Iconography and Hand painted icons

Therefore let us learn from the Most Holy Virgin and the fragile and unconquerable Catherine, and from the innumerable witnesses of Christ, to live without fear in a terrifying world, to fearlessly await all that can happen, and be afraid of only one thing: that faith fade in our hearts, that love die in our hearts, that we would cease to be faithful to the end. Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

Αικατερίνη η Μεγαλομάρτυς _ Святая Екатерина Александрийская_ St Catherine of Alexandria001254449Synaxarion.
Leavetaking (Apodosis) of the Feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos Into the Temple.
On November 25, we commemorate the holy Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria (305), and those who believed in Christ through her and were martyred for His sake: the holy 150 philosophers, died by fire; the holy Empress, wife of the Emperor Maxentius, died by the sword ; and Saint Porphyrius the Stratelates with 200 Soldiers died by the sword.
On this day we also commemorate the contest of Saint Mercurius the Great Martyr of Caesarea in Cappadocia (250)
On this day we also commemorate our devout father Peter the Silent (the Hesychast), of Galatia and Antioch (429)
On this day the holy 670 Martyrs died by the sword.
On this day we also commemorate the holy New Hieromartyrs: Konstantine (Uspensky), Vladimir (Krasnovsky), Alexander (Arkhangelsky), Matthew (Aloin) and Demetrius (Rozanov), Peter (Kosminkov), Simeon (Krechkov) deacon (1937), and Boris (1942), Nikanor (Goryukhin), Theodosios (Tarasov), Sergius (Abramov) in Butovo, Moscow (1937) and Alexios (Sokolov) in Ryazan (1938);
Theodoros (Vasiurenko) in Butov (1937), Gavriy (Yaroslavov) in Tomsk (1929), Nina (Piasinina), Alexandra (Aksenova), Maria (Golubich), Maria (Zhdanova), Varvara (Kopytina), Tatiana (Navekina), Daria (Naumova) , Eugenia (Chesnokova), Martha (Serstneva) in Russia (1941), executed by the atheist Bolsheviks in Russia.
Icon of the Theotokos ‘Daugazpils, in Latvia

Hymn of Praise
The Holy Great-martyr Catherine
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Αικατερίνη η Μεγαλομάρτυς _ Святая Екатерина Александрийская_ St Catherine of Alexandria20170420091512-801a3465The wise Catherine, an earthly princess,
Became a martyr for Christ the Savior.
Foolish Maxentius offered her life:
If she would consent to become his wife!
The holy Catherine, pure as gold,
Replied to the emperor thus:
“My betrothed is the Risen Christ,
And I desire not the love of a corrupt man.
You seek my body: the rotten seeks corruption,
Even as the incorrupt spirit seeks immortality.
The physical covering must wither away,
The true man takes care for his immortal soul.
Do what you wish, and torture me-
Burn me in the fire, turn me on a wheel;
I cannot renounce my own soul,
Nor worship any but Christ as God.
Remember, O Emperor, soon you will die,
And worms will erupt from your corpse-
Worms will glorify you, worms will eat you,
A curse will accompany you, and a curse will meet you:
For you dare wage war against Christ, Who is mightier than death.
You stand under the Rock, and He will crush you.”
Holy Catherine, Christ’s virgin,
You despised the throne for eternal truth’s sake;
And thus now reign in the Kingdom without end,
And sing with the angels, in the midst of sweet Paradise.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič


The holy and glorious Great-martyr Catherine of Alexandria
Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

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

Αικατερίνη η Μεγαλομάρτυς _ Святая Екатерина Александрийская_ St Catherine of AlexandriaΗ ΜΝΗΣΤΕΙΑ ΤΗΣ ΑΓ.ΑΙΚΑΤΕΡΙΝΗΣ 001We behold today three events. We are still basking in the radiance of the feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. For mankind, this is one of the brightest, most wondrous feasts: One of us, the Virgin Mary, entered into the very depths of God’s mystery. Her Entry into the temple, her life in the Holy of Holies are an image of how from an early age she entered into Divine realms, into the very depths, the very treasure-house of relationships, communion of the human soul with the Living God in prayer: not into the saying of prayers, not into many words, but into the deepness if the sacred shrine which made her the Mother of God. On the day of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Pure Theotokos the greatness of man is revealed before us, for man is able to enter into these mysterious, wondrous depths and commune with God in His holy place.

We celebrate today also the day of St. Catherine of Alexandria. She was also young girl, eighteen years old, when she had to stand before human judges. Betrayed by her pagan parents for believing in Christ, she was abandoned by all her blood relatives, the closest people she had, and she was left to stand alone before the judge from whom she could expect no mercy, surrounded by a crowd from whom she could expect nothing but enmity.

And to her also occurred what we read today in the Gospel passage appointed for her commemoration day; about what will happen when the end of time approaches: There will be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, people will rise up against people, nations against nations; hatred will possess thousands of people…

This hatred first of all crashes down upon those who believe in Christ, because we who believe in Christ—like the Mother of God, like the young, fragile and unconquerable Catherine—believe in the one Lord, the one King, and worship God alone, refusing to worship those idols, be they the authorities or others set up around us. We must be ready to be like Catherine and be brought to human judgment to witness, as Christ says; in order to stand before people, and while condemned to imprisonment, to torture, and death, we would triumphantly preach our love for God and our faithfulness to Him, and demonstrate our unfailing love not only for those who love us, but also for those who hate us, who wish us evil, and who do us evil. Then, we will not need to search for words of wisdom; then, we will not need to find convincing arguments—faithfulness, love, truth, and holiness can shine forth in that moment before people through each one of us far more convincingly than any words.

Therefore, when we see that the prophecies of Christ are now being fulfilled, and love truly is going cold, that there really are rumors noised about wars, kingdom is rising against kingdom, nation against nation, betrayal is increasing, and people of faith, people with pure hearts, even the closest relatives of persecutors and man-haters are giving themselves into their hands, we should remember Christ’s words: When you hear all this, look up, and lift your heads (Lk. 21:28), because it means that the time is nearing of the final freedom, the final victory of God, the triumph of love, the triumph of Christ…

Therefore let us learn from the Most Holy Virgin and the fragile and unconquerable Catherine, and from the innumerable witnesses of Christ, to live without fear in a terrifying world, to fearlessly await all that can happen, and be afraid of only one thing: that faith fade in our hearts, that love die in our hearts, that we would cease to be faithful to the end. In patience, in firm faith we will save our souls from destruction and decay, and then thousands will be saved around us; in the words of St. Seraphim of Sarov: “Acquire the spirit of peace, and thousands will be saved around you.” Amen.
From: Электронная библиотека «Митрополит Антоний Сурожский» http://www.mitras.ru/archive/031207.htm
Translation by OrthoChristian.com

Αικατερίνη η Μεγαλομάρτυς _ Святая Екатерина Александрийская_ St Catherine of AlexandriaΑικατερίνη3Apolytikion of Great Martyr Catherine
Plagal of the First Tone

Let us praise the most auspicious bride of Christ, the divine Katherine, protectress of Sinai, our aid and our help. For, she brilliantly silenced the eloquence of the impious by the sword of the spirit, and now, crowned as a martyr, she asks great mercy for all.

Troparion of the Great Martyr Catherine, in Tone IV—

Thy ewe-lamb Catherine crieth out to Thee with a loud voice, O Jesus: “I love Thee, O my Bridegroom, and, seeking Thee, I pass through many struggles; I am crucified and buried with Thee in Thy baptism, and suffer for Thy sake, that I might reign with Thee; I die for Thee, that I might live with Thee. As an unblemished sacrifice accept me, who sacrifice myself with love for Thee.” By her prayers save Thou our souls, in that Thou art merciful.

Or this troparion, in the same tone—

With thy virtues, as with the rays of the sun, thou didst enlighten the unbelieving philosophers; and, like the most radiant moon shining on those who walk at night, thou didst drive away the darkness of unbelief. Thou didst bring the empress to faith and didst denounce the tyrant, O divinely elect bride. O blessed Catherine, with desire didst thou make haste to the heavenly bridal chamber, to Christ the most comely Bridegroom, and by Him hast thou been crowned with a royal crown. Standing with the angels before Him, do thou pray for us who keep thy most honored memory.

Apolytikion of Great Martyr Mercurius
Fourth Tone

Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion of Great Martyr Catherine
Second Tone

O friends of martyrs, now divinely raise up a renewed chorus, praising the all-wise Katherine. For, she proclaimed Christ in the arena, trampled on the serpent, and spat upon the knowledge of the orators.

Troparion Greatmartyr Catherine of Alexandria— Tone 4

By your virtues as by rays of the sun you enlightened the unbelieving philosophers, / and like the most bright moon you drove away the darkness of disbelief from those walking in the night; / you convinced the queen, and also chastised the tyrant, / God-summoned bride, blessed Catherine. / You hastened with desire to the heavenly bridal chamber of the fairest Bride-groom Christ, / and you were crowned by Him with a royal crown; / standing before Him with the angels, pray for us who keep your most sacred memory.


All of us we possess within ourselves both the rich man and Lazarus. Are we prepared, to follow Christ at all risk? And risk, we know, is great: we will be reviled, we will be laughed at, we will be strangers, people will think that we are tramps on earth, not that we are pilgrims of Heaven; but are we prepared to do this? be real, and then you will be children of the Kingdom. Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

πλουσίου και του φτωχού Λαζάρου-Bogatul-nemilostiv-saracul-Lazar-47521Synaxarion
On October 30, we commemorate the holy martyrs Zenobius and his sister Zenobia of Aegae in Cilicia (285)
On this day we commemorate the holy hieromartyr Marcian, Bishop of Syracuse, a disciple of the Apostle Peter (2nd century)
On this day we commemorate the holy martyrs Alexander, Cronion, Julian, Macarius and thirteen others, of Alexandria. (250
On this day we commemorate the holy martyr Eutropia of Alexandria (250)
On this day we commemorate the holy Apostle Cleopas, as well as our devout father Joseph of Constantinople; and also the holy martyrs Asterius, Claudius, Neon, and their sister Neonilla, of Cilicia (c. 288).
On this day we commemorate the holy Apostles of the Seventy: Tertius; Mark; Justus, who was also called Jesus; and Artemas (1st century)
On this day we commemorate the holy Nine Martyrs who were burned alive.
On this day we commemorate the holy Martyr Manuel.
On this day we commemorate the holy Martyr Dometius of Phrygia, by the sword.
A certain martyred executioner who believed in Christ.
Venerable Therapon, Ascetic and Wonderworker of Lythrodontas, Cyprus (c. 7th century)
On this day we commemorate the holy Virgin-martyr Apollonia of Alexandria the deaconess (parthénos presbytis), and those with her in Alexandria (249)
On this day we commemorate the holy Martyr Marcellus the Centurion of Tangiers (298)
On this day we commemorate the holy Martyrs Claudius, Lupercus, and Victorius of Leon in Spain (c. 300)
Saint Stephen Milutin, King of Serbia (1320), and his brother Dragutin (monk Theoctistus)(1316) and mother Helen (1306)
Saint Jotham Zedginidze near Lake Paravani of Georgia (1465)
On this day we commemorate the holy New Hieromartyr Alexander (Shchukin), Archbishop of Semipalatinsk (1937)
On this day we commemorate the holy Righteous Matushka Paraskeve of Starobelsky Kharkov, Fool-for-Christ (1942)
On this day we commemorate the holy Righteous nun Matushka Alipiya of Kiev (Avdeyeva, 1910– 1988).

5th Sunday of St. Luke
The parable of the rich man and the poor Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)

The parable of the rich man and the poor Lazarus
Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh
5th of November 1989

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

Ο ζητιάνος-The Beggar Нищий уйгур-Исаак_Аскназий_Нищий_в_церквиAs every of Christ’s parables of the judgement today’s parable has got a very simple aspect and at the same time should be reflected on a deeper level.
The simple aspect is this: you have had on earth all that was good, Lazarus has had nothing; he therefore receives in eternity all the goods which he has lacked on earth and you are deprived of it. But this is not the real and deeper meaning of it.
Who is this rich man? It is a man who not only possessed all that the earth could give him: wealth, a good name, a status among his follow-citizens; it is a man who craved for nothing else. All he wanted, all he needed was material wealth, a good standing among men, reverence, admiration, a slavish obedience of those who were under him.

Lazarus possessed nothing; but from the parable we see that he did not complain, he received what the rich man needed not; he ate the crumbs from his table. But — he had a living soul; perhaps did he crave for more: who doesn’t want to have a roof, who doesn’t want to have the security of food? But he received what was given with gratitude.

And when they died, what did they take with them? The rich man had nothing to take because he had never had any concern for anything that the earth couldn’t give. Lazarus had always longed for more than the earth could give: for justice, for peace, for love, for compassion, for human brotherhood — for all those things which make the human being human. The rich man was in condition which is described in one of the prophecies: Israel has grown fat with wealth and has forgotten God… The poor man could do no such thing; he was too poor to be rooted into the earth — he was free.

Now, this applies to all of us; because all of us we possess within ourselves both the rich man and Lazarus. On the one hand, how much we have, how rich we are, how secure, how opulent. On the other hand, if we are here, it means that there is another dimension within our soul that longs for something else. But the question is to be asked: if we had to choose — what we would choose? What is what we really treasure? Is it security which the earth so far has given us — or is it the vastness, the depth of understanding, communion with God, love of our neighbour, compassion — so many other things which the Gospel has taught us?

And this is where the parable refers not only to two men of the past, or to others than we are, it refers to us personally: who am I, — or if you prefer, which is more fair — who predominates in me? Am I more like the rich man, so rooted into the earth that the things of God, the things of the spirit, the things of eternity, or simply, what is truly human comes secondly — or am I one of those for whom what to be human matters more than anything?

And then, there is another thing in the parable. The rich man, seeing himself devoid of all, of every thing turns to Abraham and says, Send Lazarus to my brothers who are still on earth to give them a warning, that they may not come to this place of torment… And Christ says, Even if one came back from the dead, if they have not listened to what has been revealed in the past, they will not believe, they will perish in their sin…

How, that echoes in a tragic way with the situation in which people were when they stood as a milling crowd around the Cross on which Christ was dying. Some were believers, His own people — but where were they? They had fled. Some were His disciples faithful at the core of their being, faithful with their hearts, the women who had followed Him — they stood at a distance; only the Mother of God and John stood by the Cross.

But in the crowd there were such who, together with the High Priest, the Pharisees who had condemned Christ, were saying: Descend now from the Cross — and we shall believe… How many thought: If He only did that, we could believe without taking any risk, believe with security, safely; believe and follow One Who had already won His victory; but can we, can we possibly believe and follow One Who now, defeated, reviled, rejected hangs on the Cross between two criminals? We can’t…

That is what the parable says; and which is shown in the life of so many.

Where do we stand? Are we prepared to believe Christ’s word? Are we prepared, captured by the beauty, the ineffable, the unutterable beauty of Christ’s personality to follow Him at all risk? And risk, we know, is great: we will be reviled, we will be laughed at, we will be strangers, people will think that we are tramps on earth, not that we are pilgrims of Heaven; but are we prepared to do this?

We must give thought to these two aspects of the parable; because otherwise it is irrelevant, it has nothing to do with us — and yet, so much it has!

Let us think of it, deeply, standing judgement before it. God does not judge us in order to condemn. God presents us with reality and asks of us only one thing: Respond to reality! Do not accept a world which is a mirage! Do not accept yourself while you remain a mirage: be real, and then you will be children of the Kingdom.

And what can be greater: brothers and sisters of Christ, sons and daughters of the Living God; and messengers — messengers of God on earth. Can we hope for anything greater? And yet — this is what is offered to each and all of us! What a wonder, what a joy! How can we turn away from this? Amen.

O, Omnipotent Lord, boundless is Your wisdom in the economy of Your creation. Illumine us by Your Holy Spirit that we may marvel at that economy and, with reverence and love, gaze upon all of Your creation, gazing upon them through You.

Matushka Alipiya of Kiev, a spiritual ascetic of our times

Μακάριοι οι ελεήμονες..QZ7KbuFX4fUApolytikion. For the Martyrs.
Mode 4. Come quickly.

Your Martyrs, O Lord, were worthily awarded by You * the crowns of incorruption, in that they contested for You our immortal God. * Since they possessed Your power, they defeated the tyrants, * dashing the demons’ powerless displays of defiance. * O Christ God, at their fervent entreaties, save our souls.

Troparion of Martyrs Zenobius and Zenobia
— Tone 4

As brother and sister united in godliness together you struggled in contest, Zenobius and Zenobia. / You received incorruptible crowns / and unending glory / and shine forth with the grace of healing upon those in the world.

Apolytikion of ST Apollonia
― Plagal Tone 1

Enduring the rooting out of your teeth and the crushing of your jaw, revered Apollonia, elect Virgin Martyr, you delivered your divine body to the fire, that you may receive the pleasure of the divine dew in the bridal chamber and the grace to banish the pain and affliction of the teeth.

Apolytikion of the Blessed Parasceva Fool-for-Christ, of Starobelsky
(Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

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

Apolytikion of the holy Righteous nun Matushka Alipiya of Kiev
(Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

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

Can I say to the Lord, ‘I believe, Lord — help my lack of belief… Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

Σταυρός_ Holy-Cross_Крест Господня_20_4Synaxarion.
On July 31, we commemorate Saint Joseph of Aremathea, who buried Christ the Master, reposed in peace.
On this day Saint Evdokimos the righteous of Cappadocia, Military Commander of Cappadocia (9th century)
On this day twelve holy Martyrs of Rome died by the sword.
On this day we commemorate the consecration of the venerable house of our most holy Lady Theotokos, which is in Blachernae, and where her holy Shrine is located.
Also, it is the forefeast of the precious and life-giving Cross, namely when it is brought out of the imperial Palace into the city.
Saint Germanus of Auxerre, Bishop of Auxerre in Gaul (448)
Saint Calimerius, a Greek who became Bishop of Milan in Italy, Apostle of the Po Valley (c. 190)
Saint John the Exarch of Bulgaria (c. 917-927)
Saint Arsenius Bishop of Ninotsminda in Georgia (1082)
Translation of the relics of Apostle Philip to Cyprus.

Seventh Sunday of Matthew 
Healing of the Two Blind Men (Matthew 9:27-35)

On healing (Ματθ. 9, 27-35)
Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh
Sunday 22 July 1990

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

Τυφλού-Vindecarea-orbului-15In today’s Gospel we hear about two occasions on which Christ healed the sick. And we may ask ourselves, ‘Why didn’t He heal everyone who was in need of healing?’
Because — this is how I read it — because it is not only the healing of the body that was involved in the miraculous act of God; those were healed in their bodies who were ready, mature to be made whole and not only free from physical illness, who were prepared and capable for being given a wholeness that at the same time made them responsible for the gift of health. The natural life which they have had before was wane; illness was undermining all that nature has given them; the end was death, and here, they met the Living God. The Living God Who had by His word of power, but also by His act of love called them into the existence. And they were prepared, they were inwardly ready to receive a new life. The natural life had come to an end, or was coming to an end, and now, a new life was offered, a life which was a gift of God, and a gift of God that entailed a completely new relationship between them and God, between them and all the surrounding world; a new relationship with themselves, a new attitude to themselves. Those who were healed were prepared to receive new life, for the second time, as it were, to be born by the power of God.

I believe, it is everyone who longed not only for physical healing, not only for a new strength to continue to live according to nature that could be healed. The Lord asks from them two questions; the one which we hear in today’s Gospel, and the other one which we hear more than once in other passages. Today we have heard this question, ‘Can you believe, do you believe? Do you believe that My compassion extends to you? Do you believe that I can heal you because you have seen in Me Who I am: the Living God become a living Man? Do you believe that you can be made whole, not only temporarily repaired, but given the wholeness of eternal life now? If you do, however little — you can. ‘I believe, Lord, help my unbelief, my lack of belief!’ And the Lord said, ‘If you can believe however little — it is possible’.

And the other question was, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ It seems to us such a strange question: who doesn’t?.. Yes, if it was only a matter of being restored to physical health it would be simple; everyone would say ‘yes’. But it is wholeness that is at stake; and wholeness means to become a human being in perfect harmony with God, in harmony with one’s neighbour, with the created world, restructured inwardly as to be whole.

And this, it is not everyone of us who wishes, because the cost, if we think of it, is great; to accept this wholeness, we must accept a life that would be in the image of the life of Christ: to be among men as He was, with no thought of Himself, ready to accept all humiliation, ready to accept all suffering, all rejection, and humiliate no one, protect oneself against no suffering and reject no one; to receive all brothers without exception as Christ receives us. And who of us can claim that he is worthy of being received, of being recognised by Christ, by God in Him, as His brother or sister?

Let us therefore ask ourselves: Can we answer these two questions? Can I say to the Lord, ‘I believe, Lord — help my lack of belief, my inner hesitation born of the experience I have of a broken personality and of a distorted world. Help me believe that wholeness and harmony a r e possible!’

But also, let us ask ourselves whether we are prepared to accept new life, wholeness on God’s own terms: to remain in this world as Christ lived in it, possessed of sacrificial love, renouncing ourselves, caring only for the other person’s salvation, and every other person’s life. If we are, then we turn to God and say, I believe, Lord; I open myself to wholeness: I may not achieve it at once, but I will struggle for it, give all m y life for it, and serve everyone possessed of Thine Own sacrificial love. Amen.


Γερμανός της Auxerre, Γαλλία St Germanus the Bishop of Auxerre08+St+Germanos+Blesses+St.+Genevieve.-700pxSt Germanus the Bishop of Auxerre

While the two bishops were on the island, the Britons were being harassed by Picts and Saxons. The Britons invited the two bishops to their camp, hoping that their prayers and presence would help them. While agreeing, Germanus and Lupus spent their time bringing the pagans to Christ and the Christians to reforming their lives. At Pascha, many catechumens were received into the Church. After the Pascha, Germanus, not forgetting his old profession as a general, made recourse to a strategy to save his faithful from the advancing Saxons. He led his small army to a valley between two mountains, and there, directed his men to shout forth with the same call they had made during the Paschal feast. As the Saxons approached them, Bp. Germanus cried out three times “Alleluiah” which was repeated by the whole Briton force. The sound reverberated from hills with a dreaded sound of falling rocks, causing the barbarians, in fright, to flee leaving all their arms and baggage behind.

My spirit required eternal life, and eternity. Lord, strengthen the faith in us and have mercy on us. St. Sophrony the Anthonite

St Germanus the Bishop of Auxerre discerned a special divine purpose for St. Geneviève of Paris

Resurrectional Apolytikion.
Mode pl. 2.

When the angelic powers appeared at Your grave, the soldiers guarding it feared and became as dead. And standing by the sepulcher was Mary who was seeking Your immaculate body. You devastated Hades, not afflicted by it. You went to meet the virgin, and granted eternal life. You resurrected from the dead. O Lord, glory to You.

Troparion of the Forefeast, Tone 1.

O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant Thou unto Orthodox Christians victories over adversaries, and by Thy Cross preserve Thy people.

Troparion of St Joseph of Arimathea ― Tone 2

Noble Joseph took Thine immaculate Body down from the tree,/ wrapped It in a clean shroud and spices,/ and having embalmed It, laid It in a new sepulcher./ But on the third day Thou didst rise, O Lord,/ granting the world great mercy.

Apolytikion of St Germanus of Auxerre ― Plagal Tone 4

By endurance you gained your reward, venerable Father, you persevered in prayer unceasingly, you loved the poor and provided for them in all things. Blessed Germanus of Auxerre, intercede with Christ God that our souls may be saved.

Troparion of St Eudocimus, Tone 4.

He who did call thee from earth unto heaven keepeth thy body unharmed after death, holy Eudocimus; for thou didst live a sober and holy life and didst not defile thy flesh; so with boldness intercede with Christ that we may be saved.

Kontakion. Grave Mode.

Upon the mountain were You transfigured, and Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they were able, O Christ our God; so that when they would see You crucified they might understand that Your Passion was deliberate, and declare to the world that in truth You are the Father’s radiance.

The Gospel according to Matthew 9:27-35

At that time, as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, “See that no one knows it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.
As they were going away, behold, a dumb demoniac was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marvelled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” 
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.

Let us pray to the Samaritan woman to teach us, to guide us, to bring us to Christ in the way in which she came, and to serve Him in the way in which she served Him, being the salvation of all who were around her. Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

Φωτεινή η Σαμαρείτιδα_Святой Фотини or Светлана рядом с древней _ St. Photine the Samaritan Woman _0facb4007a6b2616_LΧριστός ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
ХристосВоскрес! Воистину Воскрес!
ქრისტეაღსდგა! ჭეშმარიტადაღსდგა!
«Rejoice!» «Peace be unto you!»

Synaxarion From the Menaion.
On May 22 we commemorate the holy Martyr Basiliskos, nephew of Saint Theodore the Tyro.
On this day we also commemorate the holy Second Ecumenical Synod, which convened in the year 381, and which deposed Macedonius who said that the Holy Spirit was not God.
The holy Martyr Marcellus died when he was made to swallow molten lead
The holy Martyr Codrus died when he was dragged by horses.
Martyr Sophia the Healer.
Saint Kali of Asia Minor (c. 14th century)
Saint John Vladimir, the king and wonderworker, died by the sword.
The new holy Hieromartyr Zacharias of Prusa died by hanging.
Venerable Monk-martyr Paul of Mt. Athos, at Tripolis, Peloponnesus
Synaxis of the Cyprus Icon (“Sophianois” Icon) of the Most Holy Mother of God.

Synaxarion From the Pentecostarion.
On this day, the fifth Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the feast of the Samaritan Woman.

Coming to fetch her fleeting water, a woman
The living water draws, by which You wash her soul’s sordes.
By the intercessions of Your Martyr Photini, O Christ our God, have mercy on us. Amen.

Sermon for the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
by Metropolitan Anthony Sourozh
8 May 1988

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

Φωτεινή Σαμαρειτιδα_ άγιος Νικόλαος ορφανός-234536547The Holy Gospel has not given us the name of the Samaritan woman. But the Tradition of the Church remembers, and calls her in Greek – Photini, in Russian – Svetlana, in the Celtic languages – Fiona, in Western languages – Claire. And all these names speak to us of one thing – of light.

Having met the Lord Jesus Christ she has become a light shining in the world, a light that enlightens those who meet her. Every Saint is offered us as an example; but we cannot always emulate the concrete ways in which a Saint lived, we cannot always repeat their way from earth to heaven. But we can learn from each of them two things. The one is that by the grace of God we can achieve what seems humanly impossible; that is, to become a person in the image and likeness of God, to be – in this world of darkness and tragedy which is in the power of lies – a word of truth, a sign of hope, the certainty that God can conquer if we only allow Him access to our souls. Because if the Kingdom of God is not established within us, if God is not enthroned in our minds and hearts, a fire that destroys everything unworthy of ourselves and of Him, we cannot spread God’s light around.

And the second thing which the Saints can teach us is to understand the message which their names convey to us. And today’s Samaritan woman speaks of light. Christ has said that He is the Light of the world, the light that enlightens all men; and we are called to give shelter within our souls, minds and hearts – indeed, within our whole self – to this light; so that the word spoken by Christ, “Let your light so shine before all men, that seeing your good deeds they may give glory to your Father who is in heaven”, may be fulfilled and accomplished in and through us.

It is only through seeing our deeds, through seeing how we live that people can believe that the light is God’s light; it is not in our words, unless they are words of truth and of power like those of the Apostles, or of Christ Himself indeed. And let us reflect, each of us, on the meaning of our name and on the way in which we can become what we are called.

The Samaritan woman came to the well without any spiritual purpose; she came, as she came daily, to fetch water – and she met Christ. Each of us may meet our God at any turn in our life, when we are about our most homely tasks, if our hearts are turned in the right direction, if we are prepared to receive a message, to listen; indeed – to ask questions! Because the Samaritan woman asked a question of Christ, and what she heard transcended her question in such a way that she recognised in Him a prophet, and later – the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

But the light must not be pushed under a bushel. Having discovered that the Light had come into the world, that the word of divine truth was resounding now amidst men, that God was among us, she left behind all concerns and ran to share the joy, the wonder of what she had discovered with others. She brought her fellow-citizens to Christ. She told them first why she believed; and when perhaps curiosity, or the convincing power of her words, and the change that had occurred in her brought them to Christ, they saw for themselves and said to her, It is no longer because of what you say that we believe – we have seen, we have heard.

And this is what the Samaritan woman teaches all of us: be open at every moment of life, while we are busy with the simplest things, to receive the divine word, to be illumined by the divine light, to be cleansed by His purity, to receive it in the depths of our souls, receive it with all our life, so that people seeing what we have become may believe that the light has come into the world.

Let us pray to the Samaritan woman to teach us, to guide us, to bring us to Christ in the way in which she came, and to serve Him in the way in which she served Him, being the salvation of all who were around her. And may the blessing of God be upon you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, now and forever and world without end! Amen.

http://www.mitras.ru/eng/eng_116.htmΦωτεινή η Σαμαρείτιδα_Святой Фотини or Светлана рядом с древней _ St. Photine the Samaritan Woman _5453841632_6e42f1b919_bSunday of the Samaritan woman, nothing can fill us, because man is too deep for things material, too vast – only God can fill this vastness and this depth. Anthony (Bloom) Metropolitan of Sourozh

O wondrous path of little things, I sing thee a hymn! St. John Maximovitch

In Spirit and in Truth, Fr. John Breck

Apolytikion of the Feast.
Mode pl. 4.

O Lord, midway through the feast, give drink to my thirsty soul from the living waters of right belief. You, O Savior, proclaimed to everyone, “Let whoever is thirsty come to Me and drink.” You are the fountain of life, O Christ our God. Glory to You!

For the Samaritan Woman. From Pentecostarion
Idiomelon. Mode 1.

The Well of wonders came to the well, to salvage the daughter of Eve. It was about the sixth hour, the same time of day that Eve had exited Paradise, beguiled by the serpent. So the woman of Samaria came to draw water. Seeing her, the Savior said to her, “Give me a drink of water, and I will fill you with water welling up to eternal life.” Then that wise woman ran back to the city, and she said to the people at once, “Come and see Christ the Lord, the Savior of our souls!”

Glory. From Pentecostarion
Mode pl. 2.

Beside Jacob’s well sat Jesus, where He found the Samaritan woman; and He asked her for water, He being the One who covers the earth with clouds. How amazing! He who rides on the Cherubim conversed with a promiscuous woman. He who suspended the earth in the waters was asking for water. He who pours out fountains and pools was requesting a drink of water. He truly wanted to get her back, since she had been caught by the hostile enemy; He wanted to give her a drink of the water of life, since she was dreadfully aflame in her offenses, as the only compassionate Lord who loves humanity.

Lauds. Glory
Mode pl. 2.

The Well of life’s source, Jesus our Savior, came to the well of Jacob the Patriarch, and He asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. When she objected that a Jew would have no dealings with her, the wise Creator diverts her attention with His sweet words, and gets her to ask instead for the eternal water. When she had received it, she proclaimed it to all, saying, “Come and see the Knower of things hidden; He is God, and He has come in the flesh to save humanity.”

Do not be afraid of anything!.. once I was dead but now, I am alive. Through the intercessions of St. George the Great-martyr, the Trophy-bearer and St. Martyr Polychronia mother of St. George the Trophy-bearer and our mother, O Lord, Eternal and Immortal, allow these holy words of Yours to ring in the souls of Your faithful always whenever a persecution is raised up against Your Holy Church that, holding on to Your right hand, we may not be afraid.

ΑΝΑΣΤΑΣΗ ΤΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ_Holy Resurrection of Jesus Christ_Воскресение Иисуса Христа_56929.bxchrist-the-conqueror-of-0Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
ХристосВоскрес! Воистину Воскрес!
Kristus (ir) augšāmcēlies! Patiesi viņš ir augšāmcēlies!
ქრისტეაღსდგა! ჭეშმარიტადაღსდგა!
Le Christ est ressuscité! Vraiment Il est ressuscité!
Hristos a înviat! Adevărat a înviat!
Cristo ha resucitado! Verdaderamente, ha resucitado!
Isa dirildi! Hakikaten dirildi!

St. George the Great-martyr,the Trophy-bearer and St. Martyr Polychronia mother of St. George the Trophy-bearer

Commemorated on 23 April – If April 23 falls on or before Great and Holy Pascha, the Feast of St. George is translated to Bright Monday.

George, cutting down all his foes in battles,
Is gladly cut down of his foes by beheading.
On the twenty-third George’s neck was seized
by the brazen blade.

Hymn of Praise
Saint George the Great Martyr
by St Nikolai Velimirovich

Άγιος Γεώργιος ο Τροπαιοφόρος _Saint George the Trophy-bearer_ Святой Георгий Победоносец_წმინდა გიორგი გმირავს_ΟΡΘΙΟςSaint George on a tall horse
Saved the maiden from the dragon,
On his lance, the sign of the Cross,
Holy weapon, invincible,
With that weapon, the dragon he slayed,
The spared maiden, to the father he returned,
With his goodness, he indebted God Himself
With a wreath of glory, God repaid him.

Saint George with a hero’s heart,
All wealth, he distributed to the poor,
Rejected the honor and glory of the world
For the sake of the Name of Christ, the Victor,
Sufferings he embraced; sufferings willingly,
His body crushed for the salvation of the soul,
With his goodness, he indebted God Himself,
With a wreath of glory, God repaid him.

George, the Saint and Victor-bearer
Even now walks with the cross on his lance,
Justice he defends, injustice he punishes,
Whoever invokes him with faith and tears,
Whoever prays to him with a repenting soul,
George, the Saint flies to his aid.
With his goodness, he indebted God Himself,
With a wreath of glory, God repaid him
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by St Nikolai Velimirovich


About the First and Last who lives
Saint Nikolai Velimirovich of Ohrid

“Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead ,but now I am alive forever and ever” (Revelation 1:17-18).

Γεώργιος ο Τροπαιοφόρος _Saint George the Trophy-bearer_ Святой Георгий Победоносец_წმინდა გიორგი გმირავს_8384472164_644d7f_oThus says the Lord Jesus to His beloved disciple John in a vision on the island of Patmos.
Do not be afraid of what!
Do not be afraid of the persecution of the Church by the pagans. Do not be afraid of the tormentors who persecute my faithful on all sides.
Do not be afraid of emperors who raise up persecutions against the Christians.
Do not be afraid of powerful tyrants of this world who mock and ridicule My humility in My death.
Do not be afraid of demons who blind men with passions so that they can’t see the truth which I brought to the world.

Do not be afraid of anything!
How could I not be afraid, O Lord!, Why then should we not be afraid when the entire world is armed to the tooth and assembled against us who are small in number and unarmed?

Do not be afraid for I am the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega. All of those forces armed against you are nothing but a whirlwind of the dead. I am before time and I am after time; before the beginning of all and after the end of all things that were created, I Am! They are all locked in one span of time that I measured out to every created thing and outside of this span of time, they cannot extend.

Do not be afraid, once I was dead but now, I am alive.”
Do not be afraid, not even of death. I am before death and after death. Death is my servant and I permit my servant to serve me in the world. I gave myself up to my servant for three days and ordered him to release me and “now, I am alive.” I am the Master of death as well as of life. I am the Master of time as well as of eternity.
Do not be afraid! “I am alive forever and ever.” And you will be alive with Me. All they who remain faithful to Me and are not afraid will live with Me. “Do not be afraid, I am the Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 1:8).

O Lord, Eternal and Immortal, allow these holy words of Yours to ring in the souls of Your faithful always whenever a persecution is raised up against Your Holy Church that, holding on to Your right hand, we may not be afraid.

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


Sermon for St. George’s day
Anthony Bloom (Metropolitan of Sourozh)
May 3, 1981

Γεώργιος ο Τροπαιοφόρος_St George the Trophy-bearer_Св Георгий Победоносец_წმინდა გიორგი გ-0123333We are keeping this week the feast of St. George, the patron saint of this country, and this is why I want to say a few words in English instead of preaching in Russian as I always do.

When you look at an icon of St. George you see a man who had the courage, the daring, to confront evil not for his own sake, but for the sake of something greater than he, to confront it face to face at the cost, the possible cost, of his own life. The icons of St. George show us the great knight fighting the dragon, while at the gate of her palace the maiden whom he wishes to save, stands waiting either for his victory or her shame and death. Each of us has got within himself something of which this pure maiden could be a symbol: our integrity, our purity, our uprightness, our wholeness and so many other things that make us akin to the living God. And against all these things the powers of evil are unleashed like the dragon of the icon, ready to devour all this beauty so that nothing is left but death, destruction and defeat — not for us alone, but for God. And within each of us there is the greatness and the generosity, the noble spirit of knighthood that can be aroused to fight for all that is pure, all that is noble, all that is great, both for the sake of its own beauty and for the sake of the Lord to whom it belongs as a bride belongs to the beloved and pure bridegroom.

This image of St. George is a call to all of us: evil is rife, evil is not only rampant around us, it is within us, trying to conquer all beauty and wholeness, and we are called to enter into this fight, to fight that evil be defeated, not only for our own sake, not only for God’s sake, but also for the sake of all those whom evil may poison and destroy. Let us look at this icon, mentally at least if we have not got one actually, in the course of this week and ask ourselves: what is there in us which is standing at the door of the king’s palace, at the gates of the Kingdom of God, ready to enter it if only it be freed from the fetters to which evil has subjected it, if only it would be safe from the destruction which evil is attempting to cast upon it. Let us also look at the evil in us and take a stand like the good knight St. George did, and whether it costs us our life, or whether it costs the defeat of evil, let us enter into the arena, let us fight, and may all that is holy, all that is beautiful, great and noble in us be protected, saved, freed, and enter into the palace, into the Kingdom of the living God who is waiting for us with so much love, so much faith, with a hope unshaken. Amen.
Newsletter ¹ 131 1981 May

St. George the Trophy-bearer, intercede for us all and help us! Pray to God for us! Pray that we labor in the fast with joy, and let God’s light illumine our hearts. Pray that we can learn to live out our Christian vocation in all times and places, and in all circumstances. Through the intercessions of St. George the Great-martyr, the Trophy-bearer and St. Martyr Polychronia mother of St. George the Trophy-bearer and our mother, O Lord, have mercy on us and save us! Amen.

Πολυχρονία,μητρὸς Ἁγ. Γεωργίου-Мученица Полихронии мать св вмч Георгий Победоносец- St. Polychronia mother of St. George the Trophy-bearer24._2_Apolytikion of Great-martyr George the Trophy-bearer: Fourth Tone

Liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, O trophy-bearer, Great Martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Great-martyr George the Trophy-bearer (April 23)

Let us praise with hymns our most fervent guide, * guardian, and protector, * and quick helper in all distress, * the glory of the martyrs, * and caster-down of idols; * and let us cry out unto him: * Rejoice, O Great-martyr George!

Kontakion: Fourth Tone

Cultivated by God, you became manifest as an honorable tiller gathering for yourself the sheaves of virtue. For you sowed with tears but reaped with gladness; in the contest you competed with your blood and came away with Christ. By your intercessions, O Holy One, all are granted forgiveness of sins.

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.

stichera to the Great Martyr, in Tone IV
Spec. Mel.: “As valiant among the martyrs …”:

O passion-bearer George, * converser with the angels, * dweller with the martyrs, * who art ever the refuge of the sorrowful: * Be thou a haven of tranquility! * Preserve me as I sail upon the sea of life, * and pilot my life, I implore thee, * that with unwavering faith I may bless * thy supernatural struggles.

As I sleep at night; * and when I am awake * illumine my mind, O George, * and instruct me to do the will of the Lord, * that on the day of Judgment * I may find remission of the sins I have committed in my life, * by fleeing to thy protection, O glorious one.

Arrayed in the breastplate of faith, * armed with the shield of grace * and the spear of the Cross, * thou wast invincible to the adversary, O George. * And as a divine warrior, * having conquered legions of demons, * thou dost hold chorus with the angels, * and, entreated by the faithful, * thou dost sanctify and save them, preserving them,

AS I voyage upon the sea, * as I journey o’er hill and plain, * as I sleep throughout the night, do thou keep me safe! * As I wake do thou rescue me, all‐blessed Great Martyr George; deem me worthy to perform * every day the Lord’s holy will, * so that I may find * in the day of dread judgment the remission of all sins that in my lifetime * I have wrought, who now flee unto thee.

Glory …, in Tone VI:

Thou didst live in accordance with the meaning of thy name, as is meet, O warrior George; for, taking the Cross of Christ upon thy shoulders, thou didst work well the ground which had been made barren by the deceit of the devil, and, having uprooted the thorns of idolatrous worship, thou didst plant the vine of the Orthodox Faith. Wherefore, thou dost pour forth healings upon the faithful throughout all the world, and hast been shown to be a righteous laborer of the Trinity. Pray thou, we entreat thee, for peace for the world and the salvation of our souls.

Glory to the Lauds of St George
Glory. Plagal of First Tone, By Theophanes

Spring hath shined forth as the dawn; come, let us celebrate. The Resurrection of Christ hath appeared in splendour, come, let us be glad. The memorial of the prizewinner hath been revealed, making the faithful bright with joy. Come, therefore, O feast lovers, let us mystically keep the festival; for this man, as a good soldier, bravely defied the tyrants and put them to shame, becoming an imitator of Christ the Saviour’s Passion. Unto his own clay vessel he showed no mercy, but cast it naked into the forge, transforming it by means of torments. Let us cry out to him: O prizewinner George, make entreaty that our souls be saved.

Both now. Mode pl. 1d.

It is the day of the Resurrection. Let us shine brightly for the festival, and also embrace one another. Brethren, let us say even to those who hate us, “Let us forgive everything for the Resurrection.” And thus let us cry aloud, “Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted life.”
Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted life. (2)

What will be happening during these days is not a dead remembrance of something that happened some time ago; it is an event that resides in the heart of our days, and on it our world and our life is founded and built. How I wish, your Godliness, that in this life you may always be in the All-Holy Spirit of God! St Seraphim of Sarov – Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh

Ιησούς Χριστός παρθενες_Jesus-Christ ten virgins_Господне Иисус-Христос Притча о десяти девах-Byzantine Orthodox Icon_4c47 ΠΑΡΘΕΝΕΣ 99On great and holy Tuesday, we commemorate the parable of the ten virgins from the holy Gospel.

The greatest of Tuesdays points to the Ten Virgins,
Who point to the victory of the impartial Master.

“We must have the determination to overcome temptations comparable to the sorrows of the first Christians. All the witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection were martyred. We should be ready to endure any hardship.”St. Elder Sophrony of Essex

St Seraphim of Sarov
on the Parable of the Ten Virgins

“In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, when the foolish ones ran short of oil, they were told: “Go and buy in the market.” But when they had bought it, the door of the bride-chamber was already shut and they could not get in. Some say that the lack of oil in the lamps of the foolish virgins means a lack of good deeds in their lifetime. Such an interpretation is not quite correct. Why should they be lacking in good deeds, if they are called virgins, even though foolish ones? Virginity is the supreme virtue, an angelic state, and it could take the place of all other good works.

“I think that what they were lacking was the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God. These virgins practiced the virtues, but in their spiritual ignorance they supposed that the Christian life consisted merely in doing good works. By doing a good deed they thought they were doing the work of God, but they cared little whether they acquired the grace of God’s Spirit. These ways of life, based merely on doing good, without carefully testing whether they bring the grace of the Spirit of God, are mentioned in the patristic books: “There is another way which is deemed good in the beginning, but ends at the bottom of hell.”

“Anthony the Great in his letters to monks says of such virgins: “Many monks and virgins have no idea of the different kinds of will which act in man, and they do not know that we are influenced by three wills: the first is God’s all-perfect and all-saving will; the second is our own human will which, if not destructive, neither is it saving; and the third will is the devil’s will – wholly destructive.” This third will of the enemy prompts man to do any no good deeds, or to do them good out of vanity, or merely for virtue’s sake rather than for Christ’s sake. The second, our own will, prompts us to do everything to flatter our passions, or else it teaches us like the enemy, to do good for the sake of good and not care for the grace which is acquired by it. But the first, God’s all-saving will, consists in doing good solely to acquire the Holy Spirit, as an eternal, inexhaustible treasure which is priceless. The acquisition of the Holy Spirit is, in a manner of speaking, the oil, which the foolish virgins lacked. They were called foolish just because they had forgotten the necessary fruit of virtue, the grace of the Holy Spirit, , without which no one is or can be saved, for: “Through the Holy Spirit every soul is quickened and through purification is exalted and illumined by the Triune Unity in a Holy mystery.”

ΠΑΡΑΔΕΙΣΟΣ-παράδεισος_kingdom of God-Царство Божие (Небесное)1-Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon28e4ce05b288c28671889“The oil in the lamps of the wise virgins could burn brightly for a long time. So these virgins, with their bright lamps were able to meet the Bridegroom, who came at midnight. With Him, they could enter the bridal chamber of joy. But the foolish ones, though they went to market to buy more oil, when their lamps were going out, were unable to return in time, for the door was already shut. The market is our life; the door of the bridal chamber, which was shut and barred the way to the Bridegroom is human death; the wise and foolish virgins are Christian souls; the oil is not the good deeds, but the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God which is obtained through good deeds and which changes souls from one state to another – such as, from a corruptible state to incorruptible state, from spiritual death to spiritual life, from darkness to light, from the stable of our being (where the passions are tied up like dumb animals and wild beasts) into a temple of the Divinity, the shining bridal chamber of eternal joy in Christ Jesus our Lord, the Creator, Redeemer and eternal Bridegroom of our souls.

“How great is God’s compassion on our misery, that is to say, our inattention to His care for us, when God says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Rev. 3:20), meaning by “door” the course of our life which has not yet been closed by death! Oh, how I wish, your Godliness, that in this life you may always be in the Spirit of God! “In whatsoever I find you, in that will I judge you,” says the Lord.
“Woe betide us if He finds us overcharged with the cares and sorrows of this life! For who will be able to bear His anger, who will bear the wrath of His countenance? That is why it has been said: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Mk. 14:38), that is, lest you be deprived of the Spirit of God, for watching and prayer brings us His grace.
“Of course, every good deed done for Christ’s sake gives us the grace of the Holy Spirit, but prayer gives us this grace most of all, for it is always at hand, as an instrument for acquiring the grace of the Spirit. For instance, you would like to go to church, but there is no church or the service is over; you would like to give alms to a beggar, but there isn’t one, or you have nothing to give; you would like to preserve your virginity, but you have not the strength to do so because of your temperament, or because of the violence of the wiles of the enemy which because of your human weakness you cannot withstand; you would like to do some other good deed for Christ’s sake, but either you have not the strength or the opportunity is lacking. This certainly does not apply to prayer. Prayer is always possible for everyone, rich and poor, noble and humble, strong and weak, healthy and sick, righteous and sinful…

“You see, your Godliness! Great is the power of prayer, and it brings most of all the Spirit of God, and is most easily practiced by everyone. We shall be happy indeed if the Lord God finds us watchful and filled with the gifts of His Holy Spirit. Then we may boldly hope “to be caught up . . . in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17) Who is coming “with great power and glory” (Mk. 13:26) “to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5) and “to reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27).
Here is a passage from St Seraphim of Sarov’s conversation with Nicholas Motovilov in which he interprets the parable of the ten virgins

Σεραφείμ προσεύχεται με τις αδελφές του Mill του μοναστηριού. sv.-prp.-Marfa-Diveevskaya-3On Passion Week
Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

We are entering into difficult days today: days when we recall the Passion of Christ; days when it will be difficult for us to come to church and endure long services, to pray. Many ask themselves: is there any point in coming to services when we are so physically tired, when our thoughts are flying here and there, when we have no inner concentration and true participation in what is going on?

Remember what happened during the days of Christ’s Passion: how many people there were—both good and terrible people, who would have given anything to break away from the horror and exhaustion of those days. Those who were close to Christ—how their hearts were torn, how their last strength both physical and emotional was wearing thin during the course of these few, but terrible days… How hundreds of people, to be sure, would have liked to break away from this week, to be free of what was happening: free from the wrath, the fear, and the horrors.

But life would not let them escape it. The Most Pure Virgin Theotokos could not run anywhere from the Lord’s Passion; neither could the Lord’s disciples hide from their terror, even in those moments when fear conquered them and they tried to hide themselves from the people’s wrath. Neither could Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea, Christ’s secret disciples, or the true and faithful myrrh-bearing women escape anywhere… There was nowhere to go because terror abode in their hearts; because terror enveloped them both within and without. And those who hatefully, stubbornly, and wrathfully strove to accomplish Christ’s murder also had nowhere to hide from this.

Ιησούς Χριστός παρθενες_Jesus-Christ ten virgins_Господне Иисус-Христос Притча о десяти девах-Byzantine Orthodox Icon_4c47bdih4478So when you remember this, won’t you find a place in church during the course of these terrible days? Their thoughts also raced, their hearts also went cold, and their strength also failed them; but they lived through these events. And what will be happening during these days is not a dead remembrance of something that happened some time ago; it is an event that resides in the heart of our days, and on it our world and our life is founded and built.

Therefore, no matter what we experience, or no matter how little we experience, let us attend these services, let us immerse ourselves in what they have to say to us. We will not try to forcibly squeeze some feelings out of ourselves: it is enough to watch; it is enough to hear. Let the events themselves—for these are events and not just memories—break us in body and soul. Then, when we forget ourselves and think rather of Christ, about what is really taking place during these days, we will reach also that Great Saturday when Christ is laid to rest in the tomb—and we also will find rest. When at night we hear the announcement of the Resurrection, we too will be able to suddenly come alive from that terrible numbness, from that terrible death of Christ, from Christ’s dying, of which we shall partake at least a little during these days of the Passion. Amen
Translation by OrthoChristian.com

For that little that the faithful endure in this life out of obedience to God, and as a small effort for their souls, God will crown them with glory such as the kings of this world have neither known nor imagined. St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Hymns Great and Holy Tuesday
Tone 4

You have heard the condemnation, O soul, Of the man who hid his talent. Do not hide the Word of God. Proclaim His wonders, That increasing the gift of grace, You may enter into the joy of Your Lord.

Mode pl. 4.

Verse: My spirit rises early in the morning to You, O God, for Your commands are a light upon the earth.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia

Verse: Learn righteousness, you who dwell on the earth.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia

Verse: Jealousy will seize an untaught people; and now fire will devour the adversaries.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia

Verse: Bring more evils on them, O Lord, bring more evils on them, on the glorious of the earth.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia

Kathisma II.
Mode 4. Joseph marveled

Motivated by their fierce * envy, the priests and the scribes, * came together and convened * a lawless council against You, * and they incited Judas to betray You. * Shamelessly he went to them, O Savior, and spoke, * vilifying You to men who kept not the Law; * and he conferred with them and said, “What will you give me * if I deliver Him into your hands?” * O Lord, deliver our souls, we pray You, * from the betrayer’s condemnation.

The Canon. By Cosmas the Monk.
Ode viii. Mode 2. Heirmos.

The three righteous Servants did not obey* the impious decree of the tyrant. * And they were cast into the furnace’s fire, * where they stood confessing God, * and they sang, “Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord.”

Mode 3. Automelon.

O my Savior, now I see * Your wedding hall decorated, * and I have not the garment * needed for me to enter it. * Make this raiment of my soul brightly shine, * O Giver-of-Light, and save me.

Tone Six

Come, ye faithful, and let us serve the Master eagerly, for He gives riches to His servants. Each of us according to the measure that we have received, let us increase the talent of grace. Let one gain wisdom through good deeds; let another celebrate the Liturgy with beauty; let another share his faith by preaching to the uninstructed; let another give his wealth to the poor. So shall we increase what is entrusted to us, and as faithful stewards of His grace we shall be counted worthy of the Master’s joy. Bestow this joy upon us, Christ our God, in Thy love for mankind.

Concentrate on those things we shall be able to take with us into eternity. ‘O God, who knowest everything and whose love is perfect, take this life into thine hand, do what I long to do, but cannot.’ Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

Υπαπαντὴ του Κυρίου_Presentation of Jesus at the Temple_Сретение Господне_Paintings_in_St._Demetrius_Church_(Markova_Sušica)_0345Ohrid, inizi XIV sec.The Meeting of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple
Icon of the Mother of God “Softener (or “Consoler”) of Evil Hearts” or “Prophecy of Symeon”
Commemorated on February 2

St. Symeon the God-Receiver and St. Anna the Prophetess and Daughter of Phanuel.
Commemorated on February 3

Concentrate on those things we shall be able to take with us into eternity.
Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh

Υπαπαντή του Κυρίου_Presentation of Jesus at the Temple_Сретение Господне_a0f2115fb7a48dfa4c0b537330c6bc4fJohn of Kronstadt was asked once how it was that priests, in spite of their training, experience wandering, intrusive thoughts, even in the course of the liturgy. The answer was: ‘Because of our lack of faith.’ We have not faith enough, faith being understood in the terms of St Paul as ‘the evidence of things not seen’ (Heb 11:1). But it would be a mistake to think that those distracting thoughts all come from outside; we must face the fact that they come from our own depths: they are our continual inner preoccupations coming to the fore, they are just the thoughts that usually fill our life, and the only way to get radically rid of unworthy thoughts is to change our outlook on life fundamentally. Again, as Brother Lawrence puts it in his eighth letter: ‘One way to recollect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquility, is not to let it wander too far at other times; you should keep it strictly in the presence of God; and being accustomed to think of him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm at the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings.’

As long as we care deeply for all the trivialities of life, we cannot hope to pray wholeheartedly; they will always color the train of our thoughts. The same is true about our daily relations with other people, which should not consist merely of gossip but be based on what is essential in every one of us, otherwise we may find ourselves unable to reach another level when we turn to God. We must eradicate everything meaningless and trivial in ourselves and in our relations with others, and concentrate on those things we shall be able to take with us into eternity.

Prayer in its turn will change and enrich our daily life, becoming the foundation of a new and real relationship with God and those around us.

Our spiritual life is based on our faith and determination, and any incidental joys are a gift of God. St Seraphim of Sarov, when asked what it was that made some people remain sinners and never make any progress while others were becoming saints and living in God, answered: ‘Only determination.’


Άννα η Προφήτιδα Anna the Prophetess Анна Пророчица-Фрески церкви Св. Пантелеимона в Нерези0_13fd06_650aaf57_origOne can pray everywhere and anywhere, yet there are places where prayer finds its natural climate; those places are churches, fulfilling the promise; ‘I will make them joyful in my house of prayer’ (Is 56:7).

A church, once consecrated, once set part, becomes the dwelling-place of God. He is present there in another way than in the rest of the world. In the world he is present as a stranger, as a pilgrim, as one who goes from door to door, who has nowhere to rest his head; he goes as the lord of the world who has been rejected by the world and expelled from his kingdom and who has returned to it to save his people. In church he is at home, it is his place; he is not only the creator and the lord by right but he is recognised as such. Outside it he acts when he can and how he can; inside a church he has all power and all might and it is for us to come to him.

A priest who visited Russia recently took services in a church where there was a well-known wonder-working icon of Our Lady and was deeply conscious of her active participation in the service. The icon had become very dark in the course of centuries, and from the place where he stood he could not distinguish the features, so he continued to celebrate with his eyes shut. Suddenly he felt that the Mother of God in the icon was as it were compelling him to pray, directing his prayers, shaping his mind. He became aware of a power originating from the icon that filled the church with prayer and guided the diffuse thoughts. It was almost a physical presence, there was a person standing there, compelling a response.

We sometimes pray for someone we love, who is in need and whom we are not able to help. Very often we do not know what the right thing is, we do not find the words to help even the most beloved. Sometimes we know that nothing can be done except to be silent, though we are ready to give our life to help. In that spirit we can turn to God, put the whole situation into his care and say: ‘O God, who knowest everything and whose love is perfect, take this life into thine hand, do what I long to do, but cannot.’

St Isaac of Syria says: do not reduce your prayer to words, make the totality of your life a prayer to God. Therefore, if we wish to pray for our departed, our life must back up the prayer. It is not enough to wake up to a certain feeling for them from time to time and then ask God to do something for them. It is essential that every seed of good, truth and holiness that has been sown by them should bear fruit, because then we can stand before God and say: he has sown good, there was some quality in him which inspired me to do well, and this particle of good is not mine but his and is in a way his glory and his redemption.


The Meeting of the Lord: a Priesthood of Sacrifice
Archimandrite Zacharias (Zacharou)

Υπαπαντή του Κυρίου_Presentation of Jesus at the Temple_Сретение Господне_Întâmpinarea Domnului_intampinarea_domnuluiIn today’s Apostle reading, St Paul speaks about a change that occurred in the priesthood through Christ. In the Old Testament, the priesthood descended from the tribe of Aaron and every first-born male child of this tribe inherited the priesthood from his father. As St Paul says, this was a law of carnal commandment (Heb. 7:16). Now, with the coming of Christ, we have a new, royal priesthood. Christ descended from the tribe of Judah, which was a royal tribe, but did not have the gift of priesthood. This signifies that, before all worlds, He is God and Lord of all and so, He naturally has this royal property. Thus, through His incarnation, priesthood is introduced in the tribe of Judah.

By assuming human flesh, Christ reveals His priesthood in the world. Why is this? Because it is with this flesh that He suffered death on the Cross and it is in His sacrifice that His priestly ministry for the reconciliation of the world with God was established. Yet, the priesthood of Christ does not only consist in His sacrifice, but also in the divine energy which He bore within Himself as God. His priesthood is founded on the endless life which He had in Himself, as St Paul says: Not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. We all received the royal priesthood when we were baptized. The royal priesthood means that, by the grace of God, we can all imitate Christ and become like Him, including the whole world in our hearts just as He brought the whole world before God the Father in His prayer and through His crucifixion.

Today Joseph and the Mother of God bring the Child to present Him before the Lord, and it is very moving, because Christ is brought as an Infant to the temple which was built for Him, for He is the Lord. For this reason, this feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple is also named the Presentation of the Lord. Through His incarnation, Christ performed a twofold presentation: He came down from the bosom of His Father and He manifested into the world the love of the Father, which is a love unto the end. However, by dying on the Cross, being buried, risen from the dead and then ascending to Heaven, He presented to God the Father the true man, as He was foreordained by God before all ages. Christ is He Who first presented the true man as the true image and likeness of God to the Father and to all of us.

In today’s Gospel we also hear about Symeon, a man just and devout, who received from the Holy Spirit the promise that he would not die before he saw the Messiah. What is important for us to know is that Symeon grew old in the temple, waiting for this promise to be fulfilled without faintheartedness. In his person, we see a very significant aspect for our life, namely the aspect of time. Time and waiting with patience for the promise of the Lord is very important, because it makes us more humble. Waiting patiently, not desiring to quickly acquire the promise, but devoting years, decades of his life longing for the promise of God—all this humbles the heart of man and makes him more like unto the One Whom he is about to receive—Christ.

Another very important aspect is that Symeon received the promise of the Lord with great gratitude: As soon as he received Christ in his arms, he immediately exploded in a hymn of praise to God: Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation. The gratitude with which he received Christ in his arms attracted the spirit of prophecy in Symeon and then he prophesied to the Mother of God: He becomes a collaborator with God in revealing the divine will to the Mother of God.

He speaks about the sign of Christ, that this Child is set for the fall and the rising of many, and then he turns to the Mother of God saying, A sword will pierce through your soul, also. Therefore, the gratitude with which he receives Christ in his arms drew upon him the spirit of prophecy and established him in the realm of the divine will, which he revealed to the Mother of God. Thus, we learn that when we receive the gifts of God with gratitude, this gratitude attracts a greater blessing upon us; it makes us ministers of the mystery of God and gives us the gift of being collaborators with Him in revealing His truths even to our fellow men.

The Meeting of the Lord is a feast of the Lord, but also a feast of the Mother of God. Today we see that she gives Christ to Symeon, and this is a power, an authority that she always has. The Mother of God is always this bridge through which we can receive Christ. It is the Mother of God who gave to St. Silouan the rare gift of unceasing prayer: As he was praying before her icon, the prayer came out from the icon, went into his heart, and remained with him unto the end of his life.

Those who love the Mother of God are very privileged, because they surely go through many spiritual changes. The monks of Mount Athos may even scandalize with their love for her, and some do protest that they love her as God. However, they do not consider her as God, they simply love her much because they have benefited much.

So, today we must remember that the priesthood of Christ is a priesthood of sacrifice. The more we bear this sacrifice of praise in our life, and keep a painful heart out of gratitude to God and because we are unable to thank Him as He deserves, the more this royal priesthood will become alive in us and our life will be a constant presentation. We pray day and night and we come to the Liturgy because the purpose of our life is to learn how to present ourselves before God in a way that is pleasing to Him, so that we can present ourselves in the same way that day, when He will come again with glory.

Apolytikion of the Meeting of the Lord, Tone 1

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace, for from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God, lighting those who are in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous old man, carrying in thine arms the Deliverer of our souls, Who granteth us Resurrection.

Tone 7

Adorn thy chamber, O Zion, and receive Christ the King. Welcome Mary the heavenly gate; for she hath appeared as a cherubic throne; she carrieth the King of glory. Verily, the Virgin is a cloud of light carrying in her body the Son Who is before the morning star, Whom Simeon carrying in his arms proclaimed to the nations as the Lord of life and death, and the Savior of our souls.
-Vespers of the Feast, Tone 7

Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Thou hast given a sign …”:

As one righteous and perfect * and glorious in all things, O divinely inspired one, * taking up in thine arms * the one perfect God, incarnate, * Who came to justify the world; * thou didst cry out to Him, asking to be released from thy body saying: * “Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, * for I have beheld Thee today, ** O Lover of mankind!”

Young in spirit, * yet elderly of body, O Symeon, * the promise made to thee was fulfilled; that thou wouldst not see death * until thou beheld a young Babe * Who before time as the Creator and God of all, * would humble Himself by assuming flesh; * and beholding Him, thou didst ask crying aloud; * let me be loosed from the flesh, ** and joyously pass over to the mansions of God.

The divinely inspired Anna * and the most rich Symeon, * resplendent in prophecy, * manifest as blameless according to the law, * beholding the Bestower of the law * manifest among us as a Babe, * have now worshipped Him. * We now joyously celebrate their memory, ** glorifying as is meet, Jesus Who is the Lover of mankind.

What our part should be: take on the history of mankind, and carry them on our shoulders in an act of mercy and of love. Let us be those who bring the world to the perfect beauty God has willed for it! Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh

Ιησούς Χριστός θεραπεία της συγκύπτουσας_Christ healing a Woman’s Infirmities in the synagogue on the sabbath_ womanTenth Sunday of Luke
Healing a woman in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10-17)

Saint Sabbas the Sanctified (532).
Saint Karion (Cyrion) and his son St. Zachariah of Egypt (4th c.).
Saints Nectarius of Bitol (1500), and his elder, St. Philotheus, of Karyes Skete, Mt. Athos
Commemoration of St. Cosmas the Protos and Companions, killed by the Latins (1276) and the monks of Karyes, Mt. Athos, martyred by the Latins (1283). The Righteous Martyrs dwelling in the cells on Athos who censured the Latin-minded Emperor Michael Paleologus and the Patriarch John Beccus.

Commemorated on December 5

Miracles of Christ on the Sabbath Day
Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh
9 December 1979

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

Time and again we read in the Gospel of the anger which the Lord Jesus Christ provoked by performing an act of mercy, a miracle of healing on a Sabbath day. And we cannot help asking ourselves a question: Why did He do it so constantly, so persistently, with such insistence? Could it be to challenge those who surrounded Him? Could it be to provoke them? Could it be simply a pedagogical action?

I believe that there is a great deal more in His action. The Lord created the world in six days; on the seventh day He rested of His toils and labours. But what happened to the world then? The seventh day was the day when the world came into the hands of man to be brought to its fulfilment and to its completeness; the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Lord is the day of man. The whole of human history falls in that day. But God did not leave man to work alone as the Lord Jesus Christ says in the Gospel, as reported by Saint John, My Father still works, He shows His work to His Son for Him to fulfil them. And in another passage He teaches us, He tells us that His judgment is true because it is not His judgment; He hears the words of the Father and that is the judgment He pronounces.

And so, history is the day of man, but man is called to be guided by the wisdom, by the love of God. It is because we are so often seeking for our own ways, it is because we do not ask ourselves what is God’s way in one situation or the other that the world has become so ugly, and so frightening, and so tragic. There is a Hebrew poem that describes the misery of this world into which man does not bring the love of God; it says, Man has ceased to believe in God and love has departed this world. Men have hanged themselves in forests, have drowned themselves in lakes, in rivers. Heaven is no longer mirrored in the lakes, in the woods; the bird does no longer sing songs of paradise, and the Prophet himself on his pedestal has become a mere statue.

Is this not what we have become? Not statues but so much alike the wife of Lot who turned back and who became a statue of salt. We have remained salt and yet we are petrified, immobile, we do not fulfil on earth this function of ours. And Christ shows us, by working His miracles, His acts of love and of compassion on Sabbath day, time and again, He Who is the only true man, the only man who is in total, ultimate oneness with God, what our part should be: take on the history of mankind, take every situation in which we or others find themselves, and carry them on our shoulders in an act of mercy and of love. A Western writer has said that a Christian is the one to whom God has committed the care of His world and of other people. Are we discharging this basic central commission of ours, do we care? We may care with tenderness, we may care sternly, but we must care. And then, this seventh day when God in His mercy and love has committed this world to our care, still can become the day of the Lord. And the City of man which is been built without God, which so often is like the Tower of Babel, may still unfold and attain the greatness and the holiness of the City of God in which the Lord Jesus Christ, true God but also true Man, is called to be a citizen, the heart of it, but also one of us.

Is not this call great enough? Is not God’s faith in us sufficiently inspiring? Are we going to defeat His hope, to reject His love for ourselves or for others? Or are we going to learn from the ways in which Christ fulfils His human vocation in the day of the Lord, shall we not learn from Him and together with Him build the world which God has dreamed, has willed and is still loving in his distress and so often in our betrayal of Him!

Let us learn to love one another actively, bear one another’s burdens, listen to the Living God when He speaks, listen with all our energy, look into His ways and be those who fulfil His will and bring the world to the perfect beauty He has willed for it! Amen.


Blessed Nicolai Velomirivitch posits a significant aspect of this healing – none can plausibly claim that it was the result of auto-suggestion, a common slander of miracles by unbelievers:
“The Lord worked this wonderful miracle, not at the request of, or in response to the faith of, the woman, but on His own initiative and in His own power. Is this not a clear rebuttal to all those who seek maliciously to belittle the divine greatness of Christ’s miracles, intimating that these miracles only come about through auto-suggestion on the part of those to whom they happen? Where is there a trace of “magical” auto-suggestion in this twisted woman? Her infirmity prevented her from even seeing Christ’s face. She did not ask Christ for mercy, nor did she express faith in Him by any sign. Not only thins; the woman was not even near Christ. She did not go up to Him, but He called her to Him.” (Homilies, Volume 2, Page 279)

Saint Sabbas the Sanctified, Lord Jesus Christ, our true Enlightener and Savior, into Thy hands we give over our minds and our hearts.

Faithful is He Who commanded us not to be concerned about bodily things, and mighty is He to feed us in time of hunger. Saint Sabbas the Sanctified
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/12/04/36138/Σάββας ο Ηγιασμένος_St Sabbas the Sanctified_св. Савва Освященный_ 334521354Troparion of the saint, in Tone VIII—

With streams of thy tears thou didst irrigate the barren desert, and with sighs from the depths of thy soul thou didst make it to bear fruit an hundredfold. Thou wast a beacon to the whole world, radiating miracles. O Sabbas, our father, entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved!

Ikos: O leader of the fathers, adornment of the venerable, boldness of fasters before Christ, citizen and gardener of the desert: how can I hymn thy life, O venerable one? for thou dost shine forth in brilliance unto the ends of the earth, like the sun. Wherefore, I cry unto thee:
Rejoice, beauteous glory of the Cappadocians!
Rejoice, honored standard of the whole world!
Rejoice, most goodly scion of the desert!
Rejoice, godly delight of the righteous!
Rejoice, for thou didst disdain that which is fleeting and corruptible!
Rejoice, for thou dost dwell with the angels in the heavens!
Rejoice, correction and rule of monastics!
Rejoice, rousing of the slothful to God!
Rejoice, divinely flowing fountain of miracles!
Rejoice, honored instrument of the Spirit!
Rejoice, thou by whom the East is adorned!
Rejoice, thou through whom the western lands shine forth!
Rejoice, O Sabbas most rich!

At the Aposticha, these stichera, in Tone V: Spec. Mel: “Rejoice…”—

Rejoice, truly fragrant vessel of the struggles of fasting; for, having taken thy cross upon thy shoulder and offered thyself to Christ the Master, O most blessed one, thou didst trample down the base understanding of the flesh, didst illumine thy soul with the virtues, and didst take flight to divine desire. Wherefore, surrounding thy most holy shrine, O all-lauded Sabbas, we ask that, by thy supplications, we may receive God’s love for mankind, and that the world be granted great mercy.

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

O God-bearing Sabbas, having drawn nigh unto the fire of the Spirit, thou hast shown thyself forth as a divinely radiant ember, enlightening the souls of those who have recourse to thee in faith, O thou of godly wisdom, leading them to the never-waning Light, O venerable one. And, bedewed from on high with grace divine, thou didst quench the burning coal of the desert. Wherefore, Christ, the Helmsman of divine righteousness, hath manifestly bestowed upon thee a crown of victory, O blessed one. Him do thou entreat, that He grant our souls great mercy.

Stichos: Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord; in His commandments shall he greatly delight.

Thy life was clearly a ladder spanning the gulf between earth and the heavens, O divinely wise one, whereby thou didst ascend to the heights and wast vouchsafed to converse with the Master, O most blessed one. Having enlightened thy mind with the radiance there, with the rays thereof thou didst receive splendor equal to that of the angels. Standing now before Him, pray thou, O venerable one, that we who celebrate thy divine and most sanctified memory may stand with thee, and that He grant the world great mercy.

Glory…, in Tone VIII—

We honor thee as the instructor of a multitude of monks, O Sabbas, our father; for we have truly learned to walk aright in thy steps. Blessed art thou, who didst labor for Christ and didst renounce the power of the adversary, O converser with the angels. With them entreat the Lord, that He have mercy upon our souls.

Now and ever…, Theotokion—

O unwedded Virgin, who ineffably gavest birth unto God in the flesh, Mother of God Most High: Accept thou the entreaties of thy servants, O all-immaculate one, bestowing upon all cleansing from transgression. And now, receiving our supplications, do thou pray that we all be saved.

Gospel of St. Luke (Chapter 10, Verses 10-17)
Luke 13:10-17

Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound-think of it-for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath? And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.

We are all living icons of God, and this lays upon us a great responsibility… we must not give the lie to what we proclaim by the way in which we live. Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

Θεοφάνης ο Γραπτός_Θεόδωρος_οι Γραπτοί_Theophanes Graptus_the Branded_Феодор и Феофан Начертанные_feodor-i-feofan-nachertannye-kopiya-starinnoj-ikonyHoly Apostle Philip of the Seventy Disciples, one of the seven deacons (1st century)
Martyrs Zenaida (Zenais) and Philonilla of Tarsus in Cilicia, relatives of St. Paul (1st C)
Venerable Theophanes Graptus (“the Branded”), Confessor and Hymnographer, Bishop of Nicaea (850)
Venerable Æthelburh of Barking (Ethelburga), foundress of Barking Abbey, England (c. 676) – St. Kenneth (Cainnech), abbot of Aghaboe (7th C)
Saints Theophanes, Soleas and Jonah of Pergamos, Cyprus (12th century)
Venerable Philotheus Kokkinos of Mount Athos, Patriarch of Constantinople (1379
Commemoration of the Miracle from the Icon of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Beirut of Phoenicia (7th century)
Synaxis of the Elders of Optina: St. Leonid (repose) (1841), St. Macarius (1860), St. Moses (1862), St. Anthony (1865), St. Hilarion (1873), St. Ambrose (1891), St. Anatole (the “Elder”) (1894), St. Isaac I (1894), St. Joseph (1911), St. Barsanuphius (1913), St. Anatole (the “Younger”) (1922), St. Nektary (1928), St. Nikon the Confessor (1931), New Hieromartyr Archimandrite Isaac II (1937)

Commemorated on October 11

Hymn of Praise
The Venerable Theophanes the Branded
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Theophanes of St. Sava’s, a great ascetic,
Profound theologian and glorious hymnographer,
A sufferer for Christ, a confessor of the Faith,
An adornment of the Church, a Father of Orthodoxy:
He left his cell for the sake of obedience,
And from his silence, stepped out into the world once again,
To persuade the evil emperor of the truth;
And he witnessed that truth to the emperor.
St. Theophanes traded a quarter century for true happiness,
Though he passed this time in suffering most dire,
And in the dank prison
Wore the brand of suffering on his face.
But, inspired by the Spirit, this saint of God
Also infused these years with chants sublime,
Glorifying the Lord and the saints of God
With fervent hope, love and faith.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Θεοφάνης ο Γραπτός_Theophanes Graptus_the Branded_ΘΕΟΦΑΝΗΣ ΓΡΑΠΤΟς ag-Theofanis-Graptos-Theofanous-Nerezi, Saint Theophanes Graptos34564645645 - ΑντιγραφήThe Venerable Theophanes the Branded
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Theophanes was a confessor and writer of canons. He was born in Arabia of wealthy and pious parents. With his brother Theodore (December 27), he was tonsured a monk in the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified. As they were very educated monks, Patriarch Thomas of Jerusalem sent them to Emperor Leo the Armenian, to justify and defend the veneration of icons. The iniquitous emperor harshly tortured these holy brothers and cast them into prison. Later, the iconoclastic Emperor Theophilus resumed their torture and commanded that words of mockery be branded on their faces, to expose them to the ridicule of the world. When the iconoclastic controversy was resolved, Theophanes was freed, and shortly thereafter was consecrated a bishop. He died peacefully in the year 847, having suffered for the holy icons for a total of twenty-five years. He wrote 145 Canons. He entered into the eternal joy of his Lord.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič


The emperor Theophilus commanded twelve Iambic verses, composed for that purpose by an Iconoclast courtier, to be inscribed on their foreheads. The sense of the verses was as follows:
Πάντων ποθούντων προστρέχειν προς την πόλιν,
Όπου πάναγνοι του Θεού Λόγου πόδες
Έστησαν, εις σύστασιν της οικουμένης,
Ώφθησαν ούτοι τω σεβασμίω τόπω,
Σκεύη πονηρά δεισιδαίμονος πλάνης.
Εκείσε πολλά λοιπόν εξ απιστίας,
Πράξαντες δεινά αισχρά δυσσεβοφρόνως,
Εκείθεν ηλάθησαν ως αποστάται.
Προς την πόλιν δε του κράτους πεφευγότες,
Ουκ εξαφήκαν τας αθέσμους μωρίας.
Όθεν γραφέντες ως κακούργοι, την θέαν,
Κατακρίνονται και διώκονται πάλιν.
Απ’ αυτή την αιτία ονομάστηκαν και οι δύο Γραπτοί.”

 “All long to run to the city [Jerusalem],
Where the all-pure feet of God’s Word
Stood as a support of the ecumene,
These men were seen in this revered place
Wicked vessels of superstitious delusion.
There due to unbelief
They did many woeful, shameful and ungodly-minded things
They were banished from there as apostates.
Towards the city [Constantinople] of the empire they fled
They did not abandon their lawless folly.
Thus they were branded to be seen as evil-doers
They are again condemned and prosecuted.”
From the inscription cut in his forehead he is surnamed Grapt, which signifies in Greek, marked or engraved. The twelve iambic verses, which were written on their foreheads, with a red-hot steel pencil, are recited in the Greek Synaxary on this day.

The miraculous power of icons

Θεοφάνης ο Γραπτός_Theophanes Graptus_the Branded_ΘΕΟΦΑΝΗΣ ΓΡΑΠΤΟς ag-Theofanis-Graptos-2ib1252Just as, by God’s providence, the power of miraculous healing is given to blessed water or sanctified oil, so this same power is also given to icons. St. Athanasius the Great cites one wonderful example of the miraculous power of holy icons: In the town of Beirut, there lived a Christian in a rented house. In moving out of the house, he forgot an icon of the Savior. Then a Jew moved into that house. There were many Jews in that town who were particularly embittered against the Christian Faith. Consequently, when the icon was found in the house, the Jews carried it to their gathering place and mocked it, as their ancestors had once mocked the living Savior. The Jews also did to the icon what their ancestors had done to the Savior: they pierced the hands and feet with nails, wiped vinegar on the lips of the image on the icon, and mocked the image of the Savior in every way possible. Finally, one of them took a spear and struck the divine image under the rib.

But oh, the wonder-blood and water flowed from the image’s wound as they had from the living body of the crucified Lord. The Jews’ terror cannot be described. However, they brought a vessel to catch the blood, and brought many of the sick, blind, deaf, lame and insane to the icon. As soon as the Jews anointed the ailing with this blood, they were healed. The whole town gathered to see this miracle and all glorified Jesus Christ, the true God; and all the Jews in that town came to believe in the living and life-giving Lord Jesus Christ.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Ζηναΐδα και Φιλονίλλα-_Зинаида и Филонилла0_316538679789464 - ΑντιγραφήWe are all living icons of God
Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

Each of us, all men, were created in the image of God. We are all living icons, and this lays upon us a great responsibility because an icon may be defaced, an icon may be turned into a caricature and into a blasphemy. And we must think of ourselves and ask ourselves: are we worthy, are we capable of being called “icons”, images of God? A western writer has said that meeting a Christian, those who surround him should see him as a vision, a revelation of something they have never perceived before, that the difference between a non-Christian and a Christian is as great, as radical, as striking, as the difference there is between a statue and a living person. A statue may be beautiful, but it is made of stone or of wood, and it is dead. A human being may not at first appear as possessed of such a beauty, but those who meet him should be able, as those who venerate an icon – blessed, consecrated by the Church – should see in him the shining of the presence of the Holy Spirit, see God revealing Himself in the humble form of a human being.

As long as we are not capable of being such a vision to those who surround us, we fail in our duty, we do not proclaim the Triumph of Orthodoxy through our life, we give a lie to what we proclaim. And therefore each of us, and all of us collectively, bear every responsibility for the fact that the world meeting Christians by the million is not converted by the vision of God’s presence in their midst, carried indeed in earthen vessels, but glorious, saintly, transfiguring the world.

What is true about us, simply, personally, is as true about our churches. Our churches were called by Christ as a family, a community of Christians to be a body of people who are united with one another by total love, by sacrificial love, a love that is God’s love to us. The Church was called, and is still called, to be a body of people whose characteristic is to be the incarnate love of God. Alas, in all our churches what we see is not the miracle of love divine.

From the very beginning, alas, the Church was built according to the images of the State – hierarchical, strict, formal. In this we have failed – to be truly what the early, first community of Christians were. Tertullian writing in defence of the Christians said to the Emperor of Rome: “When people meet us they are arrested and say: ‘How these people love one another!’” We are not collectively a body of people about whom one could say this. And we must learn to recreate what God has willed for us, what has once existed: to recreate communities, churches, parishes, dioceses, patriarchates, the whole church, in such a way that the whole of life, the reality of life should be that of love. Alas, we have not learned this yet.

Ephesians 1:22-2:3; Luke 7:36-50

Troparion of the APOSTLE PHILIP ― Tone 3

O holy apostle Philip/ entreat the merciful God// that He grant to our souls remission of transgressions.

Martyrs ZENAIDA and PHILONILLA Apolytikion ―Tone 3

The greatly-honored Tarsus let us honor, which blossomed forth the precious flowers: Zenais the Wise and Philonilla, for they possessed the unassailable crypt of the faith, and deposed all the ranks of the demons. They therefore rejoice with the Angels, and ever intercede for us.

Troparion of ST THEOPHANES — Tone 5

Having attained an angelic state, / you sounded forth as a golden trumpet of revelation / and nourished the chosen people with your words. / The singing of your hymns gladdens the Church, / for which you struggled, O Theophanes.

Troparion of ST THEOPHANES — Tone 8

O instructor of Orthodoxy, teacher of piety and purity,/ beacon for the whole world, divinely inspired adornment of hierarchs./ O most wise Theophanes by thy doctrines thou hast illumined all.// O harp of the Spirit, entreat Christ God that our souls be saved.

Troparion of ST CAINNECH — Tone 8

In honour thou dost rank with Ireland’s Enlightener,/ O Lover of the Desert, Composer of sacred verse,/ Father of Monks and Founder of Monasteries, O Father Cainnech./ Labouring for Christ, both in thy native land and in Scotland,/ Thou art a tireless intercessor for the faithful./ Pray for us who hymn thee, that despite our frailty we may be granted great mercy.


Abiding in unceasing prayer,/ and embrac­ing the wicked as well as the good with love,/ O venerable elders of Optina,/ ye served God and your neighbors,/ and through vigils, tears and. fasting/ received the gift of divers miracles./ Glory to Him Who hath given us such media­tors!/ Glory to Him Who hath glorified you!// Glory to God Who is wondrous in His saints!

Kontakion of ST THEOPHANES — Tone 2 “Seeking the highest”

Thundering forth the divine incarnation of Christ,/ thou didst utterly denounce the incorporeal foe,/ O wondrous Theophanes./ Wherefore, we all piously cry out to thee with faiths:/ Pray thou unceasingly in behalf of us all!

What a wonderful joy to think that now, one of us, of mankind, a woman of flesh and blood is enthroned. She is the glory of all Creation; the Mother of God. Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_72895. bΜονή της Χώρα, ΚωνσταντινούποληThe Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary

Commemorated on August 15

«Watch over us, O Queen, the dwelling-place of our Lord. Lead and govern all our ways as thou wilt.…».
“Remain with us, our comfort, our sole joy in this world.
O Mother leave us not orphans…”

Dormition of the Mother of God
Anthony Bloom of Sourozh
Sunday, 28th August, 1986.

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

The Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God – which combines two events: Her death and Her resurrection in the body on the third day – has been for centuries, indeed, from the very beginning of the existence of the Russian Orthodox Church its Feast, its joy, its glory.

The Mother of God has not been a passive instrument of the Incarnation; without Her ‘Amen’ the Incarnation would have been as impossible as without the will of God. She is the response of the whole creation to God’s love and to God’s gift of self not only to mankind but to the whole Cosmos He has created. And in that we rejoice, because Her word is our word. Her word was perfect, as Her trust was, Her faith was, Her gift of self was. Ours is imperfect, and yet our voices resound within Hers, weakly, hesitantly at times, but with faith and also with love.

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_Adormirea-Maicii-DomnuluiShe is the glory of all Creation; the Mother of God: one might have expected that death could not touch Her; but if death and a death so cruel could touch Her Divine Son, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, the Son of God and the Son of man – of course She had to pay the tribute of all the earth to the sin of man and also die. But according to Orthodox Tradition, death could not keep Her prisoner. She had given Herself unreservedly and perfectly to God, and it was to God, no longer to the earth that She belonged. And on the third day, when the Apostles came and reopened Her grave for one of them to be able to venerate Her, who had not been present at Her burial, it was found empty: She had risen because the bonds of death could not hold Her, and corruption could not touch a body which had been the body of the Incarnation. What a wonderful joy to think that now, side by side with the risen and ascended Christ, one of us, of mankind, a woman of flesh and blood is enthroned and in Her we can see the glory which will, we believe, be ours if we are faithful to God as She was.

So, let us rejoice, and not only here where our church has been dedicated since the early eighteenth century to the Assumption of the Mother of God, to Her Dormition, but with the whole Russian Church, and with all those who belong to it and are scattered over the face of the world, one with the Mother Church, one with the Mother of God, worshipping the Lord with all there is in us and seeing in Her the image of the whole Creation in adoration before the Living God. Amen.


Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Παναγια Πορταιτισσα_Icon-of-The-Mother-of-God-of-Iveron-Panagia-Portraitissai4 (1)issaToday, when I said, “Blessed is the Kingdom …,” the children responded with “Amen.” This reminded me of those days of my youth and it touched my heart.
When the chanting is as beautiful as this, we are freed from all our cares and our interest for earthly things and we ascend into eternity with the Lord, His angels, and the saints, where our true Fatherland and our Kingdom is. If our Fatherland were of this world, then we would live here in a state of well‑being, peace, and joy. However, this life for us Christians is, so to say, an epitimia. In this life we must prepare ourselves for life in the Heavenly Kingdom and we must attain Divine peace. No one can give us that peace; only God can give peace to created beings and to us if we seek Him and long for Him with all our heart and if we desire to become one with Him. He wants our souls to be united with Him, with His Divine will. He wants our entire being to become one with Him in order that we may feel the joy of living. We, on the other hand, get very involved in this material life and we have no time to think about our soul, about our inner peace. We are always shattering our inner peace.

We have many examples by which we can learn. The Lord gave us first of all the Most Holy Theotokos. It was His will that the Most Holy Theotokos remain with the holy Apostles to comfort and encourage them after His Resurrection and Ascension. One of the God‑bearing Fathers, a native of Athens, St. Dionysios the Areopagite, wished to see the Most Holy Mother of God. When he arrived in Jerusalem, they took him to the home of St. John the Theologian, where the Most Holy Theotokos lived. When he entered her chamber, he was at once free of all cares and worries and was overcome with ineffable joy and peace. This is how he describes his meeting with the Most Holy Theotokos: “Had I not learned in my Youth about the True God, for me the Most Holy Theotokos would have been God.”

See what peace, stillness, and joy radiate from the Most Holy Theotokos! God has allowed peace and joy to radiate from every soul that is one with Him. Divine peace and joy emanate from such a person and we feel good in his presence. Do you see what the Kingdom of Heaven means? The Kingdom of God is… righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14: 17).
Reference: Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos ,pp163 – 170


Παναγια Ιεροσολυμιτισσα_Иерусалимская икона Богоматери нерукотворная гефсиманская_Virgin Mary Of Jerusalem (IerDuring the lifetime of the Mother of God, St Dionysius the Areopagite had journeyed from Athens to Jerusalem to meet Her. He wrote to his teacher the Apostle Paul: “I witness by God, that besides the very God Himself, there is nothing else filled with such divine power and grace. No one can fully comprehend what I saw. I confess before God: when I was with John, who shone among the Apostles like the sun in the sky, when I was brought before the countenance of the Most Holy Virgin, I experienced an inexpressible sensation. Before me gleamed a sort of divine radiance which transfixed my spirit. I perceived the fragrance of indescribable aromas and was filled with such delight that my very body became faint, and my spirit could hardly endure these signs and marks of eternal majesty and heavenly power. The grace from her overwhelmed my heart and shook my very spirit. If I did not have in mind your instruction, I should have mistaken Her for the very God. It is impossible to stand before greater blessedness than this which I beheld.” Saint Dionysius attained such heights of divine contemplation that he was accounted worthy of being numbered among the Apostles, and was wondrously transported to Jerusalem for the entombment of the Mother of God.


St John of Damascus: 
Sermon I on the Dormition of the Virgin

Παναγια_χαιρετισμοι_τη υπερμαχω Στρατηγω_επι σοι χαιρε κεχαριτωμενη_The_Hymn_to_the_Virgin,_Eπί_Σοί_Xαίρει_In_Thee_Rejoiceth.._4)We, too, approach thee to-day, O Queen; and again, I say, O Queen, O Virgin Mother of God, staying our souls with our trust in thee, as with a strong anchor. Lifting up mind, soul and body, and all ourselves to thee, rejoicing in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, we reach through thee One who is beyond our reach on account of His Majesty. If, as the divine Word made flesh taught us, [170] honour shown to servants, is honour shown to our common Lord, how can honour shown to thee, His Mother, be slighted? How is it not most desirable? Art thou not honoured as the very breath of life? Thus shall we best show our service to our Lord Himself. What do I say to our Lord? It is sufficient that those who think of Thee should recall the memory of Thy most precious gift as the cause of our lasting joy. How it fills us with gladness! How the mind that dwells on this holy treasury of Thy grace enriches itself.
This is our thank-offering to thee, the first fruits of our discourses, the best homage of my poor mind, whilst I am moved by desire of thee, and full of my own misery. But do thou graciously receive my desire, knowing that it exceeds my power. Watch over us, O Queen, the dwelling-place of our Lord. Lead and govern all our ways as thou wilt. Save us from our sins. Lead us into the calm harbour of the divine will. Make us worthy of future happiness through the sweet and face-to-face vision of the Word made flesh through thee. With Him, glory, praise, power, and majesty be to the Father and to the holy and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Excerpt , St John of Damascus: Sermon I on the Dormition of the Virgin

At Vespers: Genesis 28:10-17; Ezekiel 43:27-44:4; Proverbs 9:1-11.
At the Matins: Luke 1:39-49, 56.
At the Divine Liturgy: Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28.

Apolytikion (First Tone)

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

Kontakion (Second Tone)

Neither the grave nor death could contain the Theotokos, the unshakable hope, ever vigilant in intercession and protection. As Mother of life, He who dwelt in the ever-virginal womb transposed her to life.

Doxastikon – Great vespers – Dormition of the Theotokos

Tone One: Verily, the God-mantled Apostles were caught up on all sides, ascending the clouds by a divine sign.
Tone Five: And they came up to thy most pure, life-originating resting-place to kiss it reverently.
Tone Two: As for the most sublime heavenly powers, they came with their own chief.
Tone Six: To escort, enwrapped in awe, thine all-honored, God-receiving body, they went before in a super-earthly manner, shouting invisibly to the heavenly ranks, Behold the Queen of all, the divine Maiden, has come.
Tone Three: Lift up the gates and receive super-earthly-wise the Mother of everlasting Light.
Tone Seven: For through her hath salvation come to the whole human race. And she is the one on whom it is impossible to gaze, and whom we never can honor sufficiently.
Tone Four: For the honor through which she became sublime transcendeth all understanding.
Tone Eight: Wherefore, O undefiled Theotokos, everlasting with thy life-bearing Son, intercede with Him unceasingly that He may preserve and save thy new people from every hostile assault; for we have taken thee unto us as our helper.
Tone One: Therefore, do we magnify thee with voices of joy unto all ages.

Doxastikon from Great Vespers (Dormition of the Theotokos) Aug. 15
Chanted by then Bishop Ephraim from Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston, Mass.

Doxastikon Dormition of The Theotokos (Arabic+Greek+English)
George Theodoridis – Rassem El Massih – Stephen Esper – Nicholas J. Jones – Amjad Khalil