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Iconography and Hand painted icons


Praying ‘in simplicity of heart and artlessness'” Saint Porphyrios the Kapsokalyvite of Milesi

Σεραφείμ προσεύχεται με τις αδελφές του Mill του μοναστηριού. sv.-prp.-Marfa-Diveevskaya-3

Saint Porphyrios the Kapsokalyvite of Milesi

Be mindful of the Lord in goodness and seek Him in simplicity of heart; for He is found with those who do not tempt Him, and appears to those who are not unfaithful to him. Wisdom 1:1 – 2

Elder Porphyrios tells a story about a converstion on prayer he had with a visiting Bishop.
He asked the Bishop, “What is meant by praying ‘in simplicity of heart and artlessness?'”
The Bishop replied, “Praying with simplicity.”
The elder then asked, “And do you understand what that means, your Emenince?”
He responded, “Yes I do.”
The Elder then said, “Well, I don’t. It is a mystery. It’s something that happens only with divine grace.
The Bishop replied, “You are quite right. I don’t understand either. An I’m grateful to you for reminding me that simplicity and artlessness can only be understood and achieved though divine grace.”
The lesson is that true prayer cannot be gained by any external set of rules or method. It only comes based on a humble loving relationship with God. Prayer is mystical and comes with grace.

The Elder tells us,
Simplicity and gentleness are a very saintly mode of spiritual life, but you cannot learn this in an external way. It must suffuse itself mystically within you so that your soul embraces this mode of life through the grace of God.

Elder Porphyrios says,

We shouldn’t continue relentlessly in order to acquire what we want; rather we should leave all things to the will of God. What happens when we peruse what we want? These always increase and we are never satisfied with what we have. The more we chase after these wants the more elusive they become. If we pray for good grades next we will ask for a good job. Then it will be for a better job and so forth.
What should we ask for in our prayer?
The Elder says,

In our prayer we should ask only for the salvation of our soul…. The secret is to ask for your union with Christ with utter selflessness, without saying “give me this” or “give me that.”… We should ask for the will of God to be done.
The enemy is our egoism.

Source: Wounded By Love, p 117, 118 


St. John the Russian, the New Confessor of Prokopion of Euboia, The Holy Spirit dwelled in his heart.

St. John the Russian, the New Confessor of Prokopion of Euboia

Commemorated on May 27

“God is wonderful in His Saints;” ( Psalm: 67,35)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Roman 8: 35-37).

Ιωάννης Ρώσος_ Saint John the Russian_Святой Иоанн русский_ΑΓSt. John the Russian was about forty years old at the time of his repose.The date of his falling asleep was May 27, 1730. Because he was beloved by God, the Lord brought John quickly near his throne that he might suffer no more torment in this sinful world, and that he might rejoice in the tents of the righteous where there is neither pain, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but the untroubled sound of those that keep festival and cry unceasingly, “O Lord, glory to thee!”

We should recall the Prophet King Solomon’s words on the death of a righteous man, “He pleased God, and was beloved of him: so that living among sinners he was translated. Yea, speedily was he taken away, lest that wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul. For the bewitching of wickedness doth obscure things that are honest; and the wandering of concupiscence doth undermine the simple mind. He, being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time: for his soul pleased the Lord; therefore, hasted he to take him away from among the wicked. This the people saw, and understood not, neither laid they up this in their minds, that his grace and mercy is with his saints, and that he hath respect unto his chosen (Wisdom 4:10-15).”

Thrice-blessed therefore is the man who has treasured these words in the depths of his heart, hearkening to them until his last breath, conforming to them, and walking always according to them. Blessed and thrice-blessed therefore was the holy John, whose memory we celebrate today with great compunction and spiritual joy. He knew few letters and neither did he know the evils of the world. He lived far from complex systems of humanistic rationalism, remaining simple, poor in spirit, and therefore full of faith. The Holy Spirit dwelled in his heart. Within a disdained and tyrannized body, within a quiet and ragged slave, there burned the mystical spark of faith.

“The people saw, and understood not, neither laid they up this in their minds.” For the carnal men around him were inwardly dark like extinguished lanterns, beholding the saint, they understood nothing because they saw only with bodily eyes, not having-wretched as they were-spiritual eyes for seeing the holy mystery of his life. They, with earthly pride, considered him insane for preferring to sleep with animals, for avoiding men, for fasting, for dressing in rags, for silently en-during abuses and insults, and for not lifting his eyes to the face of a woman. Who of the clever of this world would have surmised that this “insane” person, this fool for Christ, was the wisest of the wise because he possessed that foolishness in Christ that makes manifest the revelation of great and terrible mysteries to him who possesses such foolishness and bestows upon him the great hope of immortality?

As we celebrate the feast of the righteous John the Russian with psalms and hymns, we are assured that the saint is at this moment among us living and crying out, “Rejoice” in the midst of glory and effulgence. Where are those who saddened and despised our holy John? Where are the mighty of the earth? Where is the Muslim master of this slave who was yet free? Where are the fearsome Jannisaries? Where are the Tartars who bound him and beat him and sold him like an animal? They are dispelled like morning mist and “their bones are scattered in hades,” according to David, the Prophet-King. The tombstone of oblivion has covered them.

In Jerusalem on high, the dwelling of the First-born where there are found the blessed souls of the saints who endured privation in this world as to pass through “the narrow and afflicted way that leadeth unto life,” there rejoices also the humble John whom we celebrate today, brother to animals, new Job, and second Lazarus.

Γεώργιος ο Τροπαιοφόρος _Saint George the Trophy-bearer_ Святой Георгий Победоносец_წმინდა გიორგი გმირავს_d5163623lIn the other life, those who grieved the saint and those who indulged their passions are groaning. Behold what the Prophet King Solomon says concerning the righteous man and his persecutors, when they open their eyes after death, then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labors. When they see it, they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for. And they repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit shall say within themselves, “This was he, who we held sometimes in derision, and a proverb of reproach; we fools accounted his life madness, and his end to be without honour. Now is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints! Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined unto us, and the sun of righteousness rose not upon us. We wearied ourselves in the way of wickedness and destruction: yea, we have gone through deserts, where there lay no way, but as for the way of the Lord, we have not known it. What hath pride profited us, or what good hath riches with our vaunting brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow, and as a post hasted by, and as a ship that passes over the waves of the water, which when it gone by, the trace thereof cannot be found, neither the pathway of the keel in the waves! Even so we in like manner, as soon as we were born, began to draw to our end, and had our wickedness. For the hope of the ungodly is like dust that is blown away with the wind, like a thin froth that is driven away with the storm, like as the smoke which is dispersed here and there with a tem-pest, and passes away as the remembrance of a guest that tarries but a day (Wisdom 5:1-14).”

These things will the lawless say in the other world where the right-judging Lord shall judge man. They will receive no benefit from their change of heart after death for in hades there is no repentance. Saint John the Russian reposed in the Lord and received the recompense of the labors and toils that he endured for Christ, whom he loved more than all corrupt and fleeting things so that now, wearing a crown in heaven, he rejoices with the choirs of the saints and beholds in glory the Prize-bestower, our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion and worship unto the ages of ages. Amen.

(Based on a Life of the Saint by Photios Kontoglou.)

Apolytikion of St. John the Russian. Tone 4

 He that hath called thee from earth unto the heavenly abodes doth even after thy death keep thy body unharmed, O righteous one; for thou wast carried off as a prisoner into Asia wherein also, O John, thou didst win Christ as thy friend. Wherefore do thou beseech him that our souls be saved.

Megalynaria of the Saint John the Russian

The bright star from Prokopion, that noetically shines on all, the boast of the righteous, and glory of Cappadocia , the divine John we honor in hymns.

Entreat for peace from God, calmness of spirits, patience until the end, salvation of souls, to us through your intercessions, to those who praise your wondrous deeds with longing.


St. John the Russian, firmly believed in the almighty power of God

Ιωάννης Ρώσος_ Saint John the Russian_Святой Иоанн русский_1234

St. John the Russian, the New Confessor of Prokopion Evia

Commemorated on May 27

“God is wonderful in His Saints;” ( Psalm: 67,35)
“The just man is wise even in his youth. For honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that which is measured by number of years. But wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age (Wisdom Solomon 4:8,9).”

Ιωάννης Ρώσος_ Saint John the Russian_Святой Иоанн русский_αγιος Ιωαννης ο ΡωσσοςSt. John was born in the Southern part of Russia, in the Ukraine, to pious Orthodox parents. He was still a young man when he was conscripted by the Russian army to fight in a war against the Turks. Sharing the unhappy fate of many other Russian soldiers, the Saint was captured and sold as a slave to a Turkish cavalry commander from the village of Procopi (modern-day Urgup) near Caesarea in Asia Minor.

The blessed John was assigned to work in the stable where he was also told to sleep. Recalling the lowly Bethlehem cave and the manger where the Savior of the world first laid His head, the Saint rejoiced in his rude dwelling place. In his humility he regarded his dark corner of the stable as a little paradise where he could freely offer prayer and praise to the true God.

He ate very sparingly and spent long hours in prayer with the Psalms of David continually on his lips. Sometimes St John left the stable at night and went to the church of the Great Martyr George, where he kept vigil in the narthex. On Saturdays and Feast days, he received the Holy Mysteries of Christ.

St John brought a blessing to his master simply by living in his household. The cavalry officer became rich, and was soon one of the most powerful men in Prokopion. The Aga understood the cause of his new prosperity and did not shrink from telling it to his fellow citizens.

Once, the Aga made a pilgrimage to Mecca a city most sacred to the Muslims. While he was away, his wife invited friends and relatives for a meal and to pray for the Aga’s safe return from such an arduous journey. While they were getting ready to eat the mistress turned to John, who was serving the guests and said, “How much pleasure your master would have if he were here now and ate this pilaf with us!” The pilaf, a common grain dish of the Middle East, was a favorite of the Aga. Wishing the best for his master and firmly believing in the almighty power of God, John asked for a plate full of pilaf from his mistress, saying that he would send it to his master in Mecca. The guests laughed but the mistress asked the cook to comply with the youth’s request thinking that he would take it to some poor Christian family as was his custom.

Ιωάννης Ρώσος_ Saint John the Russian_Святой Иоанн русский_σαχάνι (πιάτο) Αγίου Ιωάννη του Ρώσου-io-ru02Those who are familiar with the Gospel should not be astonished at what happened next for did not the Lord say that faith as small as a mustard seed is enough to move mountains? Strong in his faith, the blessed one returned with the plate of pilaf to the stable and he petitioned the Lord to help him fulfill his pledge to deliver the pilaf to his master in Mecca. In answer to his prayer the plate of pilaf disappeared. What amazed the entire household of Aga when he returned from Mecca was bringing with him the copper plate which had held the pilaf. The Aga had been equally astonished to discover the steaming plate of pilaf in his locked room when he returned from the Mosque in Mecca. Still greater was his confusion when he realized that the copper plate was engraved with his initials just as all the vessels in his house. “For the sake of Allah, I cannot understand how it was brought to Mecca and who brought it!” When his wife told him of John’s request, they both recognized the strange occurrence to be a miracle of God and henceforth all considered John as a righteous man who had found favor with God.*

Once again the Aga and his wife tried to persuade the blessed one to change his dwelling place but the Saint preferred to remain amongst the animals willingly fulfilling his duties and continuing steadfast in his ascetic struggles.

After a few years, he became ill. Foreseeing his end, he called for a priest and asked to receive Holy Communion. Fearing the fanaticism of the Turks, the priest did not want to bring Holy Communion to the stable. He received wisdom from above and did the following thing. He hollowed out an apple and lined the cavity with beeswax. He placed the Holy Communion inside it and was thus able to safely bring Holy Communion to the Saint. Upon receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord, the blessed one surrendered his holy soul into the hands of God whom he loved so much. He reposed on the 27th day of May, 1730 having spent some forty years in this temporal vale of sin and sorrow.

Three and a half years later the priest was miraculously informed in a dream that the relics of St John had remained incorrupt. Soon the relics of the saint were transferred to the church of the holy Great Martyr George and placed in a special reliquary. The new saint of God began to be glorified by countless miracles of grace, accounts of which spread to the remote cities and villages. Christian believers from various places came to Prokopion to venerate the holy relics of St John the Russian and they received healing through his prayers. The new saint came to be venerated not only by Orthodox Christians, but also by Armenians, and even Turks, who prayed to the Russian saint, “Servant of God, in your mercy, do not disdain us.” His relics were brought from the village of Prokopion to Euboea by refugees from Ürgüp in Cappadocia, after the Asia Minor Disaster of 1922-24. 

*(Compare the story of Habakkuk, who miraculously brought a dish of pottage to Daniel in the lions’ den [Dan. 14:33-39], in the Septuagint).

Troparion of St. John the Russian (Tone 4)

He that hath called thee from earth unto the heavenly abodes doth even after thy death keep thy body unharmed, O righteous one; for thou wast carried off as a prisoner into Asia wherein also, O John, thou didst win Christ as thy friend. Wherefore do thou beseech him that our souls be saved.

The place where the Saint John the Russian lived and prayed


Saint John the Russian, friend of blessed Elder Jacob Tsalikis

‘Only saints can talk about the saints as they share common spiritual experiences and understand each other’

Saint John the Russian, friend of blessed Elder Jacob Tsalikis

Commemorated on May 27

Ιωάννης Ρώσος_ Saint John the Russian_Святой Иоанн русский_sf-ioan-rusul (1)In the beginning of 1989, the Elder Iakovos became very distressed by afflictions that befell persons he knew and loved. He received a phone call from the village of Prokopi. Father John, the priest in charge of the shrine of Saint John the Russian, had just come back from America where he had undergone heart surgery.
In spite of all odds, the difficult by-pass operation was successful. Saint John the Russian had also been present and directed the effort! The doctor in charge acknowledged, in fact, that some power was guiding his hand.

Despite his own bad health and the bad weather – it was winter – Father Elder Iakovos visited with Father John in his house. Not only that, but upon arrival, he also asked forgiveness: “Excuse me for troubling you, but I had to come and visit the servant of the divine John the Russian!” The people in the house thought that some bodiless, weightless angel had entered the home, for his figure emitted a serene light.
Seeing the incision in Father John’s leg where the veins had been removed for the by-pass, Elder Iakovos stooped – rather, fell down – and embraced Father John’s legs. Blessed Elder Iakovos, now in his latter years, had great respect for priests and thought that priests were somehow angelic.

From The Garden of the Holy Spirit: Elder Iakovos of Evia (1920-1991)

The Blessed Elder Iakovos lived in St. David’s for forty years. He imitated Saint David, and followed his path. His ascetic struggles were equivalent to the old saints.

“Elder Iakovos Tsalikis would regularly visit the Shrine of St. John the Russian in Evia. He much loved Saint John the Russian
He said: “Once, I saw the Saint alive inside of his reliquary. I asked him: “My Saint, how did you live in Asia Minor, what virtues and blessings did you have?
The Saint responded to me: “I slept in the cave in which was the stable and covered myself with straw to take cover in the winter so I wouldn’t freeze. I had humility and faith.”
In a short while he said to me: “Wait, Fr. Iakovos, because now two people have come to pray for a sick child. Wait until I go help him.”
Immediately the reliquary appeared empty, because the Saint left. In a short while, he returned, though I didn’t see how he did, but I saw him inside his reliquary like a [living] man!”


Perfect love and perfect obedience between the Hypostases of the Holy Trinity. St. Nicholai Velimirovich

Αγία Τριάδα_ Holy Trinity_День Святой Троицы_ Святая Троица _96058940

St. Nicholai Velimirovich

The Father has perfect love for the Son and the Spirit. The Son has perfect love for the Father and the Spirit. And the Spirit has perfect love for the Father and the Son. According to this perfect love, the Father is in the most zealous obedience to the Son and the Spirit, and the Son is in the most zealous obedience to the Father and the Spirit; and the Spirit is in the most zealous obedience to the Father and the Son. Perfect love makes the Father the perfect servant of the Son and the Spirit; and the Son, the perfect servant of the Father and the Spirit; and the Spirit, the perfect servant of the Father and the Son. Just as no love in the created world can be compared to the mutual love of the Divine Hypostasis, neither also can any obedience be compared to Their mutual obedience. I have glorified Thee on earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do (Jn. 17:4). May Thy will be done. Are these not the words of the Son’s perfect obedience to the Father? Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard me. And I knew that Thou hearest me always, said the Lord Jesus Christ at the resurrection of Lazarus; and later He would exclaim: Father, glorify Thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again (Jn. 11:41–42; 12:28). Is this not the perfect obedience of the Father to the Son? Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you (Jn. 16:7). And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever… But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me (Jn. 14:16; 15:26). And truly, on the fiftieth day after the Resurrection, the Comforter, Spirit of Truth descended upon those to whom it was promised. Is this not the perfect obedience of the Holy Spirit to the Son?

And the salvific rule that the Apostle Paul commands all the faithful to keep: Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Rm. 12:10)—is perfectly performed between the Hypostases of the Holy Trinity. Each one of the Hypostases strives to prefer one another in honor; so also does each wish to decrease Himself before the Other Two. And if each Hypostasis did not have that most sweet and holy striving to render His honor to the Other Two and decrease Himself in obedience, then in that endless love, which Each of them has for Each Other, the Trinitarian nature of the Divinity would drown in a kind of indifference of Hypostasis.

From the collected works of St. Nicholai (Velimirovich)

St Symeon the New Theologian wrote this invocation to the Holy Spirit:
 Come, O true light!
 Come, O eternal life!
 Come, O hidden mystery!
 Come, O indescribable treasure!
 Come, O ineffable thing!
 Come, O inconceivable person!
 Come, O endless delight!
 Come, O unsetting light!
 Come, O true and fervent expectation of all those who will be saved!
 Come, O rising of those who lie down!
 Come, O resurrection of the dead!
 Come, O powerful one, who always creates and re-creates and transforms by your will alone!…

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Elder Evmenios Saridakis, The providential experience about the commemoration of the heretics

Elder Evmenios Saridakis

Reposed on May 23, 1999

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia used to say about Elder Evmenios: “ You should go and receive the blessing of Elder Evmenios, for he is the hidden Saint of our time. A saint like Elder Evmenios comes along only once every two hundred years ”.

‘Only saints can talk about the saints as they share common spiritual experiences and understand each other’

The providential experience that the blessed Elder Evmenios Saridakis had, when he attempted to memorize a papal in the Offertory.

Ευμένιος Σαριδάκη_Elder Eumenius Saridakis_Св. старец Евмени Саридакис_ευμενιοσ… The Foundation had once visited the renowned Boyfriend – Protector of leprosy, the Frenchman Raoul Follero, so Elder of love and simplicity considered good to mention the pulling of “units” in the paten, without think that as a Catholic heretic and not to mention church. And he understood the simple Elder, surprised and frightened when she saw the covered area of the “share” that with chopped black hair, confided as saying: “Not authorized …”!
from the book: ELDER EVMENIOS SARIDAKIS (+1999), by A. H. Saridaki (p. 222), E version, Athens 2006.

Elder Evmenios, as all contemporary saints and Elders of our Church (Saint Porphyrius, Saint Paisius, Elder Iakovos Tsalikis) with absolute consciousness and awareness of what is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, but also knowing the many doctrinal differences between Orthodoxy and Papacy and other heterodoxies, they have never prayed together with Christians of another creed and, of course, they have never memorized heterodox personas in the Holy Offertory, since only the members of the Orthodox Church are memorized. Essential condition for sharing the Mysteries of the Orthodox Church is to be a living member of the Orthodox Church, to believe and live in Orthodoxy

Apolytikion St.Elder Evmenios Saridakis of lepers in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Father; for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ, and by thy deeds thou didst teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passeth away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Eumenius, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.

 


In God alone seek consolation and help. Elder Ieronymos of Aegina of Gelveri, Cappadocia

Χριστός ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
ХристосВоскрес! Воистину Воскрес!

Karsi Kilise (St. John's church)12007301675_24283fd6a4_z

Words of Eternal Life by
Blessed Elder Ieronymos of Aegina of Gelveri, Cappadocia
reposed in the Lord on October 3/16, 1966

Do not open your internal doings to anybody.

Deliver everything into God’s hands and do not worry about the future. What would be useful and salvific to you, this the Lord shall send.

If there is no spiritual man to talk with, then do not grieve so much. Stay at home, and the Lord, Who loves all, shall send you His comfort and guidance. God knows about your solitude and shall not leave you.

Silence is a wonderful thing. If you learn to control your tongue, you shall experience the joy of keeping silence. Respond only when asked. Do not start conversations.

Solitude is necessary for the spiritual perfection.The wind blowing in the street may not be stopped but you can [well] close the door. And so, close the doors of the soul and abide in solitude that the wind may not carry you away. One should not hate people, Love them but also avoid them. Do not look for frequent meetings: they’ve come – it’s good they have, they have not – it’s good they have not. The Holy Fathers teach that one amidst thousands be your friend.

If there is a God’s will for anything, it is sure to happen. God sent Ananias to St. Paul. And he said: “But he’s a persecutor. He has done a lot of evil to the saints”. And the Lord replied: “Go, for he is a chosen vessel”. And so we – when we look around as human beings, then everything seems [highly] unlikely, but if the God’s will is there, then everything shall work out fine.

I am begging you: shed at least one [little] drop of tears every day. Let there pass for you no day without tears. St. Gregory of Nyssa writes: “A deep sigh returns the grace of God, to have been gone”.

People need to teach more with doings rather than with words.

When people are being offended, then God sends [them] His consolation. The Divine Providence shall not leave you. The greater the sorrow, the greater the comfort will be.

  • Do not seek comfort from people. And when you [happen to] receive from somebody a small consolation, do expect a double grief. In God alone seek consolation and help.

Εκκλησία Με τα ζουμπούλια-Sümbülü Kilise(Ihlara)- Сюмбюлю- Hyacynth Church-Cappadoce_Ihlara_Valley106

O Lord Eternal and Creator of all things, Teach me to pray aright. Of Thine immense goodness, O Lord God, shew me the path of Thy will, and grant me to walk in Thy sight without sin.

O Lord, unto Whom all hearts be open,
Thou knowest what things I have need of.
Thou art acquainted with my blindness and my ignorance,
Thou knowest my infirmity and my soul’s corruption;
but neither are my pain and anguish hid from Thee.
Wherefore I beseech Thee, hear my prayer
and by Thy Holy Spirit teach me the way wherein I should walk;..(Prayer of Elder Sophrony of Essex)

Blessed Elder Ieronymos of Aegina pray to God for us! Pray that God’s light illumine our hearts. May each of us learn humility and pray. Pray that we learn to live as True Christians in all times and places, and in all circumstances.

ΓΚΙΟΡΕΜΕ-Kilisechurch)12007301675_24283fd6a4_z