Iconography and Hand painted icons

The anchoress Polychronia informed in the divine way about Saint Anthusa of Tarsus in Cilicia repose. Divine eros, divine madness takes a person beyond the earth’s pull; it lifts him up to the Throne of God.

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_dormitionThe miraculous Icon of Panagia Prousiotissa from Prousa in Minor Asia (“Prusa” Holy Icon of the Mother of God )
Saint Anthusa the Nun of Tarsus in Cilicia
Hieromartyr Athanasius the Bishop of Tarsus in Cilicia, who baptized the holy Nun Anthusa
Martyrs Charesimus Neophytus, the Servants of Anthusa the Nun

Commemorated on August 22

My Beloved is mine, and I am His. He pastures His flock among the lilies’ (Song of Songs 2:16).
The life of the dwellers in the wilderness is a blessed one, for by divine love they are carried up.
(Anavathmoi. Plagal of the First Tone)

The Hieromartyr Athanasius, bishop of the Cilician city of Tarsus, who baptized the holy Nun Anthusa, was beheaded by the sword under the emperor Valerianus Augustus (253 – 260).

Πολυχρονία ασκήτρια_пустынножительницей Полихронией_Тарса_0_190c4c_503228e1_orig - CopySaint Anthusa, was born to the city of Seleucia (in Syria) in 3rd century, was the daughter of illustrious pagans. Learning of the teachings of Christ, she under pretense of visiting her benefactress, journeyed instead to Tarsus to Saint Athanasius accompanied by two servants. Along the way, she was met by Bishop Athanasios of Tarsus and told him of her desire. Athanasios agreed, but since there was no water nearby, he prayed, and a spring of fresh water came out of the ground. Saint Anthousa and her servants received Baptism from him. She gave the wealth that she inherited to her servants and the poor.

Her parents were enraged at their daughter for becoming a Christian. She received monastic tonsure from Saint Athanasius, thereafter She lived in the desert in asceticism for over twenty years. She endured many trials from the demons, and she was miraculously fed. She died at the end of the third century while she was praying.

The famous anchoress Polychronia, who was also practicing ascetic life in the same mountains, informed in the divine way about her repose, Polychronia was a hermitess in the mountains where she lived a life of prayer , stillness and holiness in desert. This anchoress, poured out abundant spiritual joy on everybody, being a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit himself. Immediately gets up and goes to the cave. From there comes out a leopard, catches with teeth her ragged robe and leads her inside in front of the body of Saint. As she found it warm as if she had just reposed, and after she had embraced and kissed her many times and washed with her tears, she runs fast and meets the famous among the monks Abramios and narrates the event.
He takes three brothers and cames along with Polychronia to the cave. After doing what he has to do, he handles to the earth the flourishing body of the Anthousa and returns to his cell.

The Martyrs Charesimus and Neophytus, who had been baptized together with the Nun Anthusa, were her servants, and they too accepted death for Christ.

These saints, by their holy and unconventional lives, conferred peace upon the land and the creatures because they had been liberated, from their fallen human nature. As the Apostle Paul succinctly states: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God… because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19,21).

Acta Sanctorum – vol 38– August part 4 (Aug 20-24) P. 503 – 504 – https://archive.org/stream/actasanctorum38unse#page/n529/mode/2upΠροσευχή_PRAYER- Моление-3333333Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

A Christian is similar to betrothed maiden. As a betrothed maiden continually thinks about her betrothed, so does the Christian continually think about Christ. Even if the betrothed is far away beyond ten hills, it is all the same, the maiden behaves as though he is constantly there; by her and with her. She thinks about him, sings to him, talks about him, dreams about him and prepares gifts for him. In the same way a Christian behaves toward Christ. As the betrothed maiden knows that she first must leave and distance herself from the home where she was born in order to meet and totally unite with her betrothed, so the Christian knows that even he cannot totally unite with Christ until death separates him from the body, i.e., from the material home in which his soul, resided and grew from birth.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai VelimirovičΠροσευχή_PRAYER- Моление-3-sf-proorocita-ana-mama-sf-prooroc-samuel-sec-ix-i-hr-2-1

Divine eros
Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

– Geron, is “divine eros” the love we feel for God?

– Divine eros is something far superior to one’s love for God. It is a kind of madness. “Love – eros – madness” – is along the same lines as “envy – hatred – murder”. A precise love of God – complete with sacrifices – simmers slowly inside the heart; then, just like steam, divine eros (which cannot be held back) bursts forth and unites with God. Divine eros can soften even the toughest bones so much, that a person can no longer stand upright; he actually falls down! He then resembles a wax candle in a warm environment, which cannot stand firmly upright. It falls to one side, then it falls to the other side… you straighten it, but again it bends, again it falls, because of the heat of its environment, which is too hot for it to bear.. When a person finds himself in such a state and he needs to go somewhere or do something, he cannot… He struggles; he has to actually struggle to get out of that state….

– Geron, when someone is in a state of divine eros, and if he is in pain, can he feel that pain?

– If the pain is very intense, it is subdued and becomes tolerable. If the pain is minimal, it disappears altogether… Haven’t you seen how people who are in love with each other are entirely oblivious? They can hardly sleep… A monk once told me: “Geron, a brother of mine has fallen in love with a gypsy girl and has lost his sleep over her. He keeps repeating her name, over and over again… Is he perhaps bewitched? I have been a monk for so many years, and even I don’t feel that much love for the Holy Mother as he feels for that gypsy! I don’t feel my heart leaping like that!”

Unfortunately, there are spiritual people who are scandalized by the term “divine eros”. They haven’t perceived what “divine eros” means, and they are attempting to remove this term from the Menaia and the Paracletic texts, because they claim that it scandalizes. Where have things come to! On the contrary, if you speak to secular people (who have experienced “secular eros”) about divine eros, they immediately say: “That must be something a far superior thing.” There have been so many youngsters who have experienced “secular eros”, whom I immediately “aligned” when I mentioned divine eros to them! I ask them: “Have you ever lost your footing on account of the love that you felt for someone? Have you ever felt that you cannot move and you cannot do absolutely anything?” They then immediately comprehend how this must be a really superior state, and we understand each other perfectly thereafter. They usually respond with: “If we feel that way with something secular, imagine what that celestial feeling must be like!”Προσευχή_PRAYER- Моление-390_1269234149_977262_5653820_n[4]
– How can one become dotty, Geron, by their love for God?

– Well, by keeping company with …other dotty ones, who will infect you with their spiritual dottiness! I will pray to one day see you… a complete madman! Amen…

I too have a small experience of spiritual madness, which comes from divine eros. In that state, a person reaches the stage of divine absentmindedness and wants to think of nothing else except God, the divine, the spiritual, the celestial… While divinely in love, he is deliciously ablaze internally, and he explodes externally in a mad manner – within the divine confines of modesty – and glorifies his God and Maker like an angel, day and night….

– Is that what we call “ecstasy”, Geron?

– Yes. That is when a person “takes leave of himself” – in the good sense, of course. That is also what we mean by ….”stand aside and shudder, o heavens” (έκστηθι φρίττων ουρανέ) [from the Eirmos of the 8th Ode of the Canon of Easter Saturday].

Divine madness takes a person beyond the earth’s pull; it lifts him up to the Throne of God, and makes him feel like a puppy at his master’s feet; a puppy licking His Feet joyfully and with reverence…

Source: Counsels of the Elder, Geron Paisios of the Holy Mountain, vol.5 p.205-206, Translation by A. N.
(Source: Saint Paisios of Mount Athos : Spiritual Counsels Vol. V: Passions and Virtues Holy Monastery “Evangelist John the Theologian”, Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.)

On “Lord, I have cried …”, the Stichera, In Tone VIII:

The shrine of thy relics * pours forth recovery of sight to the blind, * and cures for all the sick who approach them with faith * and implore thy visitation, * O holy and wonder-worthy mother Anthusa; * wherefore we implore thee that by thy prayers * we may be granted healing and great mercy.

   Thou hast acquired mercy towards thy neighbor, * and Orthodox faith and love towards God, * O God-blessed, honored Polychronia; * therefore the spiritual grace of God rested upon thee, * O holy mother; * wherefore we implore thee that by thy prayers * those who bless thee may be preserved in the faith.

Glory …, In Tone VI:

   Thy sacred celebration hath today shone forth * more brightly than the sun, * illumining those in darkness, * and vanquishing the mist of demons, * O wonder-worthy one.


Saint Martha (Milyukova) of Diveyevo, In the Heavenly Kingdom at the throne of God, near to the Heavenly Queen with the holy virgins she stands!

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы__Sea“Remain with us, our comfort, our sole joy in this world. O Mother leave us not orphans…”

Saint Martha (Milyukova), schemanun of Diveyevo (1829) spiritual daughter of St. Seraphim of Sarov

Commemorated on Αυγούστου 21

St. Martha, Semenovna Melyukova. of Diveyevo

Venerable Martha (in the world Maria Semenovna Miliukova) was born Feb. 10, 1810 to a peasant family of the Nizhny-Novgorod province, Ardatsky district, village of Pogiblo (now Malinovka; “Robin”). The Miliukov household, righteous and of a godly life, was close to Elder Seraphim of Sarov. Besides Maria there were two other older children—a sister Praskovya Semenovna and a brother Ivan Semenovich. With the blessing of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, Praskovya Semenovna entered the Diveyevo community and attained to a high spiritual life. Upon the death of his spouse Ivan entered the Sarov Hermitage.

Μάρθα του Ντιβέεβο Schema-Nun Martha Преподобная Марфа Дивеевская (Милюкова)prp_MarfaWhen Maria turned thirteen, she went together with her sister Prasokovya to see Fr. Seraphim for the first time. This occurred on November 21, 1823, on the feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. The great elder, foreseeing that the girl Maria was a chosen vessel of the grace of God would not allow her to return home, but ordered her to stay in the Diveyevo community.

This extraordinary, wondrous, young, incomparable, angelic child of God from an early age began to lead an ascetic life, surpassing even the sisters of the monastery in the severity of her podvigs, becoming distinguished by her strictness of life. Unceasing prayer was her food, and she answered only necessary questions and with Heavenly meekness. She was almost completely silent and Fr. Seraphim especially gently and exceedingly loved her, revealing to her all his revelations, the future glory of the monastery, and other great spiritual mysteries.

Soon after Mary entered the community of the Kazan church the Most Holy Theotokos commanded St. Seraphim to start another female community next to that one, which is how the construction promised to the monastery’s Mother Alexandra by the Theotokos began. Two weeks after the appearance of the Mother God, on December 9, 1825, Maria and one sister went to see St. Seraphim, and Batiushka declared to them that they had to go with him to a remote desert. Arriving there, Batiushka gave the sisters two lit wax candles from those taken with them at his command together with oil and rusks, and instructed Maria to stand on the right side of the Crucifix hanging on the wall, and Praskovya Stepanovna on the left. Thus they stood more than an hour with the lit candles, with Fr. Seraphim praying the whole time, standing between them. Having prayed, he venerated the Crucifix and told them to pray and venerate. Before beginning the founding of the new community the saint prayed thus mystically with the sisters, elected by the Mother of God for special service to her and the monastery.

Maria struggled ascetically throughout the next four years, helping Venerable Seraphim and the sisters in building the new community. Together with them and other sisters she stored poles and timbers for the mill which the Mother of God blessed them to build on the site of the founding of the new community; she carried rocks for building the church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos; she ground flour and fulfilled other obediences, during which she never abandoned her heartfelt prayers, silently raising her burning spirit to the Lord.

Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_25509867.pShe lived in the monastery only six years and at nineteen years of age on August 21, 1829 she peacefully and quietly departed to the Lord. Having foreseen in the spirit her hour of repose, Venerable Seraphim suddenly began to weep and with great sorrow told Fr. Paul in the neighboring cell “Paul! It seems Maria has departed, and I’m so sorry, it’s such a shame that, you see, I’m weeping!” Of her posthumous fate he said: “Such grace she was vouchsafed from the Lord! In the Heavenly Kingdom at the throne of God, near to the Heavenly Queen with the holy virgins she stands! She is Schemanun Martha—I myself tonsured her. Being in Diveyevo I never pass by without falling at her grave, saying: ‘Our lady and mother Martha, remember us at the throne of God in the Heavenly Kingdom!’” After that Batiushka summoned to himself the faithful sister Ksenia Vasilievna Putkova, who he always ordered to record various names for commemorations, and said to her: “Matushka, record her, Maria, nun, because she by her own deeds and by the prayers of the wretched Seraphim there was found worthy of the schema! All of you pray for her as Schemanun Martha!” According to Venerable Seraphim, she is the head over the Diveyevo orphans in the Kingdom of Heaven, in the habitations of the Mother of God.

Maria Semenovna was tall and of beautiful appearance; she had a long white and sweet face, blue eyes, thick dark brown eyebrows and the same hair.
Translated by Jesse Dominick – http://orthochristian.com/96688.html
Holy Trinity Seraphim-Diveyevo Monasteryhttps://diveevo-monastyr.ru/saints/prepodobnaja-marfa/

St. Seraphim of Sarov said:“When I am dead, come to me at my grave, and the more often the better. Whatever is in your soul, whatever may have happened to you, come to me as when I was alive and kneeling on the ground, cast all your bitterness upon my grave. Tell me everything and I shall listen to you, and all the bitterness will fly away from you. And as you spoke to me when I was alive, do so now. For I am living and I shall be forever.”Μάρθα του Ντιβέεβο_St. Martha (Miliukova), schemanun of Diveyevo_Преподобная Марфа Дивеевская (Милюкова)_1 (1)Apolytikion (First Tone)

In birth, you preserved your virginity; in death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.

Troparion, In Tone VIII:

   In thee, O mother, was the image of God revealed; * for having taken up thy Cross, and following Christ, * thou didst teach by thine own example * that the flesh is to be spurned as something fleeting, * but particular care should be bestowed upon the immortal soul, * wherefore together with the Angels thy soul rejoiceth, O Mother Martha.

With the Vespers Aposticha the Stichera, In Tone I:
Spec. Mel.: Of the heavenly orders.

Desiring the fair beauty of the Bridegroom Christ, * and striving to betroth thyself to Him, * thou didst adorn thyself with the labors of asceticism, * and with a multitude of good deeds O Martha, * wherefore thou dost now reign with Him in paradise.

Stichos: In the Congregations bless ye God, * the Lord, from the wellsprings of Israel.

   Setting thy course towards the divine haven, * thou hast calmly traversed the seas of worldly distractions, * piloting the ship of thy soul, * keeping it safe from foundering on the shoals of temporal delights, * and filling it with secret treasures.

Ikos 6

Pray for us, so that we ourselves may pray more fervently and sincerely, loving God for Who He is and trusting in His goodness. Pray for us and move us to pray for one another, putting the salvation of our neighbor above personal gratification and worldly nonsense. Pray for us, Saint Seraphim, so that we might acquire a peaceful spirit and a pure heart, and join together with the thousands as we dutifully offer you praises:
Rejoice, abundant vineyard of repentance.
Rejoice, bountiful fruit of contrition.
Rejoice, shady tree of loving-kindness.
Rejoice, rich field of compassion.
Rejoice, wide river of forgiveness.
Rejoice, clear lake of meekness.
Rejoice, dead to imaginings, alive to the Word.
Rejoice, submissive to Christ, conqueror of Satan.
Rejoice, empty of worldliness, temple of the Spirit.
Rejoice, poorest of men, saint of Heaven.
Rejoice, alone in prayer, father to thousands.
Rejoice, scorner of vainglory, lover of humility.
Rejoice, Saint Seraphim, spiritual father of all the faithful.

The Wisdom of Solomon [5, 15-23; 6, 1-3].

   The righteous live unto the ages; their reward is also with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High. Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom and a beautiful crown from the Lord’s hand, for with His right hand shall He cover them, and with His arm shall He protect them. He shall take to Him His jealousy for complete armor, and make the creature His weapon for the revenge of His enemies. He shall put on righteousness as a breastplate and true judgment instead of an helmet. He shall take holiness for an invincible shield. His severe wrath shall He sharpen for a sword, and the world shall fight with Him against the unwise. Then shall the right-arming thunderbolts go abroad, and from the clouds, as from a welldrawn bow, shall they fly to the mark. And from the hailstones full of wrath and cast as out of a sIn Tone bow the cities shall fall down, and the water of the sea shall rage against them, and the floods shall cruelly drown them. Yea, a mighty wind shall stand up against them, and like a storm shall blow them away; thus iniquity shall lay waste the whole earth, and ill dealing shall overthrow the Thrones of the mighty. Hear therefore, O ye kings, and understand; learn ye that be judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, ye that rule the people and glory in the multitude of nations, for power is given you of the Lord and sovereignty from the Highest.


Prophet Samuel, God above all, The will of God, for him, was a commandment, by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_14828497Saint Prophet Samuel

Commemorated on August 20

Hymn of praise
The Holy Prophet Samuel
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Samuel the righteous, servant of the Living God,
Of his people, beloved judge,
He respected God; God above all,
The will of God, for him, was a commandment,
By the will of God, the will of the people he corrected
And for the people’s sins, before God repented.
Priest and prophet and a righteous judge,
In three ways, Samuel glorified God.
With his every word, with his every deed,
Through labor and prayer and sacrifices and food
With his entire being, God he served,
To the rulers of the world, this example he offered:
For his people, no one is going to do good,
One who from the law of God departs
Who, to himself and to the people listen and not God,
Into the depth of the bottomless abyss will fall.
As Saul fell and others with him
All accomplices of the sin of the people.
Only a slave of God can a ruler be
And benefit his people eternally
This Samuel teaches in deeds and in words,
Throughout the many centuries, this teaching echoes.

The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date August 20, and New Calendar date September 2.

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Σαμουήλ Προφήτης_Prophet Samuel_ Самуи́л пророк_`0 -ix-i-hr-13-11“The Lord is present everywhere, and nothing happens without His will or His permission, either in this life or in eternity. When we accept this idea, everything is made easier. If God would allow us to do everything the way we desire and when we desire, this would certainly result in catastrophe.”

“I realized that we all worry about ourselves too much and that only he who leaves everything to the will of God can feel truly joyous, light, and peaceful.”

“We must learn to ease the burden of thoughts that bears down upon us. As soon as we feel burdened, we must turn to the Lord and give our worries over to Him, as well as the worries and cares of our loved ones.”

The Lord has taken all of our sufferings and cares upon Himself, and He has said that He will provide for all our needs, yet we hold on to our cares so tightly that we create unrest in our hearts and minds, in our families, and all around us.”

Nothing ever happens either in the world or in the universe without the will of God or His permission. All that is good and noble is God’s will, and all that is negative and bad happens because He allows it. He knows why He allows these things to happen and for how long. If the incorporeal angelic powers or we men were allowed to do as we please, there would be total chaos in the world and in the entire universe. But God is present everywhere and He is Light, a Light that penetrates all.

How will we know whether we are living according to the will of God or not? If you are sad for whatever reason, this means that you have not given yourself over to God, although from the outside it may seem that you have. He who lives according to God’s will has no worries. When he needs something, he simply prays for it. If he does not receive that which he asked for, he is joyful as though he had received it. A soul that has given itself over to God has no fear of anything, not even robbers, sickness, or death. Whatever happens, such a soul always cries, “It was the will of God.”

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica


Apolytikion Prophet Samuel in the Second Tone

As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Samuel, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.

The Little Orphan, by St. John Jacob (the Romanian) the Chozebite

Παναγία_Божией Матери Икона_Virgin Mary –Byzantine Orthodox Icon_0008 5“Remain with us, our comfort, our sole joy in this world. O Mother leave us not orphans…” (St John of Damascus: Sermon II: On the Dormition of the Virgin)

Repose of Abbess Maria (Ushakova) of Diveyevo 6/19 August (1904)

St. Seraphim of Sarov used to say: “I haven’t chosen you, but the Heavenly Queen did it Herself and delivered you under my guidance.”

The elder demonstrated the utmost reverence to the command of the Most Holy Mother of God by obediently following Her word: “Never did I, a lowly Seraphim, ever lay a stone there out of my own will.”

In anticipation of his imminent death and realizing that they would be really orphaned and left without a spiritual father after his passing, father took care of their future. He lamented: “Who will provide for you when I am gone?” And he would comfort them:
“I am handing you over to the Matushka Queen of Heaven Herself! She will not abandon you!”

When the Queen of Heaven visited him in 1830 on Her feast of Dormition, father sought her intercession for his “orphans,” and so the Mother of God pledged to provide the lowly Seraphim with this unspeakable joy. During his last vision of Her on the feast of the Annunciation in 1831, when the Most Holy Theotokos, surrounded by 12 virgins came to visit him, the elder again pleaded with Her for his spiritual kin in Diveyevo: “Do not abandon my Diveyevo maidens! I gathered them up, but I cannot manage their lives all by myself!” To this, the Queen of Heaven responded: “I will, my beloved, assist you in everything! Let them be in obedience to you and, if they oblige, they will be with you and near Me. But if they give up wisdom, they will be deprived of the lot of these virgins next to Me. Neither their standing nor a heavenly crown will ever be reserved for them. Whoever offends them will be punished by Me; whoever serves them for the Lord’s sake will be forgiven before God.”

After the death of father Seraphim Mill maiden abode alone lasted only ten years. The peaceful life of the sisters of the two communities – the Mill and Kazan – willfully interfere Sarov became a novice Ivan Tikhon (later the monk Joasaph). Father Seraphim in his lifetime he forbade it, but the ambitious novice in dreams saw himself as guardian and confessor of the monastery. In 1842, Ivan Tikhon procured a decree to merge the two communities. He tried to turn to his sisters, to distract them from the grand old man of the covenant. He was able to seal the Christmas temples and break all the commandments of the Queen of Heaven. 29 years of continued unrest, which resulted in poverty and debt: the monastery had nothing even knead bread, and most importantly – spiritual life went wrong. After the disturbances in Diveyevo, smoot was completed when on March 14/27, 1862, Abbess Maria (Elizabeth Alekseevna Ushakov) was made Hegumenia by Holy Hierarch Theophan, the Recluse. Hegumenia Maria arranged life of the monastery according to the commandments from the Mother of God and Venerable Seraphim. The Abbess Maria never did anything or went anywhere without a blessing from Blessed Prascovia Ivanovna. Her years of headship (1862-1904) are considered years of the monastery’s prosperity, both in civil and spiritual matters. The number of sisters grew to be one thousand. St. Maria herself acquired many virtues, and became a true mother for the sisters. Cases of her clairvoyance are known, and by her prayers all the complexities connected with the monastery’s huge economy were miraculously solved of themselves. Hegumenia Maria remained at its helm for 42 years, and through her labors and prayers, the monastery reached its spiritual golden age.

The Little Orphan
an autobiographical poem
by St. John Jacob (the Romanian)
Blessed John (Jacob) of Neamts, the New Chozebite
“the child of zero” who “followed the One”*

Resurrection Day!
The bells are ringing!
Old men sit at their verandas,
Others are at their doorsteps.

The young and the children
Go out in their best clothes
To meet their friends at the church
Of the cemetery.

This mystical fragrance
Of the Holy Feast!
They take it in … like incense,
From herbs and flowers.

The Fields are robed
In a beautiful dress
And everything looks now
Renewed on the earth.

Near the Holy Altar
Of the wooden church
A little child offers
Candles and oil.

He kisses the Holy Cross
In front of the fresh tomb
And kneels crying
With sighs.

When the bells are ringing
In a jubilant tone
Near the Cross the little orphan
Sheds tears with pain.

Suddenly, while absorbed in his tears
And his deep sighs,
At the ringing of the bells
A sweet voice he hears :

“Cry Not, my child, today
Feel not sad, because, look!
By your side am I
Christ is Risen!”

Αγία Σκέπη της Υπεραγίας Θεοτόκου -Покров Пресвятой Богородицы-ikona_pokrov_e30a78e7a5203684c977f8dWas this his mother’s voice
Coming from the tomb
His sadness to dispel
From his broken bosom?

Immediately the orphan
Rises and ecstatically looks up,
Searching to find
Who was speaking to him.

Then, from the Altar most Holy
By the smoked wall
He sees the Risen Christ
Sweetly smiling to him.
His little heart is lit
His face calms
His pain leaves him
And such is his mind:

“If I see here
The Risen Lord
Then my mother too
Is risen with Him.”

Speaking thus to his mind
Humbly he bows
And kissing the tomb
Returns to his ‘home’!

Alone, lonely, he lives
At his earthly lodgings,
His poor father
Died at the war.

Often at nights he sleeps
By the tomb with them.
Crying in the morning he returns
Back to the deserted house.

But the bells ring!
Again at the cemetery
His mother’s voice
Is heard to say:

“Cry not, my child, today
Do not be sad,
Because, lo, I am with you
Christ is Risen!”

Since then our little orphan
Stopped sighing.
And whenever the bells ring
His heart is consoled!

* A Hermit from the Holy Land with complete Incorruptible Relics at the monastery of St. George Choziba! He was a great ascetic and a poet. He called himself “the child of zero” who “followed the One”. After his all night- vigils, he would briefly rest in the verandah of the monastery and write his so moving poetry, sadly not translated yet in English.
* The painting is by the Serbian artist Uroš Predić, Siroče (Orphan), oil on canvas, 1888. National Museum
https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2017/11/05/the-little-orphan/ορφανό_Orphan_painting Serbian artist Uroš Predić, Siroče (Orphan), oil on canvas, 1888orphan-sos2


To say to a person “I love you” is tantamount to saying “you shall never die”. Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_pzZQQbpvkjc“Remain with us, our comfort, our sole joy in this world. O Mother leave us not orphans…”

9th Sunday of Matthew
1 Corinthians 3:9-17
Matt. 14:14-22

“Remember us, O Lord, when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom”
Don’t Fear Difficult Things. Christ Walking on the Water
Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh
9th August, 1987

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

The more deeply we live in the Holy Liturgy or according to circumstances that make us more perceptive of its words, the more widely it unfolds before us, acquiring a greater depth revealing to us things both human and divine.

How often have we heard at the beginning of the Beatitudes the words “Remember us, O Lord, when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom!” — in the glory of Thy Kingship … And these words sound so natural and simple. And yet, if we imagine for one moment that when the Lord Jesus Christ comes in glory, having conquered for us and for God, overcome all evil, and made this world into His Kingdom of love, of holiness, of perfect beauty — that one of us could be forgotten: what would happen to us? Forgotten of God … It is only because we are remembered that we exist, that we live! It is only because He remembers us even when w e forget ourselves and one another that we continue to be sustained by the power of life which is His, by His blessing, by His sacrificial love … How wonderful it is to think that we are secure in God’s all-remembrance, even when people forget us! And it happens, it happens: I remember a dark day when I was with a family, and the door opened, and a man who had been five years in the war and was thought to be dead, walked in; his wife looked at him and said “You are alive? We thought you were dead!” … And these words meant, “we counted on your death, because once you were dead, life had begun anew, in a new manner; I had met other people, I had married another man; you have come — and you should not have come, you should have remained dead” …

Ιησούς Χριστός_ΠΕΡΠΑΤΩΝΤΑΣ ΠΑΝΩ ΣΤΑ ΚΥΜΑΤΑ_Jesus-Christ_Walking-on-Water- Господне Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icon008590WECan you imagine what this man felt? And can you imagine what would happen to anyone of us, however sinful, if, standing before God we saw that He did not remember our name, our face, our existence … And how wonderfully inspiring it is to think that even if the whole world should forget us — there is One Who will never, never forget: it is the Lord Jesus Christ, it is God One in the Trinity, God Who is Love

Think of what happened in today’s Gospel (Matthew 14:22-34): Peter, together with the other disciples, saw Christ as a phantom, as a ghost walking on the waters, he was filled with terror: a ghost! And they all cried out in fear. And Christ said “Fear not! It is I!” … They were tossed by the sea, as we are tossed by the circumstances of our life, by the storms that arise within us. But when they heard the voice of Christ, Peter said, “Let me come unto Thee, walking on the waters.” He knew it was impossible, humanly speaking, but it was possible because all things are possible to God and in God … And Christ said “Come!” … And Peter left the frail security of the skiff in which he was with the other disciples, and began to walk; and suddenly he looked at the sea instead of looking at Christ, he looked at the storm instead of looking at Him Who is the Lord of the storm, as He is the Prince of Peace. And because he remembered himself and the storm, he began to drown; and that very moment when he had lost sight of God, he cried “Help!”, and Christ took him by the hand and brought him to shore.

Here again we see that even at moments when we are carried away by our fears, by our doubts, carried away by the storm that rages within or around us, there is One Who remembers in love, in compassion, in an understanding that goes beyond our own understanding. Because He has plumbed all the depths of human frailty and has carried all the weight of human sin, He can say “Fear not!”and take us by the hand and save us.

Let us think for a moment of what that means: to be remembered, and what it means to all of us, each of us that there should be people who remember us, for whom we exist, for whom we matter. A French writer has said: To say to a person “I love you” is tantamount to saying “you shall never die”. Because it is a supreme affirmation of this person, a person who is thus affirmed, cannot fall out of eternity, of God’s eternity, because all love is of God. How wonderful that salvation is offered and given, how wonderful that we may be partakers of this gift, granting it to others by our love and by our eternal remembrance. Amen.
http://www.mitras.ru/eng/eng_79.htmhttp://www.mitras.ru/eng/eng_128.htmΚοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_tumblr_m9evyjkab61rb44tmo1_500

9th Sunday of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew 14:22-34

At that time, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they entered the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret.

Prokeimenon. Mode Plagal 4.
Psalm 75.11,1
Make your vows to the Lord our God and perform them.
Verse: God is known in Judah; his name is great in Israel.

The reading is from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 3:9-17

Brethren, we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.

On the blessed man. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1). Saint Nikolai Velimirovic

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_9128203“Remain with us, our comfort, our sole joy in this world. O Mother leave us not orphans…”

”O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance shall they walk, and in Thy Name shall they rejoice all the day long.”
“It worth to struggle for thousand years only to see this beauty just for a moment”
(Saint Paisios of Mount Athos)

The entrance of the acheiropoiton (not-made-by-hands) image of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, brought from the city of Edessa to the God-protected Queen of cities (Constantinople).
The Holy Keramion (Ceramic Tile) of Edessa

Commemorated on the 16th of August

on the blessed man
by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1).

Άγιο Μανδήλιο_Спас Нерукотво́рный-чудотворный Мандилио́н _The Holy Face, Mandylion8283698571_5bd7d3d0e0_hBrethren, most blessed is he who is not so hardened by sin that he can hear and fulfill this counsel of God that has come through the prophet. The ungodly are those who, in every way, think contrary to God and His will. The sinners are those who walk the path of their own desires, and their thoughts are contrary to the will of God and His law. The scornful are those who destroy themselves and others by their evil deeds. The danger is this: first comes the ungodly counsel (either from wicked men or from sinful thoughts); then the actual committing of sin; then the unrepentant sinner becomes a scandalous example of evil to others. Therefore, blessed is the man who neither heeds the counsel of ungodly men or thoughts, but finds sufficient counsel for his salvation in the Law of God. Blessed is the man who has not even once walked in the way of sinners, or, if he has walked on that path, he has repented and returned to the path of life that is the Lord’s. Blessed is the man who has not sat in the presence of the scorner of innocent souls who, by his seductive example, corrupts such souls. For it is said of the corrupter: It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:6).

O my brethren, blessed be all of you, men and women, who cautiously avoid these three evils: ungodly thoughts and counsels, sinful deeds, and the corrupting of others. These three evils are like one poisonous serpent that grows from a small snake into a giant serpent.

O Blessed Lord our Creator, help us by Thy power and Thy goodness, that we may be saved from the cruel serpent that Thou, O Lord Christ, didst defeat by the weapon of Thine invincible and honorable Cross. Help us to hearken only to Thy counsel, that we may walk only on Thy path, and shine by Thine example.
Prologue from Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic


Παύλος Σερβίας- Павел Сербский- Pavle of Serbia38The Patriarch of Serbian Pavel had only one robe, which he himself made (he always answered with a smile: “I have more than one robe and I don’t need – I cannot wear two at once.”) He dressed himself with a vestment – he cleaned and ironed himself.
The patriarch repaired shoes and even sewed shoes for himself (moreover, if he saw that someone had torn his clothes or shoes, he offered his services in repair). The patriarch until the end used old printing and sewing machines, heated the water on a tiny old stove, wrote with a pen. He had neither personal assistants, nor a personal secretary, nor a personal car. 

His Holiness was known for his humility. When he was asked why he always walked or took public transport,  he replied “I will not purchase one until every Albanian and Serbian household in Kosovo and Metohija has an automobile.”

Patriarch Pavle refused, in fact, to get paid. He only received a small pension he was entitled to as a formal bishop of Raska and Prizren. All his needs were modest, given that he sewed his mantle and repaired his shoes … Yet, he still had some money left of that pension. What was left of it, he divided among poor or donated it to other purposes of civic good.

When a request from bishops was made to increase their salaries in 1962, his reaction as a bishop became proverbial :

– “But why, since we are not able to spend what we already have?”.

He did, likewise with what he received as gifts. If he received mantle material, he keep it until he met a monk or a priest not been able to afford it. Then he would calculate how much they would need to sew a cassock (mantle) and give them exactly that, so he may share the rest with others.

May our Lord grant us the same spiritual poverty and humility. Patriarch Pavle’s acts condemn me.

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”— Proverbs 19:17


Papa-Photis Lauriotis the “Fool For Christ” of Mytilene

Papa Fotis was landless. His whole life was ascetic. He never had his own house, his own clothes, and his own monastic robe. He never had a pot of his own, not a fork, or a towel! Throughout his life, he sometimes slept in ditches, sometimes in chapels, and even – as he told me – once he slept in the trunk of a straw car. One very important thing that I too have seen, and also others have witnessed, is that when it was raining and the Elder was walking on the streets, his clothes were often dry!!! (Fr. Athanasios Giousmas, Papa Fotis “by the Christ Salos”, p. 109).

παπα-Φώτης Λαυριώτης_Father Photis Lavriotis of Mytilini_старец Фотий из Митилене (Лесбос)_images96754718814381_1392675527491876_2422396364038074406_n - CopySome decades ago, Fr Ierotheos Lygeros was accompanying the late Metropolitan Iakovos of Mytilene (1907-1987) during a poemantic trip to thw town of Plomari. On their way back, just outside the town they noticed from their car Papa-Photis walking their way. The Metropolitan asked the driver to stop the car and from the window he asked the elder:
-Going somewhere Papa-Photis, do you want a lift?
-I am going to Mytilene, he replied, but I am not taking the car.
The Metropolitan and Fr Ierotheos went on to Mytilene (28km / 24miles), without any stops and without being overtaken by any other car. Besides, at that time there were only a few cars on the island. As soon as they arrived in the city of Mitylene to their amazement they saw Papa-Photis walking in the street.
Metropolitan Iakovos then turned to the driver and to Fr Ierotheos and said:
– Well, indeed this priest is a Holy man.

Papa-Photis would do a lot of crazy things so that his holiness would not be noticed by others.

Once, during the lent of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (August 1-14th) he visited as a guest a monastery where he saw a few monks eating galaktoboureko, a traditional sweet pastry made of milk.
The elder asked them
-What is this?
-Galaktoboureko (Greek milk custard pie), they replied.
-But there is milk in it, he said.
And at once he grabbed the whole tray with the sweet, dropped it on the floor and started stepping on it with fury before the doumbfounded monks:
-There you go, there you go, there you go…
In the end one of them got so angry that he grabbed the sweet from the floor and smeared with it Papa-Photis’s face.

Synaxarion for the Holy Mandylion of Edessa and The Holy Keramion (Ceramic Tile) of Edessa

Saint Apostle Jude Thaddaeus and the Holy (Mandylion) Image of Christ not made with hands

Apolytikion (First Tone)

In birth, you preserved your virginity; in death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.

Apolytikion of the Holy Mandylion of Christ. Tone 2.

We venerate your most pure icon, loving Lord, as we ask pardon of our offences, Christ God. For by your own choice you were well-pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh, to deliver from the slavery of the enemy those whom you had fashioned; therefore with thanksgiving we cry to you: You have filled all things with joy, our Saviour, by coming to save the world.

Stichera Prosomia of the Holy Mandylion of Christ. Tone 2. With that garlands of praise.

With what eyes shall we who are born of earth look upon your image, which the armies of the Angels cannot look at without fear as it blazes with divine light? For it departs to-day from the land of unbelievers and by divine decree comes to dwell in the Queen of cities and among a people of true religion. At its entry Kings rejoice, O Christ, falling down before it with fear and faith.

The Mother of God is the response of the whole creation to God’s love. Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_adormirea“Remain with us, our comfort, our sole joy in this world. O Mother leave us not orphans…”

Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh

St. Symeon the New Theologians says that salvation is to bring the mind into its natural state. There is a paradise within us, and we can enter into that paradise even in this life. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov says that before the fall the mind of Adam was united with his heart, and he insists that this is what paradise was. But as a result of the fall this union of mind and heart was broken and man lost his free communication with God.

Therefore we need to cultivate this state, just as the Theotokos did when, as an infant she resolved to dedicate her whole life to God. And I said “she resolved”, because it is written that when she was brought to the Temple by her parents she ran up the steps of the Temple without looking back at them. This is something that surprised both the priests and her parents because it would have been natural for a child of that age to look back. So, she then withdrew from the world and nourished her soul with the things of God, the Scriptures and the worship of the Temple. She was not only a hearer, but also a doer of God’s word. Thus she prepared herself to be a dwelling place of God. But how do we move in this direction?

Well, today, let us simply speak about things that can be counterproductive to such a state. The Apostle Paul says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 4:3), and he instructs us, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Furthermore, he warns us, “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom 8:7-8) Again he says “be renewed in the spirit of your mind; put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:23-4). And the Apostle John the Theologian is more to the point and clear in writing, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

The Mother of God is the response of the whole creation to God’s love and to God’s gift of self not only to mankind but to the whole Cosmos He has created. And in that we rejoice, because Her word is our word. Her word was perfect, as Her trust was, Her faith was, Her gift of self was. Ours is imperfect, and yet our voices resound within Hers, weakly, hesitantly at times, but with faith and also with love.
She is the glory of all Creation; the Mother of God…

May God grant us to learn from this frail maiden her heroic simplicity and her wonderful wholeness. And let us learn from all the steps of her life, all the self-denial and the gift of self, all the beauty of her surpassing humility and its perfect obedience to the law of eternal life. 


Saint John of Kronstadt
Sermon on the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_Adormirea-Maicii-Domnului“Magnify O my soul, the honourable Translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven.” (Refrain for the 9th Ode of the Canon)

…Today the Holy Church solemnly glorifies the honorable Dormition or translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven. A wonderful translation – she died without serious illness, peacefully. Her soul is taken up in the divine hands of Her Son and carried up into the heavenly abode, accompanied by the sweet singing of angels. And then, her most pure body is transferred by the apostles to Gethsemane where it is honorably buried, and on the third day it is resurrected and taken up to heaven. You see this on the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. On it is represented the life-bearing body of the Theotokos laying on a bier, surrounded by the apostles and hierarchs, and in the center of the icon the Lord holding in His hands the most pure soul of the Theotokos. The translation of the Mother of God is a paradigm of the translation in general of the souls of Christians to the other world.

We say that our dead have “fallen asleep” or “passed away.” What does this mean? This means that for the true Christian there is no death. Death was conquered by Christ on the cross. But there is a translation, i.e, a rearrangement of his condition, i.e. his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, eternal, without end, that is what is meant by “falling asleep”. It is as if it were a temporary dream after which, by the voice of the Lord and the fearful yet wonderful trumpet of the Archangel, all the dead shall live and come forth each to his place: either to the resurrection of life or to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29). This is what the Christian means by translation. We should be ready for this translation, for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this indescribable world event, recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

This preparation for the meeting of the heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the person’s preparation throughout the whole of his life. This preparation means a change in all his thoughts, and the moral change of all his being, so that the whole man would be pure and white as snow, washing clean everything that defiles the body and spirit, so that he is adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercifulness, abstention, spiritual contemplation, and burning love for God and neighbor.

Our preparation for meeting the heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things. The heavenly King desires souls adorned with immutable virtue, souls prepared so that the Very Lord Himself could abide in them. Do not marvel that the Very Lord wants to live in us. In fact the human soul is more spacious than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God. And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of all will settle in it and will fill it with Himself. “We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23), says the Lord about the souls who love Him.

And so, ye participants in the Christian feasts, and especially the present feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, ye who are brightly adorned with every virtue and translated to the heavenly kingdom, to Her Son and God, proclaim to each and every one about preparing their souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about the incorruptible adornment of Christian virtue. Let your death also be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the dread judgment seat of Christ. Amen.


“Who is the one ascending in white, appearing as the daybreak, beautiful as the
moon, exquisite as the sun. How beautiful! How delightful! Thou flower of the field, lily
of the valley, the King has introduced thee into His treasury, where the Dominions attend upon thee, the Principalities bless, the Thrones hymn, the Cherubim are astonished, and, rejoicing, the Seraphim glorify.”

Δοξαστικό Εσπερινού της Κοιμήσεως της Θεοτόκου. Οκτάηχον (Arabic+Greek+English)
Ψάλλουν George Theodoridis – Rassem El Massih – Stephen Esper – Nicholas J. Jones – Amjad Khalil