance is dishonorable, like the appearance of a terrible criminal imprisoned in chains. The menacing cries of an excited and angry crowd can be heard all around; there is no end to unjust and cruel grievances and no words for expression. They mock Him and laugh evilly at Him. They strike him in the face. They put a crown of thorns on Him, from which blood flows in streams from His head and falls in hot drops to the ground. Everyone, everyone abandoned Him, even those with whom He constantly shared His work and conversations. There is nowhere for Him to turn His gaze so that His sorrowful soul can find joy and consolation.

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

Homily Thirteen on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 9, 1952)

Twenty centuries have already passed since the great teaching of love was preached by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thousands of millions of people called and call themselves Christians, but God! How many of them are only nominal Christians, who in fact are always guided not only by the law of love, but by the law of violence and blood. Countless, like the snowflakes of a long snowfall, are the violence of the strong against the weak. Blood has flowed and is being shed by these Christians in name only.

When light rain drizzles for a whole week, it only causes annoyance, but if torrential rain ever pours down in torrents, then everyone will shake and shudder.

April 16, 2024

The Special Bond Between Saint Nektarios and Saint Amphilochios

1. When Saint Nektarios built the monastery for his spiritual daughters in Aegina, a newly ordained young deacon would regularly come and officiate with him; this was the future Elder Amphilochios Makris, who at the time was a spiritual child of Saint Nektarios. Saint Nektarios discerned the holiness of Amphilochios and that the Holy Spirit dwelt within him. He had revealed this to the nuns of the monastery, when they asked Saint Nektarios why he allowed a young man to come and liturgize with him and commune the nuns, since the monastery was avaton to men, that is, no man was allowed on the grounds of the monastery except their elderly spiritual father, who also allowed only Elder Amphilochios Makris and Elder Philotheos Zervakos. The Saint replied to them that though they had a point in wondering why he allowed this, still "this young man Amphilochios will one day be venerated as a Saint."

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

Homily Twelve on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 8, 1951)

A hard, sorrowful path has been taken, the Via Dolorosa has ended.

They came to the terrible Golgotha, dug a hole, immersed the cross of Jesus in it and strengthened it.

They take off Jesus' clothes - that's it, all the clothes are taken off...

Oh my God! What are they doing?!

The angels, cherubim and seraphim who saw this covered their faces with their wings in horror. How could they see the nakedness of the One who adorned all the nature He created with indescribable beauty, and now stands naked and awaits a terrible execution!

April 15, 2024

The "New Moses" and the "Secret Tablets" - A Reference to Saint John Climacus

The "New Moses" and the "Secret Tablets"

A Reference to Saint John Climacus

(A Vesperal Homily)

By Hierodeacon Paisios Paraskevas


Saint John of Sinai, the author of "The Ladder", the most famous of the ascetic writers of the Church, is a brilliant ascetic as a "composer", and a great mystagogue of the pastoral art as a "teacher". His book "The Ladder" is perhaps the only patristic book that became an illustration in the iconographic tradition of Orthodoxy, which shows the enormous appeal it had and still has, not only to monastics but also to every faithful Christian.

Hieromonk Dionysios of Fourna describes beautifully in his "Interpretation of the Art of Painting" the scene of the "soul-saving and heaven-directed Ladder":

"There is a monastery and outside its gate, is a multitude of monks, young and old, before whom is a high and great ladder reaching to the sky, and on it are monks. Some are ascending, others begin to ascend, and above them are flying angels as if helping them. Up in the sky is Christ and in front of him on the top step of the ladder is a very old clothed and priestly monk with outstretched hands, who looks towards Him; the Lord in one hand receives him with joy, in the other He holds a crown of various flowers on top of it, saying to him: 'Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' And under the ladder there are a multitude of flying demons, seizing the monks by their cassocks; some are pulled and they cannot push them off, others are being slightly dragged from the ladder; others are almost knocked down (yet they are holding onto the ladder, some with one hand, others with both); others have been completely knocked down, being carried from their waist; and below them is the omnivorous Hades as a great and terrible dragon. He has a single monk face-down in his mouth, only his feet are visible."

The great Father of the 10th century, Saint Symeon the New Theologian, "searched through his family library and took out the Ladder of the divinely-sweet John," and reading the 17th chapter "On Insensitivity" he received an impetuous spirit of repentance. The Venerable Hierotheos of Iveron (+ 1745) accidentally reading "The Ladder", hated so much the vain glory that the worldly education he possessed so richly offered him that "instead of sailing to Italy, he went to the Holy Mountain and settled in a quiet place."

a) A Short Biography of the Saint

We will offer very quickly a small outline of the life of the Saint. Saint John was born at the beginning of the 6th century and was brought up, it seems, in a wealthy family, and the well-rounded education he received was particularly important for his time, to such an extent that he was given the nickname "scholastic", the origin of which is from his schooling. At the age of 16, he renounced the flesh, the world and the prince of this world and took the monastic schema under the guidance of Abba Martyrios of Sinai. After the Abba reposed, he retreated to the quietness of the cave of Tholas, where he lived an ascetic life for forty consecutive years. Towards the end of his life, he was elected abbot of the Sinai monastery. This ministry of his was likely short-lived, as he spent the last period of his life again in his beloved quietness. There he composed the famous "Ladder", this masterpiece of ecclesiastical ascetic writing. He reposed on the 30th of March, probably in the year 600, and "beautified with virtues" he ascended the entire ladder of earthly perfection, entering solemnly into the heavenly Divine Liturgy, as the sacred iconographers also vividly depict in the depiction of the heaven-directed Ladder.

b) Characteristics - Nicknames

Saint John had and has a huge influence on the formulation of the spiritual and ascetic teaching of the Church through his work "The Ladder". So great is the recognition that this book has within the Church, that, while initially the book took value from the recognizability of the author, "The Ladder of John of Sinai", over time the author began to be defined by his work: "John of the Ladder" (John Climacus). In the years of the Turkish occupation, John now became simply "Climacus"; "Readings from Climacus" is how the rubrics of the "Triodion" typically describe them.

There are many Fathers who refer to the personality and writings of Saint John Climacus, who "like a luminary shone in the ascetic state", is the "great professor" according to John of Raithu, "the greatest" and "thrice-venerable" and "angel among men" according to Saint Neophytos the Recluse, who is "divinely-sweet" according to Niketas Stethatos, the one who built with words "the ladder which carries us to heaven" according to Saint Gregory Palamas, "the great father" according to Nikephoros the monastic, "the common teacher of all things and full of divine wisdom" according to Mark the Monk.

However, apart from all these characteristics - and many others -, Saint John has already been called by his contemporaries and fellow ascetics with one more nickname, which later described his spiritual height and depth. This characterization is "New Moses".

c) The "New Moses" - The First References

It is known who Moses is. He is the great Prophet, the one who "passed through the waters as if it were dry ground", the Guide to the Promised Land, the Lawgiver and God-seer, the model of the perfect life according to Saint Gregory of Nyssa.

The weighty and very meaningful name "New Moses" was attributed to Saint John while he was still alive and it seems that it prevailed even after he reposed in the Sinai desert.

First of all, the first person who describes Saint John Climacus as a "New Moses" is his friend and fellow ascetic John of Raithu, who asks him to teach him everything "as Moses of old saw in divine vision" on Mount Sinai. He will keep his advice "as divinely-written tablets", as, that is, Israel received the tablets that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.

The second person in history to call Saint John "the New Moses" is his biographer, Daniel of Raithu, who describes him "as a newly-appeared Moses."

A little later, the monk Anastasios of Sinai, the so-called short story writer, in his turn describes the Saint as a "New Moses": "As our new Moses, the most-venerable John the abbot, was about to go to the Lord," etc.

As one of the epigrams on "The Ladder" says:  

"You were seen as another divine Moses,
Receiving from heaven which is greater than from the mountains
The secret all-revered tablets
From the hand of the God and Master Himself."

d) Parallels Between the Prophet Moses and Saint John Climacus

We will now try to identify some parallels from the lives of the Prophet Moses and Saint John Climacus, with a reductive character, relying on the work of Saint Gregory of Nyssa "On the Life of Moses the Lawgiver". These biographical parallels make Saint John truly a "New Moses".

1. Parallels Before the Exodus

The newborn Prophet Moses was thrown by his natural parents into the waters of the Nile River in the hope that he would avoid the death that the Pharaoh had legislated for all the male infants of the Jews. There, in the waters of the river, the childless daughter of the Pharaoh found him in a basket and seeing the beauty of the infant, she decided to keep him and place him in the pharaonic palaces, raising him as her own, naturally offering him all the worldly wisdom and knowledge of the time. Saint Gregory of Nyssa, in his work, identifies the childless daughter of the Pharaoh with worldly wisdom, "which is always in labor but never gives birth." As Moses grows up, he refuses to be called "son of the daughter of Pharaoh", according to the Apostle Paul, as he considers "the reproach of Christ" to be greater wealth than all the Egyptian treasures. He retired to the mountains, to a life of quietness, tending the flock of the foreigner Jethro, whose daughter he married. There in the quiet, in the barren life of the shepherd, he sees the awesome sight of the burning yet unburnt bush, that is, he becomes a partaker of the glory of God. Strengthened by this vision, he returns to Egypt to free Israel from bondage to the Pharaoh. On the way back, Jethro's foreign daughter also follows him. In the person of the foreign wife again, Saint Gregory of Nyssa sees foreign education, and he writes: "The foreign wife will follow him, for there are certain things derived from worldly education which should not be rejected when we propose to give birth to virtue."

Saint John Climacus had a similar path. Until the age of 16, he received a rich secular education, to such an extent that he was called, as we said above, "scholastic". This is his "adoption" by Pharaoh's daughter. Then he embraced the quiet life on the mountain, that is, he embraced the monastic life in the quiet of contemplation. There he also grazed his sheep, that is, he managed to shepherd his senses - "the movements of the soul" - and make them calm and gentle, like the sheep. In the hesychast life of the Sinaitic desert and after his heart was purified and his nous was illumined, the unburnt bush of the vision of God appears to him. Strengthened by this vision, he decided to return to noetic Egypt and to liberate the new Israel, i.e. us faithful Christians, from the slavery of the noetic Pharaoh, the devil. On his return, however, he will be followed by the "foreigner", that is, the worldly wisdom that he possessed, and now he will use it to compose the oracles of the heavenly-destined Ladder, since "worldly education should not be rejected when we propose to give birth to virtue."

2. Parallels After the Exodus

The Prophet Moses gathered the people of Israel and began the escape from Egypt. With his rod, he split the Red Sea in two and crossed it "without getting his feet wet." He lived for 40 years in the desert, where he was fed by the manna and was covered and guided by the cloud. He reached Mount Sinai where he climbed to the top. However, before climbing to the top, he ordered his assistants not to allow any horse or animal to touch the mountain. There on the Mount of the Theophany he spoke with God and for the sake of the salvation of the people he brought down the purifying Tablets of the Covenant.

Similarly, Saint John began with the flight from the noetic Egypt, that is, the world and the secular mind, and reached the sea of purifying obedience to Abba Martyrios, which he made passable with the rod of patience and humility. Then he settled himself in the desert of the hesychastic life - for 40 years too - where he was nourished by the heavenly manna of prayer and was covered by the cloud of God's Grace. At the right time he ascended, like Moses, to the mountain of Vision, after first forbidding all irrational animals to touch it, that is, according to Saint Gregory of Nyssa, he transcended the knowledge that comes from the irrational senses including reason, since the vision of God is beyond and above them. On this mountain he "heard unspeakable words, not spoken by man" and returning, he recorded them with created words, meanings and images for the salvation of the new Israel, engraving them on his illuminating Spiritual Tablets, the salvific and heaven-destined Ladder.

e) The Spiritual Tablets and the Method

Just as Moses cannot be understood without the God-written tablets, without the reception and delivery of the spiritual law, so, too, the "New Moses" could not rightly be called this, if he did not also cut out his own secret spiritual tablets.

It should be noted that the title "The Ladder" was not the first title that Saint John's writing received. Its original name was "Ascetic Discourse Which Has Been Called Spiritual Tablets". However, with the passage of time and due to the great practical value of the methodical development of the work which starts "from the lowest" and ends "high in the air" and higher, the book received the descriptive name "The Ladder".

"The Ladder" is divided into 30 discourses. Each discourse speaks of a virtue or a passion and is symbolized in the heaven-directed Ladder with a step, a rung. This ladder begins with the renunciation of the vain life, passes through the practical virtues and ends in the three great theoretical virtues, Faith, Hope and Love and from there to the union with God.

The analogy of the book with a ladder is very important for the whole spiritual life of believers. No one can climb a ladder without danger, but from one step he climbs successively with safety to the next; "for no ladder that one climbs up can fail," as the Saint writes.

Therefore, a basic condition of the work is that, in order to rise to the next level, one must, as much as possible, have firmly stepped on the previous one. With this, Saint John warns us not to "be deceived by proud zeal" for the greatest virtues before the right time: "Let us not be deceived by proud zeal and seek prematurely what will come in its own good time; that is, we should not seek in winter what comes in summer, or at seed time what comes at harvest; because there is a time to sow labors, and a time to reap the unspeakable gifts of grace."

This spiritual method is not an invention of Saint John, but the tradition of the Church. Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite in his "Handbook of Counsels" gives a panoramic presentation of the patristic teaching, and also contains a chapter titled "That the Virtues Must Be Acquired in Order", where he notes:

"Saint Basil has written in his letter to Chilon that we must seek to acquire the virtues in order, that is, one by one, and not all of them together. Saint John Chrysostom also has taught this principle. We must distribute to ourselves the various virtues as the farmers their plantings. During this month, we will control reviling, insult, and unjust rage. During another month, we will train ourselves to avoid malice. During still another month, we will work on another virtue. When we acquire the habit of each virtue, then we proceed to another one. The virtues must be acquired one by one in order, and not all of them together, so that they do not become burdensome and difficult, but easy and light, as Saint Isaac said. The virtues must be acquired one by one, for the sake of being helpful and harmless. Saint Isaac said, 'Each virtue is the mother of the next one. But if you leave the mother who gives birth to each virtue and you seek after the daughters before you acquire their mother, those virtues will prove to be vipers in your soul. And if you do not put them away from yourself, you will surely die.'”

This spiritual method, as taught by our Metropolitan in his book "Empirical Dogmatics", is a basic element of the Prophetic, Apostolic and Patristic Tradition of the Church. He writes, preserving also the oral teaching of Father John Romanides: "Orthodox tradition is the transmission of all the revealed truth of the Prophets, Apostles and Fathers, but at the same time - in addition to the transmission of the revelation - it is also the transmission of the methodology in order for one to reach theoptia." In other words, it is about the how.

The most basic manual of this methodology is also the "Ladder of John" which, when the believer "lawfully" follows it, becomes able to taste the Grace of God, which initially is purifying and then illuminating and perfecting.

There is a method, but the method does not work on its own. Saint John knows and teaches us too that the pursuit of virtues can easily derail from its real purpose. Virtues as a means of preparation for our union with God can easily become an end in themselves. The basis of the life in Christ is our participation in the Mysteries of the Church with the always appropriate ascetic conditions, that is, the observance of the commandments of Christ, while the canvas on which this is painted is humility, because, as Saint John characteristically writes, what is required is not our struggle for these virtues per se, but humility. He writes, paraphrasing the Gospel: "By this everyone knows that we are God's disciples, not because the demons obey us, but because our names are written in the heaven of humility." And elsewhere he notes about the reward of labor that: "Some have tasted the spiritual rewards before the labors, some during the labors, some after the labors, while some others at the time of death. It is a question which of them was rendered more humble?"


The lesson, therefore, is that with a humble mindset in the Prophetic, Apostolic and Patristic tradition of the Church, through the "Ladder of John", the spiritual tablets of the New Moses, with the intercessions and prayers and the teaching of our Fathers, may we also go forth, the new Israel, from the noetic Egypt of the worldly mind, to escape from slavery to the noetic Pharaoh and the passions and to taste the grace of God, one at a measure of thirty, another at sixty and another at one hundred. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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

Homily Eleven on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 1, 1951)

When our Lord and God Jesus Christ ascended Mount Tabor to reveal His Divine glory there, then He took with Him three beloved disciples - Peter, James and John - and was transfigured before them, and showed His glory to them.

The hour of His terrible and indescribable suffering has come, and again He takes with Him the same three disciples - Peter, James and John - to the Garden of Gethsemane, departs with them from the rest of the disciples, orders them to watch and pray, and He Himself departs from them within a stone's throw and begins His painful last prayer to God.

If this time the Lord considered it necessary to take three disciples so that they would again be His witnesses, it means that what they had to see, hear and testify to was extremely important, no less great than His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.

April 13, 2024

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

By St. John of Kronstadt

"Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mark 8:34).

This week of Great Lent is called the Veneration of the Cross, because of the veneration of the Cross and the Passion of the Lord of glory crucified on it, and also because the Church has decreed that on this day the Gospel be read about the bearing of of our own cross, or the sufferings and sorrows that are inseparable in this world from following Christ. "Whosoever will come after me," said Jesus Christ to the people with his disciples, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life," i.e., put to death all his passions and lusts, "for my sake and for the gospel's sake, shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:34-38).  

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

Homily Ten on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 25, 1951)

They began to beat our Lord Jesus Christ and the Savior of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was then struck on the cheeks, He was pushed, He was dragged to Jerusalem with beatings.

This was the beginning of the slaughter of the One who saved the world.

And the continuation was with the high priest Caiaphas, there, in the assembly of Christ’s worst enemies, they mocked Him, beat Him, covering His face and boldly asking: “Prophesy unto us, O Christ, who is he that struck You?” and spat on Him.

The bullying continued all night, they beat the Lord all night, and early in the morning they took him to the praetorium to Pilate for trial.

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

By St. John of Kronstadt

“We venerate Your Cross, O Master,
and Your holy Resurrection we praise and glorify.”

What is the thinking behind the Holy Church bringing out from the depths of the altar the life-giving Cross of the Lord and offering it for the veneration and kissing of the faithful? The thought is that her true children - who go through the field of fasting and struggle with their flesh with its many passions and with the devil, who during the fast especially kindles his arrows in their flesh - gazing at the Cross and vividly imagining the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He endured for our salvation in His most pure flesh, be strengthened through this for the struggle with their flesh, with her passions and lusts, and so that they do not spare to crucify her with her passions, and courageously fight against the adversary, who is arrayed against us with manifold temptations.

April 12, 2024

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

Homily Nine on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 19, 1950)

Your hearts trembled when I read to you the terrible tale of the Savior’s death on the cross. This is necessary, it is useful for you: it is necessary that you always shudder when you look at the cross of Christ or remember it.

We need you to remember the vile and terrible images of the God-killers: high priests, scribes and elders (about which I told you last Sunday). It is necessary that you reject with your heart, as the most vile, the most unbearable for the human heart, the most terrible thing that has ever happened in the world, the accursed betrayal of the Lord Jesus Christ by His own disciple.

Homily for the Middle of the Week of the Veneration of the Cross (St. John of Kronstadt)

By St. John of Kronstadt

"God forbid that I should boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:14).

Last time, beloved, we heard with what praise the holy men of God spoke about the Cross. Now, together with the apostle and with them, I, a great sinner, want to boast in the power of the life-giving Cross: for is it possible for a priest, who performs all services and all mysteries by the power of the Cross and with the participation of the cross, not to experience its saving power on himself: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). And I would be very ungrateful before my Savior and Lord if I were silent before the ecclesiastical gathering about the miraculous power of His Cross, which has so often shown and constantly shows its power on me: “Keep the king’s secret well, but reveal the works of God gloriously” (Tob. 12:11).

Homily Three on the Sunday of the Cross: The Passion of the Savior

Homily Three on the Sunday of the Cross

The Passion of the Savior

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1970)
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, the Holy Church, zealous for the spiritual success of its children, during the days of Great Lent deliberately invites our attention to the memory of the saving passion of Christ in order, on the one hand, to induce us to a living consciousness of the criminality and destruction of sin, which brought the God-man to the Cross, and, on the other hand, to tell us about the boundless mercy of God towards people, about the endless love of God the Father for us, who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

April 11, 2024

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

By St. John of Kronstadt

Before our eyes the Cross of the Lord, whose power is often glorified in ecclesiastical prayers and hymns, is set up for reverent veneration and kissing. Beloved, I would like to tell you now a few words about its power, or about its miracles. Intending to speak of this, on the one hand, I see everywhere its miraculous power, and I do not know where to stop, what occasion to take as an example of the life-giving power of the Cross; I also see the great reverence that was given to the life-giving Cross by the ancients. On the other hand, alas! I see very few experiences of its power in the people of our time, and I immediately see the reason why it exerts so little of its miraculous power: precisely because the Lord performed so few miracles in His fatherland, i.e., because of ignorance, because of the lawless, non-Christian life of Christians. Thus, beloved brethren, the history of the Christian Church presents many experiences of the miraculous power of the Cross - because then there was more faith in people, more true Christians. The life-giving Cross is gloriously glorified even today, but today we see much fewer examples of its miraculousness, namely, only in those few people who live by faith.

April 10, 2024

Questions and Answers on the Presanctified Liturgy - Part 4 (St. Symeon of Thessaloniki)

By St. Symeon, Archbishop of Thessaloniki
Question 58
At the time of the Presanctified Liturgy, do we offer a portion of the divine bread or the whole?
The bread must not be a portion, but a complete bread, so that after being cut according to custom and broken, it can be given. It remains from the completed liturgy, and zeon is poured into the cup, not to complete anything - this is not why it is poured into the completed liturgy - but so that the dread cup may become lukewarm, and by this is meant, that with the death of Christ His life-giving body was inseparable and undivided from the divinity, as well as from the divine soul, and filled with the energies of the Holy Spirit. The warmth signifies that the life-giving Spirit did not depart from the life-giving body of Christ, nor was His divinity separated. And the water is an image of the Spirit, who is sometimes called water, and the warmth is an image of the fire of divinity, for it is said: "Our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29). That is why is added: “The warmth of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” So the divine gifts, being complete, do not receive more grace, but are intended only for us, so that we can be sanctified by them and by prayers.

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

By St. John of Kronstadt

Today, beloved brothers and sisters, I will offer you, with God's help, a discourse for today's apostolic reading. In it, the Apostle Paul speaks of the great High Priest who passed through heaven, Jesus the Son of God, and exhorts us to hold fast to the confession of our faith, that is, not to faint in temptations, sorrows, and persecutions for the sake of the faith, for we do not have a High Priest who cannot have compassion on us in our infirmities, but who, like us, is tempted in all things except sin, and, how "He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is also able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18); then the Apostle exhorts us to approach boldly to the throne of grace, that is, to the Lord Jesus Christ who sits on the throne, in order to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

And what else are you, brothers and sisters, doing when you often gather in this temple for public prayer, for approaching repentance of sins and communion of the Holy Mysteries, if not the very thing that today’s apostolic reading convinces us of. You approach the throne of grace with faith and hope in order to receive mercy from the Lord, forgiveness of sins in repentance and communion of the divine Mysteries of the body and blood of the Lord, sanctification, reinforcement for further life, or for further exploits, and the deification of souls.

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