Iconography and Hand painted icons

It was really like Pascha … the Repose of Elder Sophronius of Essex the Athonite

Σταυρός_Ανάσταση_Μονή Τιμίου Προδρόμου Έσσεξ-St. John The Baptist Monastery-Essex-England-Монастырь святого Иоанна Крестителя (Эссекс-RastignSaint Nina the Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia
The Deposition of the Precious Robe of our Lord Jesus Christ in Moscow (1625) – Icon of the Mother of God of Konevits (1393)

Commemorated on July 10

The Placing of the Precious Robe of the Lord in Moscow (1625)

Elias, a soldier in the Roman army in Jerusalem, was a Georgian by birth, from the town of Mtskhet. When the Lord was crucified, his garments were divided by lot among the soldiers, a his robe fell to Elias, who took it home to Georgia and gave it as a gift to his sister Sidonia. The robe was buried with her, then miraculously found many years later by St Nina (January 14). King Mirian, who had accepted Christ in response to St Nina’s teaching, built a church to the Holy Apostles on the spot where the robe was found. Many years later, Georgia was conquered by the Persians, and the robe fell into their hands. In 1625 the Persian Shah Abbas, wishing to establish good relations with Russia, sent the robe to Moscow as a gift to Prince Michael Feodorovich and Patriarch Philaret. It was placed with honor in the Cathedral of the Dormition.


St Sophrony of Essex during his last days

Question 3: Father, could you tell us something about Fr. Sophrony in his last days?

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_e143431d7a577Answer 3: I do not know what to say. We had such ease of access to him! Myself, I had the key to his house; I could enter any time, day or night. If I wanted to ask him something, and he was asleep, I only had to shake his armchair and he would open his eyes and say, “Shto? What?” and in the twinkling of an eye I would have a word that really informed the heart. We had such access to him, but we never lost sight of the fact that he was different, that he was “a man of God”, all his being was rapt in God.

Very noble and kind as he was, when he was speaking with me in Russian or in Greek, he would never address me in the singular, but always in the plural. Usually we do this for people who are older than we are. (In English, though, there is no distinction between formal and familiar speech.) He was strict with us when he perceived pride in us, because he knew that if he did not “service us”, we would have a crash. Otherwise, he was very loving and very kind. We used to go and “tire” him, especially myself, because I was very talkative and I had a lot of questions. Sister X and I were the ones who tired him most. Fr. Sophrony named her “a barrel of questions”, and another sister said to me, “That’s why she’s become ‘a barrel of answers’ now!” When he got tired, in order to tell us that it is enough, he would say a very nice rhyme in Russian, like a poem: “Allow me to express my gratitude and, with heartfelt satisfaction, take my leave.“

So, I went to see him two weeks before he died. At that time we were building the Crypt, where we are going to be buried and, of course, Fr. Sophrony was going to be the first. The walls and the roof were ready, but it was still muddy underneath, as there was yet no floor. As he was accompanying me to the door, he looked at the Crypt and asked, “How long will it take for it to be finished?” I answered, “Father, two more weeks, I suppose.” He replied, “Hum. For me it is difficult to wait even one hour: I have said everything to the Lord; now I must go.” It must be wonderful to feel in your heart that you have spoken to the Lord to the end, and that remains in eternity, and you are ready to go. Myself, I have the feeling that I have never spoken to the Lord.

I went to see him again, about a week before he died. He was already lying in bed, whereas before he was always sitting in an armchair. He said to me, “Have you written the book I have asked I you to write?” He had asked me to write a book, which I managed to bring out only last summer. I told him I had written two chapters, and I explained to him what their content was. He said, “You must put them at the beginning,” and then he added, “I will tell you the four central points of my theory about personhood.” In brief, he gave me all his theory about the “hypostatic principle“, as he says. It was about a page long, but very fundamental – four points. And he was telling me how to proceed in writing the book.

Four days before he died, he closed his eyes, and would not speak to us any more. His face was luminous and not pathetic, but full of tension; he had the same expression as when he would celebrate the Liturgy. Not all of us went in to see him, only Fr. Kyrill, myself, Fr. Nicholas and Fr. Seraphim. Two or three weeks before he died, he invited all the brethren, one by one, to go and sit with him for about an hour in his kitchen, for their last conversation with him. But the four of us had the key to his door, and would go to see him every few hours. We would go in and say, “Blagoslovitye, Otche“, “Your blessing, Father.” He would not open his eyes or utter a word, but he would lift up his hand, blessing us. He blessed us without words, and I understood that he was going. So, myself, I did not want to detain him. Before I used to pray that God extend his old age, as we say in the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great: “to geras perikrateson”‘, “succour the aged.”4 But during those days I saw that he was going, and so I began to say, “Lord, grant unto Thy servant a rich entrance into Thy kingdom.” I prayed using the words of St. Peter, as we read in his second epistle (cf 2 Pet. 1:11). So, I was constantly saying, “O God, grant a rich entrance to Thy servant, and place his soul together with his Fathers,” and I named all his fellow ascetics that I knew he had on the Holy Mountain, starting with St. Silouan, and then all the others.

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_933925640-2333The last day, I went to see him at six o’clock in the morning. It was a Sunday, and I was celebrating the early Liturgy, while Fr. Kyrill together with the other priests were to celebrate the second. (For practical purposes, on Sundays we have two liturgies at our monastery.) I realized that he was going to leave us that day. I went and started the Prothesis; the Hours began at seven o’clock, then the Liturgy followed. During the Liturgy, I said only the prayers of the Anaphora, because in our monastery we have the habit of reading them aloud; for the rest, my prayer was continually, “Lord, grant a rich entrance into Thy kingdom to Thy servant.” That Liturgy was really different from all the others. The moment I said: “the Holy things unto the Holy”, Fr. Kyrill entered the Altar. We looked at each other, he began to sob, and I realized that Fr. Sophrony had gone. Asking what time he departed, I knew that it was the time I was reading the Gospel. I went aside, because Fr. Kyrill wanted to speak with me, and he told me, “Take Communion, give Communion to the faithful, and then announce the departure of Fr. Sophrony and serve the first Trisagion; and I will do the same in the second Liturgy.” So I parcelled the Lamb, I partook; I gave to the faithful, and I finished the Liturgy. (I don’t know how I managed.) Then I came out and I said to the people, “My dear brethren, Christ our God is the sign of God for all the generations of this age, because in His word we find salvation and the solution of every human problem. But the saints of God are also a sign for their generation. Such a Father God gave us in the oerson of Fr. Sophrony. In his word we found the solution to our problems. And now we must do as the Liturgy teaches us, that is, “to give thanks” and “to make entreaty”, “to supplicate”. Therefore, let us give thanks to God who has given us such a Father, and let us pray for the repose of his soul. Blessed is our God . . .”, and I began the Trisagion.

We put him in the Church for four days, because the Crypt was not yet finished and the tomb was not yet built. We left him uncovered in the Church for four days, and we were continually reading the Holy Gospels, from beginning to end, again and again, as is the custom for a priest. We read the Holy Gospels, and we read the Trisagia and other prayers; we had the services, the Liturgy, and he was there, in the middle of the Church for four days. (It was really like Pascha, such a beautiful and blessed atmosphere!) No one showed any hysteria. Everybody prayed with inspiration. I had a friend, an Archimandrite, who used to come to the monastery every year and spend a few weeks during summer time: Fr. Hierotheos Vlachos, who wrote, A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain. He is a Metropolitan now. He came as soon as he heard that Fr. Sophrony had died. He felt the atmosphere, and said to me, “If Fr. Sophrony is not a saint, then there are no saints!” We happened to have some monks from the Holy Mountain who came to see Fr. Sophrony, but they did not find him alive. Fr. Tychon from Simonos Petras was one of them.

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_0_3d175_99964dab2_origEvery time the Greeks came to England for medical purposes, they had the habit of coming to the monastery to be read a prayer by Fr. Sophrony, because many were healed. They all relate such things. Two of them, out of gratitude, even built a Church in Greece, dedicated to St. Silouan. The second or the third day after Fr. Sophrony’s death, a family came with a thirteen year old child. He had a brain tumour, and his operation was due the next day. Fr. Tychon, from Simonopetra, came to me, and said, “These people are very sad, they came and did not find Fr. Sophrony. Why don’t you read some prayers for the child?” I said to him, “Let us go together. Come and be my reader. We will read some prayers in the other Chapel.” We went and read the prayers for the child, and at the end Fr. Tychon said, “You know, why don’t you make the child go under the coffin of Fr. Sophrony? He will be healed. We are wasting our time reading prayers.” I told him that I could not do that, because the people would say that he has only just died and we are already trying to promote his canonization, “So, you do it!” I said to him, “You are an Athonite monk; nobody can say anything.” He took the child by the hand, and made him pass under the coffin. The next day they operated on the child and found nothing. They closed his skull and said, “Wrong diagnosis. It was probably an inflammation.” It happened that the child was accompanied by a doctor from Greece, who had the X-ray plate, showing the tumour, and who told them, “We know very well what this ‘wrong diagnosis’ means.” The next week, the whole family of that child, who were from Thessalonica, came to the monastery to give thanks at the tomb of Fr. Sophrony. The child has grown, he is twenty-one years old now, and he is very well. When they came to give thanks the week after, they found in the middle of the Church the coffin of Mother Elisabeth, the oldest nun of the monastery, a hundred and one years old. She died exactly thirteen days after Fr. Sophrony. The family said, “Hum! Every time we come here we find somebody dead in the middle of the Church.”

This was something from the last days of Fr. Sophrony. I have never been so open in my life as I have been with you during these days. Forgive me for being like that. Although our dear Bishop warned me that his clergymen are so good that they will make me open up, I did not take any precautions.
Elder Zacharias of Essex. Excerpt from The Enlargement of the Heart. Pages 85-89

I Believe, Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/24062/ΤΑΦΟς ΓΕΡΟΝΤΑ Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_-27_manastirea_sf_ioan_botezatorul_essexApolytikion of the Deposition of the Precious Robe of Christ in Moscow in the Fourth Tone

On this day let us the faithful run to the divine and healing robe of our Saviour and God, Who was pleased to wear our flesh and pour out His holy Blood on the Cross, whereby He hath redeemed us from slavery to the enemy. Wherefore, we thankfully cry to Him: By Thy precious robe save and defend Orthodox Christians, and bishops, and cities, and all men everywhere, and save our souls, for Thou art the Friend of man.

Troparion of St. Nina, Tone 4

O handmaid of the Word of God, who in preaching equaled the first-called Apostle Andrew, and emulated the other Apostles, enlightener of Iberia and reed-pipe of the Holy Spirit, holy Nina, pray to Christ our God to save our souls.

On “Lord, I have cried …”, the Stichera, in Tone VIII:
Spec. Mel.: ‘The Martyrs of the Lord’.

In thy body likened unto a buoyant boat * thou wast carried freely across the sea of life * by the gentle breezes of thy peaceful spirit. * Thou, O wise one, having found the pearl of great price, * went and sold all that thou didst have, and bought it. * Fervently protecting it, thou didst find blessedness in its divine virtues.

If an Idiomelon be appointed. Glory …, in Tone VI:

Having preserved that which is in the image of God, and set thy mind as master over the pernicious passions through fasting, thou didst ascend to that which is in the likeness of God, as far as thou wast able; for manfully compelling thy nature, thou didst strive to subdue that which is lower to that which is better, and to enslave the flesh to the spirit. Wherefore, thou wast shown to be the summit of monastics, a citizen of the desert, a trainer of those who run the good race, a most excellent rule of virtue. O venerable father Sophrony, in purity thou now beholdest the Holy Trinity in the heavens, not by reflection as by a mirror, praying directly for those who honor thee with faith and love.

The Reading from the Wisdom of Solomon

   The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, and their departure is taken for misery, and their going from us to be utter destruction, but they are in peace. For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality. And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded, for God proved them and found them worthy for Himself. As gold in the furnace hath He tried them, and received them as a burnt offering. And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble. They shall judge the nations and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever. They that put their trust in Him shall understand the truth; and such as be faithful in love shall abide with Him; for grace and mercy is to His saints and visitation for His elect.

Prayer at Daybreak of Saint Sophrony of Essex, ‘If someone reads this prayer in the morning with contrition and attention, the whole day will be blessed.’

Μονή Τιμίου Προδρόμου Έσσεξ-St. John The Baptist Monastery-Essex-England-Монастырь святого Иоанна Крестителя Эссекс-essex_12Saint Sophrony of Essex, spiritual child of St Silouan the Athonite, gave this prayer to his own spiritual children, to be said ‘on rising from sleep.’ ‘If someone reads this prayer in the morning with contrition and attention, the whole day will be blessed.’

Prayer at Daybreak of Saint Sophrony of Essex the Athonite 

O Eternal Lord and Creator of all things, in your inscrutable goodness you have called me into this life and have given me the grace of baptism and the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. You have instilled in me the desire to seek your face. Hear my prayer!

I have no life, no light, no joy, no strength, no wisdom without you, O God. Because of my unrighteousness, I dare not lift my eyes in your presence. But I obey you who said: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11) Truly, truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father He will give it to you in my name. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16)

Therefore I now dare to approach you. Purify me from all stain of flesh and spirit. Teach me to pray rightly. Bless this day which you give to me, your unworthy servant.

By the power of your blessing enable me at all times to speak and to act with a pure spirit to your glory with faith, hope and love, humility, gentleness, peace, purity, simplicity, sobriety, courage and wisdom. Let me always be aware of your presence.

In your boundless goodness, O Lord God, show me your will and grant me to walk in your sight without sin.

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_e14344924349O Lord, unto whom all hearts are open, you know what I need and what is necessary for me. You know my blindness and my ignorance. You know my infirmity and corruption. My pain and anguish are not hidden from you. Therefore I beg you: Hear my prayer and teach me by the power of your Holy Spirit the way in which I should walk. And when my perverted will leads me otherwise, O Lord, do not spare me, but force me back to your way.

Grant me, Lord, to hold fast to what is good by the power of your love. Preserve me from every word and act which corrupts the soul, and from every impulse that is unpleasing in your sight and harmful to the people around me. Teach me what I should say and how I should speak. If it be your holy will that I be quiet and make no answer, inspire me to be silent in a peaceful spirit that causes neither harm nor hurt to my fellow human beings.

Establish me in the path of your commandments, and until my last breath do not let me stray from the light of your ordinances. May your commandments be the sole law of my being in this life and for all eternity.

O Lord, I pray to you: Have mercy on me. Spare me in my affliction and misery and hide not the way of salvation from me.

In my foolishness, O God, I plead with you for many and great things. Yet I am ever mindful of my wickedness, my baseness, my vileness. Have pity on me! Cast me not away from your presence because of my foolish presumption. Increase rather in me the right presumption of your grace and grant that I, the worst of people, may love you with all my mind, all my heart, all my soul and all my strength, as you have commanded.

By your Holy Spirit, Lord, teach me good judgment and sound knowledge. Let me know the truth before I die. Maintain my life in this world until the end that I may offer worthy repentance. Do not take me away while my mind is still blind and bound by darkness. When you are pleased to end my life, give me warning that I may prepare my soul to come before you. Be with me, Lord, at that awesome hour and assure me by your grace of the joy of my salvation.

Cleanse me from secret faults. Purify me from hidden iniquities. Give me a good answer at your dread judgment seat.

Lord of great mercy and measureless love for all people: Hear my prayer! Amen. 

“O Holy and God-bearing St. Father Sophrony, pray to Christ our God that we too may receive the Heavenly Light of Christ’s Eternal Kingdom!”

Even a whisper of the Divine is glory beyond compare to all the content of life lived apart from God. St. Elder Sophrony of Essex

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_e1434ba1430fa5dSt. Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex

Reposed in the Lord on July 11, 1993

Sometimes prayer seems to flag and we cry, ‘Make haste unto me, O God’ (Ps. 70.5). But if we do not let go of the hem of His garment, help will come. It is vital to dwell in prayer in order to counteract the persistently destructive influence of the outside world.
Prayer cannot fail to revive in us the divine breath which God breathed into Adam’s nostrils and by virtue of which Adam ‘became a living soul’ (Gen. 2.7). Then our regenerated spirit will marvel at the sublime mystery of being, and our hearts echo the Psalmist’s praise of the wonderful works of the Lord. We shall apprehend the meaning of Christ’s words, ‘I am come that (men) might have life and that they might have it more abundantly’ (John 10.10).

When the Gospels and Epistles become real for us we see how naïve were our past notions of God and life in Him, so far does Reality surpass man’s imagining. ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him’ (1 Cor. 2.9). Even a whisper of the Divine is glory beyond compare to all the content of life lived apart from God.

Prayer to this God of love and humility rises from the depths of our being. When our heart is filled with love for God we are wholly aware of our closeness to Him– although we know full well that we are but dust (cf. Gen. 3.19)…Through prayer we enter into Divine life; and God praying in us is uncreated life permeating us.

O Holy Spirit, Eternal King
and Giver of life incorruptible:
Look down in Thine infinite mercy
on the infirmities of our nature.
Illumine and hallow us.
Let the light of Thy knowledge
shine forth in our darkened hearts.
And in the earthen vessels of our nature
manifest Thine invincible strength.
Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov (2001) (2nd ed.) His Life is Mine. Chapter 8: The Struggle in Prayer. New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press


Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_θεολογια01122--screenA man who is truly humble is not troubled when he is wronged and he says nothing to justify himself against the injustice, but he accepts slander as truth; he does not attempt to persuade men that he is calumniated… St. Isaac the Syrian, from The Ascetical Homilies.

Let us humble ourselves, brethren, because a proud man cannot be saved. Let us weep for our sins here, so we can rejoice forever in the next life, for after we leave this world everyone will forget us. Let us not hope in men, but only in God…St. Paisius

Without humility all virtues is zero. In humility are all virtues. Elder Ignatius Kapnisis of Evia

“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” When emptied of us throughout our egoism, the whole God enters our. Elder Ignatius Kapnisis of Evia

“The humbler our opinion of ourselves, the more swiftly our prayer rises to God. So soon as we lose humility, each and every ascetic effort is nullified. If pride is active in us, or fault-finding, or unfriendliness, the Lord stands remote from us.” Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine: Part 2, Chapter 3; SVS Press pg. 123):

No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God’s will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is giver over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass.” St.Sophrony of Essex

At the Aposticha, these stichera: In Tone I:
Spec. Mel.: Of the heavenly orders.

Thy festival, O God-bearer, * hath arrived brighter than the sun; * illuminating those who in faith have recourse unto thee, * filling them with the sweet fragrance of immortality * and radiating healing unto their souls, O holy Father, * fervent intercessor for our souls.

Through the struggles of abstinence * thou didst obtain victory over the sensual passions of the body, * and here on earth exhibiting a zeal like that of the bodiless ones in heaven, * thou didst subdue the desires of the flesh * making them serve the needs of the spirit, * O wonder-worker, Sophrony; * wherefore now, as a dweller in the heavenly habitations, * do thou ever intercede on behalf of our souls.

Even in spiritual drought God sends us consolation, as He knows our weaknesses. St. Elder Sophrony of Essex

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_e1434ba1430fa5dSt. Elder Sophrony of Essex , disciple of St. Silouan the Athonite

“We do not think about how to change the world with our own powers. We strive to receive strength from God in order to act at all times with love.”

When the grace of God comes to us, then we already here live in the dimension of eternity.”

What do the words “Keep your mind in hell, and despair not” mean? They mean nothing to us, but Staretz Silouan understood them as a great consolation, because he was going through the period of Godfor-sakenness. That is why he said: “I received the weapon of my salvation.” It was like a triumph. Hell means the withdrawal of God’s grace. This is God’s chastening. For Staretz Silouan the way out was “Do not despair.”

Man is a microcosm. He repents, he becomes holy, he receives the whole world, and thus a small creation takes place.

Even in spiritual drought God sends us consolation, as He knows our weaknesses. It would be to our advantage to live our whole life in spiritual dryness but to struggle. In other words, if we could reach Christ through being utterly abandoned by God, through emptying ourselves completely, as happened with Christ on the Cross. Then man would also have great glory. We shall have glory depending on how much we empty ourselves and how much pain we endure.

Nothing, either spiritual or material, belongs to us but to God. It becomes ours when we offer it to God. Through the prayer that we say before the meal, we offer up the material good things to God, and then they become ours, because God gives them back to us so that we can live.

Freedom is not political independence, but that the evil one has no authority over us.

Not all the saints received the same grace from God, but all filled the vessel that they offered to God.

One interpretation of the Apostle Paul’s words, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16), is as follows: When we hear or read a word of God, we feel it by grace to be food for our heart. This is spiritual, not intellectual, remembrance of God.

Through the prayers of Fr. Sophrony of Essex, of all the ascetic Fathers and all the saints, O Lord of compassion and hope, have mercy on us and save us!

Apolytikion of St. Sophrony of Essex in the Fourth Tone

With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O Sophrony, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.

‘Look, the Lord is coming and he’s saying, “Bring me the vessel from the desert.” Abba Sisoes the Great

Σισώης ο Μέγας_Saint Sisoes the Great_Авва Сисой Великий_hermit-sisoes-alexanderhermit-sisoes-alexander-varlaam23`44324Saint Abba Sisoes the Great

Commemorated on July 6

 Abba Sisoes expressed himself freely one day, saying, ‘Have confidence: for thirty years I have not prayed to God about my faults, but I have made this prayer to him: “Lord Jesus, save me from my tongue,” and until now every day, I fall because of it, and commit sin.’

Abba Ammoun of Rhaithou asked Abba Sisoes, ‘When I read the Scriptures, my mind is wholly concentrated on the words so that I may have something to say if I am asked.’ The old man said to him, ‘That is not necessary; it is better to enrich yourself through purity of spirit and to be without anxiety and then to speak.’ 

Abba Sisoes said to Abba Adelphius, bishop of Nilopolis, ‘If God does not glorify a man, the glory of men is without value.’

One of the Fathers asked Abba Sisoes, ‘If I am sitting in the desert and a barbarian comes to kill me and if I am stronger than he, shall I kill him?’ The old man said to him, ‘No, leave him to God. In fact whatever the trial is which comes to a man, let him say, “This has happened to me because of my sins,” and if something good comes say, “It is through the providence of God.” ‘

One day the Saracens came and robbed the old man and his brother. As he was setting off into the desert to find something to eat, the old man found some camel dung and having broken it up, he found some grains of barley in it. He ate a grain and put the other into his hand. His brother came and saw him in the act of eating Sisoes [219 and said to him, ‘Is this charity, to find food and to eat it along without having called me?’ Abba Sisoes said to him, ‘I have not wronged you, brother, here is your share which I have kept in my hand.’

A brother asked Abba Sisoes, If we are walking along the road and the guide leads us astray, ought we to tell him so?’ The old man answered, ‘No.’ Then the brother said, ‘Should we let him lead us astray then?’ The old man said to him, ‘What else? Will you take a stick to beat him? I know some brethren who were walking and the guide misled them the whole night. There were twelve of them and they all knew that they were lost and each one struggled not to say so. When day came and the guide realized that they had lost their way and said to them, “Forgive me, but I am lost,” they all said to him, “We knew that but we kept silence.” Hearing this he was filled with wonder and said, “Even to the point of death, the brothers control themselves so as not to speak,” and he gave glory to God. The length of the road on which they had gone astray was twelve miles.’

One day some Arians came to see Abba Sisoes on Abba Anthony’s mountain and they began to speak against the orthodox faith. The old man gave them no answer but he called his disciple and said to him, Abraham, bring me the book of Saint Athanasius and read it.’ Then they were silent as their heresy was unmasked and he sent them away in peace.

A brother whom another brother had wronged came to see Abba Sisoes and said to him, ‘My brother has hurt me and I want to avenge myself.’ The old man pleaded with him saying, ‘No, my child, leave vengeance to God.’ He said to him, ‘I shall not rest until I have avenged myself.’ The old man said, ‘Brother, let us pray.’ Then the old man stood up and said, ‘God, we no longer need you to care for us, since we do justice for ourselves.’ Hearing these words, the brothers fell at the old man’s feet, saying, ‘I will no longer seek justice from my brother; forgive me, abba.

They said of Abba Sisoes the Theban that when the assembly was dismissed he used to flee to his cell and they used to say of him, ‘He is possessed by a devil.’ But he was really doing the work of God.

They asked Abba Sisoes, If a brother sins, surely he must do penance for a year?’ He replied, ‘That is a hard saying.’ The visitors said, ‘For six months?’ He replied, ‘That is a great deal.’ They said, ‘For forty days?’ He said, ‘That is a great deal, too.’ They said to him, ‘What then? If a brother falls, and the agape is about to be offered, should he simply come to the agape, too?’ The old man said to them, ‘No, he needs to do penance for a few days. But I trust in God that if such a man does penance with his whole heart, God will receive him, even in three days.’


Σισώης ο Μέγας_Saint Sisoes the Great_Авва Сисой Великий_ΣΙΣΩΗΣ 3265765756Abraham, Abba Sisoes’ disciple, was tempted one day by the devil and the old man saw that he had given way. Standing up, he stretched his hands towards heaven, saying, ‘God, whether you will, or whether you will not, I will not let you alone till you have healed him,’ and immediately the brother was healed.

A brother asked Abba Sisoes, ‘What shall I do, abba, for I have fallen?’ The old man said to him, ‘Get up again.’ The brother 2 said, ‘I have got up again, but I have fallen again.’ The old man said, ‘Get up again and again.’ So then the brother said, ‘How many times?’ The old man said, ‘Until you are taken up either in virtue or in sin. For a man presents himself to judgement in the state in which he is found.’

He also said, ‘When there is someone who takes care of you, you are not to give him orders.’

. Abba Sisoes’ disciple often said to him, Abba, get up, and let us eat.’ And he would say to him, ‘Have we not eaten, my child?’ He would reply, ‘No, Father.’ The the old man would say, If we have not eaten, bring the food, and we will eat.’

It was said of Abba Sisoes that when he was at the point of death, while the Fathers were sitting beside him, his face shone like Sisoes [215 the sun. He said to them, ‘Look, Abba Anthony is coming.’ A little later he said, ‘Look, the choir of prophets is coming.’ Again his countenance shone with brightness and he said, Look, the choir of apostles is coming,’ His countenance increased in brightness and lo, he spoke with someone. Then the old men asked him, ‘With whom are you speaking, Father?’ He said, ‘Look, the angels are coming to fetch me, and I am begging them to let me do a little penance.’ The old man said to him, ‘You have no need to do penance, Father.’ But the old man said to them, ‘Truly, I do not think I have even made a beginning yet.’ Now they all knew that he was perfect. Once more his countenance suddenly became like the sun and they were all filled with fear. He said to them, ‘Look, the Lord is coming and he’s saying, “Bring me the vessel from the desert.” ‘ Then there was as a flash of lightening and all the house was filled with a sweet odour.

Troparion Saint Sisoes the Great — Tone 1

Dweller of the desert and angel in the body, / you were shown to be a wonder-worker, our God-bearing Father Sisoes. / You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil, and prayer: / healing the sick and the souls of those drawn to you by faith. / Glory to Him who gave you strength! / Glory to Him who granted you a crown! / Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!

Troparion – Tone 5

From your youth you followed the angelic life
And were therefore filled with many godly gifts.
O Sisoës, emulator of the angels,
In the hour of your going forth from this life,
You shone resplendently as the sun
Revealing your glory and illuminating our souls!


Let us learn to trust the Lord as the centurion, we must never doubt that He is always there in our midst, with us. Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
The Healing of the Centurion’s Servant Matthew 8:5-13

The Faith of the Centurion
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

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

Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς_Jesus-Christ_Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icon235755-normal_5When Peter on the lake suddenly realised not only with his mind but with all the awe of his being who the Lord Jesus Christ was, he said, “Leave my boat, o Lord, I am not worthy that I should be in Thy presence.”

And today we find another man whose faith is calm and grave — the centurion. He came to Christ to ask for the healing of his servant, for mercy and for love. And when Christ said to him that He would come and heal this servant of his, he said, “No, You need not trouble Yourself. A word of Yours will suffice.” And Christ let him go, He did not say, “To reward your faith I shall come all the same.” He let him return to his home to find his servant healed.

How different it is from so many of our attitudes. We turn to God half-heartedly in the vague, uncertain hope that He will and that He can respond to us. The centurion had no such dividedness of mind and heart. He knew that if it was right, God will act. He presented Him with his request with all his hope and all his faith but he claimed nothing, certainly not any reward for the faith he had expressed. He went. Yes, indeed, his prayer was fulfilled and it was enough for him. He had met the mercy of God face to face and the mercy had responded because he himself was prepared to accept whatever the Lord would decide.

When we turn to God we must learn this whole-heartedness. We must turn to Him in the certainty that He can act, that His love is entirely and perfectly offered, but that His wisdom may find it right to act in a way different from what we expect. And we must be prepared to present our request to the Lord and then go, leave it to Him to act as best He chooses. In a way we must be prepared to trust Him so completely that His absence should not shake our faith. His absence is never real, it is our subjective perception of it. He is always there in our midst, with us, but at times He makes this presence perceived, at times not. We must never doubt that He is there, — He is but in His wisdom preparing us to a greater maturity than that of a beggar, a greater maturity than one who expects continuously to be helped and protected, and be heard, He makes himself unperceptible, unperceived.

Let us learn to trust the Lord not only when we are overwhelmed by His presence but also when apparently He is not there. And when in one way or another He says to us, “You have received from Me all you needed, go now and do your work, proclaim My mercy, do to others what I have done to you,” — then we must be prepared to go away, away from the services, away from our surrounding, away towards those who need the Lord, Who sends us to them. Amen.
http://www.mitras.ru/eng/eng_277.htmΧριστός ο Αναπεσών-Βυζαντινή Εικόνα_Christ Reclining (anapeson)_Orthodox icon_Недреманное Око_130079.b

4th Sunday of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew 8:5-13

At that time, as Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

A good priest is distinguished from a wicked priest by his works no less than a shepherd is distinguished from a wolf. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

προσευχη-proseyhiSaint Nikolai Velimirovič

“Spiritual directors should distinguish themselves from their subordinates as much as a shepherd distinguishes himself from his sheep.” Thus speaks St. Isidorus of Pelusium in interpreting the First Epistle of St. Timothy. The life of a priest always serves as an example, be it good or be it bad. By an exemplary life, a priest confirms the Gospel and, by a wicked life, he denies the Gospel. No one in this world is in such a position to confirm the truth of the Gospel or to deny it in such a manner by his life, as is a priest. A good priest is distinguished from a wicked priest by his works no less than a shepherd is distinguished from a wolf. That is why a goodly portion of good priests will be with the sons of God and a goodly portion of wicked priests will be with the wild beasts of darkness. The good shepherds of the Church, even in the last moments of their lives, were concerned about their flocks which they were leaving behind. Upon his death bed, St. Joseph the Hymnographer prayed to God: “Preserve your flock, O Son of God, created by Your right hand and protect them to the end of time. Be of assistance to the beloved sons of Your Church. Grant to Your Bride [Holy Church] eternal peace and a stormless calm.” St. Antipas, burning in a blazing ox, cast out of copper, prayed to God in this manner: “Not only me, but those also who would come after me, make them partakers of Your mercy.”
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič 
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.gr/2009/12/prologue-april-7-april-20.htmlπροσευχή_sf-teodosie-40-1024x680St. John Moschos ca. 550-619

When we came to the Thebaid one of the elders told us that there was an elder of great repute living outside the city of Antinoe, one who had kept his cell for about seventy years. He had ten disciples but one of them was very careless so far as his own soul was concerned. The elder often besought and entreated him saying, ‘Brother, pay attention to your own soul, for death awaits you and the road to punishment’. The brother always disregarded the elder, refusing to accept what was said by him. Well, after a time, death carried the brother off and the elder was deeply troubled on his account, knowing that he had left this world sadly lacking in faith and devotion. The elder fell to his prayers and said: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, reveal to me the state of the brother’s soul’. He went into a trance and saw a river of fire with a multitude of people in the fire itself. Right in the middle was the brother, submerged up to his neck. The elder said to him: ‘Was it not because of this retribution that I called on you to look after your own soul my child?’ The brother answered and said to the elder: ‘I thank God, father, that there is relief for my head. Thanks to your prayers I am standing on the head of a bishop.’ (The Spiritual Meadow, 44.)

Prokeimenon. Mode Plagal 2.
Psalm 27.9,1

O Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance.
Verse: To you, O Lord, I have cried, O my God.

The reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 5:8-19

Brethren, walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.

The reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 4:7-13

BRETHREN, grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (in saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

St. John Maximovitch, protect the world from all typhoons of evil

Ιωάννης Μαξίμοβιτς_Saint John (Maximovitch) of San Francisco the Wonderworker_св. Иоанн Максимо́вич - Сан Францисский_186170208_w640_h640_9St. John Maximovitch the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco

Commemorated June 19 / July 2

When You’re Weak and Struggling
by St. John Maximovitch

God’s grace always assists those who struggle, but this does not mean that a struggler is always in the position of a victor. Sometimes in the arena the wild animals did not touch the righteous ones, but by no means were they all preserved untouched.

What is important is not victory or the position of a victor, but rather the labor of striving towards God and devotion to Him.

Though a man may be found in a weak state, that does not at all mean that he has been abandoned by God. On the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ was in trouble, as the world sees things. But when the sinful world considered Him to be completely destroyed, in fact He was victorious over death and hades. The Lord did not promise us positions as victors as a reward for righteousness, but told us,

“In the world you will have tribulation — but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

The power of God is effective when a person asks for the help from God, acknowledging his own weakness and sinfulness.
This is why humility and the striving towards God are the fundamental virtues of a Christian.


Saint John of San Francisco in Shanghai
(From the memoirs of Maria Aleksandrovna Shakhmatova, matron of St. Tikhon’s Orphanage in Shanghai.)

Ιωάννης Μαξίμοβιτς_Saint John (Maximovitch) of San Francisco the Wonderworker_св. Иоанн Максимо́вич-Сан Францисский__λειψαν-stjohnjoyofallThe Bishop never slept at night, but only dozed off sometimes, sitting in a chair. Once Mrs. Shakhmatova, in the middle of the night, chanced for some reason to climb up into the belfry. The door to it led from the top floor of the vicarage. It was cold and windy. As she opened the door, she saw that Blessed John was in deep, concentrated prayer, freezing, shivering in the open air, wind sweeping through his robe, and that he was blessing the houses of his parishioners from above. She thought, “While the world is asleep, he keeps watch like Habakkuk of old, guarding his flock with his fervent intercession before God, so that no harm can steal his sheep away.” Deeply shaken, she withdrew. Thus she had a clue as to what he was doing during the long winter nights when all the people take their normal rest in their comfortable beds. “Why was it needed?” asked Mrs. Shakhmatova. “Who asked him to do it? Why such self-sacrifice, when his presence was needed everywhere?” And she answered her own question: “He had an unquenchable love for God. He loved God as a Person, as his Father, as his closest Friend. He longed to talk with Him, and God heard him. It was not some conscious self-sacrifice. He just loved God and did not want to be separated from Him.”

“Once during the war,” she continued, “the poverty of the orphanage reached such immense proportions that there was literally nothing with which to feed the children, and there must have been at least ninety of them at that time. Our staff was indignant because Archbishop John kept bringing in new children, some of whom had parents, and we were having to feed someone else’s children. Such were his ways. One evening when he came to us – worn out, tired, cold and silent – I could not resist telling him off. I said that we women could not tolerate this any longer, that we could not bear to see hungry little mouths and not be able to put anything into them. I could not control myself and raised my voice in indignation. I not only complained, I was full of wrath at him for putting us through this. He looked sadly at me and said, ‘What do you really need?’ I said, right off the bat, ‘Everything, but at least some oatmeal. I have nothing to feed the children with in the morning.”

Saint John of San Francisco Archbishop John looked at her sadly and went upstairs. Then she heard him making prostrations, so vigorously and loudly that even the neighbors complained. Pangs of conscience bothered her, and that night she couldn’t sleep. She dozed off in the morning, only to be awakened by the doorbell. When she opened the door, there stood a gentleman of English extraction who said that he represented some cereal company, and that he had a surplus of oatmeal; and he wanted to know whether they could use it since he heard that there were children here. They began to bring in bags and bags of oatmeal. While this was going on, with the commotion of banging doors, Blessed John began to descend the staircase. Hardly could Mrs. Shakhmatova utter a word to him when she saw his glance. He did not say anything, but with his eyes, with one single glance, he reproached her for her unbelief. She said she could have fallen on her knees and kissed his feet, but he was already gone to continue his prayer to God, now of thanksgiving.
Reprinted from “The Orthodox Word”


Saint John Maximovich expels typhoon

Ιωάννης Μαξίμοβιτς_Saint John (Maximovitch) of San Francisco the Wonderworker_св. Иоанн Максимо́вич - Сан Францисский_2080c451ed774f089With the coming of the Communists, the Russians in China were forced once again to flee, most of them through the Philippine Islands. In 1949 approximately 5000 refugees from the Chinese mainland were living in an International Refugee Organization camp on the island of Tubabao in the Philippines. This island is located in the path of the seasonal typhoons which sweep through that part of the Pacific. During the 27-month period of the camp’ s occupancy, the island was threatened only once by a typhoon, and it changed course and bypassed the island.

When the fear of typhoons was mentioned by one Russian to the Filipinos, they replied that there was no reason to worry, because “your holy man blesses your camp from four directions every night.” They referred to Vladika John; for no typhoon struck the island while he was there. After the camp had been almost totally evacuated and the people resettled elsewhere (mainly in the USA and Australia), it was struck by a terrible typhoon that totally destroyed the camp.
Vladika himself went to Washington, DC, to get his people to America. Legislation was changed and almost the whole camp came to the New World – thanks again to Vladika.
By Hiermonk Seraphim (Rose)


Glory. Both now: : Theotokion.
As hurt and weeping children run to their mother for gentle care and consolation, so do we weak ones run to Thee, O Mother of the Most High God. Hear our entreaty and cleanse the unclean sores of our sins.

Kontak 3

By God’s mercy you were manifest as a father to orphans and instructor of the young, raising them in the fear of God and preparing them for the service of God. Therefore, all your children look to you with love, and cry out with gratitude to God :

Ikos 3

Dwellers in heaven should be praising you and not we on earth, for our words are feeble beside your deeds. Yet, offering to God what we have, we cry out to you thus :
Rejoice, you that protected your children by your constant prayer.
Rejoice, you that ever guarded your flock by the sign of the Cross.
Rejoice, you for whom love knew no bounds of country or race.
Rejoice, bright luminary beloved by all.
Rejoice, model of spiritual meekness.
Rejoice, giver of spiritual consolation to those in need.
Rejoice, O Holy Hierarch John, Wonder-worker of the latter times.

Kontak 4

Bewildered by your deeds of piety and love, we know not how to praise you worthily, O Hierarch John. You travelled to the ends of the earth to save your people and to preach the Gospel to those in darkness. Thanking God for your apostolic labours, we cry out to Him :

Ikos 4

The people of many lands beheld your life and marvelled at God’s mercies even in these latter times. Thus, we also, marvelling, cry out in awe :
Rejoice, enlightener of those in the darkness of unbelief.
Rejoice, you that followed your people to the farthest East and West.
Rejoice, fountain of miracles poured out by God.
Rejoice, loving chastiser of those who have gone astray.
Rejoice, speedy comfort to those who repent of their sins.
Rejoice, support of those who go on the right path.
Rejoice, O Holy Hierarch John, Wonder-worker of the latter times.

Kontak 5

You were manifest as a vehicle of God’s power to stop the destructive forces of fallen nature, O holy Hierarch, preserving your people on the island from the deadly wind and storm by your prayer and the sign of the Cross. Therefore, preserve us also who cry out in wonder unto God :

Ikos 5

All who have trusted in your help in desperate circumstances and adversities have found deliverance, O bold intercessor before the Throne of God. Therefore, we too, place our hope in you to protect us in dangers by your prayers before God as we call out to you :
Rejoice, you that stopped the powers of nature from doing harm to your flock.
Rejoice, you that provide by your prayer for all in need.
Rejoice, inexhaustible bread for the hungry.
Rejoice, abundant wealth for those who live in poverty.
Rejoice, consolation for those in sorrow.
Rejoice, quick uplifting for those who have fallen.
Rejoice, O Holy Hierarch John, Wonder-worker of the latter times.

Kontak 6

You were manifest as a new Moses, leading his flock out of slavery, O Hierarch John. Deliver us also from slavery to sins and from the enemies of God as we cry out to God :

Ikos 6

You did the impossible and persuaded the authorities of this world to have pity on your flock, O good shepherd. Pray for us now that we may live in peace and quiet, saving our souls as we gratefully cry out to you :
Rejoice, helper of all who call upon you in faith.
Rejoice, you that deliver from death and disaster.
Rejoice, you that preserve from lies and slander.
Rejoice, preserver of the innocent from bonds.
Rejoice, you that foil the attacks of the unrighteous.
Rejoice, destroyer of lies and exalter of truth.
Rejoice, O Holy Hierarch John, Wonder-worker of the latter times.

St. John Maximovitch of San Francisco, the Barefoot Archbishop, an fool for Christ, Ascetic and Man of Prayer

Ιωάννης Μαξίμοβιτς_Saint John (Maximovitch) of San Francisco the Wonderworker_св. Иоанн Максимо́вич - Сан ФранциссSan Francisco6St. John Maximovitch the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco

Commemorated June 19 / July 2

St. John Maximovitch the Wonderworker of San Francisco “Tell the people: although I have died, I am alive!”

“Sanctity is not just a virtue. It is an attainment of such spiritual height, that the abundance of God’s grace which fills the saint overflows on all who associate with him. Great is the saint’s state of bliss in which they dwell contemplating the Glory of God. Being filled with love for God and man, they are responsive to man’s needs, interceding before God and helping those who turn to them.” St. John Maximovitch

Ascetic and Man of Prayer

By worldly standards, St. John was not what one would call respectable. He was hardly the image of what most of us think a bishop should be. His hair and beard were unkempt, his lower lip protruded and he had a speech impediment that made it often difficult to understand his sermons. Instead of the glittering, jeweled mitre usually worn by bishops, he often wore a cloth “collapsible hat” pasted with paper icons. He wore clothing of the cheapest fabric and usually wore sandals with no socks, at times going barefoot. Several years ago I met a woman on Long Island who had known St. John in Paris. Unable to understand the ways of God and unable to see beyond his external appearance this woman considered Archbishop John an embarrassment and could see in him nothing more than an unkempt, eccentric, old, man.

The secret to his power as a loving pastor and the secret of his power to perform miracles is to be found in his daily life. St. John celebrated the Divine Liturgy daily, and if for some reason he could not serve he would still receive the Lord in Holy Communion. He fasted strictly, eating only one meal a day. He never slept in a bed, only dozing for brief periods in an armchair, sometimes being found early in the morning prostrated before his icon corner. The single room in which he lived in San Francisco has been preserved as he left it: a desk, an icon corner, some cabinets, an armchair, but no bed!

Despite his unconventional outward appearance, many people began to see in Archbishop John something unusual, a power not of this world. His life is a reflection of the promise of the Lord Jesus: “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also..” (John 14:12)


Ιωάννης Μαξίμοβιτς_Saint John (Maximovitch) of San Francisco the Wonderworker_св. Иоанн Максимо́вич - Сан Францисский_186170208_w640_h640_3_S5465475554753In 1951, Archbishop John was appointed the ruling hierarch of the Western Europe Exarchate of the Russian Church Abroad. In Europe, as in San Francisco, where Vladyka moved in 1962, his fame for holiness spread also among the heterodox as well as the Orthodox population.

Once Vladika chanced to be in Marseilles, and he decided to serve a pankhida on the site of the cruel assassination of King Alexander of Serbia. None of his clergy, out of false shame, wished to serve with Vladika. Indeed, what a thing to do – to serve in the middle of the street! So Vladika went alone. The citizens of Marseilles were amazed to see a clergyman in unusual dress, with long hair and beard, walking with a suitcase and a broom in the middle of the street. News photographers caught sight of him and photographed him. Finally he stopped, swept with the broom a small portion of the pavement, opened his suitcase and began taking out its contents. On the swept spot he put a pontifical eagle rug, lit the censer, and began to serve a pankhida.

In one Parisian Catholic church, the priest tried to inspire the youth with the following words: “You demand proofs, you say that there are no miracles or saints now. Why should I give you theoretical proofs when St. John the Barefoot (Saint Jean Pieds-Nus) walks the streets of Paris today?” Many people testify to the miracles worked by the prayers of Archbishop John in Western Europe.

Blessed John received such a name because he always walked barefoot—even on the hard gravel of Versailles Park. After a serious blood infection from a glass cut, Vladyka was ordered to wear shoes. He wore them—under his armpits, until he was again ordered to wear shoes.

Archbishop John often served in church barefoot, which bewildered the other priests. However, every one of his actions had a deep significance and was born out of a living sense of the presence of God. Whereas the prophet Moses heard from the Lord, Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground (Ex. 3:5), Blessed John showed by his barefootedness that now the whole earth is consecrated by the footsteps of Christ, and that we stand before the Living God in every place.

Vladyka was known and highly revered throughout the world. In Paris, the railroad station dispatcher would delay the train’s departure until the arrival of “the Russian archbishop.” In every European hospital, they knew about the bishop who could pray all night for the dying. He was called to the bed of all who were seriously ill, whether Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox or something else, because when he prayed, God was merciful.


Ιωάννης Μαξίμοβιτς_St John Maximovitch of San Francisco_св. Иоанн Максимо́вич - Сан Францисский 186170208_w640Vladyka expended great efforts to unite to the Church Abroad parishes of the French Orthodox Church, and he helped establish the Orthodox Church of Holland. Vladyka turned his attention to the existence of local saints who had lived in antiquity but who were heretofore unknown to the Orthodox Church. At his initiative, the Synod passed a resolution with respect to veneration of a host of saints who had lived in the West prior to the schism of 1054. Vladyka was constantly travelling across Europe, and he sometimes would celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Dutch, in French; later he also served in English. Many revered him as an unmercenary-healer.

E.G. Tchhertkoff reminisces about the time during which Vladyka was in Western Europe: “On several occasions, I visited Vladyka while he was living in the Cadet Corps building near Parish. He occupied a small cell on the top floor. In the cell, there was a table, an armchair and several chairs, and in the corner, icons and a lectern with books upon it. There was no bed in the cell, as Vladyka did not lie down to sleep, but rather prayed while leaning on a staff topped with a cross-bar. Sometimes he prayed on his knees. It was likely that when he prostrated himself, he would fall asleep for a little while in that position on the floor. That is how he brought himself to exhaustion! Sometimes during our conversation, he appeared to doze. But whenever I stopped talking, he would immediately say, “Continue, I hear you!”

“Whenever he did not serve, but remained home, he usually walked barefoot (to mortify the flesh) even on during the hardest frosts. He would be walking barefoot in the cold, along the rocky road from the military school, which was on a hill inside a park, to the church at the gate. Once he happened to injure his foot. The doctors were unable to heal it, and they feared the possibility of sepsis. They were forced to hospitalize Vladyka, but he refused to lie down in the bed. However, at the urging of the administration, Vladyka finally acceded, and lay down in the bed, but only after placing a boot under himself to make himself uncomfortable. The French hospital nurses said “You have brought us a saint!” Each morning, a priest would come to serve a Liturgy, and Vladyka would receive Communion.”


And another story: The handmaiden of God Alexandra was lying sick in a Paris hospital. They told Vladyka about her. He gave them a note that he would come and give her Holy Communion. Lying in a common room, where there were about 40-50 people, this woman felt awkward in front of the French women because an Orthodox bishop, dressed in incredibly shabby clothes, and even barefoot, was going to visit her. When he gave her the Holy Gifts, her neighbor in the room, a Frenchwoman, said to her, “How happy you are, that you have such a spiritual father. My sister lives in Versailles, and when her children get sick, she sends them to the streets where Bp. John usually walks, and asks him to bless them. After getting his blessing, the children immediately get better. We call him a saint.”

St. John Maximovitch All of the righteous ones were sorrowful in the world because they were strangers to the sinful world.
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/29559/Ιωάννης Μαξίμοβιτς_Saint John (Maximovitch) of San Francisco the Wonderworker_св. Иоанн Максимо́вич - Сан Францисский_ioann_shanhaiskiy-02TROPARION, TONE 6

“Glorious apostle to an age of coldness and unbelief, invested with the grace-filled power of the saints of old, divinely-illumined seer of heavenly mysteries, , feeder of orphans, hope of the hopeless, thou didst enkindle on earth the fire of love for Christ upon the dark eve of the day of jugment; pray now that this sacred flame may also rise from our hearts.”

Tone 5

Thy care for thy flock in its sojourn has prefigured the supplications which thou didst ever offer up for the whole world. Thus do we believe, having come to know thy love, 0 holy hierarch and wonder-worker John. Wholly sanctified by God through the ministry of the all-pure Mysteries, and thyself strengthened thereby, thou didst hasten unto suffering, 0 most gladsome healer — hasten now also to the aid of us who honor thee with all our heart.

Apolytikion of John Maximovitch in the Plagal of the First Tone

Like a spiritual daystar in heaven’s firmament, thou didst encompass the whole world and didst enlighten men’s souls. Hence, thy name is glorified throughout the East and West, for thou didst shine forth with the grace of the Sun of Righteousness, O John, our beloved shepherd. Wherefore, cease not to entreat Christ, that He show mercy and redeem our souls.

Great Vespers, Stichera, Tone 3

O worker of countless miracles, feeder of the hungry, healer of the infirm, protector of orphans, teacher of theology, Thou who didst occupy thyself in constant prayer, Thou who didst take on the garments of a fool to be clothed in the wisdom of God, Thou who didst penetrate the hearts and minds of men, Thou who didst see the future as if present: how abundant were the fruits Thou didst bring forth for Thy Creator! Pray that we also may not be found with our hands empty at the day of judgment.

At the Lity: Glory: in the same Tone.

Seeking neither glory nor power from men, Thou, O blessed one, didst exalt the weak with the strength and majesty of God, Thou didst make the poor rich with the incorruptible treasures of virtue, Thou didst bring Thy fatherless orphans to the Father above all worlds, and didst receive a resplendent crown of glory.

Aposticha, Tone 5. To the special melody: Rejoice, Life-giving Cross.

Verse: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

Armed with vigilance and vigor of prayer, Thou didst pass through the traps of earthly desire and the snares of pleasure, and didst escape the assaults of demons; wherefore, Thou didst gain the house not made with hands: the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Thee.

Lauds, 4 Stichera. Tone 1.

Holiness is not simply righteousness, for which the righteous merit the blessed Kingdom, but rather such a height of virtue that men and women are filled with the grace of God, a grace that floweth from them upon all peoples, a grace that issued from Thee, O John and doth still fall on those who in faith ask Thy prayers.

To the world Thou wast a fool, but to God Thou wast a wise and faithful servant; to the world Thou wast inglorious and poor but to God Thou wast a rich, majestic palace of virtue. The evil of the world brought tears to Thine eyes, but the Lord kissed them with tender love.

The Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome and the Envious their teacher. Envy is the seal of the Antichrist on the heart of man. Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Ανάργυροι Κοσμάς και Δαμιανός Ρώμης_Icon of Sts Cosmas and Damian of Rome_Святые Косма и Дамиан, Римские_SanCosmaDamianoHoly Wonderworking Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian at Rome

Commemorated on July 1

“Freely have you received, freely give” (Mt. 10: 8).

The Holy Martyrs, Wonderworkers and Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian were born at Rome, brothers by birth, and physicians by profession. They suffered at Rome in the reign of the emperor Carinus (283-284).
Through the prayer of the holy brothers, imbued with the power of grace, God suddenly struck Carinus blind, so that he too might experience the almighty power of the Lord, Who does not forgive blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:31). The people, beholding the miracle, cried out, “Great is the Christian God! There is no other God but Him!” Many of those who believed besought the holy brothers to heal the emperor, and he himself implored the saints, promising to convert to the true God, Christ the Savior, so the saints healed him. After this, Sts Cosmas and Damian were honorably set free, and once again they set about treating the sick.
But what the hatred of the pagans and the ferocity of the Roman authorities could not do, was accomplished by black envy, one of the strongest passions of sinful human nature. An older physician, an instructor, under whom the holy brothers had studied the art of medicine, became envious of their fame. Driven to madness by malice, and overcome by passionate envy, he summoned the two brothers, formerly his most beloved students, proposing that they should all go together in order to gather various medicinal herbs. Going far into the mountains, he murdered them and threw their bodies into a river.
Thus these holy brothers, the Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian, ended their earthly journey as martyrs. Although they had devoted their lives to the Christian service of their neighbors, and had escaped the Roman sword and prison, they were treacherously murdered by their teacher.
The Lord glorifies those who are pleasing to God. Now, through the prayers of the holy martyrs Cosmas and Damian, God grants healing to all who with faith have recourse to their heavenly intercession.
The Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome should not be confused with the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor (November 1), or the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Arabia (October 17).
Excerpt from: Lives of Saints

St. John Chrysostom, Envy is the mother of murder.


Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

The absence of envy among the saints is a startling and wonderful phenomenon. Not only did the saints not allow envy to seize their hearts but, with all their might, labored to uplift their companions and to diminish themselves. On one occasion when St. Hilarion of Palestine visited St. Anthony in Egypt, St. Anthony exclaimed: “Welcome Venus, the morning star!” To that St. Hilarion replied: “Greetings and health be to you, the shining pillar who sustains the universe!” When they praised St. Macarius as a monk, the saint replied: “Brethren, forgive me, I am not a monk but, I have seen monks!” When some people told St. Sisoes that he attained the same level of perfection as St. Anthony, Sisoes replied: “If only I had but a single thought as does Anthony, I would be all aflame.”


Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica
Envy is the seal of the Antichrist on the heart of man

Ανάργυροι Κοσμάς και Δαμιανός Ρώμης Icon of Sts Cosmas and Damian of Rome Святые Косма и Дамиан, РимскиеCosma_e_DamianoCertain angels first failed to preserve their dignity and later, as a result of the envy of these fallen angels, our forebears Adam and Eve also fell. This very same trait, envy, has put down its roots in us, too. Envy stops at nothing and shouts contradictions in God’s face all the time and everywhere.

How does envy act? Envy is a spirit from hades. It battles unceasingly against righteousness and God. God is Love, and envy cannot bear it when we do good to our neighbor. When the Lord, Who is Love, healed the old woman who had been bent over for eighteen years, evil showed its face at once and immediately began to rebel, for envy cannot bear it when good is done to anyone (cf. Luke 13:11-17). Envy never stops; the spirit of hades envies all men for all things.

One of the God-bearing Fathers, St. Nilus the Myrrh-gusher…has explained to us many of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. He said that envy was the seal of the Antichrist on the heart of man. Do you now see what a terrible thing envy is? But alas, we often envy our neighbor, even our closest of kin. We do not care even to attempt to heal ourselves from this affliction and come to our senses.

An envious, greedy and angry soul always strives for more power or revenge. He is guided by negative thoughts, wrong desires that do not allow him to find an inner peace. He would not stop until his desires are satisfied. Therefore, guided by his own thoughts and sinful desires he leads himself and others into the destruction. The finale result is many lives are destroyed, children and women are raped, endless wars, hunger and people killed.

These kind people would achieve their goals but might face a Hell at the end of their journey.Therefore, a peace must start within yourself. Once your mind generates thoughts of love, kindness and your heart is free of anger and can forgive, you would find your peace. Another step is to stop misjudging others or making wrong conclusions because you do not know anything about them neither lived their lives. But only making fool of yourself and destroying your soul by false accusations. Consequently, once you build relationship with God and change your ways those around you would be positively affected by the good energies that you would give out. Strive for God’s grace and His love.

We are the sons of light and love, the sons of God, His Children. As such we must have His qualities and His attributes of love, peace, and kindness toward all.

Peace and joy are the greatest riches in this world and in the world to come. As well as keeping peace in your heart, practise standing before the Lord. This means
constantly keeping in mind the fact that the Lord is looking at us.

May the Lord give us the spiritual strength to transform ourselves. We know that time is running out, and the evil spirits know this, too. They do not want a single person to be free from evil thoughts.
-Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine our Lives,Ανάργυροι Κοσμάς και Δαμιανός Ρώμης_Παντελεημων__Icon of Sts Cosmas and Damian of Rome_Святые Косма и Дамиан, Римские_e49

Apolytikion of Unmercenaries Cosmas & Damian
Third Tone

Sainted Unmercenaries and Wonder Workers, regard our infirmities; freely you have received, freely share with us.

Kontakion of Unmercenaries Cosmas & Damian
Second Tone

Having received the grace of healing, ye extend health to those in need, O glorious and wonderworking physicians. Hence, by your visitation, cast down the audacity of our enemies, and by your miracles, heal the world.