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Preparation to forgiveness Sunday -Gospel of Publican and Pharisee. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Τελώνη και του Φαρισαίου1f4092c64caf017b779c59dfe9c

Preparation to forgiveness Sunday
(Gospel of Publican and Pharisee)
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
19 February 1989

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

Step by step, but so fast that we hardly notice the notion of time we are coming to the beginning of Lent. These weeks are given us as weeks of self-examination, as a time when we must be ready to enter into the fasting time of the Lord Jesus Christ, together with Him to stand forty days in the wilderness, and at the end of it to be able, together with Him, to renounce the temptations which the evil one has offered Him, and is offering us also.

But at the entrance gate of Lent we will face the Sunday of forgiveness. (?) Sunday as a moment of joy, a moment when we are freed by the Lord God and allowed to enter into this mysterious time, in the wilderness. But do we realise that this is like the Red Sea which the Jews had to cross in order to enter into the wilderness that will lead them to the Promised Land? Do we realise that we stand before God’s judgement at that moment? Doesn’t the Lord Jesus Christ say in the Gospel that as we judge we shall be judged? Do we not repeat day after day in the Lord’s Prayer ‘Forgive as I forgive’ thereby saying that I recognise that unless I forgive, I deserve no forgiveness – no forgiveness from God, and no forgiveness from anyone who has (?) against me. This is a moment in which we take our eternal destiny in our hands; if we cannot say to everyone who has anything against us, ‘I forgive Thee freely’, there is no way for us into reconciliation with God. Indeed – more than this to the extent to which we refuse forgiveness, we recognise that we stand condemned, that we have no right to forgive us (?).

On the evening of the Forgiveness Sunday we take a service, the Service of Forgiveness – the beginning of Lent, a door is been open to us – but to each of us? No! Not to each of us! Only on condition that we can enter through this door, that this door is not too narrow for us to enter, loaded with hatred, loaded with resentment, loaded with rejection, loaded with our refusal to follow Christ along this path.

(And) more often (?) than not, ever so often, ever more often I hear people say to me, ‘This service is deeply moving, this service is most beautiful’ – but what a lie at a heart of this service: people come, we all come, we ask God for forgiveness, we ask the Mother of God to forgive us, the Angel Guardian whom He has given us and whom we offend at every moment by being unworthy of God and of ourselves, the Saints whose name we bear, the Saints whom we venerate -we insult them by coming, and expecting forgiveness while we refuse forgiveness to others. And how hypocritical indeed it is when people come, bow before the images of Christ, the icon of the Mother of God, asking their forgiveness, turn to the priests with the same request and then go to all the people of whom they are aware that they have nothing to forgive, and pass by those who have something to forgive. How often this happens! Ask yourselves – how often you have not walked up to the very people who would say, NO – I cannot forgive you, NO – you have offended me too deeply, and you have not redeemed yourself in my eyes, NO – you have not made any reparation, NO I cannot forgive you, and because I cannot forgive you, you close the doors of forgiveness to me…

Forgiveness is the acid test of compassion, of love, of our brother- and sisterhood in Christ. Remember, that unless we forgive, we cannot be forgiven, but remember also, remember (it?) that if we are for anyone the cause why he or she cannot forgive us, the judgement and condemnation are upon us, not upon the person who is unable to forgive because the wounds are too deep, the pains too great, the offence too unbearable, and healing has not been offered – not by God: BY US.

Yes, we always have a dual responsibility; we think of the people who have offended us, and even those we prove unable to forgive; but what about those people whom we have offended? This is our responsibility, we must help them, we must make it possible for them to forgive. At times we feel we are too hurt – and what about God? What about God whom we hurt day in day out in so many ways; to Whom we say, ‘You have lived and died for the sake of this or that person, but I don’t care whether You died for him: I shut the doors of eternal life to this person! You have come into the world to save – I curse, I reject, I shut this door, and You have no power to open it because I say: NO!’

Is that not a terrible thought? And some will say, «Yes, but can I endure the betrayal of all my hopes, can I endure betrayal altogether? Yes; betrayal is the testing power of forgiveness! You remember what Christ said to Judas when he came with a crowd of people to betray Him, to deliver Him unto death? He met him with words, ‘Friend – why hath thou come hither?’ Friend He calls him!. Can we not then face within our power the small betrayals, the small sins of others?

And so, we are now at the beginning of our preparation for this particular Sunday, step after step we must go towards it, and when it comes, we must be ready for it. This is why I speak of it now and, not in three or four weeks time: it is now that we must begin; and where we must begin with ourselves; we must remember the words of Christ, ‘How can you remove the (?) from the eye of your neighbour while a beam is in your own eye?’

Τελώνη και  Φαρισαίου_Pharisee and Publican_Притча о мытаре и фарисее_Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon_z_3f72afc9Let us ask ourselves first of all, WHOM HAVE I OFFENED? In whom have I created resentment, unbearable pain that will prevent him or her to say, ‘I forgive – go in peace! Father, forgive, they did not know what they were doing!’: this is the first step, not ask ourselves, Who has offended m e, but ‘Whom have I offended’. And there are many ways in which we offend people: not only by acts of unrighteousness, but even by what we imagine to be our righteousness. In the life of Tikhon of Zadonsk there is a case when he rebuked a merchant for the evils he had done, and the merchant, in anger, (?) his face; and Tikhon of Zadonsk knelt down at his feet and said, ‘Brother, forgive me – I have caused you to flare up in anger!’ He was saying nothing but the truth, but he had spoken the truth in such a way that it had become temptation and sin, and h e was the one who was asking for forgiveness…

Let us therefore start with ourselves and ask ourselves, whom have I offended? Who should I heal by my repentance? Before whom should I confess my guilt? Before whom should I kneel, in body and soul?.. And then only, in the weeks to come, make (the moves?) – not only repent, that is tell God that I am sorry, but go to the person and tell in all detail what has happened, what was the wrong, what prompted me to act as I did, who am I who is capable of such violence – and ask for forgiveness. The Lord said, If you come to the temple and remember that someone has something against you – leave your gift, and go, and make your peace with your brother: only then shall the gift be acceptable, only then shall forgiveness be possible on our part. All of us we are in this situation; O, there are (big) offences of which we are aware; but who of us can say, thinking of all those people with whom he has lived in the course of his life, with whom he is now living, who are surrounding him – who can say that, I love him to the point of saying, I am prepared to forgive your betrayal, I am prepared to forgive the worst you have done, because I am prepared in an act of sacrificial, crucified love to take you in my arms as the lost sheep, and bring you to the (fore?) , I am prepared, if necessary, to take you upon my shoulder as Christ took His cross, bring it to Calvary, be nailed upon it unto salvation of others; and when I am been nailed, while I am dying upon it, with the pain, and agony, and anguish unrelieved, say to God, ‘Forgive – because I have forgiven!’ Amen.

O Lord, Thou didst reproach the Pharisee when he justified himself, boasting of his deeds; and justified the Publican when he approached humbly, seeking forgiveness with sighs; for Thou dost not draw near to arrogant thoughts, nor turn away contrite hearts. Wherefore, we also kneel before Thee meekly, O Thou Who didst suffer for our sakes. Grant us forgiveness and the Great Mercy.
 Doxasticon from Orthros, Tone 8

When the Pharisee went down with empty glory, and the publican bowed himself in repentance, they came to Thee alone, O Master. But the one through boasting lost his reward, and the other by his silence deserved gifts. Wherefore, by those sighs confirm me, O Christ God, since Thou art the Lover of mankind.
 from the Praises at Orthros, Tone 1


When we taste heavenly manna, wild carobs will mean nothing to us. The Youth Must Pass the Test of Purity. Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

The Youth Must Pass the Test of Purity
Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

ΡομφαιαἸησοῦς Χριστὸς_Jesus-Christ_Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icon5_ 26422_originalA few female students came to see me today and told me, “Geronda, pray so that we may pass our exams.” I said, “I will pray that you pass your purity exams. This is the most important thing. Everything else falls into place after that.” It was the right thing to say, wasn’t’ it? There’s no greater sight than that of modesty and purity in the faces of young people today! No greater sight!
Some traumatized young women come to see me. They live unruly lives with young men and they don’t realize that these men do not have good intentions and, of course, they end up getting hurt. “What must I do, Fa­ther?” they ask. “The tavern owner,” I replied, “may have the drunkard as a friend, but he will never accept him as his son-in-law. Stop having relations. If the man really loves you, he will appreciate it; if he leaves you, you will know that he doesn’t love you and this way you will not be wasting your time.”
The cunning devil takes advantage of young people, who, on top of everything else, have to deal with the re­bellion of their flesh, and he tries to destroy them during this difficult period of their life, when the mind is not yet mature, the experience is missing and their spiritual reserves are almost non-existent. This is why, during this critical period, young people must always seek the advice of their elders, so that they may not slip down the sweet secular slope, which will only fill their soul with anxiety and separate it eternally from God.
I know that a physiologically healthy young person cannot easily attain a spiritual state where there is neither male nor female (4). This is why the Spiritual Fathers recommend that young men and women, no matter how spiritual they may be, should not spend time together; at their age, problems will naturally arise and then temptation will step in and take advantage of their youth. It is better for a young man or a young woman to bear this heavy cross and risk being considered a fool by the opposite sex for his or her spiritual prudence and innocence. This heavy cross hides all the power and wisdom of God, making a young man stronger than Sampson (5) and wiser than Solomon (6). Better, then, that he walk down the street praying rather than looking left and right, even if relatives may misunderstand him and think that he snubbed them by not speaking with them. Otherwise, if he walks looking around with curiosity, he may get in trouble or get misunderstood by lay people who always harbour suspicious thoughts. It’s a thousand times better to leave Church right away, after Liturgy, like a lone animal, and keep his spiritual good sense and whatever he learned intact, rather than stay around and stare at fancy furs or ties, and become spiritually agitated as the enemy starts scratching at his heart.
It is true, unfortunately, that there is so much filth in this world that no matter what path the soul that desires purity may follow, it will get soiled. The difference is that God will not make the same demands on a Christian who wishes to remain pure today that He made in the past. Purity requires nerves of steel; a young man must try every means to resist temptation, and he will surely have Christ’s help. When divine eros is kindled in his heart, the burning is such that every other desire and un­seemly picture will be burned out. When this divine fire is burning in us, we experience pleasures so divine that all other pleasures pale in comparison. When we taste heavenly manna, wild carobs will mean nothing to us. This is why we should hold fast to the steering wheel, make the sign of the cross and not be afraid. After every little struggle, heavenly delights follow. If we are brave when temptation comes, God and the Panaghia will help miraculously.

Christ does not require big things from us to help us in our struggle. He expects very little, a tiny bit.
A young man was telling me that he went to Patmos (9) to worship and fell into temptation’s trap. A female tourist jumped on him and hugged him while he was walking. He pushed her away saying, “My Christ I have come for worship not for love” and he went away. That same night in his hotel room, during prayer, he saw Christ immersed in Uncreated Light. Do you see the reward he received for that one push? Others strive for years in the ascetic life and may never be blessed with something like that. And he saw Jesus Christ only because he resisted temptation. And this experience, naturally, made him stronger spiritually. Later on, he saw Saint Marcella, Saint Raphael, and Saint George more than once. One day, he came and told me “Father, say a prayer for me so that I may see Saint George again and be consoled. I cannot find any consolation in this world!” And then you see where other young people end up.

(4) Gal. 3:28.
(5) Cf.Jdg l5:14 mf.
(6) Cf. I Kg 3: 9-12 (LXX: III Kg 3: 9-12).
(9) Patmos is a Greek island in the Aegean, in the NW Dodecanese. Saint John the Theologian wrote the Apocalypse there, during his exile (95 A.D.).
(ELDER PAISIOS OF MOUNT ATHOS SPIRITUAL COUNSELS “WITH PAIN AND LOVE for Contemporary Man”, Part 3, Chapter 3, p. 258-283, Holy Monastery “Evangelist John the Theologian” SOUROTI, THESSALONIKI, GREECE)

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 St George the Trophy-bearer Tone 4

As the deliverer of captives and the protector of the poor, as the physician of the feeble and combatant of kings, holy champion and great martyr George, intercede with Christ our God to save our souls.

Apolytikion to St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain in the First Tone

The offspring of Farasa, and the adornment of Athos, and the imitator of the former righteous, equal in honor, O Paisios let us honor O faithful, the vessel full of graces, who hastens speedily to those who cry out: glory to Him Who gave you strength, glory to Him Who crowned you, glory to Him Who grants through you healings for all.

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.

We have to learn the simplest teaching of Christianity: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Mt. 7:12). Patriarch Pavle of Serbia

Παύλος Σερβίας- Павел Сербский- Pavle of Serbia33

Patriarch Pavle of Serbia

We cannot pass through this world without suffering and hardship. The history of mankind is filled with so much devastation caused by the elements, so much misery caused by man to his fellow man.

In the Holy Scriptures, God points many times to the suffering that awaits His faithful: In the world you have tribulation….; If they persecuted me, they will persecute you: let he who wants to go with me take up his cross and follow (Jn 16:33; 15:20). The Apostle Paul also says that we must enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations (Acts 14:22). The Apostle Peter even teaches that there is a difference between suffering for the sake of righteousness which, he says, is part of the suffering of Christ, and suffering for sins, and he warns the faithful: let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrong-doer (1 Pet. 3:14; 4;15).

Not heeding this advice draws us into the madness of war… It brings so much spilled blood and loss of lives, so many disabled persons, exiles and refugees, so many ruined material and cultural effects, so many destroyed churches, so many historical and cultural riches accumulated over the centuries that are lost forever.

We have to learn the simplest teaching of Christianity: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Mt. 7:12). And what have we done with the essence of the faith, love, and love’s highest form, love for our enemies, which means rising to the stature of our Father’s hallowed Son who is in heaven, and the awareness that we are people of God, and to act accordingly. Let us try to achieve this. Then God will hear us and bring an end to the war, so that peace may reign in this turbulent world.

Petitions composed by Patriarch Pavle for inclusion in all services:

“For the mercy of God for us, His unworthy servants, to keep us all from hatred and evil deeds, to implant in us unselfish love, whereby all may recognize that we are disciples of Christ and people of God, as were our saintly ancestors, so that we may always know to ally ourselves with the truth and justice of the Heavenly Kingdom, let us pray to the Lord.”

“For all those who committed injustice against their neighbor, whether they saddened the poor or spilled innocent blood, or returned hatred with hatred, that God grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and hearts, and illumine their souls with holy love even toward their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.

“O Lord, how many are the foes who war against us and say: ‘There is no help for them from God or from man.’ Lord, reach out Thy hand to us that we remain Thy people, both in faith and in works. If we must suffer, may it be on the road to Thy justice and Thy truth, and not because of our injustice or hatred toward anyone. Let us all say fervently, Lord have mercy.”

“Again we pray to God, the Savior of all men, even for our enemies, that the Lord who loves mankind turn them away from violence against our Orthodox people; that they not destroy our holy temples and graves, that they not kill our children and persecute our people, but that they also find the road to repentance, justice and salvation. Let us all say fervently, Lord have mercy.”


The miracle of Saint Charalambos in Saint Iakovos Tsalikis, Evia

Saint Charalambos the Hieromartyr

 Commemorated on February 10th

You were made worthy, O Charalampos, through swords,
Of the radiance and joy of the Martyrs.
On the tenth, Charalampos was cut by the throat.

Χαράλαμπος_Saint Charalambos_Святой Харалампийagios_xaralampos12“Once,” as Saint Iakovos Tsalikis related: When I was a small child, I suffered a severe cold, as I was struck bed-bound with great shortness of breath and terrible pain in the left side of my chest.

There was no doctor in the village, and our only refuge was God and His Saints. We had in our home a small silver icon of St. Charalambos -it was wonderworking -over 600 years old, and we had brought it from Asia Minoras a family heirloom.

My mother therefore, offered much prayer and prostrations, entreating the Saint. Then, I saw the hand of a Priest, from the wrist down, pass over my head, and descend to my chest where I was having pain, and make the sign of the cross over my and pat my head. Immediately, the pain passed along with the shortness of breath, and I became well. I told me mother:

“Mother, I saw the hand of a Priest cross me and pat me on the head, and now I’m fine. It all passed.” I even told her with such detail, even about the hair on the wrist, as I saw it.

“My child,” my mother said, “it was St. Charalambos, who came to heal you. You should remember this day forever (it was the feast of the Holy Apostle Thomas) when the miracle happened, because you were dead, and resurrected.” http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.gr/2015/02/the-healing-of-elder-iakovos-tsalikis.html


This great saint Haralambos was a bishop in Magnesia and suffered for Christ in his one-hundred and thirteenth year. When a terrible persecution began during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus, the Elder Haralambos did not hide from the persecutors but freely and openly preached the Faith of Christ. He endured all tortures as though he were in someone else’s body. When they skinned him alive, the forgiving elder said to the emperor’s soldiers: “Thank you, my brethren, for in scraping my old body you renew my spirit for a new eternal life.” He worked many miracles and converted many to the Faith. Even the emperor’s daughter, Galina, abandoned the idolatry of her father and become a Christian. Condemned to death and brought to the place of execution, St. Haralambos raised his hands to heaven and prayed to God for all people that God grant them bodily health and spiritual salvation and that He multiply their fruits of the earth. “O Lord, You know that men are flesh and blood; forgive them their sins and pour out Your Grace on all!” After prayer, this holy elder gave up his soul to God before the executioner lowered the sword on his neck. He suffered in the year 202 A.D. The emperor’s daughter, Galina, removed his body and honorably buried it.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date February 10, and New Calendar date February 23.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

O wise Haralambos, you were proven an unshakable pillar of the Church of Christ; an ever-shining lamp of the universe. You shone in the world by your martyrdom. You delivered us from the moonless night of idolatry O blessed one. Wherefore, boldly intercede to Christ that we may be saved.

Apolytikion St. Iakovos of Evia 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 Iakovus, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone

An unshaken pillar of the Church of Christ God art thou, an ever-resplendent lamp, O Haralambos most wise, which shineth throughout the earth; in martyric contest thou hast shined on the whole world, and thou has dispelled the moonless night of the idols. Now boldly intercede thou with Christ that we may all be saved.

Idiomelon from the Orthros in the Plagal of the Second Tone

Come, you fans of the Martyrs, let us honor the God‐crowned phalanx led by the radiant Martyr, that select and holy company of Hieromartyr Haralambos, which was eagerly sacrificed for Christ. Let us spiritually observe his all‐sacred memory, and call out to him: ʺFree your people, who correctly believe in God; free us from the threat of plague, and deliver us from every adversity.ʺ

Χαράλαμπος_Saint Charalambos_Святой Харалампий_svjatoj-harlampij-SfntulMucenicHaralambiePicture552

The wonderworking hand of St. Charalampos the Hieromartyr, wondrously incorrupt and in the gesture of blessing. This is a great treasure of the Holy Monastery of the Mega Spileon (the Great Cave), Kalavryta, Greece

The Prayers of those who love us, Anthony Bloom -Metropolitan of Sourozh

17th Sunday of Matthew:
The Canaanite Woman – Matthew 15: 21-28

“Abba Poeman said: ‘We are in such trouble because we are not taking care of our brother who the Scripture stipulated we are to take in. Or do we not see the Canaanite woman who followed the Savior, crying and beseeching for her daughter to be healed—and that the Savior looked with favor on her and healed [her daughter]?’ (Sayings of the Desert Fathers )

The Prayers of Those Who Love Us
Anthony Bloom -Metropolitan of Sourozh
Sunday 12th August 2001

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

ΠΡΟΣΕΥΧΗ_777777I am asked very often how to outgrow the struggle which is ours so often when we try to read the prayers which the saints have coined, which were born in their experience of life.

There was a time when I read with great faithfulness all the prayers which the Church offers us in the morning, in the evening and on other occasions. But I could not always identify with them. They were prayers which were strange to me. I had not grown to that measure of faith or to that measure of love for my neighbour. There were passages in the prayers which I could say sincerely; but there were passages which I could not say; partly because they went against my experience, my feeling, partly because I had not grown to that measure of faith and spiritual experience.

My spiritual father gave me advice on that. He said to me: ‘For a year I forbid you to use any of the prayers of the books of prayer. Before you go to bed, make the sign of the Cross and then lie down and say, “Lord, at the prayers of those who love me, save me,” and begin to ask yourself who are those who love you — who love you so much, so deeply, so truly, that you don’t need even to pray, because their prayers are your shield and your way?’

I tried it. One name after the other came. And every time a name floated up, I stopped one moment and said, ‘How wonderful! He loves me, she loves me! Oh God, bless him, bless her, for the love she can give me as a present.’ And then another name came, and another name, and so many came to my mind: people whom I had forgotten and whose love supported me, carried me. It was so wonderful to be loved. First I thought of the nearest, the dearest: my father, my mother, my grandmother, my friends. And then names came which I did not expect: people whom I had met a long time before, and forgotten, and who had been faithful friends.

And then I remembered my angel guardian. I remembered Christ, who had loved me in such a way that He gave His life for me. I remembered the Mother of God. I remembered our Father who is in Heaven. And all the world became so wonderful because it was a world, a sea of love, that carried me like a little ship.

I learnt something from this; and I wish you could try and learn. But there is another side to it. It was not I alone who needed the love and prayers of others. Others need them; and I began to ask myself, is there anyone whom I love who could say the same words as I have said: at the prayers of those who love me, save me? And then names came, faces came, people first whom I loved, people for whom I had affection; then people to whom I was indifferent, about whom I could not care. And I thought, how terrible! They may need the love of one person and I am not that person. And I turned to God and said, ‘Lord, I don’t know how to love this person. But you have given your life for him, for her, as You have given it for me. Lord, bless, save, guide, be the way, be the door that opens into eternity for this person.’

And then the world became so vast, so deep, so beautiful. It became a world in which we all are saved by one another’s love and by the love of God.
Think of that. And may the blessing of the Lord be upon you, by His grace and love towards mankind, always, now and for ever and world without end. Amen.

The GreatMartyr Theodore Stratelates

Θεόδωρος Στρατηλάτης-Γεώργιος Τροπαιοφόρος_St George the Trophy-bearer- Theodore Stratelates _Св.Георгий Победоносец- SerbFresco12a5a54521

The GreatMartyr Theodore Stratelates

Commemorated on February 8

Being, O Theodore, a worthy Commander,
Having been cut, you became a Commander of God.
On the eighth, the mighty Theodore’s neck is cut.

The GreatMartyr Theodore Stratelates came from the city of Pontos, Euchaita (Εὑχάϊτα, now Avkat). He was endowed with many talents and an handsome appearance. For his charity God enlightened him with the perfective knowledge of Christian truth. The bravery of the saintly soldier became known to many after he, with the help of God, killed a giant serpent living on a precipice in the surroundings of the city of Euchantum. The serpent had devoured many people and animals, holding in terror all the surrounding countryside. Saint Theodore, having armed himself with a sword and a prayer to the Lord, vanquished it, glorifying amongst the people the Name of Christ. For his bravery Saint Theodore was appointed military-commander (stratelatos)in the city of Heracleium, where he as it were carried out a dual obedience, combining his official military service with an apostolic preaching of the Gospel among the pagans subject to him. His ardent persuasion, reinforced by his personal example of Christian life, turned away many from the pernicious “false-gods”. Soon nearly all of Heracleium had accepted Christianity.

Θεόδωρος Στρατηλάτης-Γεώργιος Τροπαιοφόρος_St George the Trophy-bearer- Theodore Stratelates _Св.Георгий Победоносец-1493932427.0186gThere are martyrdoms more precious than precious. The preciousness of martyrdom depends upon the greatness of the good which a Christian abandons and in lieu of that, accepts suffering; and still, it depends upon the greatness of the suffering which he endures for Christ’s sake. St. Theodore, a Roman commander in the army of Emperor Licinius and mayor of the town of Heraclea, scorned his youth, handsome appearance, military rank and the good graces of the emperor. In place of all that, he accepted horrible tortures for the sake of Christ. At first, Theodore was flogged and received six-hundred lashes on his stomach. After this, he was raised on a cross and was completely pierced with lances. Finally, Theodore was beheaded. Why all of this? Because, St. Theodore loved Christ the Lord above all else in the world. He abhorred the stupid idolatry of the superstitious Emperor Licinius. He smashed the idols of silver and gold and distributed pieces of them to the poor. He converted many to the Faith of Christ and called upon Emperor Licinius himself to reject idolatry and to believe in the One Living God. During the entire time of his tortures, St. Theodore said repeatedly: “Glory to You my God, glory to You! St. Theodore suffered on February 8, 319 A.D., at 3:00 p.m. and entered into the kingdom of Christ. St. Theodore is considered the Protector of Soldiers who call upon him for assistance. His miracle-working relics were translated from Euchaita to Constantinople and interred in the church of Balchernae. The transfer of the St Theodore’s relics is remembered on June 8.

Miracle of the Bleeding Image of Theodore Stratelates

On this day is also remembered a miracle from an image of the Great-Martyr in a church of his name, at a place called Karsata, near Damascus. The Saracens had turned this church into a residence. One of the Saracens shot an arrow into the image of the St Theodore. From the shoulder of the saint, where the arrow had stuck into the wall, blood flowed forth in front of the eyes of everyone. A short while later, the Saracens who had settled in the church were found dead; it is thought that in a madness they had all killed each other. The miracle – a sign of both the power God gives to His Saints and the consequences of desecrating their images – was recorded by the Patriarch Anastasios of Antioch (+ 599), who saw the fresco in question, which still showed traces of dried blood.


About how a true Christian encounters hatred in the world
Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

“You will be hated for all for My Name’s sake” (St. Luke 21:17).

All those who love themselves more than they love God will hate the followers of the Lord Jesus.
All those who love the body more than they love the soul will hate the followers of the Lord Jesus.
All those who love this world more than they love the eternal kingdom of God will hate the followers of the Lord Jesus.
All those who love sin more than they love virtue will hate the followers of the Lord Jesus.

The number of those who hate the Name of Jesus is sometimes greater and sometimes smaller. However great is their number brethren, do not be afraid for the number of angels and saints is myriad. The number of your kinsmen in the heavens, i.e., those who love the Lord Jesus, exceeds the number of stars in the firmament and the sands by the sea. O do not be afraid, Christ is with you and that means that you are always mightier than those who hate you. When the most Omnipotent One is on your side, you are always more numerous for you are always stronger than any number of your adversaries.

O Lord Jesus, Lord All-powerful always be with us and help us that we may inseparably be with You always and then our fear will vanish.

With prayers in loving memory of George Georgantas
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date February 8, and New Calendar date February 21.

Apolytikion of Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates
Fourth Tone

In truth enlisted with the King of the Heavens, thou didst become for Him a noble commander, O trophy-bearer and Great Martyr Theodore. With the weaponry of faith didst thou arm thyself wisely and didst utterly destroy all the hordes of the demons, as a triumphant athlete of the Lord; wherefore we ever do faithfully call thee blest.

Kontakion of Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates
Second Tone

In courage of soul, and furnished with the arms of faith, thou tookest in hand the word of God as though a spear and didst put thy foe to flight, thou great boast of martyrs, O Theodore; now together with them, O Saint, cease not to entreat Christ our God for all of us.

Doxastikon of the Stichera in the Plagal of the First Tone

Today the honored memory of the champion of Christ has dawned as the Morning Star, utterly enlightening the hearts of the faithful, and driving away the clouds from the soul through the power and grace of the Spirit. Let those who love the martyrs cry out to him: hail, you who were revealed a God-given grace for the faithful, being arrayed with a multitude of wonders, for those who flee to you, O blessed Theodore. Do not cease to intercede to Christ, that we be granted the eternal good things, for those who celebrate your all-sacred memory in faith.

Doxastikon of the Aposticha in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

Bearing the name of gifts from God, and the blessedness of His inheritance, let all of us the faithful praise him, and bless as is right, Theodore, the brave great martyr, the champion of the world. Intercede therefore to Christ God for our souls.

St. Julian (Elian) the Martyr and Unmercenary of Emesa (Homs), protector of the city of Emesa (now Homs in Syria)

Ιουλιανός Εμέσῃ Χόμς ΣΥΡΙΑΣ_St. Julian (Elian) the Martyr and Unmercenary of Emesa (Homs)__Иулиана Эмесского0_f2421_fa2dcf0c_orig - Copy

St. Julian (Elian) the Martyr and Unmercenary of Emesa (Homs), protector of the city of Emesa (now Homs in Syria)

Commemorated on February 6th, and in the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries on October 17th

Saint Martyr Julian, otherwise known as Elian, was born in the Koilis Syria city of Emesa (now Homs in Syria), and lived in the late 3rd century AD. He was distinguished for his reverence for God and for his love for his brothers. He practiced the profession of doctor and cared for the restoration of the physical and mental health of his fellow human beings, whether Christians or idolaters.

Ιουλιανός Εμέσῃ Χόμς ΣΥΡΙΑΣ_St. Julian (Elian) the Martyr and Unmercenary of Emesa (Homs)_Saint-Elian324234Saint Ellien is described by his biographers in this way: “Having set his hopes in Jesus Christ, he was not tempted by the glory of this ephemeral world. He prayed day and night, practiced fasting, visited prisoners and comforted them. He gave out large alms of what remained in excess in his father’s house. Ellien studied and practiced medicine skillfully. He strived to cure the diseases of both the body and soul. He cured sick people by Christ’s grace and the faith of the Apostles, while preaching God’s Word and urging them to follow the path of virtue. ‘It is not’, he says, ‘with medicines that you will be cured of your illness nor thanks to your idols which drive to perdition all those who kneel before them, but by the power of Jesus Christ’s name who has been crucified by the Jews under Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, who has been buried and resuscitated on the third day.’”

Because of his mastery of the healing arts and the fact that he not only effectively healed the body, but also the soul, he stirred up jealousy in the hearts of his fellow physicians who were not followers of Christ. There was a great persecution of Christians at that time and they used his Christian faith against him. First they appealed to his father who held a powerful position in the city. They asked him to force his son to stop what he was doing, to give up his practice of medicine and stop healing in the name of Jesus Christ. But St. Ellien refused to listen to these men or his father knowing that he would have to give an account before His Heavenly Master as to what he did with the many talents God had given him. When they found that he would not listen to them or his father, they appealed to the Governor of Homs to imprison St. Ellien along with the Bishop of Homs, Silvanus, the Deacon Luke, and the Reader Mocime.

Saint Ellien felt unworthy and overjoyed to be in their company and he kissed and reverenced the chains that bound them. When these men were about to be put to death, St. Ellien prayed to God and angel appeared to him and said: “Do not be grieved, O Ellien, a crown has been prepared for you. You will conquer your enemies and the devil’s tricks. Do not fear their torture for, I am with you!”

St. Ellien suffered through many hardships. He suffered imprisonment and tortures, all along preaching and healing those who were sick.

Then his father had him tied to a horse and dragged through the streets. He was imprisoned and tortured for months, but would not renounce the faith, instead he led all of the tormentors to Christ.
Finally he was put to death at the hands of his own father who had twelve long nails driven into his head. St. Ellien was left for dead. He did not die there. When his executioners left, he managed to crawl to a cave owned by a potter. When the potter came to the cave and discovered the body of St. Ellien he took it by night to the church of the Apostles and St. Barbara where he was buried at the East of the Altar. He was martyred in AD 284.

Later, a church dedicated to St. Ellien was built on the spot of the cave where he died and his body was put in a marble coffin. Many miracles attributed to St. Ellien’s intercessions occurred after his death and they continue to occur to this day. Prior to his being put to death, St. Ellien himself blessed those who celebrate his Feast Day as he offered this prayer to God:

“O my Lord Jesus Christ, hear my prayer and accept my request on this hour. Give peace to whoever remembers me on the day of my martyrdom and forgive his sins. Protect him from his enemies’ snares and break up the devil’s power. Defend your lambs against the wolves!”

Ιουλιανός Εμέσῃ Χόμς ΣΥΡΙΑΣ_St. Julian (Elian) the Martyr and Unmercenary of Emesa (Homs)_Saint Marljan Homsi-3

Apolytikion of St. Julian of Emesa (Homs) in the Third Tone

Julian, saintly champion and healer, intercede with our merciful God to grant our souls remission of sins.

Troparion of St. Julian of Emesa (Homs) — Tone 4

Your holy martyr Julian, O Lord, / through his suffering 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!

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

Holy Unmercenaries and wonderworkers, visit our infirmities, freely you have received, freely give to us.


Physicians of all the ailing, and spring of healings, O famed Unmercenaries, come let us hasten to them, O lovers of feasts, and worthily glorify them in hymns.

Divine Unmercenaries, wonderworkers, Physicians of the sick, heal those who fervently call upon you, of many passions, through your intercessions towards the Lover-of-mankind.

Gospel according to St. Matthew (10:1, 5-8)

“At that time, Jesus called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.”Ιουλιανός Εμέσῃ Χόμς ΣΥΡΙΑΣ_St. Julian (Elian) the Martyr and Unmercenary of Emesa (Homs)_τάφος_2(29)(1) - Copy