Iconography and Hand painted icons

I desire to see Christ! Look with your whole mind and heart at Holy Communion, from wine and bread, there, in the flesh is He; what else do you need? Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

Ζακχαίου_Zacchaeus_Закхей_zakheja1Apostle Zacchaeus of the Seventy, Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, he who was called down from the Sycamore tree by Jesus, according to the Gospel of Luke (1st century)
Martyrs Acindinus, Antoninus, Victor, Zenon, Zoticus, Theonas, Caesareus, Severian and Christophoros (284-305)
Venerable Theodore Trichinas (“the Hair-Shirt Wearer”), hermit near Constantinople (400)
Martyrs Sulpicius and Servilian, martyrs in Rome who were beheaded under Trajan (c. 117)
Saint Marcian of Auxerre, a monk at the Monastery of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Auxerre (c. 470)
Saint Theotimus, Bishop of Tomis in Moesia (Lesser Scythia) (407)
Blessed Gregory (593) and Anastasius I (599), Patriarchs of Antioch.
Hieromartyr Anastasius II, Patriarch of Antioch (609)
Venerable Anastasius Sinaita, Abbot of the Monastery of St. Catherine at Sinai (c. 700) (see also: April 21)
Venerable Ioannis the Palaiolavritis (“of the Old Lavra”), at St. Chariton’s Monastery, in the Judean Desert
Venerable Saints Athanasius (1380) and Ioasaph (1422) of Meteora, Abbots.
Translation of the relics (1991) of St. Nikolai (Velimirovich), Bishop of Ochrid and Zhicha (1956) from America to Serbia.
Repose of Schemamonk Ignatius of St. Nicephorus Monastery in Olonets (1852)

The holy Apostle Zacchaeus
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Ζακχαίου Zaheu-VamesulAt first, Zacchaeus was a tax collector and a sinner. When our Lord saw him in Jericho in a tree and entered his home, Zacchaeus was brought to repentance. “He (Jesus) came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed the sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, Who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him: `Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.’ And he came down quickly and received Him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, `He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.’ But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, `Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, ` today salvation has come to this house because this man is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost” (St. Luke 19: 1-10). Later on, Zacchaeus followed the Apostle Peter who appointed him bishop of Caesarea in Palestine where he faithfully served the Gospel and died peacefully.(*)
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Hymn of Praise
Saint Anastasius
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Anastasius, the God-bearing father,
Upon himself assumed prayerful labor and fasting,
Mortification he maintained, long and persistent,
Until, with the spirit, he learned the mysteries.
Then, his honey-mouth he opened:
Christ is, says he, the rock of salvation.
Do not insanely say: He was a long time ago,
Where is He now in order to speak to me?
The Good News, his Covenant Holy,
Who is able to resist it?
It speaks to you in place of Christ Himself,
That is His All-Pure Mouth!
Again, you speak: I desire to see Him!
Look with your whole mind and heart
At Holy Communion, from wine and bread,
There, in the flesh is He; what else do you need?
Repent, O brother, repent of your sins,
A thousand deaths around you stand!
To your spiritual father, your sins confess,
After that, drink His Blood and eat His Body.
Only repent. If you begin with repentance
You will live with justice and shining hope.
Repent, O brother, repent of your sins,
A thousand deaths, around you stand!
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

St. Nikolai Velimirovic comments on the Gospel of Zacchaeus

“Christ said a number of times that He had come into this world for the sake of sinners, and especially for the greatest sinners. As a doctor does not visit the healthy but the sick, so the Lord visits those with the sickness of sin, not those with the health of righteousness. It is not said in the Gospel that the Lord, on this occasion, visited any righteous man in Jericho, but He made haste to visit the house of the sinful Zacchaeus. Does not every sensible doctor behave in this way when he goes into a hospital? Does he not go straight to the beds of the most gravely ill? The whole world represents a great hospital, full to overflowing with sick men and women infected by sin. All men are sick in comparison with Christ’s health; all are weak in comparison with Christ’s power; all are ugly in comparison with Christ’s beauty. But there are, among men, the sick and the sicker, the weak and the weaker, the ugly and the uglier. The former are considered righteous and the latter sinful.
And the heavenly Physician, who did not come on earth for His own satisfaction but for the urgent healing and salvation of the infected, hastened first to the aid of the worst infected. To this end, He ate and drank with sinners, permitted sinners to weep over His feet, and entered into Zacchaeus’ house.”
(Homilies, p. 339-340)

Becoming Zacchaeus, “Today, salvation has come to this house” Saint Nikolai Velimirovich and Fr. Zacharias Zacharou

Apolytikion of Apostle Zachaias
Third Tone

Having justly hated unjust riches, thou didst lay up treasures of salvation; for, receiving the Saviour within thy house, thou, O Zacchaeus, wast truly made marvelous with all the fruits of repentance thou broughtest forth: deeds of mercy, the correction of wrongs, and godly life, because of which we honour thee and call thee blest.

Kontakion of Apostle Zachaias
Fourth Tone

When He that bowed the Heavens came to save sinners, Zacchaeus, great in zeal, but little of stature, beheld the Tree of Life from in the sycamore; lifted above the earth, he saw Jesus, Who called him: coming down in lowliness, he repenting, received Him; and so salvation came into his house, and he was shown forth a true son of Abraham.

Tropar Saint Nikolai Velimirovich (Tone 8)

O golden-tongued preacher, proclaiming the Risen Christ,
Everlasting guide of the Cross-bearing Serbian people,
Resounding harp of the Holy Spirit, and dear to monastics who rejoice in you,
Pride and boast of the priesthood, teacher of repentance, master for all nations,
Guide of those in the army of Christ as they pray to God,
Holy Nicholas, teacher in America and pride of the Serbian people,
With all the saints, implore the only Lover of Mankind
To grant us peace and joy in His Heavenly Kingdom.

Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič of Ochrid

Ιησούς Χριστός__Jesus-Christ_Иисус-Христос-Byzantine-Orthodox Icon_πορνη_λιθοβοληθεισα_0_95e8127bb9827e5aaWhat Was Christ Writing on the Ground?
By Bishop Nikolai (Velimirovich) of Ochrid

‘Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground” (John 8:6 )

Once, the All-loving Lord was sitting in front of the temple in Jerusalem, nurturing hungry hearts with His sweet teachings. A multitude gathered round Him (John 8:2). The Lord spoke to the people about eternal bliss, about the never-ending joy of the righteous in the eternal homeland in the heavens. And the people delighted in His divine words. The bitterness of many disappointed souls and the hostility of many of the offended vanished like snow under the bright rays of the sun. Who knows how long this wonderful scene of peace and love between heaven and earth would have continued, had not something unexpected now occurred. The Messiah Who loves mankind never grew tired of teaching the people, and pious folk never grew weary of listening to such healing and wondrous wisdom.

But something frightening, savage, and cruel occurred. It originated as even now it often does, with scribes and pharisees.

What did they do? Perhaps they had caught the leader of a band of brigands? Nothing of the sort. They forcibly brought forth an unfortunate sinful woman, “taken in the act of adultery”; brought her forth with triumphant boasting and crude and deafening cries. Having brought her before Christ, they cried: Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou? (John 8:4,5; cf. Lev. 20:10, Deut. 22:22).

The case was presented in this way by sinners, who denounced the sins of others and were adept at hiding their own shortcomings. The frightened crowd parted, making way for their elders. Some fled out of fear, because the Lord had been speaking of life and happiness, whereas these loud-mouths were clamoring for death.

It would have been appropriate to ask why these elders and guardians of the law did not stone the sinful woman themselves?  Why had they brought her to Jesus? The law of Moses gave them the right to stone her. No one would have objected. Who protests, in our day, when the death sentence is pronounced over a criminal? Why did the Jewish elders bring this sinful woman to the Lord? Not to obtain a commutation of her sentence or clemency from Him! Anything but that! They brought her with a premeditated, fiendish plan to catch the Lord in words contradictory to the law, that they might accuse Him as well. They hoped with a single blow to do away with two lives-that of the guilty woman and that of Christ.

“What sayest Thou?”

Why did they ask Him, when the law of Moses was clear? The Evangelist explains their intent in the following words: This they said tempting Him that the might have to accuse Him (John 8:6). They had lifted their hands up against Him once before to stone Him, but He had eluded them. But now they had found an opportunity to accomplish their desire. And it was there, before the Temple of Solomon, where the tablets of the commandments had been kept in the Ark of the Covenant, before a great multitude of people, it was there that He, Christ, had to say something contrary to the law of Moses; then their goal would be attained. They would stone to death both Christ and the sinful woman. Far more eager were they to stone Him than her, just as they would later with even greater zeal ask Pilate to release the bandit Barabbas instead of Christ.

All of those present expected that one of two things would happen: either the Lord in His mercy, would release the sinful woman and thereby violate the law; of He would uphold the law, saying, “Do as it is written in the law,” and thereby break His own commandment of mercy and loving-kindness. In the first instance He would be condemned to death; and in the second, He would become an object of mockery and derision.

When the tempters posed the question, “What sayest Thou?” a deathly silence fell: silence among the crowd which had gathered; silence among the judges of the sinful woman; silence and bated breath in the soul of the accused woman. A great silence falls in large circuses when the tamers of wild beasts bring forth tame lions and tigers and command them to perform various movements, to assume various positions and do tricks at their behest. But we see before us no tamer of wild animals, but the Tamer of men-a task significantly more difficult than the former. For it is often harder to tame those who have become wild on account of sin, than to tame those who are wild by nature. “What sayest Thou?” once more they pressed Him, burning with malice, their faces contorted.

Then the legislator of morality and human conduct stooped down to the ground, smoothed out the dust with the palm of His hand, and began to write (John 8:6). What did the Lord write in the dust? The Evangelist maintains silence concerning this and does not write of it.  It was too repulsive and vile to be written in the Book of Joy. However, this has been present in tradition, and it is horrible. The Lord wrote something unexpected and startling for the elders, the accusers of the sinful woman. With His finger He disclosed their secret iniquities. For these pointers-out of the sins of others were experts in concealing their own sins. But it is pointless to try to hide anything from the eyes of One Who sees all.

“M (eshulam) has stolen treasures from the temple,” wrote the Lord’s finger in the dust.
“A (sher) has committed adultery with his brother’s wife;
“S (halum) has committed perjury;
“E (led) has struck his own father;
“A (marich) has committed sodomy;
“J (oel) has worshipped idols.”

And so one statement after another was written in the dust by the awesome finger of the righteous Judge. And those to whom these words referred, bending down, read what was written, with inexpressible horror. They trembled from fright, and dared not look one another in the eye. They gave no further thought to the sinful woman. They thought only of themselves and of their own death, which was written in the dust. Not a single tongue was able to move, to pronounce that troublesome and evil question, “What sayest Thou?”  The Lord said nothing. That which is so filthy is fit to be written only in filthy dust. Another reason why the Lord wrote on the ground is even greater and more wonderful. That which is written in the dust is easily erased and removed. Christ did not want their sins to be made known to everyone. Had He desired this, He would have announced them before all the people, and would have accused them and had them stoned to death, in accordance with the law. But He, the innocent Lamb of God, did not contemplate revenge or death for those who had prepared for Him a thousand deaths, who desired His death more than everlasting life for themselves. The Lord wanted only to correct them, to make them think of themselves and their own sins. He wanted to remind them that while they carried the burden of their own transgressions, they shouldn’t be strict judges of the transgressions of others. This alone did the Lord desire. And when this was done, the dust was again smoothed over, and that which was written disappeared.

After this our great Lord arose and kindly said to them: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (John 8:7). This was like someone taking away the weapons of his enemies and then saying, “Now, shoot!” The once haughty judges of the sinful woman now stood disarmed, like criminals before the Judge, speechless and rooted to the ground. But the benevolent Saviour, stooping down again, wrote on the ground (John 8:8). What did He write this time? Perhaps their other secret trans-gressions, so that they would not open their closed lips for a long time. Or perhaps He wrote what sort of persons the elders and leaders of the people should be like. This is not essential for us to know. The most important thing here is that by His writing in the dust He achieved three results: first, He broke and annihilated the storm which the Jewish elders had raised against Him; second, He aroused their deadened consciences in their hardened souls-if only for a short time; and third, He saved the sinful woman from death. This is apparent from the words of the Gospel: And they [the elders] who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst (John 8:9).

The square before the temple was suddenly empty. No one was left except those two whom the elders had sentenced to death-the sinful woman and the Sinless One. The woman was standing, whereas He remained stooped towards the ground. A profound silence reigned. Suddenly the Lord arose again, looked around, and, seeing no one but the woman, said to her: “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” The Lord knew that no one had condemned her; but with this question He hoped to give her confidence, so that she would be able to hear and understand better what He would say to her. He acted like a skillful doctor, who first encourages his patient and only then gives him medicine. “No one has condemned you?” The woman regained the ability to speak, and she answered, “No man, Lord.” These words were uttered by a pathetic creature, who just before had no hope of ever uttering another word, a creature, who most likely was feeling a breath of true joy for the first time in her life.

Μαρία Αιγυπτία_Saint Mary of Egypt Icon _святая Мария Египтяныня_ 3cdbc8f2404453268736d619bFinally, the good Lord said to the woman: Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more (John 8:10,11). When the wolves spare their prey, then, of course, the shepherd does not wish death for his sheep either. But it is essential to be aware that Christ’s non-judgment means much more than the non-judgment of humans. When people do not judge you for your sin, it means that they do not assign a punishment for the sin, but leave that sin with and in you. When God does not judge, how-ever, this means that He forgives your sin, draws it out of you like pus and makes your soul clean. For this reason, the words, “Neither do I condemn thee,” mean the same as “Thy sins are forgiven thee; go, daughter, and sin no more.”

What unspeakable joy! What joy of truth! For the Lord revealed the truth to those who were lost. What joy in righteousness! For the Lord created righteousness. What joy in mercy! For the Lord showed mercy. What joy in life! For the Lord preserved life. This is the Gospel of Christ, which means the Good News, this is Joyful News, the Teaching of Joy; this is a page from the Book of Joy.

1. One who cares about and worries about the needs of others, i.e., an active love toward others.
2. Full of kindness and meekness.
3. The scribes and Pharisees outwardly kept the law, but actually transgressed it. The Lord Jesus Christ frequently chastised them. For example, He said: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! . . . ye. . . outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matt. 23:27, 28)
Reprinted from Orthodox Life, 1985, No. 2.

John 8:1-11

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Kontakion, Tone 4

Though I have transgressed, O Good One,
more than the harlot,
I have never offered Thee a flood of tears.
but, praying in silence,
I fall down before Thee,
with love embracing Thy most pure feet,
that Thou as Master mayest grant me remission of sins.
And I cry to Thee, O Saviour:
Deliver me from the defilement of my evil deeds.


My myrrh is corruptible, Thine is the myrrh of life, for Thy Name is myrrh pouring forth upon those who are worthy remission. Do Thou release and forgive me’, cried the harlot to Christ.

Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

O Lord and Master of my life,
a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, and idle talking give me not.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow upon me Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord King,
grant me to see my own failings
and not to judge my brother,
for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen

Yea, O Lord King,
grant me to see my own failings
and not to judge my brother,
for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen

My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my protection is the Holy Spirit: O Holy Trinity, glory to Thee.
All my hope I place in thee, O Mother of God: keep me under thy protection.

Saint Mary of Egypt can teach us something very great… the difference between a sinner who is lost and a sinner who finds his way to salvation lies in nothing but determination. Anthony of Sourozh

Μαρία Αιγυπτία_Saint Mary of Egypt Icon _святая Мария Египтяныня__33315831_p18kgq513t1riv1unl14tb1rh41a1ga

Fifth Sunday of Great and Holy Lent
Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt

Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
1 April 1990

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

On the fifth Sunday in Lent we remember Saint Mary of Egypt, and she can teach us a great deal of what we need to know. She was a sinner, publicly known, a temptation and a scandal to men. How she became a sinner – we do not know; whether there was evil in her, whether she was seduced or raped, how she became a harlot, we shall never know. What we know for sure is that one day she came to a church of the Mother of God – the image of perfect wholeness – and she suddenly felt that she could not enter it. We need not imagine a miraculous force preventing her from crossing the threshold; the force was probably – certainly – within herself. She felt that the realm was too sacred, and the person of the Mother of God too holy for her to dare walk into Her presence and stand in the precincts of the church.

Μαρία Αιγυπτία_Saint Mary of Egypt Icon _святая Мария Египтяныня_μονη αγ.Γρηγοριου Σιναιτου-Żywot4947203578_8c2cd6fd65_o

This was enough for her to realise that all the past was darkness, and that there was but one way out of it: to shake off all evil and to start a new life. She did not go for advice, she did not go for confession; she walked out of the city into the desert, into the scorching desert where there was nothing but sand and heat and hunger, and desperate loneliness.

She can teach us something very great. As Saint Seraphim of Sarov repeated more than once to those who came to see him, the difference between a sinner who is lost and a sinner who finds his way to salvation lies in nothing but determination. The grace of God is always there; but our response is not. But Mary responded; through the horror of her new perception of herself she responded to the holiness, the grace, the wholeness and sanctity of the Mother of God, and nothing, nothing was too much for her to change her life.

Year after year, in fasting and prayer, in the scorching heat, in the desperate aloneness of the desert she fought all the evil that had accumulated in her soul; because it is not enough to become aware of the evil, it is not enough even to reject it in an act of will, – it is there, in our memories, in our desires, in our frailty, in the rottenness which evil brings. She had to fight for her whole life, but at the end of that life she had conquered; indeed, she had fought the good fight, she had become pure of stain, she could enter the realm of God: not a temple, not a place but eternity.

She can teach us a great deal. She can teach us that only if one day we become aware that in the realm into which we walk so freely: the church, or simply the world created by God and which has remained pure of evil although subjected, enslaved to evil, because of us – is so holy that we alone have no place there, we might in response to this sense repent, that is turn away from ourselves in horror, and turn against ourselves with stern determination. Then we could follow her example.

This example of hers is presented to us as a crowning moment of this spring of life, which is Lent. A week before we heard the teaching and call of Saint John of the Ladder, the one who has established a whole ladder of perfection for us to overcome evil and come to right. And today we see one who from the very depth of evil was brought to the heights of saintliness, and as the Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete says: ‘Be sure that God Who could heal the leprous could heal the leprosy which is yours’.

Let us therefore see in her a new encouragement, a new hope, indeed, a new joy, but also a challenge, a call, because it is in vain that we sing the praise of saints if we do not learn from them and emulate them. Amen.

Apolytikion: Plagal of the Fourth Tone

In you the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; for taking up your cross, you did follow Christ, and by your deeds you did teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passes away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Mary, your spirit rejoices with the Angels.

From the Triodion in Tone I:

The Kingdom of God is not food and drink, * but righteousness and abstinence with holiness: * And so the rich shall not enter into it, * but those who invest their treasures into the needful hands of the poor. * This is what David the Prophet hath taught us, saying: * ‘The righteous man showeth mercy all the day long; * his delight is in the Lord, and walking in the light he shall not stumble’. * All this was written for our admonition, that we fast and undertake the doing of good deeds; * that in place of earthly things ** the Lord may grant us heavenly things.

To the Saint: Irmos: W
eep not for Me, O Mother …,

Refrain: Venerable Mother Mary, Pray to God for us.
Thou didst more easily endure thy labors in the wilderness; strengthened by the almighty strength of Christ, quenching the impure thoughts that came to thee, by the streams of thy godly tears, O mother, the summit of ascetics and glory of the venerable saints.

Refrain: Venerable Mother Mary, Pray to God for us.
With rays of exceeding brightness, the only birth-giver of Christ the light, the pure virgin, shone upon thee, making thee frightening to thine enemies O honored one; and revealing thee to us all O Mary, as the beauty of ascetics, and the foundation of venerable saints.

Don’t skip prayer ′′ Virgin Mary, Rejoice, Blessed Mary, the Lord with you′′ and memory Queen of Heaven and she will never abandon you.

Μαρία η Αιγυπτία -Παναγια Εγγυητρια-Мария Египтяныняpanagia-1 (1)Mother of God the Guarantor
The Icon of the Theotokos Before Which St. Mary of Egypt Repented .

Commemorated on the Saturday of the Akathist Hymn during the Fifth Week of Great Lent.

The Icon of the Theotokos Guarantor, Saint Maria of Egypt and Saint Athanasios of Mount Athos.

Μαρία Αιγυπτία_Saint Mary of Egypt Icon _святая Мария Египтяныня_ 3ce390a01c23ea7b3d3f9165ac14778df5According to St. Sophronios of Jerusalem, who wrote the biography of St. Mary of Egypt, when she was about to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on the feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross, she was prevented from doing so by an invisible power due to her sinful intentions. After trying again and again to gain entry but failing, and seeing with what ease those around her entered, she looked up and saw an icon of the Theotokos and realized that it was her sins that prevented her from entering. Immediately she prayed to the Mother of God to allow her in and lead her by the hand on the path of repentance, promising that she would renounce the world and dedicate herself completely to Christ. Having fulfilled her promise, she became a model of repentance for centuries to pious Orthodox Christians.

At the southern tip of Mount Athos is the Cave of Saint Athanasios the Athonite, inside of which is believed to be, according to living Athonite tradition, the very icon of the Theotokos before which St. Mary of Egypt made her repentance. This icon is known as Panagia Eggyitria (Guarantor or Surety), and it was found in this cave by the founder of Athonite communal monasticism St. Athanasios himself around 965 A.D. Later he took the icon to Great Lavra Monastery so the fathers there could venerate it, but in the morning the icon disappeared and in a mysterious manner it was brought back to the Cave. St. Athanasios rediscovered the icon in the Cave and brought it back to his Monastery and placed it in the church, but again the next morning it was mysteriously found in the Cave. The miraculous icon was never again disturbed and has remained in the Cave ever since.

This holy icon is still under the care of Great Lavra Monastery and it is celebrated annually on the Saturday of the Akathist Hymn during the Fifth Week of Great Lent.


′ Virgin Mary, Rejoice, Blessed Mary, the Lord with you′′

Παναγία_Божией Матери Икона_Virgin Mary –Byzantine Orthodox Icon_7a1761e78a50095327da2447809c4754 23There is a story about an Agathonian, a devoted man to God, who had since his childhood been taught by his pious parents to say everyday in front of the image of the Mother of God prayer:

′′ Virgin Mary, Rejoice, Blessed Mary, the Lord with you, blessed be the woman, and blessed be the fruit of your womb, for Savior you have been our soul.”

No day he failed to say this prayer.

But later when he became an adult and made his own life, absorbed by life’s cares and trouble to slowly dilute this prayer, until finally it stopped it completely.

But one day he happened to host a pilgrim for one night, who told him he was a monk from Thivaida and that he had seen a vision in which he was ordered to go find Agathonikos and reprimand him for the fact that he had stopped the his usual prayer to the Mother of God.

Agathonikos replied that for so many years he said this prayer he saw no benefit or result.

To them the hermit answered, saying, ′′ Remember, blind and ignorant man, how many times has this simple prayer helped and saved you from disasters.
Remember, once when you were very young, you were miraculously saved from certain drowning.
Don’t you still remember that an epidemic once that sent a bunch of your friends to the grave didn’t affect you at all?
Did you forget when you once drove a car with a friend, you both fell while he broke his leg you stayed safe and sound?
Do you forget that an ordinary friend of yours, who was healthy as iron, now for some time, is inhabited sick and unhappy, while you are healthy and don’t know what sickness means?
In general, he reminded Agathonikos, a bunch of God’s beneficiaries and finally filled in saying:

′′ Know that all these evils were distracted from you, thanks to the protection of the Holy Mother of God, because of this little prayer through which you raised everyday your soul in union with God. From now on be careful, don’t skip prayer and memory Queen of Heaven and she will never abandon you.′′


O Theotokos and Virgin, rejoice, O Mary full of grace; the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb; for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls.

Troparion of the Saint Mary of Egypt, in Tone VIII:

In thee, O mother, the image of God was preserved, * for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow after Christ; * by activity thou didst learn to disdain the flesh, as something transient, * but to care for thy soul as something immortal. ** Wherefore, with the angels thy spirit doth rejoice, O venerable Mary.

Troparion of the Mother of God in front of the icon Her Assistant of sinners

Now all despondency is silenced / and the fear of despair disappears, / sinners in sorrow of hearts find consolation / and heavenly love illuminates with light. / Today the Mother of God stretches out her saving hand to us / and from the Most Pure Image of Her is broadcasting, the verb: / I am the Assistant of sinners to Mine To the Son, / This gave Me the hand to hear Me take out for them. / The same people, burdened with sins and sorrows by many, / fall at the foot of Her icon with tears, crying: / Intercessor of the world, sinners, the Confidant! / Beg the Redeemer of all with Your Mothers prayers, / may he cover our sins with divine forgiveness / and open the bright doors of heaven to us, / you are the intercession and salvation of the Christian race.

In troparion of the Mother of God in front of the icon Her Assistant of sinners

To You, the source of mercy in the current / and the Assistant of sinners, unworthy of Your servant, the Theotokos, / falling, grieving, crying to Ty: / save us from troubles, Lady, / and by your motherly intercession ask all of us for eternal salvation.

My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my protection is the Holy Spirit: O Holy Trinity, glory to Thee.
All my hope I place in thee, O Mother of God: keep me under thy protection.

Let men only repent and they will receive all. Merciful Lord, help us that we may repent before death in order that we may live eternally. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Ιησούς Χριστός_Jesus-Christ_Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Iconfile

About repentance and the forgiveness of sins

by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name” (St. Luke 24:47).

This is the final instruction of the Savior to the holy apostles. In these words as in the shell of a walnut, is contained the gospel of reconciliation between God and men. What does God seek from men and what does God give them? He seeks repentance and He grants forgiveness of sins. He seeks little but He gives all. Let men only repent for committed sins and let men cease to sin and men will receive all from God; all; not only all that their hearts could desire rather even more, much more. In truth, to the righteous everything is promised. The righteous will be the inheritors of the Kingdom of God, they will be the sons of God, and they will be the children of light, the children of immorality, companions to the angels, brothers of Christ. The righteous will have an abundant life, an abundance of peace, an abundance of wisdom, an abundance of power and an abundance of joy. The righteous will have all, for all has been promised to them.

Let men only repent and they will receive all. Let the beggar only cleanse himself, bathe himself and clothe himself in purity before the doors of the royal court and he will be immediately ushered into the royal court and he will be met and embraced by the king and he will have all. He will live with the king, sit at the royal table; he will have all, all, all!

O my brethren, these are not only words rather this is the living and holy truth. For we know that many penitents, both female and male, received all of this, which was promised. Many have appeared from the other world and have proved the truth of these words, witnessing how they now live as royal sons and daughters. But they repented promptly; and there remains time for us to repent if we desire to be together with them as the heirs of the kingdom.

O Merciful Lord, help us that we may repent before death in order that we may live eternally.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

O Lord and Master of my life,
give me not the spirit of laziness,
despair, lust of power, and idle talk. (

But give rather the spirit of sobriety,
humility, patience and love to Thy servant. (

Yea, O Lord and King,
grant me to see my own transgressions
and not to judge my brother,
for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen

For the greatest good, a martyr to be, with what kind of riches, can this be compared? The Holy Martyr Sukhios and his 16 Gruzian (Georgian) Companions

Νίνα της Γεωργίας_Saint Nina of Georgia_წმინდა ნინო_Света Нина Грузије_святой Нины Иберии_Saint Nino4f6ed8495d37 (1)

Martyrs Basilissa and Anastasia of Rome, disciples of Apostles Peter and Paul (c. 68)
Martyr Sukia (Suchias) and nineteen companions with him, including (c. 100-130)
Andrew, Anastasius, Thalaleus, Theodoretus, Ivchirion, Jordan, Quadratus, Lucian, Mimnenus, Nerangius, Polyeuctus, Jacob, Phocas, Domentianus, Victor, and Zosima (Chorimos), of Georgia, in Armenia.
Hieromartyr Theodore and martyr Pausilippus of Thrace, by the sword (c. 117-138)
Martyrs Maximus and Olympiada, in Persia (c. 249-251)
Martyr Crescens of Myra in Lycia, by fire (3rd century)
Martyrs Maro, Eutyches and Victorinus, at Rome, under Trajan (c. 99)
Martyr Eutychius, in Ferentino in Italy.
Child-martyr Laurentinus Sossius, a boy aged five, martyred on Good Friday in Valrovina near Vicenza in Italy (485)
Saint Ephraim the Great of Atsquri (9th century)
Basil of Poiana Mărului (1767)
Righteous Daniel of Achinsk, Siberia (1843)

Commemorated on April 15

Hymn of Praise
The Holy Martyrs

by St Nikolai Velimirovich,

Martyrs radiant, their blood they shed,
And the entire black earth, with their blood they stained
The fire was powerful in which they were burned,
But, more powerful the love, with which they loved Christ.
For the greatest good, a martyr to be
With what kind of riches, can this be compared?
All-victorious Christ, the King of that age,
Your brave souls in heaven welcomed.
From the hands of the angels, He took them to Himself,
And all your weighty pains, He blessed.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by St Nikolai Velimirovich,


The Holy Martyr Sukhios and his 16 Gruzian (Georgian) Companions

Σουχίας της Γεωργίας_Suchias and his Soldiers in Georgia_სუქია_ suqia

The holy martyrs Sukia, Andrea, Anastasi, Talale, Teodorite, Ivkirion, Iordane, Kodrate, Lukiane, Momnanos, Nerangios, Polievktos, Iakob, Poka, Domentian, Bictor, and Zosime were Georgian noble lords who served the Albanian government (in the southeastern Transcaucasus)[1] in the 1st century a.d.

These seventeen holy men arrived in Artashat, the Armenian capital during the reign of King Artaksar (88–123). They were accompanying Princess Sateneki, the daughter of the Albanian ruler and bride of the Armenian king.

In Artashat they met the elder Khrisos (Chrysos), who had been ordained by the Apostle Thaddeus, and became his disciples. Khrisos journeyed with the seventeen noble lords to Mesopotamia and baptized them in the waters of the Euphrates. While the Holy Sacrament was being celebrated, the princes beheld Christ Himself, standing atop the hill. The newly converted Christians could not abandon this place, so they erected a cross where they had been baptized and called it the “Cross of the Annunciation.”

But before long King Artaksar sent envoys to Khrisos, requesting that his disciples be returned to Armenia. “Let them decide for themselves whether or not they will return,” the elder replied.

Furious at the elder’s audacity, the pagan messengers drew their swords and massacred Khrisos and four of his disciples. But they were afraid to harm Sukia since he was a relative of Queen Sateneki.

The survivors buried their brothers and began to labor in the wilderness as ascetics. St. Sukia became abbot of the brotherhood, and the monks moved to Sukaketi Mountain near the village of Bagdevand.

The former noblemen led a strict ascetic life, permitting themselves to eat nothing but plants and to drink nothing but spring water. Constantly exposed to the open sky, the monks’ skin took on the texture of scorched clay, and their bodies grew coarse, thick hair to shield them from infirmities.

After some time a new ruler, Datianos, ascended the Albanian throne, and he soon learned that his noblemen had been baptized into the Christian Faith and were living as hermits. He ordered Sukia and the others to return to the palace and promised to receive them with honor. He threatened that if they refused, the rebels would be killed.

Datianos’ messenger, Barlapa, located the elder, who by this time more closely resembled a savage than a prince. He relayed the ruler’s order, but Sukia courageously resisted.

Outraged at the saint’s reply, Barlapa ordered that the brothers be bound and cast into a fire. To his great amazement, the holy martyrs chanted psalms as the flames slowly engulfed them. As a final blow, the ruler’s henchmen massacred the princes with their swords, then scattered the charred remains.

This happened in the year 123 (100 or 130, according to other sources).

The godless King Artaksar would not permit the remains of the martyrs to be buried, but God Himself preserved their relics incorrupt for 230 years. Then, in the 4th century, a group of faithful Christians uncovered the holy relics, moved them to a shrine, and carved the names of the saints on the rock where they were buried.

Later the holy hieromartyr Gregory, Enlightener of Armenia (†335, Comm. 30 September), built a church and founded a monastery in the place where St. Sukia and his companions were buried, and a healing spring gushed forth from the ground where they lay.

O Holy Sukia and thy Sixteen Companions, pray to Christ God to have mercy on our souls!

[1] Transcaucasian Albania (Rani in Georgian) of the first century was located in the area now occupied by Hereti (southeastern Georgia) and central Azerbaijan. The people of Transcaucasian Albania are of no relation to present day Albanians.
Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze
For further information on the book THE LIVES OF THE GEORGIAN SAINTS by Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze contact St. Herman Press: St. Herman Press, P.O. Box 70, Platina, CA 96076

Saint martyr Bishop Chrysos

Chrysos, who had been enlightened and ordained by the holy Disciple Thaddeus (+ c. 44, Comm. 21 August)

Troparion — Tone 3

Your holy martyr Suchias, O Lord, / through his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God. / For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries, / and shattered the powerless boldness of demons. / Through his intercessions, save our souls!

When you find a kindred spirit soul, stay with it, for it is a great joy to be friends with like-minded people. Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Apostles Aristarchus of Apamea, Pudens, and Trophimus of the Seventy Apostles (c. 67)
Martyr Ardalion the Actor, who suffered under Maximian (c. 305-311)
Martyr Azat the Eunuch and 1,000 Martyrs, in Persia (341)
Martyr Thomais of Alexandria (476)
St. Cyriacus, bishop of Jerusalem and his mother, Martyr Anna (363)
Martyrs Tiburtius, Valerian and Maximus, in Rome (3rd century)
Martyrs Anthony, John, and Eustathios, of Vilnius, Lithuania (1347)
New Martyr Demetrius of the Peloponnese, at Tripolis (1803)
New Martyr Sergius (Trofimov) of Nizhni-Novgorod and companion (1918)
New Hieromartyr Alexander Orlov, Confessor, Priest (1941)
Synaxis of the Icon of the Mother of God of Vilnius (1465
Schemanun Anastasia (Shevelenko) of Karaganda (1977)
Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (2003)

Commemorated on April 14

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Θαδδαίος της Βιτόβνιτσα_Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica_Старец Фаддей Витовницкий_свети Тадеј Витовнички_tlfk_nae5qI

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.15. 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.

“It is of great significance if there is a person who truly prays in a family. Prayer attracts God’s Grace and all the members of the family feel it, even those whose hearts have grown cold. Pray always.”

You must strive to have peace in your homes. Peace starts with each one of us. When we have peace in us, we spread it around to others. You can see for yourself that there are very few humble and meek souls on the earth—but also that they are truly blessed. They will not be offended if you insult them in any way. Whatever way you treat them, they are quiet and peaceful and they are truly sorrowed because you are in such spiritual torment.

Our starting point is always wrong. Instead of beginning with ourselves,we always want to change others first and ourselves last. If everyone would begin first with themselves, then there would be peace all around!”

We do not need to say anything or do anything, but we feel so good in the presence of a humble and meek person who is full of love and goodness.
He does not have to say anything either, yet he radiates warmth, and it is as though we have caught a chill and have come into a warm and pleasant room and it warms us.
You see, that is the meaning of good thoughts, good desires full of love and goodness.

The man who is given Grace and who is united with God’s love is also protected by this Divine love, and the evil spirits cannot come close to him.
Love little things, and strive for that which is modest and simple.


If our thoughts are kind, peaceful, and quiet, turned only toward good, then we also influence ourselves and radiate peace all around us – in our family, in the whole country everywhere. This is true not only here on earth, but in the cosmos as well. When we labor in the fields of the Lord, we create harmony. Divine harmony, peace, and quiet spread everywhere.
However, when we breed negative thoughts, that is a great evil. When there is evil in us, we radiate it among our family members and wherever we go.

Our thoughts act not only on us, but also on the surrounding flora and fauna, moreover, they affect eternity, not only destroying the earth, but also multiplying evil in the Universe.

We Christians have been called to spread Divine peace and the atmosphere of heaven. There are very few of those who realize that this is how we should be – a source of goodness, peace, and joy.

There can be no peace in the world unless there is inner peace in each one of us.

People are changeable like the wind. Today they are for you, tomorrow they are against you. Who can stop the wind? Who can please the whole world? If you try to please everyone, you will definitely get into trouble. The gospel says: wisdom is simple. We will be nothing in front of the whole world to become something before God.
When you find a kindred spirit soul, stay with it, for it is a great joy to be friends with like-minded people.

A key character trait is the foundation towards eternity. If we are peaceful and quiet we will soar among the saints and angels.

The Lord looks into our hearts and when we turn to Him from the heart, He immediately consoles us.
Peace and joy are the greatest riches in this world and in the world to come.

Joy is thankfulness, and when we are joyful, that is the best expression of thanks we can offer the Lord, Who delivers us from sorrow and sin.

Love, joy and peace are Divine gifts, Divine characteristics. In themselves love, peace and joy work miracles, but joined together they can fulfill all the commandments.

Be like the birds. They’re always joyful. The birds are always singing praises to the Lord. Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

We are dwellers in temporary huts… Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Ασκητης_asketes-Ερημίτης_Hermit_отшельник- еремит_i123abcdb3245e61c15f8a4d935c4ddf6fHOMILY
on prayer to God to save a soul from the dust
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Deliver me out of the dust that I sink not (Psalm 68,15).

Brethren, our souls are clothed in dust, and our bodies of dust are given us for the service of our soul. May our souls not drown in dust! May our souls not be enslaved by dust! May the living spark not be extinguished in the grave of dust! Very spacious is the field of earthly dust that draws us to itself; but even more spacious is the immeasurable Kingdom of the Spirit that calls our soul its kin. Truly, we are related to the earth through physical dust; but we are related to heaven through the soul. We are dwellers in temporary huts and soldiers in temporary tents.

O Lord, Deliver me out of the dust! Thus prayed the repentant king who initially had given himself over to dust, until he saw how dust pulls us into the abyss of destruction. Dust is the body of man with its fantasies; dust is also all wicked men who wage war against the righteous; dust is the demons with their terrors. May the Lord save us from all this dust, for He alone is able to do that. We should strive first of all to see the enemy within ourselves-the enemy who attracts other enemies.

Hence, the greatest misfortune of the sinner is that he, unconsciously and unwillingly, is an ally of his own enemies! However, the righteous man has strengthened his soul in God and in the Kingdom of God, and is not afraid. He is not afraid of himself, and therefore is not afraid of his other enemies. He is not afraid, because he is neither an ally nor an accomplice of the enemies of his soul. Hence, neither men nor demons can do him any harm. God is his ally and the angels of God are his protectors-what can man do to him? What can demons do to him? What can dust do to him?

O Lord our God, Three Persons and One Being, Who breathed living souls into the dust of our bodies, save us according to Thy mercy that we sink not.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.com/2010/04/prologue-october-28-november-10.htmlΕρημίτης_Hermit_отшельник- еремит_askites_b_gerontiko (1)

O Lord, hearken to my prayer and my supplication: attend to my tears: be not silent, for I am a sojourner in the land, and a stranger, as all my fathers [were].Psalm 38:13

Saint Nikolai Velimirovič 

We travelers of this world are not alone on our way. With us is God and all the heavenly army. God leads the world and runs human life. God acts in infinite ways to bring people to Him, close to Truth, close to their Salvation.

“Live as though you were not of this world and you will have peace.” Thus spoke St. Anthony to his disciples. An amazing lesson but truthful. We bring about greater misfortunes and uneasiness upon ourselves when we desire to associate and identify ourselves, as much as possible, to remain in this world. Whenever a person retreats, as much as possible, from this world and as often as he contemplates this world as existing without him and the deeper he immerses himself in reflecting about his unworthiness in this world, he will stand closer to God and will have deeper spiritual peace. “Everyday I face death”, says St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:31), that is, everyday I feel that I am not in this world. That is why he daily felt like a heavenly citizen in the spirit. When the torturer Faustinus asked St. Theodulus: “Is not life better than a violent death?” St. Theodulus replied: “Indeed, even I think that life is better than death. Because of this, I decided to abhor this mortal and temporal life, barely existing on earth, so that I may be a partaker of life eternal.”
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič 
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.gr/2009/12/prologue-april-5-april-18.htmlΠροσευχή_PRAYER- Моление-3816659

St John Climacus calls us to give absolute centrality to the way in which we relate to God, because everything else will depend upon it. God is like the key of harmony that allows a tune to be read and sung. Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

The Fourth Sunday of Lent:
Feast of our Righteous Father John (Climacus) of Sinai, Author of The Ladder of Divine Ascent (+605 or 649)

Saint John Climacus of Sinai, Author of “the Ladder” of Divine Ascent

Commemorated on March 30 and The Fourth Sunday of Lent

St John Climacus
Anthony Bloom of Sourozh
29 March 1987

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

Ιωάννης της Κλίμακος_St. John Climacus of the Ladder_ Св Иоа́нн Ле́ствичник_Εμμ. Τζάνες

St John Climacus, whose memory we keep today, says in one of his writings: “We shall not be judged, brothers, we shall not be condemned for not having worked miracles or spoken words of prophecy; but we shall be condemned for not having bewailed our sins throughout our life.”

What is there in sin which should cause us such broken-heartedness that all our life should be – not darkened but inspired by this pain in our hearts? We tend to define sin as breaking of the moral law, or acting in a way which is contrary to our duty or to what is right, but there is something more fundamental in sin, which should indeed cause us sadness and more than sadness: a deep pain.

Sin is disloyalty, sin is unfaithfulness; it is unfaithfulness and disloyalty towards God because it means that whatever He says matters little to us, although when He spoke to us, He spoke with all His human love and all His love divine; and indeed, to show us how much we matter to Him, how deeply He values us, He gave all of His life and all of His death to save us, and for us to believe in love divine!

To sin means to turn away from One who loves us unto life and unto death; and it means by implication that His life and death are too little for us, too little for us to respond by love, to respond by faithfulness and loyalty. Indeed, this attitude results in our breaking in a multitude of ways those laws of life which are conducive to life eternal; those laws of life that would make us truly, perfectly human in the way in which Christ was perfectly human, in the total harmony between God and us.

But these concrete sins which we commit all the time, this coldness to one another, this indifference, the ease with which we judge and condemn, the way in which we turn away from the need of others, the way in which we care nothing for the love which is offered us: all that results from the coldness of our hearts.

It is not in vain that Christ says today in the Gospel, “This demon, this spirit is cast out only by prayer and by fasting”: fasting, in the sense of turning away from all those things which are beguilement, which take us away from love, from loyalty, from faithfulness, from integrity, that destroy our wholeness; and prayer, as communion with the Living God, who is love, and in whom alone we can find the strength and power to love.

So it is not surprising that when the man who had brought his child, sick with epilepsy, to the disciples, turned to Christ saying “They were unable to heal him,” He said, ‘Bring him to Me!” Unless we are brought to Him, all other things are in vain.

We may ask ourselves, “Are we so separated from God that we should bewail this separation all our life?” Indeed, who of us would dare say that at every moment his heart is warm, his heart is deeply moved by the sense of being with God, of God being close, of being in communion with Him?

We should be with regard to God in the condition of one who is in love, who at every moment, day and night, waking or sleeping, is aware that his heart is exulting and tremulous with a love that fills him to the brim, that is joy, that is exultation, that is peace and serenity, and strength, and courage, and a love that allows us to look around and see everyone in a new light, that allows us to see the image of God shining in each person whom we meet, rejoicing in it.

If we ask ourselves how far we are from God, and cannot measure the distance between us because our experience if being close to Him is so small, let us ask ourselves, “How far am I from the people who surround me? How little love, how little loyalty, how little gift of self, how little rejoicing in my neighbour there is in me. How much there is of judgement, of indifference, of coldness, of forgetfulness”. And then we will be able to say, if I am like that it means that I am not God-centred, that God is not the King reigning supreme in my heart and mind and my whole being and life. And when we think of ourselves and see ourselves divided between the call of God, the desires of our fallen humanity and the beguilement of evil, then we can again say, “How far I am.” And until we have found harmony with God, we will be divided and broken within ourselves, until we have found harmony with God, we will be divided one from another.

This is why St John Climacus calls us to give absolute centrality to the way in which we relate to God, because everything else will depend upon it. God is like the key of harmony that allows a tune to be read and sung. He is, as another writer says, the thin string that keeps together flowers which otherwise would fall apart – even flowers, even virtue, even beauty, even truth fall apart if there is not that wonderful love, exultation and joy which is given only by our communion with God, because He is love, He is life, He is truth, He is joy and light and exultation.

Let us therefore turn to repentance in the sense in which St John Climacus sees it: not an empty bewailing of our past, not a useless, barren regret at our not being what we wish we were, but a cry to God, “Come, Lord, and come soon!” And if we cry wish all our heart, all our mind, all our need , then God will come, then we will find ourselves in communion with the Living God and all things will become beauty; we will have entered into the Kingdom of God. Amen

Troparion of the Saint (Tone I)

A dweller in the wilderness and an angel in the body! * Thou wast manifest a wonderworker, O John our Godbearing Father! * Thou didst receive heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil, and prayer: * healing the infirm and the souls of those who flee to thee with faith. * Glory to Him Who hath given thee strength! * Glory to Him Who hath crowned thee! * Glory to Him Who through thee worketh healings for all!

Kontakion of the Saint (Tone IV):

Truly hath the Lord placed thee * in the firmament * like an immovable star of abstinence * shedding its light upon all creation, * O father John our teacher.

(Tone IV):

O Theotokos and Virgin, rejoice, * O Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; * blessed art thou among women, * and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, * for thou didst bear the Savior of our souls.

My All-Holy Mother! I shall light the vigil lamp; however, You take care and feed my children

Δέηση_Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_Преп Серафим Саровский_%b0%d1%84

My All-Holy Mother! I shall light the vigil lamp; however, You take care and feed my children

On the 24th of March 1942, the eve of the annunciation,we were in the Northern part of Greece, in my hometown called Drama.
It was then under Bulgarian occupation.Deprivation,disease and famine had reached dreadful proportions and death was decimating both young and old, especially children, on a daily basis.
Amongst my relatives was a distant aunt who was a widow with five children. Her husband had been killed by the conquerors six months previously during the 29th of September 1941 massacre.

Παναγία Η Ελπίς των Απελπισμένων- Παναγίας της Μυρτιάς-света-богородица-надежда-на-обезнадеждените-икона-от-антония

As far as food was concerned,there remained a very small amount of olive oil and a handful of corn flour. Hence, that evening she thought that the following day, that of the Annunciation, she had at least very little food for the children, one hundred grams of flour and very little oil. Suddenly, her eyes fell on the snuffed out vigil lamp which hanged in front of the icon stand.
At that point she was faced with a dilemma: Should the oil be given to the hungry children or remain in the icon stand with the icon of the Annunciation?

Nevertheless,with a sense of determination she made the sign of the Cross and told the All-Holy Mother of God: “My All-Holy Mother! I shall light the vigil lamp because the day which is breaking is of great significance to our faith; however,You take care and feed my children”

She took the very little amount of oil and lit the oil-candle of the All-Holy One. Its joyous light illuminated the shabby home and her heart was filled with serenity.
This sense of serenity accompanied them in their nightly prayer, their sleep and throughout that unforgettable night.
The next day, after the Divine Liturgy, my aunt opened the kitchen cupboard in order to get the meager flour and she remained speechless.
What does she see?
The ” oilcan” filled with oil all the way to the top, as well as two bagfuls of flour and spaghetti!

The woman made the sign of the Cross many times,praising and thanking God and the Theotokos for this great miracle,but did not say a word to anyone.

For two years the oil never emptied from the bottle nor did the flour, although the six-member family used it on a daily basis in order to exchange it with other types of food and for charity which was done in secrecy. However, the vigil lamp since then remained lit day and night, revealing the blessed woman’s strong faith with its everlasting light.
Taken from The book”Experiences during the Divine Liturgy
-Protopresbyter Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos

In Tone II:

Christ hath given thee to the Christian race as a mighty protection and a helper more exalted than all things of heaven and earth, more glorious than the cherubim and more honorable than all creation, to protect and save the sinful people who have recourse to thee. Wherefore, O Mistress, we hymn thee, the refuge of all, and celebrate with splendor the honored feast of thy protection, entreating Christ, that He grant us great mercy.

Tone 5.

Hail, pure Mother of God, inexhaustible fount of goodness, protection and fervent defence of the Orthodox, and comfort in afflictions. For in you, All-unblemished, we always take refuge, and by your grace we truly obtain salvation, peace and redemption. Therefore we praise the wonders of your divine Protecting Veil and we magnify, O Maiden, the acts of compassion of your foreknowledge, through which you ever save from disasters of every kind those who have put their trust in you.