Iconography and Hand painted icons

St Gregory Palamas, intellectual leader of Hesychasm

Φώτιος ο Μέγας, Γρηγόριος Παλαμάς και Μάρκος ο Ευγενικός,Second Sunday of Great Lent
Commemorated of St Gregory Palamas, intellectual leader of Hesychasm

“Lord, Enlighten my darkness, Enlighten my darkness…!”
“Most-Holy Theotokos, Enlighten my darkness, Enlighten my darkness…!”

Pray, as Saint Gregory Palamas, who cried for many years, “Lord, Enlighten my darkness,” and he was heard. Holy Elder Sophrony of Essex

Verse: Now is the truly great preacher of the Radiant Light,
Verse: Led by the Source of Light to the never-setting Light.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
11 March 1990

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

Γρηγόριος Παλαμάς_St Gregory Palamas_Св Григорий Палама_3323In one of the Psalms we can read the following words: Those who have sown with tears will reap with joy… If in the course of weeks of preparation we have seen all that is ugly and unworthy in us mirrored in the parables, if we have stood before the judgement of our conscience and of our God, then we have truly sown in tears our own salvation. And yet, there is still time because even when we enter into the time of the harvest, God gives us a respite; as we progress towards the Kingdom of God, towards the Day of the Resurrection, we still can, at every moment, against the background of salvation, in the face of the victory of God, turn to Him with gratitude and yet, brokenheartedness, and say, ‘No, Lord! I am perhaps the worker of the eleventh hour, but receive me as Thou promised to do!’

Last week we have kept the day of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the day when the Church proclaimed that it was legitimate and right to paint icons of Christ; it was not a declaration about art, it was a deeply theological proclamation of the Incarnation. The Old Testament said to us that God cannot be represented by any image because He was unbottomed mystery; He had even no Name except the mysterious name which only the High Priest know. But in the New Testament we have learned, and we know from experience that God has become Man, that the fullness of the Godhead has abided and is still abiding forever in the flesh; and therefore God has a human name: Jesus, and He has got a human face that can be represented in icons. An icon is therefore a proclamation of our certainty that God has become man; and He has become man to achieve ultimate, tragic and glorious solidarity with us, to be one of us that we may be one of the children of God. He has become man that we may become gods, as the Scripture tells us. And so, we could last week already rejoice; and this is why, a week before, when we were already preparing to meet this miracle, this wonder of the Incarnation, softly, in an almost inaudible way, the Church was singing the canon of Easter: Christ is risen from the dead! – because it is not a promise for the future, it is a certainty of the present, open to us like a door for us to enter through Christ, the Door as He calls Himself, into eternity.

And today we remember the name of Saint Gregory Palamas, one of the great Saints of Orthodoxy, who against heresy and doubt, proclaimed, from within the experience of the ascetics and of all believers, proclaimed that the grace of God is not a created Gift – it is God Himself, communicating Himself to us so that we are pervaded by His presence, that we gradually, if we only receive Him, open ourselves to Him, become transparent or at least translucent to His light, that we become incipiently and ever increasingly partakers of the Divine nature.

This is not simply a promise; this is a certainty which we have because this has happened to thousands and thousands of those men and women whom we venerate as the Saints of God: they have become partakers of the Divine nature, they are to us a revelation and certainty of what we are called to be and become.

And today one step more brings us into the joy, the glory of Easter. In a week’s time we will sing the Cross – the Cross which was a terror for the criminals, and has become now a sign of victory and salvation, because it is to us the sign that God’s love has no measure, no limits, is as deep as God is deep, all-embracing as God is all-embracing, and indeed, as tragically victorious as God is both tragic and victorious, awe-inspiring, and shining the quiet, joyful light which we sing in Vespers.

Let us then make ourselves ready to meet this event, the vision of the Cross, look at it, and see in it the sign of the Divine love, a new certainty of our possible salvation; and when the choir sings this time more loudly the canon of the Resurrection, let us realise that step by step God leads us into a victory which He has won, and which He wants to share with us.

And then we will move on; we will listen to the Saint who teaches us how to receive the grace which God is offering, how to become worthy of Him; and a step more – and we will see the victory of God in Saint Mary of Egypt and come to the threshold of Holy Weak. But let us remember that we are now in the time of newness, a time when God’s victory is been revealed to us, that we are called to be enfolded by it, to respond to it by gratitude, a gratitude that will make us into new people – and also with joy! And joy full of tears in response to the love of God, and a joy which is a responsible answer to the Divine love. Amen!


Holy Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex

Γρηγόριος Παλαμάς- Saint Gregory Palamas _ Святой Григорий Палама_-ag-gregorios-palamasWhat can I do to inherit eternal life?

And I was given the answer:

“Pray, as Saint Gregory Palamas, who cried for many years, “Lord, Enlighten my darkness,” and he was heard.

“Pray in the words of the Ecclesiastical Ode “Enlighten, O Giver of Light, and me the sinner with Your light inaccessible”, and strengthen your faith, remembering that the Church does not pray for things that cannot be done.”

Then, that Man, in excluding the possibility that such a prayer would remain without the above answer, closed his argument as follows:

” When your soul knew this light, then, when it happened to lose it, you will burn for it, and mimicking the Saint Simeon the New Theologian will seek and will I cry unto them:

— Come, O true light!

— Come, O eternal life!

— Come, O raising of the fallen!

— Come, O rising of those who lie down!

— Come, O resurrection of the dead!

— Come, All-Holy King.

— Come, and dwell in us

and live continually, inseparably within me,

and you reign in us

ever and unto the ages of ages.


Troparion Tone 8:

Light of Orthodoxy, pillar and teacher of the Church, adornment of monks and champion of theologians, O Gregory, wonderworker and boast of Thessalonika, preacher of grace, pray that our souls may be saved!

ODE IV To Saint Gregory:
Irmos: Seated in glory …,

Thou hast opened thy mouth, O wise father, and preached the divine Wisdom which thou hast ever learnt in thy heart; and which showed Balaam to be vainly lacking in understanding and foolish.

Refrain: Holy Hierarch Father Gregory, pray to God for us.

Thou hast set beneath the earth, O most sweetest Sun, in accordance with the laws of nature, but in the morning thou shalt rise again with Christ, the Sun that knoweth no evening, Who doth watch over all by thine intercessions.

Glory …,

The grace of God hath been manifest in thee, O blessed one, the great glory and strong support of the Orthodox, the good shepherd, and second Theologian, and brave guardian of thy flock.

ODE V , Irmos: All creation stands in awe of thy divine glory …,

O most wise one, thy words and sacred writings are to those who draw near to them; a heavenly dew, honey from the rock, the bread of angels, nourishing food, and sweetness, O Gregory, thou fount of living water.

ODE IX, To Saint Gregory:
Irmos: Let every mortal born on earth … ,

Refrain: Holy Hierarch Father Gregory, pray to God for us.

A mirror divine wast thou, O Gregory, for in accordance with the divine image, thou hast kept thyself undefiled; and manfully establishing thy mind as master over the passions of the flesh, thou hast attained to that which is in accordance with God’s likeness. Wherefore thou hast become the most glorious dwelling-place of the Holy Trinity.

Refrain: Holy Hierarch Father Gregory, pray to God for us.

Like an inspired winged angel, thou dist come to the aid of the pious Emperor, as one completely filled with the Holy Spirit, fighting against the vainminded Balaam, who in his madness unjustly spake against the God of heaven; Wherefore thou didst justly gain the victory over him.

Glory …,

Wholly filled with heavenly wisdom, thou didst shine forth upon the world as light, teaching the dogmas of Orthodoxy. Befriending thyself to and loving Wisdom, O most wise one, thou didst conceive the fear of God within thyself, giving birth to the words of the Spirit.

My brothers, the argument has been concluded in our time. Christ departed from Europe as he once did from Gadara at the demand of the Gadarenes. And as soon as He left, war, madness, horror, destruction, and annihilation ensued. Saint Nicholas (Velimirovich) of Zhicha

δαιμονισμένων των Γεργεσηνών ή 'Γαδαρηνών'vindecarea_demonizatilor_din_tinutul_gherghesenilor_12566th Sunday of Luke
The Gadarene Demoniac Luke 8: 27-39

“My brothers, the argument has been concluded in our time. Christ departed from Europe as he once did from Gadara at the demand of the Gadarenes. And as soon as He left, war, madness, horror, destruction, and annihilation ensued. The pre-Christian Hunic, Lombardian and African barbarism returned, in a form that was a hundredfold more horrible. Christ took His Cross and His blessing, and departed. There remains only darkness and stench…” Saint Nicholas (Velimirovich) of Zhicha


Healing of two possessed in Gergesene
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
8 July 1990

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

Παναγίας Πάντων των θλιβομένων η Χαρά-всех скорбящихIn one of the Gospels, before the passage which was read today about the healing of two possessed in the country of Gergesene, there is a short story about Christ crossing the sea of Galilee together with His disciples. In the course of their journey a storm broke out. And as the Gospel puts it, Christ was peacefully asleep with His head on a pillow. And the apostles cried out, not in a prayer, but in indignation: Do You not care that we are perishing? Christ awoke, and He stood up, and looked at them sadly, and said: ‘O men of little faith!’ Then He turned to the storm and commanded it to be still.

Isn’t that what happens so often to us? We feel that we are in danger, we are in need, we turn to God, we claim His attention, we want things to be the way we choose – and there is silence; God seems to be asleep; and we suspect that He does not care, that He is like Christ, sleeping peacefully with His head on a cushion, while we, His creatures, cry, wail in our agony…

Isn’t there anything that we can learn? Yes, we are not on the sea, we are not in a boat, there is not even a physical storm; there are storms around us and within us; and we turn to God because we want Him to solve our problem. And Christ had said long before that if you have faith as much as a grain of mustard – you could move mountains… Is it that we have no faith, not even as a grain of mustard? Is it that we have no faith, and therefore have neither courage nor understanding – no courage to face the storm, and no understanding to see in it the ways of God? Yes, the Lord said to Isaiah: ‘My ways are not your ways, as My thoughts are not your thoughts! My ways are so much higher than yours, as My thoughts are higher than yours…’ Haven’t we learned anything from the Gospel, from our life within this strange community which we call the Church, in which God and man stand together? Do we not realise that in the power of Christ Who sustains us we can face the storm, we don’t need a miracle, we need only our faith? This is the first image.

And then comes another image in today’s reading. Christ comes to the land of the possessed; there, He is neither idle, nor passive, nor absent: He acts, He heals the possessed men; and what happens, what is the response of the people? They are in terror because they have seen the power of God manifested in such a way that fills them with fear, not with awe. And they ask Christ to be gone: Leave our realm, go away!.. The fact that Christ has acted, that He has healed, that He has saved the men, matters nothing; what matters, is that they have to pay the cost for it: their pigs.

Isn’t it again something which we happen to do? We ask God to come into our lives; and suddenly we discover that God is not coming in the way in which we want Him to be! He is not coming into our lives simply to order things according to our view; He transforms the dead orderliness of our life into a chaos, but a chaos which is pregnant with possibilities – but we don’t want this! We want what we had: an orderly life, without problems, without anything great happening, also without anything tragic happening.

Last weak we read the story of the centurion to whom Christ said, ‘I will come to your house and heal the servant’. And he said, ‘No, Lord, there is no need for you to come, I trust you, it’s enough for you to say a word – and everything will be right’. Christ need not come; and in our lives, how often has He said the word: the whole Gospel is Christ’s word addressed to us; the whole Gospel is made of words that can give us life eternal. You remember the passage when Christ has spoken incomprehensible words to those who surrounded Him, and many of His disciples left; and He turned to the twelve, and said, ‘Are you also going to leave Me?’ – and Peter said, ‘No – where should we go? You have the words of life eternal’. Christ has never spoken of life eternal, never given descriptions of it; the words of life eternal were words that awoke eternal life within those who heard, who had ears, good will to hear. ‘Say a word – and my servant will be healed’, Christ is speaking: why isn’t that we, His servants, are not healed? Because we don’t want to listen.

Earlier, on another occasion, someone else had said to Christ, ‘Leave me – I am unworthy’. Having seen the miraculous catching of fish on the sea of Galilee, Peter said, ‘Leave my boat, I am not worthy, I am a sinner. Have we ever spoken such words? Have we ever felt that we are unworthy of Christ’s coming, dwelling under our roof, being our familiar, being with us, doing for us all we need? Indeed being for us like a servant who will do things because we need them done.

Is that the way we respond to the Gospel? Let us think of Peter, his awe because he had seen the act of God; and let us think of these people who have also seen the act of God. Both said, ‘Go, oh Lord!’ – but how differently! Who are we: Peter, or the Gadarines?

And again: when we are in agony, in need – have we got faith to say, ‘In the power of Christ that sustains me I can face my own agony, or the storm’, or do we turn to God and say, ‘You – save me! I am not ready to endure this agony’.

Let us reflect on it all; because every word of God is salvation for us if we listen to it, if we respond to it. Let us listen – beyond what I have said, read the passages, think of them, find in them what I have not seen. But then, let us all, according to our understanding, and beyond our strengths, in the spirit and strength of Christ live according to His words. Amen.


St. Nikolai Velimirovich

δαιμονισμένων των Γεργεσηνών [ή 'Γαδαρηνών'vindecarea_demonizatilor_din_tinutul_gherghesenilor_1Those who educate by blinding rather than by enlightening – what will You do with them, O Lord? They turn Your children away from You, and prevent them from approaching Your Grace, for they say: ‘”The Lord” is an archaic term of your dead grandparents. It is an old amulet, which your grandparents used to wear but they have died off. We shall teach you how to till the earth, how to fatten the body, and how to dig for gold, which shines more brilliantly than the dead Lord.’… What will You do with these corrupters of Your children, O Lord?”

I shall do nothing to them, for they have done everything to curse their own seed and breed. Truly, they have prepared a worse judgment for themselves and their people than the scribes and Sadducees. For they had the example of these latter, and failed to learn from it. In their old age, they will hear sabers rattling at their threshold…. It will be worse for them than for the Babylonians, when in their might they used to worship blood and gold…. First will come hunger, such as even Babylon never knew. And then war, for the sake of plundering bread, from which they will return defeated. And then an internecine slaughter and burning of cities and towns. And then diseases, which the hands of physicians will not dare touch…” (Prayers by the Lake).

“The leaders of the people are misleading them. What will You do with them, O my Lord?

“They are leading the people astray for their own profit. … They do not teach the people truth, but feed them lies the year round. They are incapable of doing justice, so instead they intimidate the people by scaring them with a worse injustice of times past. They pillage for themselves and their friends…”

“What will You do with them, O Lord?”

“They have done everything themselves; I have nothing to do but to leave them to themselves. … They will see their homes in flames, and will flee their own land, hungry and sickly. They will see foreigners in their land, and will beg them for a piece of bread. … They will hear their names being cursed, and will not dare to show their faces…”

As long as there is crying out on earth, there will also be an echo in heaven. I am the One who is closest to everyone on earth. I give Myself to everyone who desires Me; I withdraw Myself from everyone who does not acknowledge Me. Poem LXXXIV (84) St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Troparion of the Icon “JOY OF ALL THAT SORROW” ― Tone 2

Thou art the joy of all that sorrow/ and the protectoress of the oppressed,/ feeder of the hungry, consolation of travelers,/ haven for the tempest-tossed, visitation of the sick,/ protection and aid of the infirm, staff of old age,/ O all-pure Mother of the Most High God./ Hasten, we pray, to save thy servants.

Troparion of the Icon “JOY OF ALL THAT SORROW” ― Tone 4

Let us, sinful and humbled, now earnestly run to the Mother of God,/ and let us fall down in repentance,/ crying from the depths of our soul:/ O Lady, help, have compassion on us./ Make haste, for we perish from the multitude of our sins./ Turn not thy servants empty away,/ for we have thee as our only hope.

Apolytikion of ST ARETHAS and his fellow Martyrs — Tone 1

You were glorified magnificently by your struggle for piety, and through your steadfastness you deposed the evil of the Christ-killers, and you therefore offered to Christ immovable ranks of Martyrs, as a divine teacher and guide, O all-blessed Arethas. Glory to Him Who gave you strength, glory to Him Who crowned you, glory to Him Who grants through you healings for all.

Small Paraklesis (Intercessory Prayer) to the Most Holy Theotokos, Tone 2.

All those
Do you shelter, O Good One,
Those who in their faith flee unto you,
With your strong hand, you protect;
We who sin have no one else,
Who intercedes for us
Before God, praying endlessly,
In ills and all dangers,
For us who are laiden with
Our many sins and mistakes;
Mother, of our God in the Highest
Therefore, we fall down to you, humbly;
From all the misfortunes, keep your servants safe.

The same

For those
In great sorrow you are joy,
And for the oppressed, a protection,
And for the hungry, their food,
Comfort unto those estranged;
You are a staff to the blind,
Visitation of all those sick,
And to those held by pain
Shelter and a comforting,
And to the orphaned, an aid;
Mother, of our God in the highest,
You who are the Spotless One, hasten,
Save your servants from their sin, we ask of you.

Plagal of the 4th Tone

Lady, do you receive,
From your servants, their many prayers;
And deliver all of us,
From all sadness and necessity.

Tone 2

My numerous hopes are placed
Before you, most holy One;
Mother of our God,
Guard me with care, within your sheltered arms.

Take up your cross! Let us learn the glory of crucified Love, of this Love sacrificial which is in the words of the Old Testament, stronger than death, stronger than hell, stronger than all things… Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

Σταυρός_ Holy-Cross_Крест Господня_20_4The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross
Repose of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (407)
Saint Placilla the Empress (Aelia Flaccilla), wife of St. Theodosius the Great (400)
Uncovering of the relics (2000) of Sts. Alexandra (1789), Martha (1829), and Helen (1832), of Diveyevo Monastery.
Repose of Hieromonk Sofian (Boghiu) of Romania (2002).

Commemorated on September 14

Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify.

O Cross – guardian of the universe; O Cross – adornment of the Church; O Cross – support of the faithful; O Cross – the glory of angels and the defeat of demons.

Sermon on The Cross
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
September 28, 1986

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

Σταύρωσις_The Crucifixion_Greek-Byzantine-Orthodox-Icon_Распятие_ИИСУСА_ХРИСТА_rastignirea-essex (1)We have been keeping these days the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. There is a passage in the Gospel in which the Lord says to us, “No one has greater love than he who gives his life for his neighbour”. And these words resolve the antinomy between the horror of the Cross and the glory of it, between death and the Resurrection. There is nothing more glorious, more awe-inspiring and wonderful than to love and to be loved. And to be loved of God with all the life, with all the death of the Only-Begotten Son, and to love one another at the cost of all our life and, if necessary, of our death is both tragedy but mainly victory. In the Canon of the Liturgy we say, “Holy, most holy art Thou and Thine Only-Begotten Son and Thy Holy Spirit! Holy and most holy art Thou because Thou hast so loved Thy world that Thou hast given Thine Only-Begotten Son that those who will believe in Him do not perish but have life eternal, Who hath come and hath fulfilled all that was appointed for our sakes, and in the night when He was betrayed ” no! ” when He gave Himself up, He took bread, and brake it and gave it to His disciples …”

This is the divine love. At times one can give one’s own life more easily than offer unto death the person whom one loves beyond all; and this is what God, our Father has done. But it does not make less the sacrifice of Him who is sent unto death for the salvation of one person or of the whole world.

And so when we think of the Cross we must think of this strangely inter-twined mystery of tragedy and of victory. The Cross, an instrument of infamous death, of punitive death to which criminals were doomed, because Christ’s death was that of an innocent, and because this death was a gift of self in an act of love ” becomes victory.

This is why Saint Paul could say, “It is no longer I, it is Christ Who lives in me.” Divine love filled him to the brim and therefore there was no room for any other thought or feeling, any other approach to anyone apart from love, a love that gave itself unreservedly, love sacrificial, love crucified, but love exulting in the joy of life.

And when we are told in to-day’s Gospel, Turn away from yourself, take up your Cross, Follow Me’ (St Mark VIII: 34) ” we are not called to something dark and frightening; we are told by God: Open yourself to love! Do not remain a prisoner of your own self-centredness. Do not be, in the words of Theophane the Recluse, like a shaving of wood which is rolled around its own emptiness. Open yourself up! Look ” there is so much to love, there are so many to love! There is such an infinity of ways in which love can be experienced, and fulfilled and accomplished. Open yourself and lovebecause this is the way of the Cross! Not the way which the two criminals trod together with Christ to be punished for their crimes; but the wonderful way in which giving oneself unreservedly, turning away from self, existing only for the other, loving with all one’s being so that one exists only for the sake of the other ” this is the Cross and the glory of the Cross.

So, when we venerate the Cross, when we think of Christ’s crucifixion, when we hear the call of Christ to deny ourselves ” and these words simply mean: turn away from yourself! Take up your cross! ” we are called to open ourselves to the flood of Love Divine, that is both death to ourselves and openness to God and to each and to all.

In the beginning of the Gospel of Saint John we are told, “And the Word was with God”; in the Greek it says “Godwards”. The Word, the Son had no other love, no other thought, no other movement but towards the Beloved One, giving Himself to Him Who gave Himself perfectly to Him.

Let us learn the glory of crucified Love, of this Love sacrificial which is in the words of the Old Testament, stronger than death, stronger than hell, stronger than all things because it is Divine Life conquering us and poured through us onto all those who need to be loved in order to come to Life, to believe in Love and themselves to become children of Love, children of Light, inherit the Life eternal. Amen.

Σταυρός_Ελκόμενος επί Σταυρού_Holy-Cross_Крест Господня_S1luarea_crucii--_Greek-Byzantine-Orthodox-Icon_The power of the Cross
Saint Niphon of Constantiane, in Algeria of Africa. (4th century- Commemorated on December 23 )

A pious Christian related to me the following amazing incident: He told me that one Saturday night, when he was praying in the narthex of St Anastasius during the usual resurrectional vigil, the servant of God Nephon also came, because he always observed vigils every Saturday night in the churches of the saints.

“Well,” my companion said, “I see a large number of white-clad men travelling with him, some in front of him and others behind him, rejoicing that they were surrounding him. But even more dread, a Cross as tall as he and glittering as if made of pure gold was rising in front of him. Similar glittering Crosses were on the right and left, in back and over the saint’s head They were entwined and built a wall around him. When a temptation came, during that moment of the battle, the Lord, wanting to test him, permitted the Crosses to part. Thus they left a small opening amongst them through which the enemies were able to throw their arrows. A great number of angels and demons watched the battle. The saint would raise his hands toward the Most-High God and with his pure mind would ascend to Him. He would remain up there praying. Seeing him and fearing the wrath of God, Satan would tremble and say to his army: ‘Let’s go, boys, away from this Nephon, because he has ascended to heaven and is praying against us to the Great One. Let’s disappear then before His wrath comes down and tortures us.’”

“And immediately they would vanish. Then that blessed one would come down to earth after the prayer, come to himself and, not finding any enemy, he would thank the good Lord Who shielded him.”

“Then the angels also departed happy, while the precious Crosses came together again closing the entrance and guarding the righteous one.”

“Many times,” that good Christian continued, “the devil would come with a large number of demons to throw him in a passion but couldn’t, because, surrounded by the power of the Cross, he would ridicule them and spit on them. Thus the dark demons, thoroughly ashamed, would disappear, while he glorified God even more for granting him such power against the invisible enemies.”

Apolytikion of Elevation of the Holy Cross (First Tone)

Save, O Lord, Your people and bless Your inheritance; grant victory to the faithful over their adversaries. And protect Your commonwealth, by the power of Your Cross.


O STRANGE wonder, great and marvelous! The length and breadth of the Cross is the equal of Heaven’s span, for by means of grace Divine, it doth hallow the universe. By this, barbarian nations are subdued; by this, the scepters of princes are made strong, O ladder most divine! Whereby we ascend unto the Heavens’ heights, while exalting Christ the Lord with hymns and songs of praise.


REJOICE, the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord, thou never-conquered battle-trophy of piety, support and staff of the faithful, the wall surrounding the Church, and the door that leadeth into Paradise. Through thee hath corruption been made to vanish and be no more; death’s mighty power hath been vanquished and swallowed up, and we have been raised from the earth to celestial things. O truceless foe of demons, and our weapon invincible, thou art the glory of Martyrs and true adornment of all the Saints, calm port of salvation, that which granteth the great mercy of God unto the world.

Exapostilarion of the Exaltation of the Cross

The Cross is the guardian of the whole world; the Cross is the beauty of the Church, the Cross is the might of kings; the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful, the Cross is the glory of angels and the wounding of demons

Today was born the Mother of God, the Joy of All Joys, the realm of the uncontainable, the Beautiful Gate! through which the King of Heaven wished to enter the world… Saint Nikolai Velimirovič – Anthony of Sourozh

Γενέσιον της Θεοτόκου_ Nativity of the Theotokos_ Рождество Пресвятой Богородицы_1-zamislirea-sfintei-fecioare-maria-de-catre-sf-ana-3-sec-The Nativity of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
Our Lady of Saydnaya (Shaghoura) Syria
Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign”, the “Kursk-Root”
Icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God
St. Sophronius Bishop of Achtaleia, Iberia

Commemorated on September 8

Anna, all mothers truly you surpassed,
Until your daughter should become your Mother.
Anna brought into the light on the eighth of this month God’s own Mother.

Today was born the Mother of God, the Joy of All Joys

Hymn of Praise
The Nativity of the Most-holy Mother of God
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Γενέσιον της Θεοτόκου_Nativity of the Theotokos_ Рождество Пресвятой Богородицы_-2-3-man-stavronichitagreatly desired and long awaited one,
O Virgin, thou hast been obtained from the Lord with tears!
A bodily temple of the Most-holy Spirit shalt thou become,
And shalt be called Mother of the Eternal Word.

The Burning Bush they called thee,
For thou wilt receive within thyself the divine fire:
Ablaze with fire but not consumed,
Thou shalt bear the Golden Fruit and offer it to the world.

Thou shalt be the Bearer of Him Who bears the heavens,
To Whom all of heaven offers up praise!
The Miracle of miracles shall come to pass within thee,
For thou shalt bear heaven, thou who art “more spacious than the heavens!”

Thou art more precious to us, O Virgin, than precious stones,
For thou art the source of salvation for mankind.
For this, may the entire universe glorify thee,
O Most-holy Virgin, O white Turtledove!

The King of Heaven shall desire to enter the world,
And shall pass through thee, O Beautiful Gate!
O Virgin, when thou dost become woman thou shalt bear Christ for us;
From thy body, the Sun shall blaze forth.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič


Nativity of the Mother of God
Anthony of Sourozh
21 September 1971

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

Γενέσιον της Θεοτόκου_ Nativity of the Theotokos_ Рождество Пресвятой Богородицы_333I should like to say a few words about the greatness of this feast. When a man surveys this world in which we live, which is so vast, seemingly boundless, and looks at himself in it, he feels very small and insignificant. And if he adds to this the hardness and coldness of men, he may sometimes feel extremely vulnerable, helpless and unprotected both before people and before the terrifying vastness of the world.

Yet at the same time if a man looks at himself not in relation to his surroundings, but goes deep into himself, he will there discover such an expanse, such depths, that the whole created world is too small to fill it. Man sees the beauty of the world — and the vision does not completely satisfy him; he learns an enormous amount about God’s creation — and the knowledge does not fill him to the brim. Neither human joy nor even human sorrow can completely fill a man, because in him is a depth that exceeds everything created; because God made man so vast, so deep, so limitless in his spiritual being, that nothing in the world can finally satisfy him except God Himself.

Today’s feast of the Mother of God demonstrates this fact with particular beauty and splendour. She so believed in God, She gave herself to Him with such a pure mind and pure heart, with an unwavering will, with the purity of Her virginity and life such that She was granted to say the Name of God perfectly, with such love that the Word became flesh and God was made man in Her.

Through this we are shown that not only is the soul, the inner being and spirit of man, so created by God that it can contain the mystery of a meeting with the living God, but that even the body is so made that in an unfathomable way it can be united with the living God. Indeed, according to St. Peter we are called to become partakers of the divine nature; according to St. Paul our vocation is to become temples of the Holy Spirit. The whole of the New Testament teaches us that we are the Body, the living tremulous Body of Christ, through baptism and through Holy Communion. How wonderful this is, and therefore with what reverence must we regard not only our immortal soul, but this body of ours which is called to rise again, to enter the Kingdom of God and be glorified, like the body of Christ.

In the XI century St. Simeon the New Theologian wrote one day when he had returned to his humble cell after receiving Holy Communion, words to this effect, “I look upon this corruptible body, upon this frail flesh, and I tremble, because by partaking of the Holy Mysteries it has been permeated by God, it has been united with Christ, it is overflowing with the Holy Spirit… these powerless hands have become the hands of God, this body has become a body that God has taken possession of.”

Consider what has been given us not only by our faith, but by the sacraments of the Church. The immersion in the blessed waters of Baptism makes us particles, living members of Christ’s Body, the Anointing with Holy Chrism is not only the visible seal of the Holy Spirit, but makes us the temples in which He dwells. When the bread and wine which are offered by our faith and love to God are consecrated, they become incomprehensibly and mysteriously the Body and Blood of Christ, and this created matter partakes of Christ and imparts to us, who are incapable of soaring to God in spirit, the divinity of Christ, which saves and transfigures us in soul and body.

This feast of Nativity of the Mother of God is the time when we remember the birth of the One who for the sake of us all, for the whole human race, was able to show such faith, to surrender so absolutely to God, that He could become Man through Her, and bring us these manifold, unfathomable gifts. Glory to Her humility, glory to Her faith, glory to Her love, glory to God Who was incarnate and to the Virgin Mother of God, the worthy vessel of the incarnation of the Son of God, Christ our God! Amen.
http://www.mitras.ru/eng/eng_186.htmΚολακεία της Παναγιας__ласкание Девы Марии_289_dionisiatTroparion of Nativity of the Theotokos
Fourth Tone

Thy Nativity, O Theotokos Virgin, hath proclaimeth joy to all the world; for from Thee hath dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, annulling the curse and bestowing the blessing, abolishing death and granting us life eternal.

Apolytikion of Nativity of the Theotokos
Fourth Tone

Your birth, O Theotokos, brought joy to the whole world, for from you dawned the sun of righteousness, Christ our God. Freeing us from the curse, He gave us His blessings. Abolishing death, He granted us eternal life.

Kontakion of Nativity of the Theotokos
Fourth Tone

In your holy birth, Immaculate One, Joachim and Anna were rid of the shame of childlessness; Adam and Eve of the corruption of death. And so your people, free of the guilt of their sins, celebrate crying: “The barren one gives birth to the Theotokos, who nourishes our life.”

At the Aposticha, Prosomia. Tone 8.

Verse: The wealthy of the people will entreat your face.

Rejoice, company of mortals; rejoice, temple of the Lord; rejoice, holy mountain; rejoice, divine table; rejoice, lampstand all filled with light; rejoice, honoured glory of the orthodox; rejoice, Mary, Mother of Christ God; rejoice, all-blameless; rejoice, throne of fire; rejoice, tabernacle; rejoice, bush unconsumed by fire; rejoice, hope of all.

Tone VI:
The composition of Stephen of Jerusalem:

Today is the pronouncement of universal joy! Today the winds have blown which herald salvation, and our nature is released from barrenness! For the barren woman is shown to be the mother of her who remaineth virgin even after giving birth to the Creator, from whom God taketh to Himself that which is alien to Him by nature, and Christ, the Deliverer of our souls, Who loveth mankind, doth accomplish salvation for the lost by means of flesh.

At the Aposticha, these stichera,
of Germanus the Patriarch, in Tone IV:

The joy of the whole world hath shone forth upon us from the righteous Joachim and Anna: the most laudable Virgin who, because of her surpassing purity, becometh the animate temple of God and is known as the one true Theotokos. Through her prayers, O Christ God, send down peace upon the world and great mercy upon our souls.

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


Wisdom hath built a house for herself and set up seven pillars. She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine in a bowl and prepared her table. She hath sent forth her servants, calling with a loud proclamation to the feast, saying: “Whoso is foolish, let him turn aside to me.” And to those who want understanding, she saith: “Come” eat of my bread, and drink wine which I have mingled for you. Leave folly, that ye may reign forever; and seek wisdom, and improve understanding by knowledge.” He that reproveth evil men shall get dishonor to himself; and he that rebuketh an ungodly man shall disgrace himself. Rebuke not evil men, lest they should hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give an opportunity to a wise man, and he will be wiser: instruct a just man, and he will receive more instruction. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the counsel of the law is the character of a sound mind. For in this way thou shalt live long, and years of thy life shall be added to thee.

Easter Message «Rejoice!». «Peace be unto you!» proclaimed Christ. «I have arisen, I am alive, I am with you, and henceforth nothing – neither death nor persecution – will ever separate us or deprive you of eternal life, the victory of God». Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

ΑΝΑΣΤΑΣΗ ΤΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ_Holy Resurrection of Jesus Christ_Воскресение Иисуса Христа_010 2Χριστός ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Христос Воскрес! 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!

Easter Message from the Most Reverend
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (Bloom) 1972
(Romans VIII:34–39)

Μυροφόρες γυναίκες (Ματθ. κη', 9-10). κατά την πρωίαν της Κυριακής. «Χαίρετε56945.bWhen Christ first rose from the tomb and appeared to His disciples and the myrrh-bearing women, He greeted them with the word «Rejoice!». And then later when He appeared to the Apostles His first words were «Peace be unto you!»; peace, because their confusion was very great – the Lord had died. It seemed as though all hope had perished for the victory of God over human wickedness, for the victory of good over evil. It would seem that life itself had been slain and light had faded. All that remained for the disciples who had believed in Christ, in life, in love, was to go on existing, for they could no longer live. Having tasted eternal life they were now condemned to expect cruel persecution and death at the hands of Christ’s enemies. «Peace be unto you», proclaimed Christ. «I have arisen, I am alive, I am with you, and henceforth nothing – neither death nor persecution – will ever separate us or deprive you of eternal life, the victory of God». And then, having convinced them of His physical resurrection, having restored their peace and an unshakable certainty of faith, Christ uttered words which мая in the present age sound menacing and frightening to many, «As the Father sent Me, so I send you». Only a few hours after Christ’s death on the cross, not long after the fearful night in Gethsemane, the betrayal by Judas when Christ had been taken by His enemies, condemned to death, led out beyond the city walls and died on the cross, these words sounded menacing. And it was only faith, the conquering certainty that Christ had risen, that God had conquered, that the Church had become an invincible force that transformed these words into words of hope and triumphant God-speed.

And the disciples went out to preach; nothing could stop them. Twelve men confronted the Roman empire. Twelve defenceless men, twelve men without legal rights were out to preach the simplest message, that divine love had entered the world and that they were willing to give their lives for the sake of this love, in order that others might believe and come to life, and that a new life might begin for others through their death. [I Cor. IV:9–13]

Death was indeed granted them; there is not a single apostle except St. John the Divine who did not die a martyr’s death. Death was granted them, and persecution and suffering and a cross (II Cor. VI: 3–14).

But faith, faith in Christ, in God Incarnate, faith in Christ crucified and risen, faith in Christ who brought unquenchable love into the world, has triumphed. «Our faith which has conquered the world is the victory.»

This preaching changed the attitude of man to man; every person became precious in the eyes of another. The destiny of the world was widened and deepened; it burst the bounds of earth and united earth to heaven. And now we Christians, in the words of a western preacher, in the person of Jesus Christ, have become the people to whom God has committed the care of other people; that they should believe in themselves because God believes in us; that they should hope for all things because God puts His hope in us; that they should be able to carry our victorious faith through the furnace of horror, trials, hatred and persecution – that faith which has already conquered the world, in the faith in Christ, God crucified and risen.

So let us also stand up for this faith. Let us proclaim it fearlessly, let us teach it to our children, let us bring them to the sacraments of the Church which, even before they can understand it, unite them with God and plant eternal life in them.

All of us, sooner or later, will stand before the judgment of God and will have to answer whether we were able to love the whole world – believers and unbelievers, the good and the bad – with the sacrificial, crucified, all-conquering love with which God loves us. мая the Lord give us invincible courage, triumphant faith, joyful love in order that the kingdom for which God became man should be established, that we should truly become godly, that our earth should indeed become heaven where love, triumphant love lives and reigns. Christ is risen!

Μυροφόρες_ Myrrhbearers_ Жёны-мироносицы_M_13anastas570Katavasia.

The Angel cried aloud to the Lady full of grace: Rejoice, O pure Virgin; and again I say Rejoice. Your Son has resurrected from the grave on the third day.

Be illumined, illumined, O New Jerusalem; * for the glory of the Lord has arisen over you. * Dance now for joy, O Zion, and exult. * And you be merry, O pure Theotokos, * at the arising of the One you bore.

Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted life. (3)

Jesus, having risen from the grave as He foretold, has granted us eternal life and great mercy. 

Prokeimenon. Grave Mode.

Who is so great a God as our God? You alone are the God Who does wonders

Verse: You made known Your power among the peoples.

Who is so great a God as our God? You alone are the God Who does wonders.

Verse: I said, “Now I am beginning to see; this change is by the right hand of the Most High.”

Who is so great a God as our God? You alone are the God Who does wonders.

Verse: I remembered the Lord’s works, for I will remember Your wonders of old.

Who is so great a God as our God? You alone are the God Who does wonders.

Mode 2.

Your resurrection, O Christ our Savior, has illumined the entire earth, and has recalled your creation. O almighty Lord, glory to you.

Glory. Both now. Of Pascha.
Mode pl. 1.

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.”

Troparion. Tone 5.

Christ has risen from the dead, by death he has trampled on death, and to those in the graves given life.





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

Μαρία Αιγυπτία_Saint Mary of Egypt Icon _святая Мария Египтяныня__33315831_p18kgq513t1riv1unl14tb1rh41a1ga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apolytikion: Plagal of the Fourth Tone

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

From the Triodion in Tone I:

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

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

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

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

In solidarity with all mankind Christ taking upon Himself all the suffering of the world, accepting to die an impossible death has said in the name of all the sufferers, ‘Yes, – we forgive!’ Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh

Σταύρωσις_The Crucifixion_Greek-Byzantine-Orthodox-Icon_Распятие_ИИСУСА_ХРИСТА_ (1)

Third Sunday of Great Lent
Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross

et all the earth venerate the Cross,
through which it has learned to worship Thee, the Word.

Sunday of the Holy Cross
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
18 March 1990

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

As we progress deeper and deeper into the weeks of Lent, we can say with an ever-growing sense of gratitude and of joy, of a serene and exulting joy the words of a Psalm, ‘My soul shall live, and with gratitude I will give glory to the Lord’.

In the first week of Lent we have seen all the promises of salvation given in the Old Testament fulfilled: God became man, salvation has come, and all hopes are possible. And then, in the second week of Lent, we had the glorious proclamation of all the Saints of Christendom that not only did God come and dwell in our midst, but He has poured out upon us, into the Church, and into every human soul ready to receive Him the presence, the transforming gift of the Holy Spirit that makes us gradually commune ever deeper to the Living God until one day we become partakers of the Divine nature.

And today, if we ask ourselves, ‘But how that? How can we be forgiven, how can evil be undone?’ – one step brings us deeper into gratitude, deeper into joy, deeper into certainty when we consider, when we contemplate the Cross.

There is a passage of the Gospel in which we are told that when Christ spoke of salvation and of its conditions, Peter said to Him, ‘Who then can be saved?’ – and Christ answered, ‘What is not possible to men is possible for God!’. And He Himself came; the fullness of God abided in a human person, and He has power to forgive because He is the victim of all the evil, all the cruelty, all the destructiveness of human history. Because indeed, no one but the victim can forgive those who have brought evil, suffering, misery, corruption and death into their lives. And Christ does not only forgive His own murderers, when He says, ‘Father, forgive – they don’t know what they are doing’: He goes beyond this, because He had said, ‘Whatever you have done to one of My smaller brethren and sisters, you have done it to Me’ – not only in good, but indeed, the worst: because in compassion, in solidarity He identifies with every sufferer: the death, the pain, the agony of each of those who suffer is His. And so, when He prays, ‘Father, forgive! They do not know what they are doing, what they have been doing’, He prays for each of us not only in His own name, but in the name of all those upon whom evil has visited because of human sin.

But it is not only Christ who forgives; everyone who has suffered in soul, in body, in spirit, – everyone is called to grant freedom to those who have made him suffer.

And so, we can see why Christ says, ‘Forgive so that you may be forgiven’ because both the victim and the culprit are tied in one knot of solidarity and reciprocal responsibility. Only the victim can say, ‘Lord – forgive him, forgive her’, and only then can the Lord say, ‘I do!’.

But do you realise what responsibility it puts on each of us with regard to all and everyone? But also the depth, the glorious depth of hope which opens up to us when we look at the Cross and see that in solidarity with all mankind Christ taking upon Himself all the suffering of the world, accepting to die an impossible death has said in the name of all the sufferers, ‘Yes, – we forgive!’

This is one more step towards freedom, this is one more step towards the moment when we will be faced with Christ’s resurrection that engulfs us also because the risen Christ is risen and is offering all and each of us the fullness of eternal life.

And so again, and again we can say that Lent is a spring of a new life, a new time, a time of renewal, not only in repentance, but in being taken by Christ Himself as the shepherd took the lost sheep, as the Lord took up His Cross, brought it to the place of death, and undid death, undid evil by forgiveness and giving His life. Once more we are confronted with another step of our freedom and of newness. Let us enter ever deeper into this mystery, into this wonder of salvation, and rejoice in the Lord, and rejoicing, step after step, more and more, let us also express our gratitude by newness of life. Amen!

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:32-49) That God may forgive us, let us forgive men, We are all on this earth as temporary guests.

The power of the Cross. Honesty is the most precious Holy Cross. Saint Niphon of Constantiane – Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

Apolytikion of the Holy Cross – First Tone

O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victories to the to the Emperor over the barbarians; and by the power of Thy Cross, preserve Thy habitation.

Tone 5 – Hail of ascetics

Shine, Cross of the Lord, with the bright darting rays of your grace on the hearts of those who honour you, and with love inspired by God, embrace you, O desire of all the world. Through you our tears of sorrow have been wiped away; we have been delivered from the snares of death and have passed over to unending joy. Show us the splendour of your beauty, granting to us your servants the reward of our abstinence, for we entreat with faith your rich protection and great mercy.

Hail, life-giving Cross! the fair Paradise of the Church, Tree of incorruption that blossoms for us with the enjoyment of eternal glory. Through you the hosts of demons are driven back, the companies of the Angels rejoice with one accord and the congregations of the faithful keep the feast. You are an invincible weapon, an unbroken stronghold; you are the victory of kings and the glory of priests. Grant us also now to draw near to the Passion of Christ and to His Resurrection.

Hail, life-giving Cross! unconquerable trophy of the true faith, door to Paradise, succour of the faithful, rampart set about the Church. Through you the curse has utterly destroyed, the power of death swallowed up, and we are raised from earth to heaven: invincible weapon, adversary of demons, glory of martyrs, true ornament of holy monks, haven of salvation bestowing on the world great mercy.

Plagal of Second Tone

O CROSS of Christ, thou hope of Christians, guide of them that are gone-astray, haven of the storm-tossed, victory in war, surety of the whole world, physician of the sick, and resurrection of the dead: Have mercy on us.

Exapostilarion of the Exaltation of the Cross

“The Cross is the guardian of the whole world; the Cross is the beauty of the Church, the Cross is the might of kings; the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful, the Cross is the glory of angels and the wounding of demons.”

Through the power of Thy Cross, O Christ our God,
preserve us also from the temptations of the Evil One.
And make us worthy to venerate
Thy divine Passion and life-bearing Resurrection,
having radiantly traversed the great length of the Fast,
and have mercy on us, as Thou art good
and lovest mankind.

We will start on this journey tonight as the people of Israel started from the land of Egypt for the Promised Land by looking towards the Living God Who is Life and salvation, and to the example of those who have been victorious by the power of God that we will find courage, inspiration to come to the final victory, to the newness of life which is our calling and God’s promise. Anthony of Sourozh

Εισοδος εις στον Παραδεισο-Ι.Η.Εμμαους ΛαγκαδαSunday of Forgiveness (Cheesefare)
The Sunday of the Expulsion of Adam from Paradise, also called the Sunday of the Lost Paradise

Let the world lament bitterly with our first ancestors,
for it fell together with those who fell by a sweet repast.

Fasting gives birth to prophets and strengthens the powerful; fasting makes lawgivers wise. Fasting is a good safeguard for the soul, a steadfast companion for the body, a weapon for the valiant, and a gymnasium for athletes. Fasting repels temptations, anoints unto piety; it is the comrade of watchfulness and the artificer of chastity. In war it fights bravely, in peace it teaches stillness. St Basil the Great, First Homily on Fasting (6 )

Sunday of Forgiveness
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
12 March 1989

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

After these weeks of preparation during which we have examined our soul, our lives, all our relationship before the eyes and the judgement of God, we enter today into the joy of Lent; the joy of Lent. The word ‘lent’ means the spring; it is a beginning, and a beginning of life, a beginning of newness, a new time. It is a time when we will no longer be reminded of our own sins, no longer be confronted with images in parables of fall and repentance, but faced with the names of Saints who have started their lives as we start them: the frail, weak, vacillating, but who by the grace of God, by the power of God have become what they are: men, women, children whom we can venerate, in whom we can rejoice, who can be set as examples to us, to whom we can turn for their prayers unto salvation.

Σταυρός_ Holy-Cross_Крест Господня_πορεια στην ανω ιερουσαλημ5764821315_3e9821491fTonight we will start on this journey; on the journey that leads us from our sinful condition, recognised, repentant unto a new time, unto the Resurrection of Christ which is the beginning for us of our own eternal life. We will start on this journey to-night as the people of Israel started from the land of Egypt for the Promised Land: still frail, still burdened, still incompletely free. But it is not by looking back at ourselves, but by looking towards the Living God Who is Life and salvation, and to the example of those who have been victorious by the power of God that we will find courage, inspiration to come to the final victory, to the newness of life which is our calling and God’s promise. We will have to journey together, and we must not be in any delusion: we will be difficult for one another as companions on the journey; but we will depend on one another if we want to achieve to come to an end, — in the same way in which the Israelites were in the desert: not always obedient to God, not always loyal to one another, and yet, needing each other in order to reach the promised goal.

So, let us start now; let us think of the feast which we keep next Sunday: Triumph of Orthodoxy. It is not the triumph of the Orthodox over anyone else; it is the triumph of God over people. The triumph of His truth, the triumph of God in the lives of people.

And than, let us look at one saint after the other, and listen to what he has got to say to us: Gregory Palamas, John of the Ladder, Mary of Egypt and all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ. And we will then reach the point at which we must forget everyone and everything, and remember nothing, no one but the Lord Jesus Christ: what He is, what He has done for us, what He is doing for us. Let us learn to forget ourselves in the course of those weeks, joyfully, gratefully, that we can now turn away from ourselves and look only Godwards. And when the time of Passion week comes, again, in a new way, with a new determination, with a new renunciation to ourselves, turn and look at God Who has become man that we may be saved, and be grateful, forget ourselves, remember only Him and He will remember us unto salvation. Amen.


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

Saint Nikolai Velimirovič 

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


St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) Beloved brethren! All who wish to begin this podvig of fasting and prayer, all who wish to reap abundant fruits of your repentance! Hear the word of God, hear God’s commandment, and let go, forgive your neighbors their sins against you. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Amen.

Esau forgave his brother Jacob, who had taken away his primogeniture and their father’s blessing with cunning (Genesis 33:4). Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brethren, became Pharaoh’s confidant. His brothers were terrified, understanding that he had been given over their lives, but Joseph comforted them, saying: Fear not: for am I in the place of God? (Genesis 50:19).

Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_3410033 - CopyThe Abba Doulas the Passion-Bearer of Egypt, the years of whose life are not known for certain, was a monk in an Egyptian monastery. Being meek, he endured mockery, abuse, and humiliation from some of the brethren for twenty years. At first it was difficult for him; but gradually, praying to God and humbling his soul, he reached the point that he was able to feel sorry for his abusers with all his heart and to pray for them.
One day a monk stole and hid some church vessels. When an investigation of the theft was carried out, the detractors of St. Doulas accused him. The humble monk tried to defend himself, but when he became convinced that nobody would believe him, he stopped arguing and said: “Forgive me, holy fathers; I am a sinner.” The abbot ordered that the venerable saint be stripped of his monastic clothing and be dressed in secular clothes. St. Doulas was chained and beaten cruelly by the steward, but he was unable to get him to confess where the church vessels had been hidden. The saint was given over for trial to the civil authorities. Later he was tortured and, according to the law, the authorities were going to cut off his hands, but the real culprit repented and went to the abbot asking that the punishment be stopped.

The venerable saint was brought back to the monastery. The monks began to ask the saint’s forgiveness, but he was not only not angry with them, but he even thanked them for giving him an opportunity to blot out his sins through innocent suffering. The saint asked the Lord to forgive his offenders. After three days he died, but his body disappeared from the locked cathedral. Thus, the Lord showed that those who considered the Venerable Doulas to be a sinner were unworthy of burying his body.

St. Elder Sophrony Sakharov

Let us remember the words that Christ, who tells this parable, spoke on the Cross: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Lk 23:34). Surely He had grounds for a grudge; surely He might have warned His enemies that they were under judgment. But no, He shows us how to keep far from eternal danger – we are to forgive from the heart.
O Lord Jesus Christ, cleanse us from all wiles and wickedness and lead us into the kingdom of Thy love, that we may be heirs with all the saints in Thine unfathomable mystery.

Saint Paisios the Athonite

We must make use, as much as we can, of all the opportunities this spiritual arena offers to us, in order to approach closer to the Crucified Christ. Then, we will helped by Him and rejoice spiritually at His Holy Resurrection , since we would have experienced more spiritually Great Lent.
Ι pray that God gives you strength during Great Lent, so that you may climb Golgotha and be near Christ there, together with the Theotokos and your patron Saint, John the Theologian, and that you may be granted worthy to participate in the awesome Passion of our Lord. Amen.

Προσευχή_PRAYER- Моление-3-sf-proorocita-ana-mama-sf-prooroc-samuel-sec-ix-i-hr-2-1Prokeimenon of Vespers in Tone Plagal Fourth

Turn not away Thy face from Thy child for I am afflicted; hear me speedily. Draw near to my soul and deliver me.

Thy salvation, O God, hath set me up. The poor see and rejoice.

Tone V

The arena of the virtues hath been opened, * let all who wish to struggle now enter therein, * girding themselves for the noble struggles of the Fast; * for those that strive lawfully are justly crowned. * Taking up the armor of the Cross, * let us make war against the enemy. * Let us have as our invincible rampart – the Faith, * and as our breastplate – prayer, * and as our helmet – almsgiving; * and in place of a sword let us make use of fasting * which doth cut away every evil from our heart. * If we do this, we shall receive the true crown from Christ the King of all, ** at the day of Judgment.

Stichera from the Triodion; (Tone VI):

O all-precious Paradise, unsurpassed in goodness, * the tabernacle built by God, * unending gladness and delight, the glory of the righteous, * the beauty of the prophets, * and dwelling-place of the saints, * with the sound of thy rustling leaves pray to the Creator of all: * That He open unto me * the gates which I have closed by my transgression, * and that He may deem me worthy to partake of the Tree of Life ** and of the joy which before I delighted in, when in thee.


Σαρακοστή_blessed-great-and-holy-lent-display_imageMay the Lord grant us a Blessed Great and Holy Lent
and celebrate His Glorious Resurrection!

The parable of the Prodigal Son speaks to us not only of sin and repentance but also of the forgiveness that God gives us. Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh

άσωτος γιος_ the Prodigal Son_ Притча о блудном сынеprodigal-son-greek-1035426c93013c2e8d53002849e0886071_hdSunday of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)

Parable of the Prodigal Son
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
1967, 26 February

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

The parable of the Prodigal Son speaks to us not only of sin and repentance but also of the forgiveness that God gives us. When the prodigal son had come to his senses through suffering, privation, loneliness and rejection he set out to his father’s house, and his father, who had probably often looked out for his return, saw him from afar. The Gospel tells us that love and tenderness and pity filled his heart, “his son was dear to him” and without waiting for his son’s arrival the old man who had been deeply hurt by the young man’s sins and heartlessness ran to meet him, fell on his neck, embraced and kissed him.

Is that how we meet each other when we see from a distance someone coming from that far country to which all of us at some moment, frequently perhaps, get drawn by sin, a former friend, relation or acquaintance returning to us? Is that how we meet him? To begin with, is it often that our love is so unshakeable that we constantly go to the door of the house and look into the distance hoping for his return? And when we do see a person who once was close but has become estranged moving our way, are we often pierced to the heart by the old love and tenderness and pity? And do we often make the first move towards him without waiting for his repentance or words of regret, embrace him and try to console him for his own inconstancy in love and friendship? Do we not in fact more often behave like the son who had nothing to reproach himself with before his father? When that one returned from work in the fields and heard sounds of rejoicing in the house he asked a servant what it was about, and hearing that his younger brother who was starving had returned, he was unwilling to go in. His sinful brother through shame and fear had understood what he had done, and seeing the state he had reduced himself to had come from the far country to his father’s house uncertain how he would be received. But he, the righteous one was standing outside the house where there was rejoicing over the return to life of one who was dead, and waiting for his father to come and implore him, “enter into the common joy. I rejoice, the servants rejoice, your brother rejoices, partake of our joy.” But the righteous son rebukes his father saying that for all those years of work and virtuous living he had received no reward, whereas when that “son of yours” returned the father had slain the fatted calf. And the father says, “should we not have rejoiced when your brother came back?” But the elder son sees in the prodigal only the sinful son of his father whom he can no longer accept as a brother, though his father reminds him that if the prodigal also is his son, he must be the righteous one’s brother.

άσωτος γιος_ the Prodigal Son_ Притча о блудном сынеFiul-cel-pierdut-10Again I say, does it often happen that we perceive someone who has sinned, not necessarily against us but done wrong in general as our brother? Do we not more often say “your son” with contemptuous rejection? Do we often admit that he is our brother all the same, he is dear to the father and should be infinitely dear to us? But no, we are like the son who thought himself virtuous because he was a good worker, although he remained alien to the spirit of his father’s house.

One further comment. The father did not allow his son to ask to become a servant; he could not take him as a servant but only as a son returned. And he told then to bring his original robe, not the best garment in the house but the one he used to wear before he became a stranger, before he shed it to dress up as a foreigner. When the son put on his former robe instead of his rags he felt it fit him snugly, and his father ordered then to bring him the ring, not just a ring, but the ring with which in older times a man sealed his letters. The father put complete trust in him. Why? Why did he not first demand proofs of his repentance? Because he knew that if his son had overcome shame and fear in order to come home his return was secure. But when a person, formerly a friend but who has hurt either us or someone dear to us, approaches us, are we ready to entrust ourselves to him, give him the old affection? No, and therefore the reconciliation is not permanent. That is why a person is so afraid of seeking reconciliation; he knows he will not meet the father but only false, humiliating virtue which says “you are not my brother even if my father does acknowledge you as his son”.

Let us consider this question of forgiveness, because soon it will be forgiveness Sunday and it might catch us unprepared. Amen.

A family man flooded with Taborian Light, He seen the “uncreated Light”. When the Grace of God is within us, then day is within our souls. Saint Paisius the Athonite – Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Your sins are my sins, St. Nikolai Velimirovic Bishop of Ochrid

Tone 3 Kontakion (from the Lenten Triodion)

I have recklessly forgotten Thy glory, O Father; and among sinners I have scattered the riches which Thou gavest me. And now I cry to thee as the Prodigal: I have sinned before Thee, O merciful Father; receive me as a penitent, and make me as one of Thy hired servants!

Tone 1 – ‘Lord, I have cried unto Thee…’

Brethren, our purpose is to know the power of God’s goodness,
For when the Prodigal Son abandoned his sin,
He hastened to the refuge of his Father.
That good man embraced him and welcomed him:
He killed the fatted calf and celebrated with heavenly joy!
Let us learn from this example to offer thanks to the Father who loves all people,
And to the Victim, the glorious Saviour of our souls!

Doxastikon in Tone Six

Loving Father, I have gone far from you, but do not forsake me, nor declare me unfitted for your Kingdom. The all-evil enemy has stripped me naked and taken all my wealth. I have squandered like the Profligate the graces given to my soul. But now I have arisen and returned, and I cry aloud to you, ‘Make me as one of your hired servants, You who for my sake stretched out Your spotless hands on the Cross, to snatch me from the fearsome beast and to clothe me once again in the first robe, for You alone art full of mercy’.