Dear Readers: A long time supporter of the Mystagogy Resource Center has informed me that they would like to donate $3000 to help me continue the work of this ministry, but they will only do it as a matching donation, which means that this generous donation will only be made after you help me raise a total of $3000. If you can help make this happen, it will be greatly appreciated and it would be greatly helpful to me, as I have not done a fundraiser this year. If you enjoy the work done here and want to see more of it, please make whatever contribution you can through the DONATE link below. Thank you!
(Total So Far - Day 11: $2740)

June 30, 2024

Encomium to the Twelve Apostles (St. Neophytos the Recluse)


Catechesis 17

To the Holy and Most-Glorious Apostles and About Their Holy and Divinely-Inspired Teaching and About the Non-Incidental Hearing of These Salvific Teachings

By St. Neophytos the Recluse

Brethren and fathers, behold the most burdened branches of the holy and immortal and the beginning of their life vine, which is Christ Himself. "I am," He says, "the vine, you are the branches." Behold (who, according to the words of the Lord, can become and be) the friends of God the Word and our Savior. "You are my friends," He says, "if you do what I command you. I no longer call you servants, for the servant does not know what his Master does. But I have called you friends, for what I have heard from My Father I have made known to you."

Homily for the Sunday of All Saints (St. John of Kronstadt)

 
By St. John of Kronstadt

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).


Now we celebrate the memory of all the saints who fought the good fight of faith and virtue on earth and moved on to heaven - to eternal peace and joy. The annual return to us of the present feast commemorating all saints is, brethren, nothing other than the many times repeated appeal of the departed saints to us, living on earth and struggling with the enemies of salvation for the sake of the future incorruptible kingdom, an appeal to follow in their footsteps. They tell us: "You, our younger brethren, strive without laziness for the future kingdom, just as we strived; let no obstacles stop you on the path to salvation, just as nothing stopped us; be courageous and firm in the fight against your lazy and sinful flesh, against the lures of a deceptive, fleeting light, against the machinations of the invisible enemy the devil, remember constantly that the kingdom of heaven is acquired through effort and only strong seekers will inherit it (Matthew 11:12), that it behooves you to enter into it through many tribulations (cf. Acts 14:22). We struggled much, endured much, and for this we now rest in eternal and indestructible peace. You will also endure much struggle: eternal rest will come to you also. Living on earth, we heard the words of our Savior and Rest-Giver: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," and with faith and hope hastened to His call, came to Him, endured all things for Him, and now have received from Him the promised rest; do likewise follow: He will give you rest in the bosom of His eternal love.

June 29, 2024

Homily on the Monday of the Holy Spirit (Emperor Leo VI the Wise) - 2 of 3


...continued from part one.

Let no insolent tongue be moved against the Spirit, Who reigns and creates, to speak illicit words. From the divine Word that made everything, "the heavens were established" (Ps. 32:6), but we have learned that it was also the Spirit who cooperated in their power. "No one knows the Father except the Son" (Matt. 11:27), but the Spirit does not lag behind in this knowledge either. "For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (1 Cor. 2:10). The Son gives forgiveness of sins, the Spirit has the same power. The Spirit makes slaves noble by adoption (Rom. 8:15). Let those who lower the Spirit who gives freedom to the level of slavery be ashamed (2 Cor. 3:17). Those who do not tremble to place among the creatures the Spirit, who is the cause of the creation, what great madness! The Pneumatomachi do not understand that they are fighting themselves. They sharpen their tongues against themselves and do not sense it. Tell me, you dark creature, if the Spirit is a creature, how does He bestow freedom? If He is not God, how does He impart divine grace? If He does not reign, how does He make men heirs to the kingdom? If He is not of the same nature with God, how through Him do we partake of the divine nature? (Rom. 6:5). What compels you to be a more violent tyrant, than that tyrant already abolished, I mean the apostate demon, by bestowing upon the creation after incorruption decay once again? Because, of course, creatures do not become incorruptible by a creature. If indeed the Spirit is a slave, as a creature He is enslaved to decay, although for our sake so great a ransom was given. The Son receives the Spirit, which has the same power and cooperates with Him in the regeneration of people, and together with Him and with the Father, He brings about our regeneration. But if the Spirit is reckoned together with the creatures, He cannot act in that which He is perceived to be able to do. You should not say that of course nothing prevents one from receiving the Spirit as a creature, and then say that He will set us free. In the first place, if that which has been decayed was remade through a creature, why does the Creator with philotimo proceed to the event and show His will so great in this work that it was possible to do it using a creature as a servant? And why does the Son dwell in a womb, and is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and in the fullness of time God receives the fullness of my own regeneration? And why is a Cross erected, and the hands of murderers dare bold deeds, and He who is above the heavens is hidden on earth and lodged in a place of corruption? Why? For there was no other way to help the creature, nor could the servant render so great a benefit, nor could we through the creature be delivered from corruption, nor from the creature receive so great a gift, but from God alone. Who, because He was moved by mercy and judged that he had to relieve man who was burdened with wounds, because it was not possible in any other way to do the appointed work, to fulfill those things which comfort, He gave himself up. How, then, does Christ, ministering, receive the Spirit as a partner in the regeneration of that which has been corrupted, since it was not possible for the created nature to serve the work of regeneration if the Spirit was placed with the creatures? Then, what is our way of sinning against another and receiving from Him the forgiveness of sin, to which of course we are not accountable? For man sinned not against a creature, but against God, not keeping the commandment He gave. How, then, does created nature to which I am not accountable free me from debt? You who misjudge the Trinity and are dangerously disposed to your own things, deprive not then the Spirit of His glory. Nor by distinguishing Him from the divine equal honor of the Father and the Son do you lower Him to the rank of creatures. Be ashamed of the greatness of the office, if of course you want nothing else, but at least be ashamed of the testimony given by the Word, the kin of the Spirit. He says to those to whom He entrusted the ministry, when He ascended to the Father: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 19). The slave cannot participate in the Despotic arrangement of Persons.

Homily Two on the Day of the Foremost Apostles Peter and Paul (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

We, brethren, have waited for the feast of Holy and Glorious and All-Praised and Foremost Apostles Peter and Paul. They are worthily blessed by the whole universe. Worthy, because for Jesus Christ our Lord and for the salvation of human souls they denied themselves and laid down their lives, rejected all the beauties and sweets of the world; with their teaching they enlightened the whole world, darkened by idolatry and various passions, and brought many souls to Christ, that is, they delivered them from eternal destruction and brought them into the Kingdom of Heaven. And all of us Christians of the whole world, present and past, owe to them the gospel and the salvific rules of Christian life. That is why we worthily bless them. The death of both Apostles was martyrdom. The Apostle Peter was crucified on the cross upside down, and Apostle Paul was beheaded by the sword.

What was the reason for such glorious exploits of the Apostles, for which they are worthily blessed by the whole world? Their living faith and love for Christ, a faith in which they considered everything earthly to be rubbish and dung and infinitely valued everything heavenly, infinitely highly valued every word of the Lord Jesus Christ, held every word of Him tightly in their hearts, tried to fulfill every commandment of His with all their strength; they infinitely valued every human soul and tried with all their might to save every human soul from sin and eternal destruction; for in their memory and in their heart they constantly held the words of the Savior: "For the Son of man came to seek and save the lost" (Matthew 18:11). Their love for Christ – in which they loved all people as Christ loved and loves them – for whom they were ready to go both to prison and to death, inspired them to sacrifice everything in the world for the salvation of human souls; to renounce the enjoyment of all the blessings of the world, to be subjected to all kinds of sorrows, dangers, and death. This was the reason for the glorious exploits of the Holy Apostles, and especially of Peter and Paul! Let us learn from them such faith and love for Christ.

Homily on the Commemoration of the Holy Foremost Apostles Peter and Paul (Archimandrite Kirill Pavlov)


 By Archimandrite Kirill Pavlov

(Delivered in 1962)

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

"Their messages has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world" (Ps. 18:5) - this is how the king and prophet David sings, prophetically praising the holy Apostles, who were destined to work on spreading the gospel ny preaching throughout the universe.

Beloved brothers and sisters, today the Church of Christ has put on festive clothes, spiritually glorifying the two great apostles - Peter and Paul. All the Apostles worked on the structure of the Church of Christ, but the now honored holy apostles Peter and Paul worked more than anyone else and for their fiery zeal and ardent love for the Lord Jesus Christ and their neighbors were called the foremost, as worthy of all praise. The entire Church of Christ is grateful to them for the labors, illnesses, sorrows, persecutions, disasters that they endured, spreading the faith of Christ and turning people from the darkness of paganism to the light of Christ’s teaching.

Homily Three for the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)


 The Tradition of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

The great Apostle of the Gentiles, the apostle Paul, when he came here to our blessed homeland - three times he passed through here, and here in Macedonia, he walked and sanctified it - what did he preach? He preached Christ. What did he preach to the Thessalonians? Christ. What did he preach in Beroea? The God-man Christ. What did he preach to the Corinthians? Christ. What did he preach in our country, bit by bit? Christ, the God-man.
 
From the apostle Paul and from the apostle Peter we also received the faith of the God-man Christ. And this is the faith of the Church, this is the foundation of the Church, this is the tradition of the Church which the Church received, lives and delivers: the God-man Christ.

June 25, 2024

The Church as the Body of Christ (St. John Maximovitch)

 
The Church as the Body of Christ

By St. John Maximovitch

"He (Christ) is the head of the body, the Church" (Col.1:18).

"The Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Eph. 1:23).


In the Holy Scriptures the Church is repeatedly called the Body of Christ. "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, ... for the sake of His body, which is the Church" (Col. 1:24), the Apostle Paul writes about himself.

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, says he, are given by Christ "for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-12).

At the same time, bread and wine are made into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Divine Liturgy, and the faithful partake thereof. Christ Himself ordained it so, communicating His apostles at the Secret Supper with the words, "Take, eat; this is My Body; ... Drink ye all of it; for this is My Blood of the New Testament" (Matt. 26:26-28).

June 24, 2024

Homily on the Monday of the Holy Spirit (Emperor Leo VI the Wise) - 1 of 3


Homily 13

Discourse of Leo the King in the name of Christ the Eternal King, On the Divine Spirit Who is Enthroned with Christ, from Whom and through Whom, Having Descended of His Own Accord, He Granted to Men the Adoption

Delivered by Emperor Leo VI the Wise (+ 912)

Yesterday we celebrated the festival of the coming of the Paraclete, and by making the day happy and by offering reconciliation to God the Father, He made the presentation brilliant. Today we introduce the festival, as if enjoying some remnants of yesterday's sacred pleasure. Yesterday He honored us with His presence, today we honor the coming of the Paraclete. Yesterday, for us, the favor we received was a matter of celebration, today the reason to celebrate is the glorification of the Spirit. What praise, then, should be given to Him? Of course the confession of the glory that is due to God. For which He was sent by the Son, after this had been accomplished with Him. Because He came to glorify Him (Jn. 16:14). But He arrived to display in His creature also His own honor. Precisely because the honored Trinity, even before the world existed, also had to be honored by those who are in the world. Today, being willing to do this, my speech begins in this way:

Testimony of an Athonite Monk Healed by the Right Hand of Saint John the Baptist


By Elder Lazarus of Dionysiou (+ 1974)

On May 16 of the year of our salvation 1961, a Monday, the feast of the Holy Spirit, after the Liturgy, the rector hieromonk Paul told me the miracle that was done to him by the holy right hand of the Honorable Forerunner, as follows:

"Did you understand what happened to me today at Liturgy, Father Lazarus?"

"What?" I asked him. "Please explain to me better."

"Of course you heard me during the service of Matins, how difficult it was for me to do the litanies, how my throat was blocked by the pharyngitis that tyrannizes me from time to time."

"Yes," I said to him, "I realized this, and I was saying to myself: how will the priest manage at the Liturgy? And even today when he has a co-liturgist?"

The Visitation of the Holy Spirit Through Elder Porphyrios and the Gift to Sense Holy Pentecost

 
By Markiani Notarias

It was Pentecost, and all my relatives were away outside Athens.

I awoke at 5 o'clock in the morning and thought not to sleep again but to go to Kallisia so that I might be able to confess to the Elder [Porphyrios].

I arrived at 6:30 in the morning.

I found the Elder going out to the water faucet with his facial towel.

When he finished he said to me:

"Come to confession."

(I was ashamed to tell him or even avoided it).

We went to the rock. He looked around at the mountains, took a deep breath and asked me:

"Do you sense it?"

Homily Two for the Feast of Pentecost (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

Now we celebrate the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit - the One God in three Persons: the Father, who sent His Holy Spirit in the form of fiery tongues on the holy disciples and Apostles, the Son, who entreated the Father to give the Apostles and all who believe in Him another Comforter, consubstantial with Himself, and the Holy Spirit that descended on the disciples of Christ.

In ecclesiastical language, the current feast is called the Feast of Pentecost, because our Lord Jesus Christ, having ascended into heaven, sent down from God the Father to His Apostles the Holy Spirit on the fiftieth day after His resurrection from the dead.

You have heard more than once, brethren, the short ecclesiastical hymn at the all-night vigil, that "by the Holy Spirit, every soul is made living, is exalted, and made shining through purification." Yes, brethren, we are all made living and exalted in holiness by the Holy Spirit. This life-giving Spirit is now, as always, near us, because He fills the universe with Himself; but in order for Him to dwell in us, to revive our souls, deadened by sins, for this we must each cleanse our hearts through prayer, sincerely desire to partake of His holiness, His life, and diligently try to receive Him. When the All-Holy Spirit sees hearts ready to receive Him and thirsting for His acceptance, then He Himself will purify them with His inspiration and dwell in the temple of your body: "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit living in you?" And whoever neglects now to cleanse the heart, that is, from evil thoughts and earthly attachments, will not be worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit, will not receive life-giving power in his heart and will remain dead in sins.

June 23, 2024

Homily on Pentecost (St. John Maximovitch)

 
Come, People, Let Us Worship the Trinitarian Divinity

By St. John Maximovitch

God is a Holy Trinity. A Trinity consubstantial and indivisible. Consubstantial, that is, one in essence, one in nature. A Trinity indivisible: the Son has never been divided from the Father, nor the Holy Spirit from the Father or the Son, and never will be divided.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three gods, but one God, since They have one nature. But not only because of this. People also have one nature, one essence. But with people one cannot say that two or three persons are one person, no matter how close and amicable they may be. People not only have separate bodies, but each one also has his own will, his own tastes, his own moods. No matter how similar people may be in body and character, it still never happens that everything is in common or that everything is the same.

Homily One for the Feast of Pentecost (St. John of Kronstadt)

 
By St. John of Kronstadt

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God lives in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16).

What is the current feast?

That our Lord Jesus Christ, who ascended from us into heaven, although He did not leave us, sent, according to the promise, on the fiftieth day after His resurrection from the dead from God His Father, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Most Holy Trinity, to the Apostles and other believers who were with them in the Jerusalem upper room, in which they remained in common, fervent prayer. God the Holy Spirit, the Life-giver, who proceeds from God the Father, and is worshiped with Him and the Son and is always glorified together with Them, descended on the Apostles and others in the form of tongues of fire; from which they were suddenly reborn, illuminated, enlightened, made wise and they began to speak in different languages which they did not know before about the great deeds of God. But let us listen to how Saint Luke the Evangelist, the writer of the Acts of the Apostles, reports about this greatest event.

June 22, 2024

On the Words: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” (St. Luke of Simferopol)


On the Words: “It is the Spirit who Gives Life; the Flesh Profits Nothing” (John 6:63)

By St. Luke of Simferopol

(Homily Delivered on May 25, 1948)

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). This is what our Lord and God Jesus Christ said. He said that true life - eternal life - is only in the Spirit who gives life, in the Holy Spirit! He says that the flesh does not benefit at all.

We are made up of flesh and spirit, we are not disembodied spirits, and our lives take place in constant interaction between spirit and flesh. This interaction, scary to say, is hostile, as the holy Apostle Paul says: “The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh” (Gal. 5:17). They oppose each other, and our whole life is a constant struggle between the flesh and the spirit. The flesh pulls us down to the earth; our spirit strives upward to God, but alas the flesh holds it back with all its might, does not allow it to rise upward. The flesh demands service to itself, demands care exclusively for itself, demands that all its lusts, all its desires be fulfilled. The flesh demands that we be its slaves. And the spirit strives with all its might to get rid of these sinful and base bonds. The immortal spirit eternally strives for God, strives for the Kingdom of truth and eternal beauty. This is where the struggle between spirit and flesh arises, and this is why the Lord said that the Spirit gives life. And if He gives life, if there is true life in Him, then we must strive to ensure that the spirit conquers the flesh, for the flesh itself does not benefit, there is no spiritual benefit from it, but only harm, only a hindrance in our spiritual life.

The Beauty of a Soul Illuminated by the Holy Spirit (St. Theodore of Edessa)


By St. Theodore of Edessa 
 
(Philokalia, "A Century of Spiritual Texts")

7. So long as the soul is in a state contrary to nature, running wild with the weeds and thorns of sensual pleasures, it is a dwelling-place of grotesque beasts. Isaiah's words apply to it: "Ass-centaurs shall rest there, and hedgehogs make their lair in it, and there demons will consort with ass-centaurs" (Isa. 34:11, 14. LXX) - for all these animals signify the various shameful passions. But the soul, so long as it is joined to the flesh, can recall itself to its natural state at any time it wishes: and whenever it does so and disciplines itself with diligent effort, living in accordance with God's law, the wild beasts that were lurking inside it will take to flight, while the angels who guard our life will come to its aid, making the soul's return a day of rejoicing (cf. Luke 15:7). And the grace of the Holy Spirit will be present in it, teaching it spiritual knowledge, so that it may be strengthened in what is good and rise to higher levels.

June 19, 2024

Gospel Commentary for the Seventh Sunday of Pascha - John 17:3 (St. Cyril of Alexandria)


By St. Cyril of Alexandria

From his Commentary on the Gospel of John (Bk. 11, Ch. 5)

"This, then, is eternal life, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).


He defines faith as the mother of eternal life, and says that the power of the true knowledge of God will be such as to cause us to remain forever in a state of incorruption, and blessedness, and sanctification. And we say that that is true knowledge of God, which cannot incur the reproach of turning aside to aught else, or running after things unseemly. For some have "worshipped the creature rather than the Creator" (Rom. 1:25), and have dared "to say to a block of wood: 'Thou art my Father;' and to a stone, 'Thou hast begotten me'" (Jer. 2:27). For to such abysmal ignorance did miserable men relapse, that they even gave, in all its fullness, the great Name of God, to senseless blocks of wood; and invested them with the ineffable glory of that Nature, which is over all. He calls God the Father, then, the only true God, by contrast to spurious gods, and with the intention to distinguish the true God, from those who are so named in error; for this is the object of His words. Very appropriately, then, He first speaks of God as being One and One only, and then makes mention of His own glory in the words: "And Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent." For a man can in nowise attain to complete knowledge of the Father, unless side by side, and in most intimate connexion with it, he lay hold on the knowledge of His Offspring; that is, the Son. For, if a man know what the Father is, he cannot but know also the Son. When, then, He said that the Father was the true God, He did not exclude Himself. For being in Him, and of Him, by Nature, He will be also Himself the true God and the only God, as He is the only God: for beside Him, there is none other god who is the only true God. "For the gods of the heathen are devils" (Ps. 96:5). For the creation is enslaved, and I know not how any worship them, or sink into such a slough of unreasoning and sensuous folly. With the many gods, then, in this world, who are erroneously so conceived, and have won this spurious title, the only true God is brought into contrast; and the Son also, Who is by Nature in Him, and of Him, at once in diversity and in identity of Nature, according to a natural Unity. I say in diversity of Nature, because He has in fact an individual Existence; for the Son is the Son, and not the Father. In identity of Nature also, because the Son, Who came forth from Him, is inseparably joined by Nature, with the existence of His Father. For the Father is one with the Son, even though He is the Father; and is so spoken of, because He did in fact beget Him.

June 18, 2024

Maria Tsolakis Has Reposed at 98 (One of the Key Figures Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene Revealed Themselves To)


The Sacred Metropolis of Goumenissa announced in the morning hours of June 15th 2024 that the Eldress Maria Tsolakis reposed in Goumenissa at the age of 98. She was a great benefactor of the Monastery of Saint Raphael in Goumenissa, who lived a deeply pious and ascetic life. Also, she was a key instrument of God's Providence in the revelation of the Holy Newly-Revealed Martyrs Raphael, Nicholas and Irene and their fellow martyrs and in pointing out the specific place where their grace-filled relics were found, in the grove of Karyes in Thermis of Lesvos during the period 1959-1962.

Her funeral took place on June 16th, after her body was brought to the Monastery of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene in Goumenissa where an all-night vigil took place for her on Saturday night at 10pm into Sunday morning with the Divine Liturgy.

The following excerpts are a translation from the book by Metropolitan Demetrios of Goumenissa titled "Life in the Tomb", which details the history of the revelation of the New Martyrs of Lesvos, and here specifically are the details which make Maria Tsolakis such an important part of this history.

+ + +

The work continued. The workers were building the chapel according to the plan drawn by Doukas. About halfway through the building process they ran out of stones, and they dug a little further to find more. Digging they discovered deep in the soil some broken marbles and "church stones", as they called them. It was July 3, 1959, when, going deeper, they found a vaulted wall with iconography. It was, as was later ascertained, the right arch of the sanctuary of the ancient church. But they, without telling anyone, began to "remove" the wall and put the stones aside, to use them.

At that time, Maria Tsolakis went up to Karyes with her four-year-old son Panagiotis, to bring food to her husband, Doukas. Seeing the ancient wall with the iconography, she felt sad. "Goodness, what a shame! Why are you ruining it like that?" They paid no attention to her. Maria proceeded to the place where the Holy Altar had been moved from the ruined church, to light a candle. Moving forward, she saw a priest coming from the path that leads to Pamphila. She thought it was Father Pachomios, rector of the neighboring village, because she had heard that he was tall, like the clergyman who was now approaching.

When he approached her, Maria bent forward to offer a prostration in order to receive his blessing. She noticed then that the cleric did not set foot on the earth, and, looking up, she saw his eyes shining like sunlight. Bewildered, she was afraid to kiss his hand and did not speak to him. She passed by him, advanced a little, and, turning for a moment to see where he had gone, she was utterly shocked. The cleric was in the same position, but headless! She timidly uttered a cry of "My Panagia!", and the priest disappeared from her sight in a flash.

Panicked, she grabbed the child and started running towards the village, glancing back in fear, because the silhouette of that cleric was following her. As soon as the other workers saw her running, they said to her husband in surprise, "Your wife is running and is looking behind herself." Doukas was worried and ran to catch up with her. "Why are you running away like you're being chased and not standing to get the things? What happened so suddenly?" "Well, they say it's an illusion; but you know, I saw the headless priest," she replied. "Hey, you're not in your right mind, you need to be read over. We are ten people working, and we didn't see anything. Yet you say you saw him during the day?" "I'm not going back up there. Take the food yourself."

These words were exchanged, and Maria ran away to the village, upset. The priest followed her all the way. About half way she meets an old woman from Thermi, Sophia Karanikolas, who, seeing her in this state, asked her: "What is the matter, my daughter? Did you perhaps see the priest? This Panagia up there has been appearing for a long time, but no one has ever been harmed." Maria was ashamed to tell her; she bid her farewell and went on her way.

That same night she had a vivid dream, which was the beginning of the revelations. A beautiful woman in black came to her side, put her cold hand on her forehead and said:

"Maria, you should not have been afraid. The one you saw was not a ghost, nor was it the village priest. It was the monk who lived as an ascetic up there and was slaughtered by the Turks. One day you will know his name, his origin and all his tortures. Up there are two graces, Panagia and Saint Paraskevi. I don't want a candle, I want an unsleeping lamp. Get up now and take your baby who is now crying. I will appear to you again another night, because over there will begin something greatly historic. You will suffer many things, hear many things, but don't go astray from the path I have marked for you."

With these words, the Panagia was raised up and disappeared.

Maria woke up and felt the cold on her forehead. So vivid was this dream that she asked her husband, "Did you leave the door open? A little while ago, a black-clad woman walked in." "Surely you have lost your mind," he answered her. "During the day you see a priest, at night a black-clad woman. What will become of you?" Maria did not speak again, but with a feeling of joy and fear she woke up with the child in her arms.

In the morning, despite all the adventure of the previous day, she went up to Karyes, took the clay lamp that had been found in the tomb of the unknown dead person and lit it on the old Holy Altar. Since then she made sure for it to burn night and day without sleep. In fact, distressed as she was by her husband's words, she begged the Panagia with fervent faith: "If only my husband could see something, so that he too would believe that what I said was not off the top of my head."

In the meantime, it was learned throughout the village that Maria Tsolakis saw the priest at the Rallis's estate, and the comments began. However, old Elias Digidikis found Doukas and reassured him by telling him that even he as a young man had seen not only one, but two priests appear and disappear suddenly on this estate.

On Sunday, two or three days later, Doukas went up to Karyes early in the morning with the shotgun in hand. He went to kill a fox that a few days prior had drowned his goat in a valley. Time passed without result. Idle, he sat down on a humped olive tree to rest. It would have been time for the Divine Liturgy, because the village bells were ringing. As his gaze was directed towards the path to Pamphila, he saw an officer coming from a distance in military clothes, gold buttons, but without a hat or other insignia. As he came, he saw him first making the sign of the cross and then crossing his arms over his chest. "He must be a retired officer," he thought, "and he is coming from Pamphila to see some estate. Being Sunday, he saw where the church was being built and made his cross...".

With these thoughts Doukas continued to sit unconcerned. The officer approached and with every step he did his cross. "Well, this guy is a good one," said Doukas as he looked at him more carefully. His form was unusual, otherworldly. His eyes sparkled like mirrors reflecting sunlight. Doukas began to worry. "Is he coming to take the gun out of my hands?" He stood up and shouted at him, gesturing. "What are you looking for, sir? An estate? Let me show it to you... Hey! don't you see me, don't you hear me?" The officer did not respond. He kept going until he was about three meters away. He made the sign of the cross for the umpteenth time. His eyes shone in an inexplicable way. "What could this be?" said Doukas and it made him grab the gun that was lying next to him. But as he saw him coming at him, he lost his temper and cursed.

At the same moment the officer disappeared in a flash of light. The eyes of Doukas clouded over and he lost his sight for several minutes. "Out of my terror I took no account of either a weapon nor anything else. I started running towards the village and I didn't know when I got home," he says. His wife, seeing him arrive in a state of agitation, became worried. "I bet he argued with the owner of the neighboring property about the water." To her insistence to know what happened to him, he answered her: "You must be silent. You saw him as a priest, I saw him as an officer! But be careful, that no one finds out. These strange things that are happening in Karyes either will do us a lot of good or do us very bad."


...

After a while, while they were eating their breakfast, Maria Tsolakis came to their house and stopped as if she wanted to tell them something. "What is it, Maria? Did you perhaps see that papado again?" Angelo teased her, because that's what Maria called the cleric she had seen headless in Karyes, because he was tall. "No, Angelo. I only saw the same woman in black, the Panagia, and she told me that the name of that priest is Raphael."

Hearing her words, all three were stunned. "What happened to you, Angelo? I really saw the Panagia and she told me the name three times." "I believe you, Maria," answered Angelo, "because Vasiliki (Rallis) learned the same name tonight. We have been awake since three in the morning and, just now, we had the same conversation again. If only a little time passed I would have went down to the marketplace and you wouldn't have cought me on time, then I'd say you both had a conversation. Now it's obvious that something important happened to both of you. But tell us exactly what you saw."

"Yesterday afternoon, with your wife Vasiliki and my son Panagiotis, we went up to Karyes to light the lamps. Approaching the chapel, the child says to me, 'Mom, an old woman is sitting on the olive tree outside the church and is calling me with her hand.' We didn't see anything and I asked him where the old woman was. 'She went into the church,' he answered and ran to go inside as well. But he came out surprised and told us that the old woman went out of the window. We didn't believe it and I disciplined him, thinking he was making fun of us. But at night I saw the Panagia in my sleep and she said to me: 'The child did not lie, Maria. It was me, and if you would have left him alone, I would have given him my icon in his arms. Father Raphael, the monk who lived up here and was slaughtered by the Turks, has buried me here with his own hands."


...

In January 1960, Maria Tsolakis saw Saint Raphael in her dream and he showed her an olive tree near the chapel of Karyes, saying that there, in the place of this olive tree, there was a walnut tree in their years; in that walnut tree the Turks had him hung upside down and in the end they sawed him from the mouth. He even instructed her to dig at that spot, because his jaw was located there, which was missing from his remains. At the same time she saw the representation of all the tortures and the sawing of the Saint. But she had to see the Saint two more evenings, to overcome her hesitations and tell her husband. They informed the Rallis family, owners of the estate, and they agreed to obey the Saint's suggestion.

One Sunday after church, Maria and Doukas went up to the hill of Karyes to dig. There they met Angeliki Maragos, George Mykoniatis and some women who had come up to pray. Maria showed Doukas the spot the Saint indicated; it was the spot where she had first seen him, headless. Doukas uprooted the tree and began to dig. The hours passed, the work continued, but nothing was found, and Doukas began to get irritated and quarrel with his wife. Before long, the digging reached a dead end. In the place of the tree, a pit had been opened two and a half meters in diameter and one and a half meters deep, while at the bottom there was a large rock. For a moment Doukas considered giving up. "But to this day I cannot understand," he confesses himself, "what force pushed me to continue."

He dug around the dirt, then resting his back against the walls of the pit, putting in all his strength, he pushed the rock with his feet. The rock moved and then everyone was surprised to see a human jaw below. It was bright yellow, gave off a strong fragrance, and had no missing teeth. "This is the Saint's jaw," said Doukas. "If he hadn't shown us the spot himself, we would never have found it." With these thoughts he reverently took it and gave it to his wife, telling her to put it carefully in the box, with the rest of the remains. She took it, went to the chapel, but because she was afraid to go near the box, she hastily threw it on the window sill, without saying anything to anyone. By nighttime, however, when she fell asleep, something was tormenting her inside.

At night she saw in her sleep Saint Raphael, who took her by the shoulder, shook her hard and said to her sternly: "Why were you afraid and threw my jaw? The jaw you found is mine, which the Turks cut off and they threw it away. It was carried away by the blood to the root of the rock, where you found it. When the Christians came up and buried us secretly, they could not find it to bury it with the rest of my body. You were not afraid when you washed my bones with Vasiliki, and you were afraid now? Get up tomorrow morning, go get it, wash it and put it in the box with my bones. If you don't, you will be punished like your husband!"

Indeed, the next day in the morning, together with her maid of honor Marianthi Orfanellis and Vasiliki Rallis, despite the bitter cold and the snow that was falling, they went up to Karyes, washed the Saint's jaw, incensed it and placed it together with his other relics.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos. 
 
 
 

June 17, 2024

Homily Two for the Seventh Sunday of Pascha (St. John Chrysostom)


Homily 81 on the Gospel of John

(John 17:6-13)

By St. John Chrysostom

"I have manifested Your Name unto the men which You gave Me out of the world; Yours they were, and You gave them Me, and they have kept Your word" (John 17:6).

1. "'Messenger' of great counsel" (Isaiah 9:6, Septuagint), the Son of God is called, because of the other things which He taught, and principally because He announced the Father to men, as also now He says, "I have manifested Your Name unto the men." For after having said, "I have finished Your work," He next explains it in detail, telling what sort of work. Now the Name indeed was well known. For Esaias said, "You shall swear by the true God" (Isaiah 65:16). But what I have often told you I tell you now, that though it was known, yet it was so only to Jews, and not to all of these: but now He speaks concerning the Gentiles. Nor does He declare this merely, but also that they knew Him as the Father. For it is not the same thing to learn that He is Creator, and that He has a Son. But He "manifested His Name" both by words and actions.

Gospel Commentary for the Seventh Sunday of Pascha - John 17:2 (St. Cyril of Alexandria)


By St. Cyril of Alexandria

From his Commentary on the Gospel of John (Bk. 11, Ch. 4)

"Even as Thou gavest Him authority over all flesh, that whatsoever Thou hast given Him, to them He shall give eternal life" (John 17:2).

In these words Christ expounds once more to us the kind of glory whereby God will exalt and glorify His own Son; and He will also Himself be glorified in turn by His own Offspring. And He expands the saying, and makes the point clear to our edification and profit. For what need had God the Father, Who knows all things, of learning the kind of request? He invites then the Father's goodness towards us. For since He is the High Priest of our souls, insomuch as He appeared as Man, though being by Nature God together with the Father, He most fittingly makes His prayer on our behalf; trying to persuade us to believe that He is, even now, the propitiation for our sins, and a just Advocate, as John says. Therefore also Paul, wishing us to be of this mind, thus exhorts us: "For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but One that hath been in all points tempted like as we are; yet without sin." Then, since He is an High Priest, insomuch as He is Man, and, at the same time, brought Himself a blameless sacrifice to God the Father, as a ransom for the life of all men, being as it were the firstfruits of mortality, "that in all things He might have the pre-eminence," as Paul says; and He reconciles to Him the reprobate race of man upon the earth, purifying them by His own Blood, and shaping them to newness of life through the Holy Spirit; and since, as we have often said, all things are accomplished by the Father through the Son in the Spirit; He moulds the prayer for blessings towards us, as Mediator and High Priest, though He unites with His Father in giving and providing Divine and spiritual graces. For Christ divides the Spirit, according to His own will and pleasure, to every man severally, as He will.

June 16, 2024

Homily for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers - The Prayer of Christ for Unity (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Homily for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers

The Prayer of Christ for Unity

7th Sunday After Pascha

June 5, 2022

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are" (John 17:11).

Beloved brethren,

In the High Priestly Prayer of Christ before His Passion, there is talk of the unity of the Disciples/Christians. Christ entreats His Father to keep the Disciples in His name "that they may be one" (Jn. 17:11). This passage is often used by people who seek the so-called union of "Churches", but we can say that it is most often, if not always, misinterpreted. Here Christ is not entreating His Father for the future unity of the so-called "Churches", but for the unity "in the glory of Christ", which is given to the saints and is a present reality within the Church.

Homily for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

“And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed” (John 17:5).

On this seventh Sunday after Pascha, the Church commemorates and glorifies the 318 Holy and God-bearing Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod, convened in the Greek city of Nicaea by the emperor Constantine the Great on May 20, 325 after the Nativity of Christ, for the affirmation of the true teaching about the Son of God, shaken by the false teaching of the heretic Arius, who rejected the Divinity of the Son of God, and other like-minded people.

Among the other Holy Fathers present at the Synod of Nicaea were: Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, Saint Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, and accompanying him was the young deacon Athanasius, a native of the city of Alexandria, whom Alexander greatly respected for his extraordinary gifts, for his intellect, deep theological education, straightforwardness, courage, power of speech, and for his lofty Christian life; later he himself was elected archbishop of the city of Alexandria, after the death of Bishop Alexander. Also present at the Synod were Saint Paphnutios, Bishop of the Thebaid in Egypt, Paul, Bishop of Neocaesarea, Spyridon, Bishop of Trimythous, the great wonderworker, and the bishop of the island of Cyprus, Saint James of Nisibis, also a wonderworker, and others. All 318 fathers were from different countries.

Homily One for the Seventh Sunday of Pascha (St. John Chrysostom)


Homily 80 on the Gospel of John

(John 17:1-5)

By St. John Chrysostom

"These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and says, Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You" (Jn. 17:1).

1. "He that has done and taught," it says, "the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven." And with much reason; for to show true wisdom in words, is easy, but the proof which is by works is the part of some noble and great one. Wherefore also Christ, speaking of the endurance of evil, puts Himself forth, bidding us take example from Him. On this account too, after this admonition, He betakes Himself to prayer, teaching us in our temptations to leave all things, and flee to God. For because He had said, "In the world you shall have tribulation," and had shaken their souls, by the prayer He raises them again. As yet they gave heed unto Him as to a man; and for their sake He acts thus, just as He did in the case of Lazarus, and there tells the reason; "Because of the people that stand by I said it, that they might believe that You have sent Me" (John 11:42). "Yea," says some one, "this took place with good cause in the case of the Jews; but wherefore in that of the disciples?" With good cause in the case of the disciples also. For they who, after all that had been said and done, said, "Now we know that You know" (John 16:30), most of all needed to be established. Besides, the Evangelist does not even call the action prayer; but what says he? "He lifted up His eyes to heaven," and says rather that it was a discoursing with the Father. And if elsewhere he speaks of prayer, and at one time shows Him kneeling on His knees, at another lifting His eyes to heaven, be not thou troubled; for by these means we are taught the earnestness which should be in our petitions, that standing we should look up, not with the eyes of the flesh only, but of the mind, and that we should bend our knees, bruising our own hearts. For Christ came not merely to manifest Himself, but also about to teach virtue ineffable. But it behooves the teacher to teach, not by words only, but also by actions. Let us hear then what He says in this place.

Gospel Commentary for the Seventh Sunday of Pascha - John 17:1 (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

 
By St. Cyril of Alexandria

From his Commentary on the Gospel of John (Bk. 11, Ch. 3)

"These things spake Jesus; and lifting up His eyes to heaven He said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee" (Jn. 17:1).

Having given His disciples a sufficiency of things necessary for salvation, and incited them by fitting words and arguments to a more accurate apprehension of His doctrines, and made them best able to battle against temptation, and confirmed the courage of each one, He straightway changes the form of His speech for our profit, and turns it into a kind of prayer, allowing no interval to elapse between His discourse to them and His prayer to God the Father; herein also by His own conduct suggesting to us a type of admirable life. For the man who aims at serving God ought, I think, to bear in mind that he ought at all events either to be fond of discoursing to his brethren of things profitable or necessary for their salvation, or, if he be not so engaged, to hasten to employ the service of the tongue in supplications to God, so as to render it impossible for any random words to slip in between; for in this way the governance of the tongue may be well and suitably ordered. For is it not quite obvious that, in vain conversations, things blameworthy may very readily escape a man? Moreover, a wise man has said: "In the multitude of words thou shalt not escape sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise" (Prov. 10:19).

June 15, 2024

The Ascension of Christ (St. Chrysostomos of Smyrna)


The Ascension of Christ

By St. Chrysostomos, Metropolitan of Smyrna

"Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up His hands, He blessed them. While He was blessing them, He withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:50-51).

The great and high mystery, which is hidden on the Fortieth day of Pascha, Thursday, in celebrating the festival of the Lord's Ascension to the heavens as a great and glorious day, is enclosed in the few but profound meanings and high teachings included in these final words, with which the Evangelist Luke closes his sacred Gospel: "Then he led them out as far as Bethany" etc.

According to these words, the last act on earth of our God-man Redeemer was to collect His disciples from Jerusalem, bring them out far from the Christ-killing city of Jerusalem, to lead them to the grace-filled Mount of Olives, and there, where the immaculate feet of the Most High touched the earth, He extended and stretched forth His hands to the length and height of the Apostles and gave them His great despotic blessing.

June 14, 2024

Homily Two on the Ascension of the Lord (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

"Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 
Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth" (Col. 3:1-2).

Beloved brothers and sisters! Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ascended from earth to heaven. Let us also follow Him. For this is why He came to earth, lived, taught, worked miracles, did good to people in every possible way, suffered, died and rose again, and ascended again to the Father and sat down at His right hand: to lead us to heaven. For this reason, the God on high descended to earth, so that He would raise us to heaven, says the Holy Church.

But how can we follow Him to heaven? – To live as He lived, to imitate Him to the best of your ability, to follow His teaching and life means to follow Him. Let us hate all lawlessness, let us love truth and virtue, and let us love God with all our hearts. Let us be humble, low-minded, meek, kindly, temperate, hardworking, like bees and ants, pure in soul and body, sincere and unhypocritical, courageous and patient, faithful and honest, simple-hearted and peace-loving, merciful and compassionate, impartial to anything earthly, that is, we will use earthly gifts with thanksgiving and generosity, as His gifts that we need in temporary life; reasonably and with extreme caution, without clinging to them with your heart, like to disappearing smoke. Following this path, we will acquire active living faith, hope, unfeigned love for God and neighbor, we will love every virtue, considering this an eternal, unshakable acquisition and actually trying to excel in every virtue, and we will follow Christ, and Christ God will exalt us to the same place where He Himself is. "Where I am, there will My servant be" (John 12:26), He Himself said in the Holy Gospel.

June 13, 2024

Ascension, the Test of Reason (Photios Kontoglou)


 By Photios Kontoglou

People today have no relation with the supernatural. They do not believe that there is anything beyond natural phenomena, and much more they do not believe that anything can be done outside of natural laws. Not only the irreligious person, but also the one who says he is a Christian, he also does not believe in the supernatural. Christianity has become for many a rational and moral system so that it does not contradict their reason. While the basis of this religion is the supernatural, today's Christians have kept from it what does not require faith to accept, and what is revelatory they throw away or suppress.

However, no one is a true Christian if they do not familiarize themselves with the miraculous and the supernatural. "We must rise above knowledge," as Plotinus says. But this, to "sane" people, is madness. According to Greek philosophy, the man who despised reason was considered a fool. The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard says: "To believe against reason is torture." The thirst for knowledge torments man. For anyone who, by the grace of God, has been freed from this thirst, believing some things that his reason does not admit, it is not only not a torture, but a release from a tyrannical power. He believes that God is the source of all natural laws, not their slave. The true Christian becomes a god by grace and receives the freedom of the children of God, and for this reason he too by faith is freed from natural laws. A Christian cannot be someone who believes in a god enslaved by need, as the ancients believed. This is false faith in a false god. If Aristotle had listened to the words spoken by the apostle Paul on the Areopagus, he would have called him a fool, since he was talking about some impossible, supernatural things: "For if there is no choice in things that are weak, and if anyone were to say that he has an option, he would look like an idiot." That is why Paul said that the faith of the Christians was "foolishness" for the Greeks, who believed only in reason, in knowledge. And that Christians are guided by faith, and not by the mind: "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). These should be borne in mind by anyone whenever they read religious things. And much more if they were reading about the awesome mysteries of the Incarnation of the Lord, His Resurrection and Ascension.

Homily One on the Ascension of the Lord (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

"After the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, 
and sat down at the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19).

The Holy Church now excites all earthly beings to joy and says: "O you nations of the earth, clap your hands, for Christ ascends to the place where He had been from all eternity," i.e. heaven.

And so on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord all Christians should rejoice. What is there to be happy about? It would seem that it was rather necessary to grieve and mourn, because our sweetest Savior Jesus Christ left us with His visible presence and ascended to heaven, from where He will come again, but He will come as a formidable Judge of all earthly beings. No, on the day of remembrance of the Ascension of the Lord there are more reasons for joy than for sadness. Let us only consider why the Lord ascended into heaven from us.

The Lord ascended from us into heaven not in order to sadden us with His departure, but in order to arrange what was most beneficial for us. His whole life, all his deeds were for our benefit, for our salvation; in the same way, His ascension was for our good. Just as He loved us, He came down to us from heaven and, having lived with people, laid down His life for them on the cross; so, loving us, He ascended into heaven, for our good. Thus He Himself spoke to His disciples: "It is better for you that I go; for if I do not go, the Comforter will not come to you; and if I go, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7). And so, the Lord ascended to heaven in order to send in His stead someone equal to Himself - the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who would comfort the Holy Apostles and all true Christians in their sorrows, troubles and persecutions. This is the first reason for joy. Come, come, Lord Jesus, and send us the Comforter!

June 11, 2024

Memories of Saint Luke of Simferopol - 1


By Archpriest Evgeny Vorshevsky, Cherkasy

Each of the clergy of our Church considered it a great honor to have communication with Archbishop Luke, to receive his blessing, and to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with him. I would like to share my memories of a meeting with Vladyka, which took place in Alushta due to a happy circumstance for me.

In 1958, the late Bishop of Kirovohrad Innocent was appointed to participate in the episcopal consecration in Odessa, whom I accompanied to Odessa as diocesan secretary. The service of the Divine Liturgy was led by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy. On the same day, His Holiness the Patriarch sent Bishop Innocent to Simferopol on ecclesiastical affairs to Archbishop Luke. We already knew that Vladyka Luke, who had previously been unable to see with one eye, now had became blind in the other.

We arrived in Simferopol in our diocesan car the next morning - on the eve of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. We did not find the owner of the house: he was at a small dacha, which he rented in the city of Alushta. At the bishop's house we were offered a cup of tea. His Eminence Luke occupied a very modest apartment on the second floor, consisting of two small rooms. One room housed the bishop's cell, the second, which served as a reception room, dining room and office, all the walls from floor to ceiling were occupied by shelves with books - the personal library of the archbishop.

June 10, 2024

Homily on the Man Born Blind (Asterios of Amasea)


Homily 7

On the Man Born Blind

By Asterios of Amasea

I. We have just heard the "son of thunder", John, or rather the Holy Spirit, who turned him from a fisherman and craftsman into a writer and preacher of truly divine and high things, to expose to us the miracle of the physical and spiritual restoration of sight of the man born blind.

In the previous chapter he analyzed the many and extended lectures of the Lord, with which He guided the unfaithful and wayward Jewish people to the knowledge of the Father and the Son, removing from their minds the concept of monarchy; He opened the door for them to pass from the traditions of the Law to Grace, leading them smoothly from the Old to the New Testament, as He once brought them from the desert to the rich and fertile land.

But, even though He manifested His own pre-existence in various ways, that is, that He exists eternally and is always in connection with the Father, and He cried out clearly to the deaf: "Before Abraham was born, I am" [Jn. 8:58], they did not perceive the power of these words, nor did they rebuke that which they did not accept with some scientific objection; but instead of words they took stones and while they were still far from the cross, they trained their murderous hands for murder.

He, however, who always preferred long-suffering before the insults and blasphemies of the people, avoided their wrath and vexation; He escaped, however, not in a humble way, but in a divine way; He stood among them, so near that they could reach Him with their hands, but they saw Him not, and while He was touching the enraged, He was not seen.

They had then remained in awe, killing with intent, but without finding a way to satisfy their rage; like inexperienced hunters, who, if they are afraid and chase the game at an unseasonable time, and so the deer finds a way into some forest and escapes secretly, they wander aimlessly in the valley circling the nets without purpose, dragging the dogs with them to no avail.

II. As for me, even if in other ways I am a scoundrel, I have not forgotten that I am a servant and I must rise up against the abusers by supporting my Master. That is why I will call out to the Jews as if they were present today and were seized with rage:

Do you, ungrateful ones, stone the Benefactor? He who once quenched your thirst from a stone? Do you throw stones at the one who legislated your life with the stone tablets? At the chosen and precious stone, of whom Isaiah did prophesy? At the noetic stone that was cut off from the mountain without human hands, as the magnificent Daniel taught you? Do you stone the "cornerstone" that united the walls of the New and Old Testaments?

And if you do not believe, then "God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones" [Matt. 3 9]; that is, to gather to Christ a special people, the uncircumcised Gentiles. Abraham also accepted this promise, when God told him that "in you all the nations will be blessed" [Gal. 3:8]; because God, seeing with His secret foresight the future, gave to the leader of the faith as children all those who were to believe in the future.

Because He foresaw the rebellion of the Jews, but also the stones that would be raised against Him by His pseudonymous children, He had numbered them among the unpreached. And because preaching the truth to them, He did not convince them to revere Him, while He was present, He hid himself, and while He was in front of their eyes, He disappeared, so that with this miracle of His he could make them accept and confess that, indeed, He was the Christ and God that is more ancient than Abraham.

Listen, O ye who are truly blind and foolish! Who is this, but He who stands here among us and yet see not? And who spoke to Moses yet was not seen? He was seen at that time as a fire and bush, both voiceless; yet a voice was heard and words were taught and even the future was foretold. With the use of their mind they were able to recognize the person who was really among them.

III. Thus the foolish Jews falsely reasoned, and our Lord and Savior, like a wise and diligent physician, since the malignancy did not subside with the first intervention, uses another method of treatment. He wants to heal those who were intellectually blind through a physically blind person who happened to be there, who was not blinded by some disease, but had been born that way, because of nature. So, seeing this man, He stood ready to heal him in a way that surpasses human reason and science. For medicine and therapeutics deal with those diseases that appear, when nature has already brought to light a healthy organism, and after a certain period of time they fall ill, however, it does not deal with the treatment of physical damage that has been born together with the person, nor can all diseases that occur later be cured. Mutilated people testify to this, for whom no doctor could restore the deprivation of their limbs.

That is precisely why the disciples, seeing a man who had not tasted of sight, the greatest of all pleasures, and sympathizing with him for his suffering, tried to discover the cause of this affliction; therefore they asked the Lord simply, to find out if from his own sin or the responsibility of his parents he came to life like this.

However, both parts of the question have something to be commended, for he would not be condemned because of his parents, since God does not punish one on behalf of another; nor, of course, did he pay for his own sins, since he was born blind, for no one sins before birth. So the question was not so successful. But let's see how the Truth, our Lord, answered the question. "This malignancy, My disciples," He says, "did not come from sins, but is a foretaste of the future economy, so that he who is considered a common man may act as a superman, and the Creator of all, after the first creation, may find occasion for a new one." Thus, from the partial is confirmed the general and the stiff-necked and wayward people should be convinced to worship Him, instead of stoning Him.

May the eyes that do not see be enlightened, so that the Sun of justice may shine in the souls of the senseless. May this strange thing happen, to have eyes formed for them, so that the rebels will know that the so-called son of Joseph, as a true child of a carpenter, who would be able to fix a broken stool or glue the wood that came off or fix a broken beam, as would be taught by a carpenter father to his son; no one else, apart from the One who has the power over nature from the beginning, could make a human part and indeed the most beautiful, the eyes, which are created by nature in the most careful and complex way.

IV. And if someone wants to carefully investigate the human members, especially in this part of the body, he will find the almighty and diverse wisdom of God, who honored the small area that this member occupies, so elaborately. Because beyond all the others, this member is distinguished by a special grace; and it is inexhaustible and incorporeal, one would say, combining the tender with the solid and the soft with the hard. It is interspersed with various colors; its center is painted black; however, the monochromaticity is broken up by a combination of multi-colored concentric circles that surround it; so that the central part has the deepest color, while the periphery gradually progresses to a lighter shade. These circles are surrounded by a white covering, shiny and bright, which, however, has something to reduce the whiteness, but it looks like crystal clear. The red is at the edge, where the tear flows, to give grace to the white and the black.

Also, it is internally so smooth and transparent and homogeneous in terms of density, that it creates images of the forms that are in front of it and captures like an accurate mirror the characteristics of the interlocutors. That is why the central circle is called the pupil, since a human form is formed in the eye that sees the opposite. Just as it is impossible for the one who looks in a mirror not to see his own characteristics in the material, so also for the one who sees a person face to face it is impossible not to form his image in the eye. So people, as they see each other, become one mirror of the other.

V. A creation worthy of admiration is the eye. This reveals God to me, examining with precision the whole creation, showing the craftsman from the works. This from the visible explains the invisible. With this I knew the sun and learned the adornment of the sky, I painted the beauty of the stars, the existence of the earth, the nature of the sea, the difference of seeds, the variety of plants and the different hues of colors; of the gloom of the darkness and the brilliance of the light, and everything in general that God created, praising them as "very good". Well, if there were no eyes, creation would grow old without anyone seeing it, since no one would see the wisdom and power of God that exists within it.

It is because of this wonderful function of sight that eyes were created from the beginning, so that we may remove our petty thoughts regarding the Lord's God-man existence, expelling from the soul, with this magnificent action, every humble and earthly conception of Him. To learn, also, that the blessed light and beauty of the Godhead was received by an earthen vessel, serving as the lamp serves the light.

But the Lord carries out the healing with His own hands and does not use His word only to act, He who created the whole world with only a command and with two small words He healed the paralyzed man. But He also heals blindness with his mouth and hands and with great care, so that by His actions He can bring true faith to the unbelievers. He spat on the ground and made mud, also using the earth for healing, to show that with that soil from which the whole body was originally created, the missing part is now created. And He mixes it with saliva and thus sticks the dispersed grains, so that they have cohesion, to show us clearly that with the power of His mouth God the Word accomplished everything. Because "by the word of the Lord the heavens were established, and by the breath of his mouth all their hosts" [Ps. 32:6].

VI. But also for another reason He heals with spitting: in order to contribute to the confusion and fear of those who a little later are going to curse Him by spitting on Him. And yet He did not reduce the audacity of the enraged, but He who accomplished all this by spitting endured many hardships. With this first action, He reveals his creative power. And instructing the blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam shows us the salvation through water, which was given to the one sent (Siloam is interpreted as "sent"). Because only then do we truly see, when we come out of the holy water of baptism. Then the light of grace shines on us, when the power of this mystery washes away the impurity and the stains of sins. And all those who are baptized with the commandment of Siloam, see the spiritual light "which gives light to every man coming into the world."

O the miracle and the great action! The man previously blind left the pool, his face adorned with the addition of eyes, seeing the sun clearly. Neighbors and acquaintances were surprised to see the event. They were shocked by the unprecedented way of treatment. The man went around the city seeing, so that everyone could see the unheard of and paradoxical work of the One who was born in Bethlehem, the little baby who was wrapped in swaddling clothes in the manger. Because this is what made the Jews believe in the Divinity.

VII. O, therefore, you who are foolish and thick-hearted, put in your mind all the people of the ages. Start with Adam and investigate all his posterity. Do you find that this has happened to anyone else? Is there any example of such treatment in the world? But you insist on dragging my Lord away and call Him the son of a carpenter - " Is this not the carpenter’s son?" [Matt. 13:55] – whose brothers and residence you know. List all the humble things, argue, belittle Him, as much as you want. However, if nothing similar has ever been done by man, nor has the world known another incident, then open your eyes and face the truth, criticizing your ignorance. Wash in Siloam so you don't die blind.

From what it appears, they didn't go at all. Neither by words did they want to learn, nor by action taught, nor by miracles did they gain reverence. On the contrary, out of their proud ingratitude they tried in a myriad of ways to make everything disappear and drag it away. But the crime backfired on them. Because the more they disbelieved and tried to overturn the facts with their questions, the more the truth was confirmed. They suffered like the beasts after being wounded by someone, but because the knife had not penetrated deep into their bowels, they were furious at the man, finishing the slaughter on their own.

VIII. Initially they showed their aggressiveness by trying to confirm whether it was the blind man himself or someone else who appeared to them instead. That is why the man clearly reassured them by explaining to them the healing process, that is to say, the medicine for blindness was the clay with which Jesus anointed him, and that when he washed the clay away in the pool, he discovered his sight. The neighbors were curious about this and learned about it, the Pharisees were also investigating it, but they were not convinced.

Second trick with which they tried to distort the facts was their attempt to prove that it was not Christ who healed him. But because the man proclaimed the Savior and with the confession of the proclamation returned the favor by promoting the benefactor, they shut his mouth and with a dizzy mind, because they had nothing left to do, they returned again to the same conversation.

They wonder if he was blind from birth, they seek out the man's parents, and examine everything with exactness, not to ascertain the facts, but to find some occasion to disprove the miracle; and so, by constructing some false theory to overturn the impetuosity of the multitude which believed.

What an excess of wickedness! To fight the truth and to drag through the mud, instead of worshiping, the benefactor; instead of admiring his power, they try to present the facts as insignificant. Be persuaded also by the parents, O Pharisees, that the man was born blind. Run again to the blind man a second and a third time, so that he may reveal to you the wickedness and the scheming that these arguments hide.

But you, when you experience the first disappointment, proceed to the second; when you experience the second, go to the third, and so on. Follow the path of the evil fox. You are surrounded from everywhere with the networks of truth. You cannot deny the miracle, there is no other way out. Despite all this, you do not neglect to complicate the matter in every way, weaving a spider's web with all your art; however, your advice is powerless and useless.

IX. Your disease is ancestral. Similar children of faithless fathers. This is how they also faced the wonders of Egypt. They were saved from paradoxical and hopeless wars and they did not believe in the One who gave salvation. They fed on supernatural food and were more ungrateful than those who starve. They accepted the manna that was sent to them from heaven and they craved the stench of the garlic and onions of Egypt. With a pillar of cloud they were covered by day so as not to suffer from the burning of the sun and with a pillar of light they were illuminated in the night, enjoying another, new luminary besides the moon. And as if they had not been benefited by any divine action, when Moses had gone up to the mountain to be given the law and delayed to return, they sought and found new and non-existent gods. You are indeed heirs of their ingratitude: and you loved not the law, and hate grace. You need a rod, made not of walnut, to be sure, but of iron.

X. You see a man who, although he could see the light's brightness, he is in the dark until his current age. He does not know what creation is and is guided by foreign eyes. Every day he sits in front of the temple revealing his calamity, in order to attract many to charity and he has the whole city as a witness to his malignancy. In a moment you see him being healed and finding his sight, not with a combination of various medicines, nor with the use of surgical instruments, but only with mud from spitting. And how were you not dazzled, how did you not express your surprise, how did you not fall to the ground to worship, out of respect for the divine action, the One who created the eyes from the earth?

On the contrary, you are in danger of bursting with envy and you envy God as a rival, as if you were the creators of the Creator; you envy the God-man as a common man. Read the books of the Old Testament, what was written there to save the people, and what they teach about kings and their history, and accept what they write about everyone. That, for example, Moses almost came to be recognized as God and Elisha was greatly admired, as well as his teacher Elijah, they praised him very much; you honor as angels all the saints of every generation, who received the actions of God and performed the great and famous miracles. Do not question the ancients in anything, nor disbelieve in the narrations of your fathers, although men by nature give less faith to hearing.

However, what happened in your days with his eyes and you saw it with your own eyes, and you can feel it with your fingers and listen with precision to its history, this with such unbelief and ingratitude you maliciously investigate, trampling on the prophecies and trying to deny their fulfillment. After what we now see happening, Isaiah had come to teach us by saying: "Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing" [Is. 35:4-6].

These are not the words of Peter or John, or the words of any new and suspicious persons, so that you disbelieve in the truth. They are words of your own prophecies, of the son of Amos of Tekoa, the child of a prophet who was a prophet, an Israelite by race, and the supreme teacher of the law.

To God therefore be glory, power, honor and worship now and forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.


Become a Patreon or Paypal Supporter:

Recurring Gifts

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *