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Iconography and Hand painted icons


The modern tower of Babel! When God wills, then all the peoples of the world will rise up against this new tower of Babel and come to destroy it to the ground. Saint Nicholas Velimirovic

Χριστός ο Αναπεσών-Βυζαντινή Εικόνα_Christ Reclining (anapeson)_Orthodox icon_Недреманное Око_139000178-118-St. Gregory the Dialogues, pope of Rome (604).
St. Theophanes the Confessor of Sigriane (818).
Righteous Aaron the High Priest, brother of Prophet Moses the God-seer (ca. 1530 b.c.).
Righteous Phineas, grandson of Aaron (ca. 1500 b.c.).
St. Nicodemus of Mammola in Calabria (990).
Sts. Symeon the New Theologian (1022) and his elder, Symeon the Reverent of the Studion (987).
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Not-Made-By-Hands” (on the Pillar) at Lydda.
Repose of Schemamonk Anthony the Gorge-dweller of Zelenchug Monastery in Kuban (1908).

Commemorated on March 12

The tower of Babel!
Saint Nicholas Velimirovic

The tower of Babel! Did you read in the Bible about the tower of Babel? Ulcer of the earth! Ulcer of Humanity after Noah’s Flood. The more people were immoral before the Flood, the more after the Flood they were atheists. When did they catch up? When did Noah’s descendants forget God?
Noah was the only one saved by God after the Flood, because of his faith and justice. Flood, God’s Punishment didn’t help Noah’s offspring at all? Help some, the world never ran out of Righteous people, but many didn’t. Then these many decided to build the tower of Babel, to be glorified, saying the following: ‘ ‘ Let us build for ourselves a city and a tower whose top will reach Heaven, to be praised before we disperse on earth ‘ ‘ (Gen. 11:4).

What do these words mean? When they said they would build the city, it means they wanted to regulate their entire personal and social life without God’s blessing. When they said they would build a tower up to Heaven, they showed stubbornness to Heavenly God, trusting more in their powers than Him. When they said ′′ to be glorified “, it means that they wanted to glorify among people, they wanted to be admired by people, they wanted people to bow before them. When they said not to disperse, that means they wanted to settle their lives according to their will and according to their plans, not paying attention to God’s Will and God’s Providence. In one word: They did everything for their own glory in God’s stubbornness.

If you want to know what the look of these descendants of the Righteous Noah, who so quickly forgot God, turn from East to West and look at the modern tower of Babel. The goals of building Babel’s Asian tower and modern tower are identical. Same sickness to both old and modern builders: the removal from God. Motivation in both cases was: personal and nationalist glory, opposition to God and people who believe in God. The goals of building were: to make themselves Gods, adjust everything with logic, without paying any attention to their Creator.

Four are the walls of Babel’s new tower: the first wall is science, the second is industry, the third is politics, and the fourth wall is egocentricism.

All four walls do not have God’s blessing and are against God. They are dark as night without stars and moon. In this tower resides some dark people whose darkness is more beloved than light. From any side of the tower and stand, you will hear them fighting.
In front of the wall of scientists you will hear fairy tales about the world and man and so much noise, that you will hurry to walk away.
If you find yourself on the wall of the industry, you will still hear arguing. You will see the nonsense that exists in unnecessary production and quarrels regarding labor and its pay. Your ears will hurt.
If you find yourself in front of the wall of politics, you will still hear them quarrel. You will see the foolishness of every politician, who tries with injustice against other parties to advance his own party and injustice against others peoples to praise his people. Everyone is looking for their own resurrection over each other’s grave, their own happiness over the other’s misfortune. And let’s not talk about the fights of politicians. Paper wagons are used every day to print newspapers, which write about their empties, hypocrisy and quarrels.

In the end, if you approach the fourth wall, you will still hear them fighting. You will see foolishness because self-centeredness is the darkest foolishness, the cause of many quarrels between people and peoples. Here you will see selfishness in all its forms and in all its names: personal, group, industrial, political, partisan and nationalist. Darkness without a single ray of sunshine. Endless fights. All life in this tower is life without education, without joy, without meaning, without love. The desire to shout comes to man: Run away from this land that God dumped and cursed.

Ιησούς Χριστός_Jesus-Christ_Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icon_Θεός γεωμερτει_237867686Builders couldn’t finish the old tower of Babel. God didn’t let them, he confused their tongue and they couldn’t understand each other. That’s why they quit their job and scattered all over the world, as God wanted. And so the Will of God was done and not the will of narrowheaded and dark people, Noah’s descendants.
My brothers, can’t you see how God confused the languages and the builders of the new tower of Babel? No one understands. Everyone justifies himself and criticizes others. Everyone opposes Christ and his neighbor. Can such a city survive? Can such a tower reach the sky? No way. The tower is falling down and the city is desolating. The Will of God is done and not the will of man. When God wills, then all the peoples of the world will rise up against this new tower of Babel and come to destroy it to the ground.

And like the whole world laughs reading the story about building Babel’s first tower and says: ‘ ‘ Despite having the example of their forefather, Fair Noah, they did not follow his path ‘ ‘, so will the future ones laugh generations with the peoples of the modern tower of Babel and they will say: They had Christ, the Gospel, the Church, the holy people of God, their forefathers, but they did not follow their lead. Instead, they turned their backs on them and imitated the example of the atheist builders of Babel’s first tower. So God hit and punished them. Glory and eternal thanksgiving. Amen.

Saint Nicholas Velimirovic

Walking humanity through history is a long journey. On this long journey, humanity ‘ gets dirty ‘ ‘ and ‘ ‘ dust ‘ ‘ always with the same dust and ‘ ‘ wash ‘ ‘ always with same water. Dust is sin and water is Repentance.

St. Gregory the Dialogues, pope of Rome, fled from this honor and authority hiding himself in the mountains and ravines, but the Lord revealed him to those who were seeking him with a brilliant column.
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/03/11/st-gregory-the-dialogues-pope-of-rome-fled-from-this-honor-and-authority-hiding-himself-in-the-mountains-and-ravines-but-the-lord-revealed-him-to-those-who-were-seeking-him-with-a-brilliant-column/

Troparion St Gregory Dialogus — Tone 4

Receiving divine grace from God on high, * and strengthened by its power, * O glorious Gregory, thou didst will to walk the path of the Gospel. * Wherefore, thou hast received from Christ * the reward of thy labors, O all-blessed one. ** Him do thou entreat, that He save our souls

Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “O most glorious wonder …”:

O father Symeon, thou peer of the angels, * standing continually before the joyous Light, * thou dost behold what the angels see, * delighting in the never-waning effulgence which on Tabor once shone forth upon the three disciples. * Thou hast illumined the ends of the earth like the sun * with the splendor of thy corrections, * warming thy children with beams of Orthodoxy, * and removing the darkness of the defilement of sin. ** O fervent advocate, entreat Christ God, that we be saved!

Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “O most glorious wonder …”:

Truly the Bestower of good things hath richly granted thee * rewards for thy pangs: * to expel demons * and to heal afflictions, * imparting power, O all-blessed one, * and vouchsafing thee ineffable joys * where the angelic ranks hold chorus, * gazing continually upon ** the countenance of the Almighty.

Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “As one valiant among the martyrs …”:

Having the fire of love for God and neighbor * ever presiding in thy heart, * and, ready to lay down thy soul * for the flock of Christ, O diligent one, * thou wast shown to be an emulator of Christ, * a true peer of the all-praised apostles, * O holy one, * as the most worthy successor ** of the preeminent Peter.

Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Having been lifted up …”:

Assembling, in sacred hymns let us all praise the right glorious hierarch of the Lord, crying out to him: By thy supplications save those who honor thee, break thou the arrogance of the Papists, and ask a peaceful life for the Orthodox, O most wise Gregory.


Abba Daniel of the Skete narrates the life of St. Anastasia of Patricia

ασκητριες μοναχες_34977669Saint Anastasia the Patrician, of Alexandria (567)
Martyr Codratus (Quadratus), and with him Martyrs Cyprian, Dionysius, Anectus, Paul, Crescens, and Dionysius (another), at Corinth (251)
Martyrs Victorinus, Victor, Nicephorus, Claudius, Diodorus, Serapion, Papias, and others, at Corinth (251 or 258
Martyr Marcian, by scourging.
Saint Simplicius, Pope of Rome (468-483), who upheld the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon against Monophysitism, and dealt with the Arian King Odoacer after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 (483)
Venerable Agathon, ascetic at the Monastery of St Symeon near Aleppo in Syria, reposed in peace.
Venerable John of Khakhuli Monastery, Georgia, called Chrysostom, reposed on Mount Athos (10th-11th century)[
Commemoration of the Desert-dwellers of the Roslavl Forests near Bryansk
Saint Paul of Taganrog (Pavel of Taganrog) (1879)

Commemorated on March 10

Hymn of Praise
Saint Anastasia the Patrician
by St Nikolai Velimirovich

One time, a glorious patrician Venerable Anastasia,
Money, flattery, abandoned she all,
To Christ, her entire life she directed;
Christ, her bread; Christ, her water;
Christ, her joy and freedom,
Christ, the restorer of her soul,
Christ, the bridge over death.

Anastasia became shriveled,
The spirit through her withered face shines;
The spirit raises her higher to God,
With the spirit of God, she breathes,
Until illuminated, she became,
By Grace enlightened,
By the power of God strengthened
And among the Living inscribed.

All she forgave, all she loved,
And for the entire world, she prays,
Like an angel, she was indeed,
Wholly fixed on Christ;
By the power of God, more powerful was she
And by riches, more wealthy
Than the Empress Theodora
Amidst the opulence of the imperial court.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by St Nikolai Velimirovich, Bishop of Zica, Serbia (+1956)
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/March10.htm

***

The Patrician Lady Anastasia
by Abba Daniel of Scetis

ασκητριες μοναχες_34977669A eunuch was living in the inner desert of Scetis. Once a week he would visit Abba Daniel at night without anyone knowing about it except Abba Daniel and his disciple. The old man ordered his disciple to fill a wine jar with water for the eunuch once a week and [take it to him] and place it at the door and knock and go away without speaking with him at all. ‘But if’, he said, ‘you ever find a potsherd with writing on it at the entrance to the cave, bring it’. And so Abba Daniel’s disciple did as he was told.

One day he found a potsherd with this written on it: ‘Bring your tools and come alone with the brother.’ When the old man read what was written, he wept and wailed and said, ‘What woe there is in the inner desert! What great pillar is going to fall today!’ And he said to his disciple, ‘Take the implements. Let’s go immediately so we reach the old man while he’s still alive, for he is going to the Lord’.

Weeping, the two of them left and they found the eunuch burning up with fever. The old man threw himself on the eunuch’s breast and wept, saying, ‘Blessed are you because you have focused your attention on this hour and have looked with contempt on an earthly kingdom!’

The eunuch said, ‘Blessed are you, a second Abraham, because God receives so much fruit from these hands!’
The old man said to him, ‘Offer a prayer for us.’
The eunuch replied, ‘It is I who need many prayers at this hour’, and the old man said to him, ‘If I had preceded you, I would have been able to pray for you and bring you comfort’.

The eunuch sat up from the mat on which he was lying, took the old man’s head, and kissed it, saying, ‘God, who guided me here, will himself bring to fulfillment your old age, just as he did with Abraham’.
The old man, taking hold of his disciple, placed him at the eunuch’s feet, saying, ‘Bless my child, father’, and the eunuch tenderly kissed him and said to him, ‘God, you who are standing by me at this hour to remove me from this temporary habitation, you who know how many steps he has taken to this cell for your name’s sake, cause the spirit of this brother’s fathers to rest upon him just as you caused the spirit of Elijah to rest upon Elisha, and may the name of this brother’s fathers be invoked upon him’.
Then he said to the old man, ‘For the sake of the Lord, do not take off the clothes I am wearing but rather send me to the Lord just as I am, and let no one besides yourselves know anything about me’, and he said to the old man, ‘Give me Communion’. After receiving Communion he said, ‘Please give me the kiss of peace in Christ and pray for me’, and he looked to his right to the east and said, ‘It is good that you have come. Let us go.’ His face shone like fire and he made the sign of the cross on his mouth and said, ‘Into your hands, God, I shall commend my spirit’, and in this way he offered up his soul to Christ.

The two of them wept. After they had dug a grave in front of the cave, the old man stripped off the clothes he was wearing and said to his disciple, ‘Clothe him with more than what he is wearing’. (The eunuch was wearing a loincloth made from palm fiber and a patched cloak.) While the brother was dressing the eunuch, he looked and realized that the eunuch was a woman but he did not say anything. After they buried him and offered a prayer, the old man said to his disciple, ‘Let us break our fast here today and let us celebrate an agaph for the old man’. After celebrating Communion, they found that the eunuch had a few dried loaves of bread and some soaked lentils. They celebrated the agaph for the eunuch and, picking up the rope that the eunuch had made by his labor, they carried it off and left, giving thanks to God.
While they were walking on their way, the brother said to the old man, ‘Do you know, father, that that eunuch was a woman?’ 

The old man said, ‘I know, my child, that he is a woman. Do you want me to tell you about her? Listen. She was a patrician lady of the highest rank, connected with the royal court, and Emperor Justinian wanted to take her into the imperial residence on account of her great intelligence. But Theodora found out, became angry, and wanted to exile her. When Anastasia was apprised of this, she hired a boat at night, loaded some of her things in it, came to Alexandria, and settled at the Pempton. Here she also founded a monastery, which up to today is called the Monastery of the Patrician Lady.

‘After Theodora died, she learned once again that the emperor wanted to send for her. She, however, fled Alexandria by night and came here to me, told me everything that had happened, and begged me to give her a cell outside Scetis. So I gave her this cave and she changed her apparel for men’s clothing. See, today makes twenty-eight years that she has lived in Scetis and no one knows about her except you and one other person. How many court officials the emperor sent, searching for her—and not only the emperor but also the pope and all of Alexandria! And not a single person discovered where she was until today.

‘Those raised in imperial courts contend against the Devil and afflict their bodies while we, who could scarcely find a way of being filled with bread while we were in the world, have entered the monastic life and live in excessive luxury and are unable to acquire virtue! Therefore let us also pray that the Lord may think us fit to run his race with the saints and find mercy with our fathers) and with Abba Anastasius the eunuch—for she used to be called “Anastasia”.

Troparion St. Anastasia the Patrician — Tone 8

In you the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother, / for taking up your cross, you followed after Christ. / By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away, / but to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal. / Therefore, most venerable Mother Anastasia your spirit rejoices with the Angels.

Troparion — Tone 8

By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, / and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance. / By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe! / O our holy father Daniel, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!


Papa Photis Lavriotis the “Fool For Christ” of Mytilene, Lord Most-wise, strengthen us by Your power that we not fear the non-believing world neither when they lash us with whips nor when they insult us with words for Your sake.

παπα-Φώτης Λαυριώτης_Father Photis Lavriotis of Mytilini_старец Фотий из Митилене _Лесбос-Ydra_763095172_nMartyr Conon of Isauria (1st century); Martyr Nestor, father of Martyr Conon of Isauria; Martyr Onisius (Onesimus) of Isauria, by beheading (1st century);Martyr Conon the Gardener, of Pamphylia (251); Martyrs Archelaus, Kyrillos, Photios, Virgin-martyr Irais (Rhais) of Antinoë, and 152 Martyrs in Egypt (c. 308); Martyr Eulogius of Palestine; Martyr Eulampius of Palestine, by the sword; Venerable Mark the Ascetic of Egypt (Mark the Athenian, Mark the Faster) (5th century); Saint Hesychius the Faster, of Bithynia (790); Saint Colman of Armagh, a disciple of St Patrick in Ireland (5th century); Saint Kieran of Saighir (Ciaran of Ossory), confessor (c. 530); Saint Carthage the Elder, the successor of St Kieran as Bishop of Ossory in Ireland (c. 540);Saint Clement, Abbot of Santa Lucia in Syracuse in Sicily (c. 800);New Martyr George of Rapsana, at Larissa (1818); Saint Nikolai (Velimirovich), Bishop of Ohrid and Žiča, Serbia (1956);Icon of the Mother of God “the Teacher” (or “Education” or “Nurtured Up-Bringing”); Repose of Father Photis Lavriotis of Mytilini (2010)

Commemorated on March 5

Papa Photis Lavriotis the “Fool For Christ” of Mytilene

παπα-Φώτης Λαυριώτης_Father Photis Lavriotis of Mytilini_старец Фотий из Митилене (Лесбос)_images96754718814381_1392675527491876_2422396364038074406_n - CopyPapa Fotis had the blessing to know, at the Russian Saint Panteleimon Monastery of Mount Athos, the new Saint of our Church, Silouan the Athonite. He said about this acquaintance: “I also had the blessing on Mount Athos to minister to and meet Papa Tychon the Russian. But I also met saint Silouan the A thonite whose holiness was wonderful. Great personalites. “

Another time he said : “I went to the monastery of Saint Panteleimon to worship. After worship I headed to the monastery dining room.The dining room some time before had closed to visitors and the monk housekeepers had gone to the oikomomeio to eat after their services to the visitors. Amonk received news of my presence and came to me with love and asked me if I ate. I told him I was not on time for the dining room and it closed. The monk was Silouan and he took me by force almost to the oikonomeio and he served me . We were given an opportunity to discuss many spiritual man and his face shined with holiness. He explained that he took the obedience of serving in the oikonomeio for the sake of  obedience and thanked God for this obedience.”

Papa Fotis remembers the advice he received from the Holy Man of God Silouan : ” You must love your fellow men , to suffer with them, and pray for others not in a simple way, but to spill blood with your prayer! “( From the book of fr. Themistocles Christodoulou, “Papa Fotis Lavriotis, Point Controversial”, ed. Homology.
http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/02/papa-fotis-fool-meets-st-silouan.html )

***

Papa-Photis for 40 years wherever he was and wherever he went he would collect stones, pieces of broken tiles, marble, bricks and other raw material which people throw away at construction sites and stores and he would store them at Pamphyla where he was building a church dedicated to the New-martyr Luke of Andrianoupolis, whom he venerated a lot. A real masterpiece fallen from the sky.

When at last, after 40-year of toils and hard work he finished his church the time has come for the first Divine Liturgy. A lot of people were gathered to assist. But just before the Little Entance he realized that he had left no passage at the left of the Royal Gate that he could walk through. He then went out, grabbed a sledge-hammer and started pulling down the wall. The people rushed out, coughing from the dust and in danger to get hurt from bursting stones.

Then Papa-Photis, always calm, as soon as he finished his job he went on with the Divine Liturgy.παπα-Φώτης Λαυριώτης_Father Photis Lavriotis of Mytilini_старец Фотий из Митилене (Лесбос)_papafotis111Some decades ago, Fr Ierotheos Lygeros was accompanying the late Metropolitan Iakovos of Mytilene (1907-1987) during a poemantic trip to thw town of Plomari

. On their way back, just outside the town they noticed from their car Papa-Photis walking their way. The Metropolitan asked the driver to stop the car and from the window he asked the elder:

-Going somewhere Papa-Photis, do you want a lift?

-I am going to Mytilene, he replied, but I am not taking the car.

The Metropolitan and Fr Ierotheos went on to Mytilene (28km / 24miles), without any stops and without being overtaken by any other car. Besides, at that time there were only a few cars on the island. As soon as they arrived in the city of Mitylene to their amazement they saw Papa-Photis walking in the street.

Metropolitan Iakovos then turned to the driver and to Fr Ierotheos and said:

– Well, indeed this priest is a Holy man. ( by Fr. Athanasios Ghiousmas)

***

Homily
About fools, wiser than the world
St. Nikolai Velimirovich

We are fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Corinthians 4:10).

παπα-Φώτης Λαυριώτης_Father Photis Lavriotis of Mytilini_старец Фотий из Митилене (Лесбос)_images96754742810722_1914813115278112_3688228991354798080_nThus speaks the great Apostle Paul who in the beginning was guided by worldly wisdom, which is against Christ, until he recognizes the falsehood and decay of the wisdom of the world and the light and stability of the wisdom of Christ. Then, the holy apostle did not become angry with the world because they called him “a fool for Christ’s sake” neither did he, in defiance of the world, hesitate to be called by this name.

It is not of any value to us how the world is going to regard or call us. However, it is important, and extremely important, how the holy angels in the heavens will regard and call us when, after death, we meet with them. This is of crucial importance and everything else is nothing.

Either we are fools for the world because of Christ or we are fools for Christ because of the world. O how short-lived is the sound of a word of the world! If the world would say to us “fool,” the world will die and its word will die! What then is the value of its word? But if the heavenly, immortal ones say to us “fool,” that will neither die nor is it removed from us as eternal condemnation.

Whoever does not believe in the Living God, nor in eternal life, nor in the Incarnation of the Lord Christ, nor in Christ’s Resurrection nor in the truth of the Gospel nor in God’s eternal mercy and justice – is it any wonder if he considers that one a fool who does believes in all of this?

O, may every one of us who cross ourselves with the Sign of the Cross not only find it easy to endure but with satisfaction receive the name “fool” for Christ’s sake! Let us rejoice and be glad if the non-believers call us such, for that means that we are close to Christ and far away from the non-believers. Let us rejoice and be glad and repeat with a powerful echo in the ears of the world: yes, yes, indeed we are fools for Christ’s sake!

O Lord Most-wise, strengthen us by Your power that we not fear the non-believing world neither when they lash us with whips nor when they insult us with words for Your sake.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič 
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/February22.htm

On the blessed man. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1). Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/29836/

Papa-Fotis Lauriotis the “Fool For Christ” of Mytilini, I never spoke badly to them, but with love I would tell them to repent and God would provide for them and restore them to His heart.
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/03/05/27215/

The Troparion, In Tone I:

Having heard the voice of Thine Apostle Paul, saying: * We are foolish for Christ’s sake, * Thy servant Photis , O Christ God, * did love the life of the foolish for Thy sake on earth. * Wherefore in venerating his memory * we entreat Thee, O Lord, to save our souls.


Saint Paul, that great genius given to us by divine Providence, affirms that no law has ever led anyone to perfection.St Sophrony of Essex

Τελώνη και Φαρισαίου_Pharisee and Publican_Притча о мытаре и фарисее_Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon_z_3f38cd317bc_k267321.pSt Sophrony of Essex

The trouble with fixed rules is that they appease the consciences of those who can keep them, and give them the feeling that they are saved. That is very naïve. The Pharisees, the ascetics and theologians of the Old Testa­ment, fasted too, but this was not enough. Christ said: “Unless you exceed the virtues of the Pharisees, you cannot be saved”.

Saint Paul, that great genius given to us by divine Providence, affirms that no law has ever led anyone to perfection. That being said, the Church’s rules can none­theless be helpful in the beginning. For it is true that if one is left on one’s own, left to one’s own devices, from the beginning, one can feel rather lost.

It is more difficult to develop a certain capacity for discernment than to fix oneself rules.

In the desert, Christ opposed the temptations of the devil by immediate rejection, even giving the theological bases for His answers. It is a lesson for us. Each time we have a bad thought, we should reject it immediately, and refuse to enter into dialogue with it. But this practice can only be assimilated by long ascetic effort, and by the action of grace in us.

***

Homily
Against mediocrity and about fulfilling all the laws of God
Saint Nikolai Velimirovich of Ohrid and Žiča

“These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (St. Luke 11:42).

The law and mercy are referred to in this text. In the souls of the Pharisees and sectarians, the law and mercy do not stand together, i.e., they are unable to fulfill the regulations of the law and to show mercy, but they argue about which is more important of these two; one, they omit and the other they adhere to. The Pharisees literally observed the letter of the Law, but they completely abandoned mercy and love for men. Sectarians flatter themselves that they adhere to God’s justice but totally reject the prescriptions of Church Laws. 

Orthodoxy represents the fullness of the Faith. The Church commands that we do this and not omit that. The Church is careful toward external prescriptions of the Faith, like a man when he walks among clay vessels and is careful not to break them. The Church is even more careful about the justice and mercy of God as a man who, walking among the clay vessels, values them and protects them, not because of the earth from which the vessels are made, but because of their priceless contents which are contained in them. Empty vessels that are never filled with any drink, are as worthless as is the empty legal formalisms of the Pharisees. A drink, however, when it is poured into the wind is spilled and wasted because it is not poured into the vessels designated for it.

And, so, in Orthodoxy, there is no one-sidedness as there was not in the Lord Jesus. The Lord speaks to John the Baptist, who breathes with the justice and mercy of God, that it is necessary to fulfill the Law; but to the Pharisees, empty paragraphists without the justice and mercy of God, He says, “For it is mercy that I desire, not sacrifice!” (Hosea 6:6). It is evident that it is more important to do that which is necessary to do than that which must not be left undone. But it does not mean that, that which is less important is unnecessary. In the human organism, there are many important organs and many lesser important organs, but together they constitute the body of man. 

O Lord, all encompassing, do not allow us to become one-sided, but assist us to fulfill Your entire will.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.gr/2009/12/prologue-january-31-february-13.html

Man, without humility and meekness, is unable even to recognize truth. St Nikolai Velimirovich
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2018/02/05/man-without-humility-and-meekness-is-unable-even-to-recognize-truth-st-nikolai-velimirovich/

At the Aposticha Stichera from the Triodion in Tone VI:

Verse: Praise Him with timbrel and dance, * praise him with strings and flute.
Brethren, let us not pray like the Pharisee: * for he who doth exalt himself shall be humbled. * Let us humble ourselves before God, * and with fasting cry aloud as did the Publican: * ‘God be merciful to us sinners’.

Verse: Praise Him with tuneful cymbals, praise Him with cymbals of jubilation. * Let every breath praise the Lord.
In Tone III: Understand, O my soul, the difference between the Publican and the Pharisee, * hate the haughty words of the one, and eagerly imitate the contrite prayer of the other, crying aloud: ** ‘O God cleanse me a sinner and have mercy upon me’.

Verse: I will be glad and rejoice in Thee, I will chant unto Thy name, O Most High.
O ye faithful, let us hate the boastful words of the Pharisee * and emulate the contrite prayer of the Publican. * Let us not think proud thoughts, but humbling ourselves in contrition let us cry: ** God be merciful to our sins.


Abba Bessarion of Egypt ‘I, too, am a sinner.’ O, how great were the saints in their brotherly love! 

ασκητές_Ερημίτης_Hermit_отшельник- еремит_askites_b_gerontiko (1)St. Leo, bishop of Catania in Sicily (ca. 780).
St. Hieromartyr Sadoc (Sadoth), bishop of Persia, and 128 Martyrs with him (342).
St. Abba Bessarion the Great, wonderworker of Egypt (466)
Abbot Macarius and 34 monks and novices of the Monastery of the Transfiguration at Valaam on Lake Ladoga martyred by the Lutherans (1578)

Commemorated on February 20

Abba Doulas, the disciple of Abba Bessarion said, ‘One day when we were walking beside the sea I was thirsty and I said to Abba Bessarion, “Father, I am very thirsty.” He said a prayer and said to me, “Drink some of the sea water.” The water proved sweet when I drank some. I even poured some into a leather bottle for fear of being thirsty later on. Seeing this, the old man asked me why I was taking some. I said to him, “Forgive me, it is for fear of being thirsty later on.” Then the old man said, “God is here, God is everywhere.’“

Another time when Abba Bessarion had occasion to do so, he said a prayer and crossed the river Chrysoroas* on foot and then continued his way. Filled with wonder, I asked his pardon and said, ‘How did your feet feel when you were walking on the water?’ He replied, ‘I felt the water just to my heels, but the rest was dry.’
*The Nile River is a major river in Egypt

On another day, while we were going to see an old man, the sun was setting. So Abba Bessarion said this prayer, ‘I pray you, Lord, that the sun may stand still till we reach your servant,’ and that is what happened.

On another day, when I came to his cell I found him standing at prayer with his hands raised towards heaven. For fourteen days he remained thus. Then he called me and told me to follow him. We went into the desert. Being thirsty, I said to him, ‘Father, I am thirsty.’ Then, taking my sheepskin, the old man went about a stone’s throw away and when he had prayed, he brought it back, full of water. Then we walked on and came to a cave where, on entering we found a brother seated, engaged in plaiting a rope. He did not raise his eyes to us, nor greet us, since he did not want to enter into conversation with us. So the old man said to me, ‘Let us go; no doubt the old man is not sure if he ought to speak with us.’ We continued our journey towards Lycopolis, till we reached Abba John’s cell. After greeting him, we prayed, then the old man sat down to speak of the vision which he had had. Abba Bessarion said it had been made known to him that the temples would be overthrown. That is what happened: they were overthrown. On our return, we came again to the cave where we had seen the brother. The old man said to me, Let us go in and see him; perhaps God has told him to speak to us.’ When we had entered, we found him dead. The old man said to me, ‘Come, brother, let us take the body; it is for this reason God has sent us here.’ When we took the body to bury it we perceived that it was a woman. Filled with astonishment, the old man said, ‘See how the women triumph over Satan, while we still behave badly in the towns.’ Having given thanks to God, who protects those who love him, we went away.

The same abba said, ‘When you are at peace, without having to struggle, humiliate yourself for fear of being led astray by joy which is inappropriate; we magnify ourselves and we are delivered to warfare. For often, because of our weakness, God does not allow us to be tempted, for fear we should be overcome.’

A brother who had sinned was turned out of the church by the priest; Abba Bessarion got up and went with him, saying, ‘I, too, am a sinner.’

Abba Bessarion’s disciples related that his life had been like that of a bird of the air, or a fish, or an animal living on earth, passing all the time of his life without trouble or disquiet. The care of a dwelling did not trouble him, and the desire for a particular place never seemed to dominate his soul, no more than the abundance of delights, or the possession of houses or the reading of books. But he seemed entirely free from all the passions of the body, sustaining himself on the hope of good things to come, firm in the strength of his faith; he lived in patience, like a prisoner who is led everywhere, always suffering cold and nakedness, scorched by the sun. He always lived in the open air, afflicting himself on the edge of the desert like a vagabond. Often he found it good to be carried over the sea to distant and uninhabited regions. When he happened to come into pleasanter places where the brethren lived a life in common, he would sit outside at the gate, weeping and lamenting like one shipwrecked and flung back on to the earth. Then if one of the brethren coming out found him there, sitting like one of the poor beggars living in the world, and filled with compassion approached him, asking, ‘Man, why are you weeping? If you are in need of something, as far as we can we will see you receive it, only come in, share our table and rest yourself.’ He would reply, ‘I cannot live under a roof so long as I have not found again the riches of my house,’ adding that he had lost great riches in various ways. ‘I have fallen amongst pirates, I have suffered shipwreck, I have dishonoured my rank, becoming unknown, famous as I was.’ The brother, moved by these words, returned, bringing a morsel of bread and giving it him, saying, ‘Take this, Father; all the rest, as you say, God will restore to you; home, honour, and riches of which you speak.’ But he, bewailing himself yet more, sighed deeply, adding, ‘I cannot say if I shall find again those lost good things I seek, but I am still more afflicted, every day suffering the danger of death, having no respite because of my great calamities. For always I must wander, in order to finish my course.

Abba Bessarion, at the point of death, said, ‘The monk ought to be as the Cherubim and the Seraphim: all eye.’Ερημίτης_Hermit_отшельник- еремит_Тихий_берег

Abba Bessarion the Great, wonderworker of Egypt
Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Malicious joy is a sordid garment which our spirit sometimes dons with great satisfaction. The very moment that you rejoice in the sinful fall of your brother you have also fallen to the joy of the devil who, with one hook, snared two fish. Brotherhood, according to the flesh, is a great bond but brotherhood, according to the spirit, is even greater. When you are grieved by the sin of a brother according to the flesh, why then would not the sin of a brother according to the spirit grieve you? When you conceal the sin of a brother according to the flesh why do you, with malevolent joy proclaim the sin of your brother according to the spirit? Who are your brothers according to the spirit? All Christians – all those who communicate with you from the one and the same Chalice, the one and the same life. O, how great were the saints in their brotherly love! O, how far away from them was malevolent joy! The following is said about St. Bessarion: on one occasion all the monks were gathered in church for prayer. The abbot approached a monk who had committed a sin and ordered him to leave the church. The monk started to leave and Bessarion followed him saying: “And I, also, am the same kind of sinner!”
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
prologue.orthodox.cn/June6.htm

Troparion of St. Bessarion, Tone 4

O God of our Fathers, always act with kindness towards us; take not Your mercy from us, but guide our lives in peace through the prayers of the venerable Bessarion and Hilarion the New.

Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “O most glorious wonder …”:

Thou wast the light of monastics, O wise Bessarion, * and by the rays of thy virtues * and the effulgence of grace * thou wast like a most radiant lamp unto the desert. * From the gloom of the passions and the darkness of the wicked, * from all sorrow and temptation, * deliver those who fervently honor thee * and hymn with faith * thy divine repose.

Enduring to stand amid thorns * in thy divine love * of ineffable struggles, * thou didst show forth an effort equal to that of the martyrs. * Thou dost sweeten the bitter waters of the sea * and givest drink to souls in thirst, O all-wise one. * Thou didst traverse the rushing torrents of the Nile, * making thy passage over its waters dryshod, * O all-lauded one.

Knowing thee to be like unto the wise Elijah, * we all manifestly praise thee, O Bessarion, * for thou didst cause torrents of water to fall as rain from the sky * through God’s mercy unto thee, * and by thine honored supplications * thou bestowest fountains of rain and divine dew from on high * upon all the faithful * as well as grace and power * and invincible protection.


Saint Meletius of Antioch, not only when he taught or preached but also when men simply looked at him, he was in such a position to instill into the soul of the spectators every virtue. St Nikolai Velimirovich

Παναγία Πλατυτερα-χωρα του Αχωρητου_Panagia Platytera_ Богоматерь Знамение11 (2)1 1Saint Meletius of Antioch (381)
Saint Mary (Marinus) at Alexandria nun, and her father Eugene, monk, of Alexandria (6th century)
Saint Sisinnios, ‘Bishop of God’, in the region of the Metropolis of Ephesus (c. 919-944)
Hieromartyr Urbanus, Pope of Rome (223-230)
Saint Prochorus of Georgia, builder of Holy Cross Monastery near Jerusalem (1066)
New Monk-martyrs Luke (Mukhaidze) (1277) and Nicholas (Dvali) (1314), of Jerusalem, and the holy fathers of the Georgian monasteries in Jerusalem
New Martyr Christos the Gardener, at Constantinople (1748)
Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Kharkov (1840)
Venerable Meletios of Ypseni (Meletios of Lardos), in 1855
Appearance of the Iveron Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (“Panagia Portaitissa” or “Gate-Keeper”), Mt. Athos (9th century)
Repose of the cave-dweller Anastasia (Logacheva) of Ardatov (1875)

Commemorated on  February 12

Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch
by St Nikolai Velimirovich

Meletius, this great and holy man, was an exceptional interpreter and protector of Orthodoxy. His entire life was dedicated in a struggle against the Arian heresy which did not recognize the Son of God as god and blasphemed the Holy Trinity. On three occasions, Meletius was banished and exiled from his archepiscopal throne to Armenia. The struggle between the Orthodox and the heretics was waged so bitterly that on one occasion, when St. Meletius was preaching to the people in Church concerning the Holy Trinity in unity, his personal deacon, a heretic, raced toward him and covered his mouth with his hand. Not being able to speak with his mouth covered, Meletius spoke in signs. Namely, he raised his clenched hand in the air, opening at first his three fingers and showed them to the people. After that, he closed his hand and raised up one finger. He participated in the Second Ecumenical Council [Constantinople 381 A.D.], where Emperor Theodosius showed him special honor. At this Council, God revealed a miracle through His hierarch. Namely, when Meletius was propounding the dogma of the Holy Trinity to Arius, at first he only raised three fingers, separately one by one, and after that folded them into one. At that moment, before all those present, a light shown like lightening from his hand. At this Council Meletius confirmed Gregory the Theologian on the patriarchal throne in Constantinople. Earlier, however, Meletius had ordained Basil the Great to the deaconate and baptized John Chrysostom. After the close of the Council, St. Meletius completed his earthly life in Constantinople. His relics were translated to Antioch.

***

St. John Chrysostom cites the following example from the life of St. Meletius, which demonstrates the immense nobility of this great hierarch. “It would be unjust to omit that which occurred during the banishment of Meletius from Antioch. When the governor sat in the coach, and with the saint seated beside him, he began to drive with great speed through the square. From all sides, the citizens hurled stones as hail at the head of the governor, for they could not be parted from their hierarch easily and were prepared to part with life rather than part with this saint. But what did this blessed man do? Seeing the stones flying, he covered the head of the governor with his cloak. Thus, he shamed his adversaries by his enormous meekness and, by this, he taught a lesson to his followers as to what kind of forgiveness we should show toward those who offend us; that it is not enough to refrain from doing them any evil but rather, with all our power, to remove any danger that threatens them.”

Concerning the external appearance of Meletius, Chrysostom further says: “In truth, the greatest satisfaction was to see his holy face. Not only when he taught or preached but also when men simply looked at him, he was in such a position to instill into the soul of the spectators every virtue.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by St Nikolai Velimirovich, Bishop of Zica, Serbia (+1956)
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/February12.htm

***

Saint Mary (Marinus) at Alexandria
by St Nikolai Velimirovich

Προσευχή_PRAYER- Моление-3333333Maria was a young woman with indomitable courage. After the death of her mother, her father desired the monastic tonsure. Maria did not wish to be separated from her father and they both agreed to journey to a monastery for monks: Maria with cropped hair and in masculine attire, appeared as a young man. Her father died and Maria was tonsured a monk and received the name Marinus.

In the proximity of the monastery, there was an inn and the daughter of the innkeeper was attracted to Marinus, the alleged monk. After unsuccessfully pursing Marinus, the innkeeper’s daughter accused Marinus of illicit sexual relations with her, for she had become pregnant with someone else and had given birth to a son. Maria did not defend herself and was banished from the monastery with ridicule. With someone else’s child in her arms, Maria lived for three years in a grove belonging to the monastery enduring hunger, frost and every difficulty and deprivation. Meanwhile, the innkeeper’s daughter went insane and soon after that Maria also died. Only after her death was it discovered that the “monk Marinus” was a woman. The deranged daughter of the innkeeper, as soon as she touched the body of St. Maria, was healed and after that acknowledged her terrible sin. St. Maria died and took up habitation in eternal joy in the year 508 A.D.

***

Saint Paisios the Athonite about monasticism

Geronta, do all the monks understand the meaning of what it means to be a monk?

– Monasticism is a great honor and blessing which the Lord has given to man. It is only very slowly that the monk comprehends its deeper meaning. This makes him feel a real delight. He does not stop giving praise and thanks to the Lord. He feels the great honor which has been done to him. It is a little difficult for someone to appreciate the greatness of this calling.
The monks live the life of the angels’ right from this life that’s why they are called the ‘Angelic order’. The monk embarks on tasting some of the pleasures of the Heavens only after long trials and the buildup of spiritual fruit. He feels grateful to the Lord to the end of his days through humility, repentance and God’s grace.

– Geronta, parents usually oppose their child’s wish to become a monk.

Παΐσιος o Αγιορείτης _Saint Paisios of Mount Athos_Паи́сий Святого́рец_20200711_170239-4This is how it is in the beginning. Very slowly parents start to get the meaning. They appreciate the magnitude of the honor that the Lord has given them. They become in laws with the creator of the Universe! Their child, who has devoted himself to the Lord, helps to save not only his parents’ souls, but also the souls of his entire village. In Asia Minor, it was regarded as a huge blessing if a family had a member who was a monk. He would be interceding for the souls of all his relatives.

– Geronta, what is the monk’s main duty?

The monk begins with loving God. He, who loves the Lord, loves also his neighbor. The monk lives his whole life hurting. He is in pain, wanting to save his soul. This is so, because of his great adoration towards the Lord, because of his divine love. He is also hurting, wanting to save the whole world. This is due to his love for his neighbor.

– Geronta, why does the monk renounce the world?

He renounces the world because he loves the world. He does not hate the world. He does not renounce the world because he is arrogant and wants only to save his own soul. It is because he loves the world that he stays away from the world’s parasites in order to attain a better communication with the Lord.

– Geronta, usually the monks do not preach. But sometimes we encounter pious monks who go on a mission. What is happening in such cases?

The monks preach in their own way. They are like beacons on high rock, which illuminate the surrounds and direct the ships to their right destination. Monks help each and every person towards his true destination who is the Lord. The monk preaches the gospel with his own life. He lives the gospel, and God’s grace gives him away. Thus, the gospel is preached in the most positive way, which is something people are looking for nowadays.

The wholehearted prayers of Saint Perpetua and Saint Athanasia (Anastasia Logatseva) helped the souls of their dead brothers
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/02/21/39700/

Apolytikion of Meletius, Abp. Of Antioch
Fourth Tone

A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Meletios, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Troparion — Tone 8

By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, / and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance. / By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe! / O our holy mother Mary, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!


Saint Apostle Timothy – Pray for us, O eagles of Christ, so that Christ may restore us sinners with the Spirit. Saint Nikolai Velimirovic 

Αναστάσιος ο Πέρσης_Анастасий Персиянин_St Anastasius of Persia_0343_5434531Holy Apostle Timothy of the Seventy Apostles (ca. 96)
Saint Anastasius the Persian, Monk-Martyr (628)
Martyrs of Adrianople
Saint Blaesilla, a daughter of St Paula (383)
Saint Joseph Samakos the Sanctified of Crete (1511)

Commemorated on January 22

Saint Timothy
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovic

Timothy was one of the Seventy Apostles. He was born in Lystra in Lycaonia of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. The Apostle Paul praised his mother and grandmother because of their sincere faith. I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that, I am confident, lives also in you (II Timothy 1: 4-5). Timothy first met with the great apostle in Lystra and was himself a witness when Paul healed the one lame from birth. Later, Timothy was an almost constant traveling companion of Paul, traveling with him to Achaia, Macedonia, Italy and Spain. Sweet in soul, he was a great zealot for the Faith, and a superb preacher. Timothy contributed much to the spreading and establishing of the Christian Faith. Paul calls him my own son in the faith. Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus, Who is our hope, to Timothy, my own son in the Faith: grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord (I Timothy 1: 1-2). After Paul’s martyrdom, Timothy had St. John the Evangelist as his teacher. But when the Emperor Domentian banished John from Ephesus to the island of Patmos, Timothy remained in Ephesus to serve as bishop. During the time of an idolatrous feast called Katagogium, the pagans, resentful of the Christians, treacherously and in disguise, attacked Timothy and killed him about the year 93 A.D. Later his honorable relics were translated to Constantinople and interred in the Church of the Twelve Apostles along side of the grave of St. Luke the Evangelist and St. Andrew the First-called.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Nikolai Velimirovic Bishop of Ochrid, Serbia January
http://www.westsrbdio.org/en/prologue/484-january-22

***

Hymn of Praise
Saint Timothy
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovic Bishop of Ochrid

Παύλος_Paul Apostle_апПавел_Св.ап.Павле (5)Holy Apostles warmed by the Spirit,
Spiritual athletes, illumined by the Spirit,
By the victory of Christ, they conquered the world,
They conquered the world and established the Church.
As giant eagles, they flew mightily,
In torment and in death, they raced bravely;
From the world, they easily departed,
From Christ, they were never able to separate.
Their love for Christ separated them from everything,
Their love for Christ glorified them for all ages.
They were ridiculed at times, by worldly tyrants,
Now, they are crowned with the glow of eternal day:
Ridiculed at times, by worldly sages,
And now, brothers of angels and leaders of the saints!
Pray for us, O eagles of Christ,
So that Christ may restore us sinners with the Spirit.
Saint Timothy, star among stars,
Help even us by your prayers.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Nikolai Velimirovic Bishop of Ochrid, Serbia January 21

Troparion of the apostle, in Tone IV:

Learning goodness and being sober in all things with a good conscience, arrayed as a priest thou didst draw forth ineffable things from the chosen vessel; and having kept the faith, thou didst finish the even course. O Apostle Timothy, entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved.

Glory …, Troparion of the venerable martyr, in the same tone:

In his suffering, O Lord, Thy martyr Anastasius received an imperishable crown from Thee, our God; for, possessed of Thy might, he set at nought the tormenters and crushed the feeble audacity of the demons. By his supplications save Thou our souls.

in Tone I:
Spec. Mel.: “O most praised martyrs …”:

O divinely wise Timothy, * thou didst drink of the torrent of sweetness * and, emulating Christ, * with godly wisdom hast given drink * to those who fervently desire * the understanding of God. * To Him hast thou now joyously departed, * contemplating the all-radiant glory of the Trinity * and infinitely powerful peace.

Glory …, in Tone VIII:

Chosen by God before to be the disciple of the wise Paul, thou didst learn things divine; and having lived in goodness and preserved the Faith unadulterated even unto the shedding of thy blood, thou wast shown to be a faithful hierarch, O Apostle Timothy. Therefore, thou didst denounce the idolaters and, wounded by staves and stones, hast received the crown of martyrdom. Wherefore, O most blessed one, pray thou for us who celebrate thy most honored memory with faith.

Ikos: The annual festival of the saints hath shone forth more brightly than the sun, illumined the faithful, dispelled all the power of the demons in its myriad forms, washed away infirmities and fulfilled the petitions of those who make entreaty. Wherefore, wretch though I am, I make haste and offer supplication out of the pain of my passion-plagued heart, that I may receive what I desire and obtain what I need: surcease from grief, a life free from sorrow, remission of transgressions and divine healing of soul and body.


Lord Jesus, the Conqueror of the world, help us also to conquer the world with faith in You. And the victory that conquers the world in our faith . Saint Nikolai Velimirovič – Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

Πέτρος φυλακή άγγελος_Peter Apostle_апостолы Петр_Πέτρος 1700Veneration of the Precious Chains of the Holy and All-glorious Apostle Peter.
Martyrs Speusippus, Eleusippus, and Meleusippus, brothers, their grandmother, Leonilla, and with them Neon, Turbo, and the woman, Jonilla (Vovilla), in Cappadocia (161-180).
Martyr Danax the Reader (2nd century)
Saint Romilus the Sinaite, the Hesychast of Ravenica, monk of Mount Athos and disciple of St. Gregory of Sinai, and with him Saints Nestor, Martinius, Daniel, Sisoes, Zosimas, and Gregory (1375)
Bl. Maxim of Tot’ma, Fool-for-Christ (Vologdá—1650).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas of Mytilene, Priest (1777)

Commemorated on January 16

Homily
About the victorious faith
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

“And the victory that conquers the world in our faith” (I John 5:4).

ΠΕΤΡΟΣ-Peter the Apostle-Petru-Фрески Печской Патриархии, Косово, Сербия0_18208e_fe75b7f_origChrist the Lord conquered the world. That, brethren, is also our victory. The apostles conquered the world and that is our victory. The saints, virgins and martyrs conquered the world and that is our victory. Brethren, there is nothing more powerful in the world than the Christian Faith. The swords that struck this Faith became blunt and broken but the Faith remained. The kings who fought against this Faith were smothered under the anathema of crimes. The kingdoms that waged war against this Faith are destroyed. The towns that rejected this Faith lay demolished in their ruins. The heretics who corrupted this Faith perished in soul and body and under anathema departed from this world, and this Faith remained.

Brethren, when the world pursues us with its temptations: the temptation of external beauty, the temptation of riches, the temptation of pleasure, the temptation of transient glory; with what shall we resist and by what shall we be victorious if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except by this invincible Faith which knows about something better than all the wealth of this world.
When all the temptations of this world reveal the opposite side of their faces, when beauty turns into ugliness, health into sickness, riches into poverty, glory into dishonor, authority into humiliation and all blossoming physical life into filth and stench–by what shall we overcome this grief, this decay, this fifth and stench, and to preserve oneself from despair, if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except this invincible Faith which teaches us eternal and unchangeable values in the Kingdom of Christ.

When death shows its destructive power over our neighbors, over our relatives and our families, over our flowers, over our crops, over the works of our hands and, when it turns its irresistible teeth even on us, by what shall we conquer the fear of death and by what shall we unlock the doors of life, stronger than death, if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except this invincible Faith, which knows about the resurrection and life without death.

O Lord Jesus, the Conqueror of the world, help us also to conquer the world with faith in You.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/January15.htm

***

Saint Paisios the Athonite

“When we believe in God and have trust in His fatherly providence and concern, then we do not think of ourselves; instead we know that God is aware of our needs and looks after our problems, from the simplest to the most serious one. The only things we must want is to allow God’s love and providence to function for us. When we have this kind of faith and inner disposition, we are able to see God’s miracles––God himself––who is always close to us under all circumstances. In order to experience this we must reject any form of worldly assistance or human hope, and with a pure heart, unhesitatingly and trustfully devote our mind to God. Then the grace of Christ will fill our souls at once…
We must totally rely on God’s providence as this is the only way to be relieved of our anxiety and worries… To trust divine providence one must free himself from all worldly concerns and wait for God to look after him…. He must overcome his love for money and trust in it and then rest all his hopes on God and he cannot do both at the same time.”

***

How the elder planted Christ in a young man’s soul
Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

ΠΕΤΡΟΣ_Πέτρος φυλακή άγγελος_Peter Apostle_апостолы Петр__1f71be8069b8d59c7432da2347fb132“I was a law student,” recalls Monk Paisios, “and I visited the Elder on August 22, 1988, with a classmate of mine named Gregory. It was my first visit to the Holy Mountain. People I knew had urged me to go, because I was estranged from the Church. I went mostly for what you might call ‘spiritual tourism,’ but I also wanted to prove to the Elder that there is no God and that he had wasted all his years as a monk.

How the elder planted Christ in a young man’s soul“We arrived at Panagouda around four o’clock in the afternoon and found about thirty-five people waiting. They rang the bell persistently, but the Elder didn’t come. We went around to the back, but it was locked. I don’t know what happened inside me, but there―for the first time in twelve years of living without the mysteries of the Church―I knelt down and prayed. I said, ‘My God, if You really exist and You want me to believe, make the Elder come and talk to us about You.’

“Not even five minutes passed before the Elder emerged from the woods and slowly approached us with a serene look and a very sweet smile.

‘Father Paisios?’ I asked with emotion.

‘What do you want Father Paisios for?’ he replied.

‘To give him these socks and to get his blessing.’

‘Bend down, so I can bless you,’ he said to me.

“Not since my baptism had I received that kind of blessing. He laid his hand on my head and prayed for about five minutes.

“Later he took us to the yard outside his cell, and we sat on the logs. He spoke about God and world events as though he had heard the latest news reports, all the while offering us lots of lumps of delight.

“In the meantime, two guys who looked like anarchists arrived, and the Elder continued his talk. He also spoke to us about Buddhism, gradually, like a doctor, removing the thorns that had been embedded in me―I had done yoga for an hour a day for the past few years.

“After an hour of discussion, he turned to me and asked, ‘Do you want to become my disciple?’ ‘No, Father,’ I answered, ‘I’m just not suited to this kind of thing: I love the world.’ He asked the question several more times during my visit, but unfortunately I was so far away from spiritual things at the time that I couldn’t grasp the magnificence of his proposal.

“Afterward he left us to go and stack some chopped wood. We said that we would help him, but he refused, saying that he did it for asceticism and that it was his obedience.

“For about fifteen minutes, we four spiritual tourists didn’t speak to each other. The Elder’s words had made an impression on us. With everything he said he removed my doubts about the existence of the Triune God. But at the same time, the evil one was attacking me with thoughts, which I accepted. It crossed my mind to ask the Elder secretly, inside my soul, what we must do to gain paradise. I supposed, with my vainglorious brain, that since Father Paisios was so spiritually advanced he would guess my thoughts and answer me. God had pity on me, ignoring my egotism. I saw the Elder put down the wood and come toward us with slow strides, looking deep into my soul―and no longer at my eyes. And he answered me, ‘Have love and faith in Christ, my child.’

“My legs began to tremble, and my heart was beating so hard that I thought it would burst. The only thing that I was able to say was, ‘Gregory, let’s go,’ and ‘Father, your blessing.’ He replied, ‘Why do you want to leave? Sit down, I’ll make you my disciple, and I’ll even give you my name.’ But my heart couldn’t bear the divine revelation that had taken place inside it.

“From then on, my life changed entirely. Even though I never saw him again, there was always an inner spiritual communication between us. His presence in my life, even after his repose, has manifested itself in an amazing way on many occasions. But the biggest miracle is that, although I had been completely estranged from the Church, he succeeded in planting Christ in my soul forever. In less than six years, I went from denying our Church to being a monk. And I received the name Paisios, just as the Elder had foreseen.”
sourse :Elder Paisios of Mount Athos
©2012 For the English Language by The Holy Monastery Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian

Apolytikion of Veneration of the Chains of Ap. Peter
Second Tone

Without leaving Rome, thou didst come to us by the precious chains which thou didst wear. O foremost of the Apostles. And venerating them with faith, we pray: By thine intercessions with God, grant us great mercy.

Kontakion of Veneration of the Chains of Ap. Peter
Second Tone

Now Christ God, the Rock, doth glorify the rock of faith, illustriously, in calling all to celebrate the dread wonders of the most precious chains of Peter, the first and chief of the disciples of Christ our God, Who granteth forgiveness of sins unto all.

Glory …, in Tone VI: the composition of Byzantius:

Today Peter, the rock of faith, the foundation of the Church, appointeth his precious chains for the piety of our souls. Come ye all and, kissing them, let us crown him with hymns of praise, chanting: Rejoice, fervent champion of the faith who hast confessed Christ the Son of God with ardent knowledge and much boldness! Rejoice, joy of the universe, keeper of the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, who bestowest grace upon them that lovingly honor thee and kiss thy precious chains with longing! For, standing before the throne of Christ the King of all, thou prayest for us that celebrate thy memory.

At the Aposticha, stichera from the Oktoechos, and Glory …., in Tone VI:

Peter, the rock of faith, the fervent intercessor, doth again raise us up together to a spiritual feast, setting before us his precious chains as though they were most costly food, unto the healing of infirmities, the consolation of the sorrowful and the harboring of the tempest-tossed. Come ye all, and, kissing them, let us entreat Him Who glorified him, saying: By his prayers, O Christ, save Thou our souls!

ODE VIII
Irmos: O almighty Deliverer of all, descending into the midst of the flame Thou didst bedew the pious and didst teach them to chant: Bless and hymn the Lord, all ye works!

Working hard hearts like the soil, O Peter, thou didst render them most fruitful for the Husbandman of creation Who gaveth thee the divine keys and the authority to loose and bind transgressions.

We ever bless thee, O Peter, and we venerate the chains which thou didst bear as though thou wert a malefactor, slaying the prince of evil and binding him with thy chains, O apostle.

Preserving the fullness of the Church by thine immovable rock of faith, O Peter, drive temptations from its midst and ask a peaceful estate therefore, O blessed Peter.


Send your petition to God and the saints by means of the telegraph of faith and you will speedily obtain an answer. Think of them with your whole heart and they will be present with you. St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Άγιος Παύλος Θηβαίος_St Paul of Thebes_Св. Павел Фиве́йский_ღირსი პავლე თებაიდელი_Saints Salome of Ujarma and Perozhavra of Sivnia, disciples of St. Nino, Enlightener of Georgia (ca.361)
Saint Paul of Thebes (342)
Saint John Kalyvites (the hut-dweller) (~450)

Commemorated on January 15

Saint Paul of Thebes

Paul was born of wealthy parents in Lower Thebes in Egypt during the reign of Emperor Decius. Paul, with his sister, inherited all the property of their parents. But his brother-in-law, an idolater, wanted to confiscate Paul’s share of the property and threatened to betray Paul before the judge as a Christian if he did not cede his property to him. This misfortune, coupled with the heroic examples of self-sacrifice by the Christian martyrs that Paul saw with his own eyes, motivated him to give his share of the property to his sister. Then he, as a pauper, withdrew into the desert, where he lived an ascetic life until his death. To what spiritual heights this ascetic giant reached was witnessed by no less a person than St. Anthony the Great, who once visited Paul and saw how the wild beasts and the birds of the air ministered to him. Returning from this visit, Anthony said to his monks: “Woe is me, my children! A sinful and false monk am I, a monk only in name. I saw Elias, I saw John in the wilderness – and in truth, I saw Paul in Paradise!” St. Paul lived 113 years and peacefully reposed in the Lord in the year 342.
Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume One.

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Hymn of Praise
Venerable John Kalyvites (the Hut-dweller) [Kuschnik]
St. Nikolai Velimirovic

John was a young lad,
A young and wealthy lad,
But nothing tempted him –
Neither youth nor gold.
His father was a nobleman royal,
And his mother, a lady fine,
But he left them both
For the sake of the love of the Son of God.
His wealth was Christ,
All riches, all beauty.
Christ the Lord he loved
More than his own life.
And, instead of his parents
Now crying out in Hades,
Behold, their son, through poverty
Himself and them, he saved.
Even today, many people
Who, themselves, choke with riches,
John can shame,
And their sinful souls save.Παύλος Θηβαίος_St Paul of Thebes_Св. Павел Фиве́йский_ღირსი პავლე თებაიდელი_s1-e1e4-24Do not ever think that God does not hear you when you pray to Him. He hears our thoughts just as we hear the voices and the words of one another. And, if He does not act immediately according to your prayer, i.e., either because you are praying to Him in an unworthy manner or because you ask something of Him which would be detrimental to you, or, because He, in His wisdom and providence delays the fulfillment of your petition until the proper moment. Father John of Kronstadt writes: “As by means of the electric telegraph we speedily communicate with persons who are far away from us, so, likewise, by means of lively faith, as though through the telegraph wires, we speedily communicate with God, with the angels and saints. As we entirely trust to the speed of the electric current and to its reaching its destination, so likewise, we should completely trust to the speed of the prayer of faith and to it reaching its destination. Send your petition to God and the saints by means of the telegraph of faith and you will speedily obtain an answer.” And again, in another place St. John writes: “God and the created spirits and the souls of the departed as well as those of the living are thinking beings and thought is rapid and in some sort omnipresent. Think of them with your whole heart and they will be present with you. God will always be with you and necessarily so by the gift and power of God, the others will also be with you.”
Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume One.

Troparion Venerable Paul of Thebes — Tone 3

Inspired by the Spirit, / you were the first to dwell in the desert in emulation of Elijah the zealot; / as one who imitated the angels, you were made known to the world by Saint Anthony the Great. / Righteous Paul, entreat Christ God to grant us His great mercy.

Venerable Paul, in Tone I:
Spec. Mel.: “Joy of the ranks of heaven …”:

Furnishing thy mind with wings to fly to divine desire, O blessed one, * thou didst ascend to the upper desert * and didst draw nigh unto the darkness, * wherein thou wast radiantly illumined by the understanding of God * and wast anointed on the tablets of thy heart * with the splendor of the virtues.

The desert blossomed with the beauteous flowers of thy virtues; * for thou didst destroy the thorns of the passions therein, * and didst plant the right glorious pangs * of thy divine words. * Wherefore, like a lily planted by God, * thou dost now perfume us with the sweet fragrance of thy life.

venerable John, in Tone II:
Spec. Mel.: “When from the Tree …”:

When at the behest of God thou didst flee the beauties of the world, rejoicing, O father, thou didst prefer the narrow and exceeding hard path of pain to the broad one. Wherefore, clothed in the image of God, thou didst receive the care of souls, O divinely blessed one, for thine avoidance and denial of pleasures.

Wounded by the love of Christ, Whose ineffable poverty thou didst love, thou didst conceive of a strange life, a strange undertaking, O father; and as a homeless pauper at thy parents’ gate, thou didst endure affliction and oppression. Wherefore, thou wast filled with spiritual gifts and hast inherited riches in the heavens which cannot be taken away.

Bearing the sacred Gospel in thy hands, O father, thou becamest a fulfiller thereof. Spurning the possessions of thy parents, by tears and poverty thou didst perfect thy whole life, O venerable John. Wherefore, thou dost now delight in divine consolation and never-ending gladness, O all-blessed one.


St.Theodosius the Great, the Cenobiarch, The Orthodox Fathers of the Church were not given to bribery nor to be intimidation.

Θεοφάνεια_ Theophany_Богоявле́ние-Теофа́ния_Teofanía_ნათლისღება_Boboteaza Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon0_1b810c_fd740e83_orig162303e1a7eb2f5683Saint Theodosius the Great, the Cenobiarch (529).
Synaxis of the Myriads of Holy Angels (Synaxis of the Myriangelon) The Ten Thousands of holy Angels, whose Synaxis we celebrate.
Hieromartyr Hyginus, Pope of Rome (142)
Saint Theodosius of Antioch (412).
Saint Vitalius of the monastery of Abba Serid (Seridos) at Gaza (620)
Saint Michael the Fool-for-Christ of the Klops Monastery, Novgorod (1452).
Saint Theodosius of Philotheou Monastery, the Bishop of Trebizond (14th c.)
“Chernigov-Eletskaya” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (1060).
St. Joseph from Kermir of Cappadocia (1860)

Commemorated on January 11

Hymn of Praise
Saint Theodosius the Great
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Θεοδόσιος ο Κοινοβιάρχης _Saint Theodosios the Cenobiarch_св. Феодосия Киновиарха_sf-teodosie-cel-mare-11Those who with fear stand before God,
Those who fear the Living God only,
Only they can witness
That the righteous one receives that for which he prays to God.
By true prayer, God does for people –
The dawn glows to the one who turns to the dawn.
Saint Theodosius, by his prayers
Helped many and also helped us.
For he lives even now as he once did
And works miracles, as he once did and does now –
The Lord bestowed upon him power, because of his faith,
And love for God; love immeasurable.
Wonderful Theodosius, zealot of truth,
Wondrous organizer of the monastic life,
Let him be praised by us, who is glorified by God,
Now a glorious citizen of the Kingdom of Christ
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

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Blessed Michael fool-for-Christ 

Blessed Michael was a Russian of a princely family. He made himself appear foolish so as to conceal his virtues from the world and to avoid the praise of men. Thus, he prepared himself for praise before God. He died in the year 1453 A.D. in the Klops Monastery near Novgorod where his relics repose.
Prologue From Ochrid by St Nikolai Velimirovich

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Θεοδόσιος ο Κοινοβιάρχης _St Theodosios the Cenobiarch Icon_св. Феодосия Киновиарха_11-1-7To be bribable means to be not a Christian. The Orthodox Fathers of the Church were not given to bribery nor to be intimidation. Bribery in matters of the Faith is equal to Judas’s betrayal of Christ for money. Such bribery was characteristic only of certain heretics. When Emperor Anastasius succumbed to the heresy of Euthychius, Emperor Anastasius rose up against the decisions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon, 451 A.D) and wanted to outlaw those decisions. In order to win over the most distinguished representatives of the Church for himself, the emperor began to send them various gifts. St. Theodosius, by his fame, was the first in all of Palestine. The emperor sent him thirty liters of gold as a gift, supposedly for the needs of the monastery. By this, Theodosius immediately understood that the emperor wanted to bribe him. How wisely this saint of God acted! He did not want to keep the money for the monastery even though it was in great need; neither did he want to return it to the emperor so that the emperor would not become more embittered against Orthodoxy; thus he immediately distributed all the gold to the poor in the emperor’s name. This charity strengthened his prayer to God for the correction of the emperor and return to the true path.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

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Homily
About the citizens of the other world
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

“They do not belong to the world anymore than I belong to the world” (St. John 17:16)

Christ the Lord is not of this world, rather only in the vesture of this world. That is the Commander [Christ] clad in the clothing of a slave to save the captive enslaved by sin, matter and Satan. As is the commander, so are his soldiers. Even they, according to the spirit, are not of this world: They are not captives but free, they are not slaves but masters; they are not corruptible but immortal; they are not fallen but are saved. Such are all those who Christ recruited and who tasted immortal life willingly, rejected the world and united themselves with Him and remained faithful to Him until the end of their lives on earth. Abba Moses said, “No one can enter the army of Christ if he were not totally as fire; if he does not abhor honors and comfort, if he does not sever all bodily desires; and if he does not keep all of God’s commandments.” Judas was recruited but he fell away and loved prison more than the royal court, slavery more than freedom, corruption more then immortality, and destruction more than salvation. But the other apostolic recruits, great and small, remained faithful to Him [Christ] to the end, achieved victory for which they are glorified on earth among men and in heaven among the angels. That is why they are glorified and blessed both on earth and in heaven. All who are glorified by the world perish with the world, but those who are glorified by Christ are saved by Christ. The glory of the world is death, but the glory of Christ is life, life eternal and without death.

O Immortal Lord, even though we are of the world according to the body and sin, recruit us into Your army, the army according to the spirit, power, wisdom and love which is not of this world. So, even when we die to the world, we may live in Your immortal kingdom with the angels, apostles and saints because of the love and prayers of Your holy apostles.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/January4.htmΘεοδόσιος ο Κοινοβιάρχης _Saint Theodosios the Cenobiarch_св. Феодосия Киновиарха_00144_sap

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O Theodosius, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.

Troparion of St. Michael, the Fool for Christ Tone 8

Thou wast foolish on earth for the sake of Christ and didst hate the beauty of this world wholeheartedly./ By thirsting and fasting and by lying on the earth thou didst wither the flesh and the play of the passions./ Thou didst never shun heat, frost, rain nor snow, nor other hardships of climate and weather./ Like gold in the crucible thou didst purify thy soul, O holy and Godbearing Father Michael./ Thou dost now stand in heaven before the throne of the Trinity./ Boldly pray to Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

 in Tone V:
Spec. Mel.: “O venerable father …”:

O venerable father, God-bearing Theodosius, having found thy soul pure, as it desired, the grace of the All-holy Spirit dwelt within thee as an all-holy light, and with its activity thou wast splendidly adorned. Thou didst unceasingly glorify Christ, the one Son in two natures, Who is baptized at the hand of the Forerunner, and borne witness to by the Father’s voice. Him do thou beseech, to Him do thou pray, O venerable one, that He grant to the whole world oneness of mind, peace and great mercy. (Twice)

Glory …, in the II Tone:

O venerable father, the river’s streams, the waters of remission, made glad thy sacred soul like a city of the living God, Christ our God Who crossed the Jordan and hath poured forth the word of piety upon all the ends of the earth. Him do thou entreat, O most blessed Theodosius, that our souls be saved.

Glory …, in Tone VIII: the composition of the Studite:

Multitudes of monks honor thee as their instructor, O Theodosius our father. For, following thy steps, we have truly learned to walk aright. Blessed art thou who, having labored for Christ, didst denounce all the power of the enemy, O converser with the angels, companion of the venerable and the righteous. With them entreat the Lord, that our souls find mercy.

After the Polyeleos, Sedalion in Tone III:
Spec. Mel.: “Of the divine faith …”:

Lifting up thy hands to the divine summit, thou wast shown to be a radiant pillar, shining with beams of prayer, O venerable one. For, furnishing thy mind with wings to fly to the heavens, thou hast illumined all, as a partaker of ineffable things, praying to Christ God, that He grant us great mercy. (Twice)