Saint Gregory Palamas Archbishop of Thessalonika the Wonderworker
Commemorated on November 14
“Lord, Enlighten my darkness, Enlighten my darkness…!”
“Most-Holy Theotokos, Enlighten my darkness, Enlighten my darkness…!”
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
The saint Gregory Palamas felt love for the Panagia . He was granted to see her in his life, he was her protege.From an early age he wass given into the protection of the Theotokos by his father.At die beginning of his studies the saint had difficulty in memorizing.Then he placed a restriction on himself not to come near the books and not to begin reading without first having knelt thrree time before the icon of the Theotokos, saying a prayer at the same time. When he did this work every day he succeeded very easily in memorizing and reciting the lessons.
When he came to the Holy Mountain he gave himself over with great zeal to ascesis, fasting, vigil and unceasing prayer. It is significant, according to the information of St. Philotheos Kokkinos, that he prayed unceasingly to the Theotokos. He prayed day and night to God, projecting the Mother of God “as guide, protector and mediator, all the time bringing before his eyes her aid and her countenance, with words and prayers and noetic movements, and pondering the way of obedience with her guidance.” So in the first two years the saint was praying constantly to God, with the Panagia as his guide and mediator. The prayer which he was saying at that time was “enlighten my darkness.”
During a great stillness, while his nous had turned inward and to God, John the Evangelist appeared to him, not in a dream, but in a vision, and assured him that he had been sent “as a messenger from the Queen beyond,” to find out why he was constantly praying: “enlighten my darkness, enlighten my darkness.” St. Gregory replied that, since he is a passionate man, he was praying to be enlightened by God to be conformed to His saving will. Then John the Evangelist said: “Do not be afraid, do not doubt… the Queen of all is giving the order through us: ‘I myself will be your help’.” And when again St. Gregory asked when the Theotokos would be his help and ally, in the present or future life, then the Evangelist replied: “both before and now, in both the present and die future.”
This appearance of St. John the Evangelist, sent by the Most Holy Theotokos, was revealed by St. Gregory himself years later to his fellow-monk Dorotheos, later Metropolitan of Thessaloniki. It is characteristic that the Theotokos heard the prayer and assured him that, just as long ago, so also now and in the future, she would be his helper and defender, and moreover, that she was filling him with divine gifts.
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, from his book “Saint Gregory Palamas as a Hagiorite”
Troparion to St Gregory Palamas — Tone 8
O light of Orthodoxy, teacher of the Church, its confirmation, O ideal of monks and invincible champion of theologians, O wonder-working Gregory, glory of Thessalonica and preacher of grace, always intercede before the Lord that our souls may be saved.
Thou standest now in worship before the throne of the all-merciful God with the theologian saints, for thou wast their equal in thy way of life, O wise Gregory, hierarch of Thessaloniki, glory of the episcopate, adorned with the dignity of the high priesthood.
(Matins Canon of the Second Sunday of Great Lent, Tone Four, by St. Gregory of Nicomendia)