Iconography and Hand painted icons

Forgiveness is first and foremost a divine act: ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ The biography of this martyr Nicephorus clearly demonstrates how God rejects pride and crowns humility and love with glory… Saint Nikolai Velimirovič – Kallistos Ware of Diokleia

Χριστος_αγ Σοφια Κωνσταντινουπολη_198588.pThe holy Martyr Nicephorus of Antioch.
Our righteous Father Romanus of Cilicia, the Wonderworker.
The holy Hieromartyrs Marcellus, Bishop of Sicily; Philagrius, Bishop of Cyprus; and Pancratius, Bishop of Tauromenium.
The holy Hieromartyr Peter of Damascus.
The holy Virgin Martyr Apollonia of Alexandria, the Deaconess.
Our righteous Father Pancratius of the Kiev Caves.
Our righteous Fathers Nicephorus and Gennadius of Vazhezersk.
Our Father among the Saints Innocent, Bishop and Wonderworker of Irkutsk, the recovery of whose holy relics we commemorate.

Commemorated on February 9

The holy Martyr Nicephorus of Antioch.
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

The biography of this martyr Nicephorus clearly demonstrates how God rejects pride and crowns humility and love with glory. There lived in Antioch two close friends, the learned priest Sapricius and the simple ordinary citizen Nicephorus. Somehow, their friendship turned into a terrible hatred for each other. The God-fearing Nicephorus attempted on many occasions to make peace with the priest. However, at no time did Sapricius desire to be reconciled.

When the persecution of Christians began, the presbyter Sapricius was condemned to death and brought to the place of execution. The sorrowful Nicephorus followed after Sapricius beseeching him along the way to, at least, forgive him before his death that they might depart in peace.

“I beseech you, O martyr of Christ,” said Nicephorus, “forgive me if I have sinned against you!” Sapricius did not even want to look at his opponent but quietly and arrogantly walked toward his death. Upon seeing the hardness of the priest’s heart, God did not want to accept the sacrifice of his martyrdom and to crown him with a wreath but He mysteriously withheld His grace. At the last moment, Sapricius denied Christ and declared before the executioners that he would bow down before the idols. So it is with blind hatred! Nicephorus implored Sapricius not to deny Christ saying: “O my beloved brother, do not do that; do not deny our Lord Jesus Christ; do not forfeit the heavenly wreath!” But, all was in vain. Sapricius remained adamant. Then, Nicephorus cried out to the executioners: “I, also, am a Christian; behead me in place of Sapricius!” The executioners informed the judge of this and he ordered the release of Sapricius and, in his place, beheaded Nicephorus. Nicephorus joyfully lowered his head on the block and was beheaded. Thus, he was made worthy of the kingdom and was crowned with the immortal wreath of glory. This occurred in the year 260 A.D. during the reign of Gallienus.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič


” Magnanimous forgiveness of slanderers and prayer for them is a characteristic of Christian saints who do not ascribe all the slanders against themselves to men but rather to demons, the main instigators of every slander as well as every sin in general. St. Abraham of Smolensk was slandered by envious priests to the prince and the bishop as a deceiver, magician and hypocrite. The slanders sought nothing less than to have him burned. The prince and the bishop believed the slanderers and Abraham was banished from Smolensk and was forbidden to exercise his priestly functions. During the entire time of his investigation and trial, Abraham repeated the prayer of St. Stephen, the first martyr: “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts of the Apostles 7:60). Later it was established that all of the accusers against Abraham lied and slandered. The infuriated prince wanted to severely punish the slanderers and the bishop wanted to excommunicate them from the Church but the holy Abraham fell on his knees before the bishop and, with tears, begged him to forgive them. Abraham did not want to return to his monastery nor to begin again to exercise his priestly functions until his slanderers were shown mercy and released..”
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič


We must see everything in a good manner. We should not think anything evil about others. And even a glance and a sigh can effect our fellow man. And the slightest indignation brings evil. Let us have goodness and love within out soul, let us transmit these.

Let us pray that we not be indignant towards men who hurt us. Only let us pray for them with love. Whatever our fellow man does, let us not think evil of him. Always let us pray lovingly. Always let us think of the good.

We must never think regarding the other that God will give them some evil or punish them for their sin. This thought brings a very great evil, without us perceiving it.

When our soul is sanctified, it shines with goodness. We silently sent out our love without saying words. Christ never wants evil. Instead, He commands: “Bless those who curse you…”

The drunkard, the fornicator, the proud – he will receive God’s mercy. But he who does not want to forgive, to excuse, to justify conciously, intentionally … that person closes himself to eternal life before God, and even more so in the present life.
Elder Sampson of Russia


”Forgive us … as we forgive”
by Kallistos Ware, Metropolitan of Diokleia

ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΠΟΙΜΗΝ_2014-01-13 12.10.49Forgiveness is first and foremost a divine act: ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ (Mark 2:7). If, then, I am to forgive someone else, and the other person is to forgive me, in the last resort this is possible only in so far as we are both of us in God. More specifically, we are able to forgive each other solely because we are both of us already forgiven by God. Our forgiveness is rooted in His, and is impossible without it: ‘Apart from Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).
Since, therefore, forgiveness is not primarily our human action but a divine action in which we humans participate, it is vitally important that in the process of mutual forgiveness we should allow space for God to operate. At the beginning of the Eucharistic service in the Orthodox Church, the Divine Liturgy, the deacon says to the priest, ‘It is time for the Lord to act’ (see Psalm 119:126), thereby affirming that the true celebrant at the Holy Mysteries is not the priest but Christ Himself. The phrase applies equally to our mutual forgiveness: here, too, it needs to be said, ‘It is time for the Lord to act.’ Our attempts at reconciliation often fail, precisely because we rely too much upon ourselves, and do not leave proper scope for the action of the Lord. With St. Paul we need to say, ‘not I, but Christ in me’ (Gal. 2:20). Such, then, is the spirit in which we reply at the Vespers of Forgiveness, ‘God will forgive.’

Yes, indeed, God is always eager to forgive – far more so than we are to repent. In the words of St Isaac the Syrian (seventh century), ‘There exists in Him a single love and compassion that is spread out over all creation, a love that is without alteration, timeless and everlasting.’39 Calling to mind Christ’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane and His death on the Cross, we ask ourselves: What more could God incarnate have done to win us back to Himself, that He has not done? Forgiveness, however, has not only to be offered but to be accepted. God knocks at the door of the human heart (Rev. 3:20), but He does not break the door down: we for our part have to open it.
Here precisely we find the true meaning of the word ‘as’ in the Lord’s Prayer. It is not that God is unwilling to forgive us. But if, despite God’s unfailing eagerness to forgive, we on our side harden our hearts and refuse forgiveness to others, then quite simply we render ourselves incapable of receiving the divine forgiveness. Closing our hearts to others, we close them also to God; rejecting others, we reject Him. If we are unforgiving, then by our own act we place ourselves outside the interchange of healing love. God does not exclude us; it is we who exclude ourselves.
‘Forgive us … as we forgive’: when we say these words, so Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh has rightly cautioned us, ‘we take our salvation into our own hands’.41

Pray. If we cannot yet find within our heart the possibility of forgiving the other, then let us at least pray for them. In the words of St Silouan, ‘If you will pray for your enemies, peace will come to you.’46 Let us ask God that we may not make the other’s burden more heavy, that we may not be to them a scandal and a cause of stumbling. And if, as we pray, we cannot yet bring ourselves to the point of actually forgiving, then let us ask God that we may experience at least the desire and longing to forgive. There are situations in which truly to want something is already to attain it. Like the man who brought his sick child to Christ and cried out, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief’ (Mark 9 : 24), let us also cry out with tears: ‘Lord, I forgive; help my unforgivingness.’ Slowly, gradually, there will come at last the moment when we are able to remember with love.

By invoking God’s help in prayer and by admitting our own helplessness, we are reminded of the all-important truth that forgiveness is a divine prerogative. It is not simply our action, but the action of God in us. To forgive, in a full and genuine sense, we need to be ‘in God’. ‘It is God who has shone in our hearts … the all-surpassing power is from Him and not from us’ (2 Cor. 4 : 6-7). This ‘all-surpassing power’ of God is communicated to us above all through the ‘mysteries’ or sacraments of the Church; and, in the Patristic interpretation of ‘Our Father’, at least two of these ‘mysteries’ are mentioned implicitly in the course of the Prayer. When we say, ‘Give us today our daily bread’, we are to think not of material bread alone but of the ‘bread from heaven’, the Eucharist. Then, in the petition that follows, ‘Forgive us … as we forgive’, we are to recall the forgiveness of sins that we have received in Holy Baptism. The Lord’s Prayer, according to St Augustine, is in this way a continual renewal of Baptism: reciting the words that Christ has given us, ‘daily we are washed clean’.47 Our forgiveness, then, does not depend merely upon our feelings, or upon the decision of our will. It has an objective basis, in the sacrament of our baptismal washing.

39 Isaac of Nineveh (Isaac the Syrian), ‘The Second Part’, Chapters IV – XLI, tr. Sebastian Brock, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 555, Scriptores Syri 225 (Louvain : Peeters, 1995), Homily 40 : 1, p. 174.
40 Archimandrite Sophrony, Saint Silouan the Athonite, pp. 47, 371.
41 Archbishop Anthony Bloom, Living Prayer, p. 30.
42 Marc-Antoine Costa de Beauregard, Dumitru Staniloae : Ose comprendre que Je t’aime (Paris: Cerf, 1983), p. 24: ‘Mois-même, tout que je ne suis pas aimé, je suis incomprehensible.’
43 Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, ‘Divus Augustus’, §25 (‘Make haste slowly’).
44 The Forgiveness of Sins, p. 113.
45 The Forgiveness of Sins, pp. 77-78.
46 Archimandrite Sofrony, Saint Silouan the Athonite, p. 377.
47 Augustine, Sermon 59 : 7; cf. 56 : 11; 57 : 8 (PL 38: 382, 390, 401). See Stevenson, The Lord’s Prayer, p. 82. A similar interpretation is given by Caesarius of Arles (ca. 470-542), and by Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century): see Stevenson, op. cit., pp. 90, 108.

Apolytikion of Martyr Nicephoros
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.

As in Noah’s time, the people didn’t believe but made fun of him until suddenly God’s wrath came the flood and drowned the world. Similarly today, my fellow Christians, people won’t believe…. Saint Kosmas of Aetolia

Κοσμάς ο Αιτωλός _Saint Cosmas of Aetolia, Equal to the Apostles_св. Косма Этолийский_ός4New Hieromartyr Cosmas/Kosmas of Aetolia, Equal-to-the-Apostles (1779)
Hieromartyr Eutychius (1st century), disciple of St. John the Theologian
Virginmartyr Kyra of Persia (558)
Martyr Tation, at Claudiopolis (Bithynia) (305)
Saint George Limniotes the Confessor, of Mount Olympus in Bithynia (716)
Venerable Arsenius, founder of Komel Monastery (Vologda), Wonderworker (1550)
Venerable Serapion the Wonderworker, abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist at David Gareja monastery complex, Georgia (1774)
Saint Aristocleus, Elder, of Moscow and Mt. Athos (1918)
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Petrovskaya” (“of St. Peter of Moscow”) (ca. 1306)
Appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos (c. 1385) to St. Sergius of Radonezh (1392)
Translation of the relics (1716) of St. Dionysios of Zakynthos, Archbishop of Aegina (1624)

Commemorated on August 24

Teachings of Saint Kosmas of Aetolia


Κοσμάς ο Αιτωλός _Saint Cosmas of Aetolia, Equal to the Apostles_св. Косма Этолийский_Κοσμᾶς αγιοςIN OLDEN TIMES, my brethren, the devil, who hates good, marshalled all of his evil and incited people to be proud, to murder, to fornicate, to commit adultery, to do things that weren’t done even by animals lacking reason. And worse, they worshipped the sun as god, some the moon, others the sea. Wanting to destroy the world, God ordered Noah to build a ship on earth so that people might ask him: “What are you doing?” And he would answer: “God will destroy the world.” And they would make fun of him, but Noah wasn’t to pay them any heed. Noah began to build the ship. People asked him: “Why are you building a ship?” Noah would say to them: “Because God will destroy the world.” They would tell him: “You’re crazy. What’s the matter with God to want to destroy the world?” Noah minded his own business and finished the ship in a hundred years. In those days eight people were found to be good; Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives. Wishing to save these eight, God commanded Noah to tar the ship so that the rain wouldn’t enter it, and to place in it all the animals, male, and female, clean and unclean. Then, after he and his wife and his children and their wives got in, he shut the ship well. [Meanwhile,] the people outside ate, drank, conducted business, and did other devilish acts. Then God opened the cataracts of heaven and rain fell like a river on the earth. The people shouted: “Noah, open up for us so we can get in.” Noah answered them: “Where were you for the last hundred years when I told you that God would destroy the earth? What can I do for you now? In Hades there is no repentance!”

Then the earth was flooded and water covered all the mountains, and all the people drowned except for Noah and his family. But again the earth was filled from them, as Christ says in the holy Gospel: “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man,” that is, just as in Noah’s time, the people didn’t believe but made fun of him until suddenly God’s wrath came the flood and drowned the world. Similarly today, my fellow Christians, people won’t believe during the Second Coming of the Lord, they won’t believe as they didn’t then. The words I speak to you aren’t mine, but those of the Holy Spirit, and whoever wants to, let him believe. I’ve done my duty .

Sin and Youth

BRETHREN, WHEN I was young I believed in a falsehood: “Let me commit sins now, and when I get old I’ll do good and I’ll be saved.” Now I have grown old, but my sins have sprung roots and I can’t do any good. So you be careful not to suffer the same fate, but now that you have the time, do good works to be saved.

The Christian Kingdom and the Turks

THREE HUNDRED YEARS after the Resurrection of our Christ, God sent St. Constantine who established a Christian kingdom. The Christians held it for one thousand-one hundred-fifty years. Then God took it [the Christian kingdom] away from the Christians and brought the Turks and gave it to them for our own good. They’ve held it for three hundred and twenty years. Why did God bring the Turks and not another race? For our own good, because the other nations would have harmed our faith, while the Turk will do anything you want if you give him money. The Lord, wishing to protect us from condemnation, granted us a word which if we keep we’ll be saved. What is that word? Whatever you hate don’t do to another. That is, whatever you don’t want someone else to do to you, don’t you do it to another. Just as you don’t want to be stolen from, to be slandered, to be insulted by others, don’t you steal, don’t you murder others.

The Jesus Prayer

NOW I ADVISE YOU ALL – young and old – to make a prayer rope and to hold it in your left hand, and with your right make the sign of the Cross and say: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son and Word of the living God, through the intercessions of the Theotokos and of all the Saints have mercy upon me, your sinful and unworthy servant.”

The Holy Cross

THE MOST GRACIOUS GOD has granted us the holy Cross with which to bless, and the holy Sacraments. With the Cross we open paradise, with the Cross we drive out the demons, but we must keep our hands free from sin. Then the devil is consumed in flames and departs. Therefore, my brethren, keep this word and the Cross with you whenever you are eating, drinking, or working. And it is a good and holy thing to always pray at dawn, in the evening, and at midnight.

Faith and Nation

Κοσμάς ο Αιτωλός _Saint Cosmas of Aetolia, Equal to the Apostles_св. Косма Этолийский_St. Kosmas life 1Enough now, my fellow Christians, I can’t tell you any more. I’ve told you what God has inspired me to say. Let your nobility seek to learn more. You are sober and knowledgeable, you understand your own good and do it. Now what shall we do, my fellow Christians? I advise you but won’t your nobility advise me too? My work is your work, it is of our faith, of our nation. I have two thoughts. One says for me to bless you and for you to bless me and then for me to get up and go to another place so that others who wait for me might hear me. My other thought tells me, no, don’t go, but stay as you did in other villages and complete the remainder of the work because what we have said in three talks was brief. It is like a man who builds a church without a roof. What is left to be said is like that roof. What is the roof? I see our nation which has fallen in many bad ways; these are curses, excommunications, anathemas, oaths, blasphemies and others such as these [of which it is necessary] for Christians to cleanse themselves, to sanctify their villages, and be cleansed in body and soul. The second thing that I urge Christians to do is to make crosses and prayer ropes, and I pray to our Christ that he bless them so that they might serve as the protection of Christians. Third is when I make Christians forgive everyone – living and dead. These then are on my mind. And now do I have your blessing to leave, and will your nobility complete the others? “No, holy teacher. We beg you to stay with us and finish because we don’t know how.” “Good, for the love of our Christ and you I’ll stay.”

The Omnipresence of God

There is no place from God is absent. We pious Christians should consider that God is in our hearts when we wish to commit some sin, that Ηe is present everywhere, and that Ηe sees us. We should be ashamed before the angels, the saints, and especially before the angel who guards our soul and observes us. We are embarrassed before a young child when we commit a sin, so how can we not be embarrassed before so many saints and angels?where

The Virtues of Forgiveness

THIS FORGIVENESS, my brothers, has two properties: it illuminates and it burns completely. I told you to forgive your enemies for your own good. And you who have harmed your brethren and have heard me tell them to forgive you, don’t rejoice, but indeed weep because your forgiveness has become a fire on your head if you don’t make restitution. You should weep and beg God to forgive you your own sins. If all of the spiritual ‘men, patriarchs, bishops, the entire world forgive you, you remain unforgiven. For who has the power to forgive you? He who has suffered your injustice. If we examine the issue carefully, you should return four for one as the holy Gospel says. Only then will you receive forgiveness. If you don’t have the money to return it, go and sell your possessions, and whatever you receive give to those You have cheated. If you don’t have enough, go and sell yourself into slavery, and whatever you receive give that. It would be better for you to be a slave on earth for five or ten years and to go to paradise rather than be free on earth and tomorrow to go to hell and burn forever. So, my brethren, whoever has wronged any Christian, Jew or Turk, return what you have taken unjustly because it is cursed and you’ll never get ahead. What you have gained unjustly you use to feed yourself, but it will cause your death and God will put you into hell.

Whoever is willing to make restitution of what he has taken unjustly, let him stand up and tell me and I’ll ask all the Christians to forgive him. if you put a stolen sheep among one hundred of your own, it will pollute them all because it’s accursed and anathematized. I beg you, my fellow Christians, to say to those who are willing to make restitution three times: “May God forgive them and have mercy upon them.” Our first teaching is this: whoever among us has suffered injustice, let us forgive our enemies for our own good; and whoever among us has committed an injustice, let us make restitution.(Translated by Nomikos Michael Vaporis )

Help George my holy and thou St. Cosmas to take the City and Hagia Sophia!

Selected Prophecies of St. Kosmas Aitolos

Κοσμάς ο Αιτωλός _Saint Cosmas of Aetolia, Equal to the Apostles_св. Косма Этолийский_74301.bApolytikion of Saint Cosmas of Aetolia in the Third Tone

With odes let us acclaim the renowned Cosmas, who gloriously excelled among the choirs of the martyrs, priests, and ascetics, and let us gather; for he dispenseth healing to them that have recourse to him with faith, since, as an equal of the Apostles, he hath boldness before Christ.

Apolytikion of Saint Cosmas of Aetolia in the Third Tone

By teaching the Divine Faith, thou hast richly adorned the Church and become a zealous emulator of the Apostles; for having been lifted up by the wings of divine love, that hast spread far and wide the message of the Gospel. O glorious Cosmas, entreat God that He grants us His great mercy.

Troparion, in Tone IV:

As thou didst share in the ways of the apostles and didst occupy their throne, thou didst find thine activity to be a passage to the vision of God, O divinely inspired one. Wherefore, ordering the word of truth, thou didst suffer for the Faith even to the shedding of thy blood, O hieromartyr Eutyches. Entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved.

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

Ιησούς Χριστός_Jesus-Christ_Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Iconfile

About repentance and the forgiveness of sins

by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

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

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

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

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.

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’.