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Iconography and Hand painted icons


I was crucified for sinners and for their salvation; For this reason, then, I neither turn away nor reject anyone, even if he should fall many times a day and many times return to Me; by Saint Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium

Εισόδια Θεοτόκου_Entrance of the Theotokos_Введение во храм Пресвятой Богородицы_1-1cf8cceb4ceb9ceb1-1Afterfeast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple
Saint Amphilochius of Iconium, first cousin to St Gregory the Theologian and a close friend of St Basil the Great (394–403).
St. Gregory, bishop of Agrigentum Sicily (680).
St. Sisinius the confessor, bishop of Cyzicus (ca. 325).
Venerable Ischyrion, bishop in Egypt and hermit of Scete.(4rd century)
St. Helenus of Tarsus, bishop
Virgin-martyr Lucretia, in Mérida in the west of Spain (306)
Saint Metrophanes (in schema Macarius), Bishop of Voronezh (1703)
New Hieromartyr Eleazar Spyridonov of Eupatoria, Priest, first rector of the Greek Church of St. Elijah (Yevpatoria) in Crimea (1937)
New Hieomartyr Archimandrite Gregory (Peradze) of Georgia, who suffered in Auschwitz, Poland (1942)

Commemorated on November 23

Abba Ischyrion of Scete

The Holy Fathers were making predictions about the last generation. They said, “What have we ourselves done?” One of them, the great Abba Ischyrion replied, “We ourselves have fulfilled the commandments of God.” The others replied, “And those who come after us, what will they do?” He said, “They will struggle to achieve half our works.” They said, “And those who come after them, what will happen?” He said, “The men of that generation will not accomplish any works at all and temptation will come upon them; and those who will be approved in that day will be greater than either us or our fathers.”
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, translated by Benedicta Ward.

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Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Γρηγόριος Ακραγαντίνων_Gregory of Agrigentum_Григорий, епископ Акрагантийский_ih3424God permits misfortune to befall the righteous, that He might glorify them more greatly. The overcoming of misfortune reveals both the glory of God and the glory of the righteous. St. Gregory of Agrigentum was, in all things, righteous and pleasing to God. But God permitted misfortune to befall him, similar to that misfortune that once overtook St. Athanasius and St. Macarius. Two priests, Sabinus and Crescens, for whom Gregory had done much good, could not at all tolerate Gregory’s virtuousness. For such is the nature of vice, that it cannot tolerate virtue. Consequently, Sabinus and Crescens found a notorious prostitute and bribed her to malign Gregory by saying that he had had immoral relations with her. So it was that when Gregory was in church, the woman crept into his bedroom, and just as Gregory came out of church with the people, she emerged from his room. The two priests began to revile Gregory as a libertine. However, Gregory was composed and prepared for every suffering. They confined him in prison and then transferred him to Rome. The pope believed the slanderers and kept Gregory in prison for two and a half years, without a trial or a verdict. A council was then convened to try Gregory’s case, but God judged before man could judge. The woman went insane and was brought mad before the council. She was unable to answer any questions. Gregory, the miracle-worker, prayed to God for her and she was healed, for the evil spirit came out of her. Then, through her tears, she confessed that she had been bribed to malign the man of God, and that immediately after she had committed the slander, the evil spirit had entered her and held her in its power. Sabinus and Crescens, along with the other maligners-more than a hundred in number-found their faces suddenly turned as black as coal, and they were punished with exile. St. Gregory was returned to his diocese and was received with great exultation by his people.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.com/2010/04/prologue-november-23-december-6.html

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Never lose hope in your Salvation
by Saint Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium

A certain brother, overcome by the passion of wantonness, sinned every day. However, each time, with tears and prayers, he would fall before the Master and Lord and receive forgiveness from Him. And as soon as he had repented, the next day, being misled again by shameful habit, he would fall to sin.

Afterwards, having sinned, he would go to the Church, where he would prostrate himself before the honourable and revered Icon of our Lord Jesus Christ and tearfully confess to Jesus: Lord, have mercy upon me and take away from me this fearful temptation, for it troubles me fiercely and wounds me with the bitter taste of the pleasures. I, my Master, cleanse my person once more, that I may gaze upon Thine Icon and see Thy holy form and the sight of Thy face, brighter than the sun, that my heart might be sweetened and thankful.”

And though his lips had just whispered these words, no sooner would he leave the Church than he would fall once again to sin.

Despite this, however, he did not despair of his salvation, but, returning from his sinful deed, would cry out in the Church the same words to God – to the Lord, who loves mankind – adding the following:     “My Lord, I swear to Thee on my word that I shall no longer commit this sin. Only forgive me, Good and Most Merciful Lord, whatever sins I have committed, from the beginning to this moment.”

No sooner would he utter these awe-inspiring words, than he would find himself the captive of this evil sin. Let no one cease to marvel at the sweet love of God towards mankind and at His boundless goodness, with which He each day tolerated the uncorrected and evil transgression and ingratitude of the brother. Indeed, God, because of the greatness of His mercy, persistently accepted the repentance of that sinful brother and his inevitable return. For this happened not for one or two or three years, but for more than ten years.

Do you see, my brother, the measureless forbearance and boundless love of the Master? How He continually endures, showing to us kindness, tolerating our terrible transgressions and sins? And what evokes astonishment and wonderment with regard to the rich mercies of God is that He did not become wrathful with the brother in question, though the brother, agreeing not to fall to sin again, continually broke his word.

At any rate, one day when all that we have described again occurred, the brother, having fallen to sin, rushed to the Church, lamenting, groaning, and crying with anguish, to invoke the mercy of God, that He might have compassion on him and take him from the sin of immorality.

***

Αμφιλόχιος Επίσκοπος Ικονίου_Saint Amphilochius of Iconium_Св Амфилохий Иконийский_წმინდა ამფილოქე იკონNo sooner had he called on God, the Lover of man, than the Devil, that evil of old and destroyer of souls, seeing that he could gain nothing, since whatever he accomplished by sin, the brother expunged by his repentance, became infuriated and appeared visibly before the brother. Facing the Icon of Christ, the Devil said to our compassionate Saviour: “What will become of the two of us, Jesus Christ? Your sympathy for this sinner defeats me and takes the ground I have gained, since You keep accepting this dissolute man and prodigal, who daily mocks You and scorns Your authority. Indeed, why is it that You do not burn him up, but rather, tolerate and put up with him? …Is it because one day You intend to condemn all of the adulterers and the dissolute, and You will destroy all sinners?

Actually, You are not a just Judge. But by him Your power is sometimes applied leniently and overlooks things. So, while I was cast from the heavens down to the abyss for a little breach of pride, to this fellow here, even though an immoral man and a prodigal, You calmly show Your sympathy, just because he throws himself down in front of Your Icon.

In what way can You be called a just Judge, then? But, as I see it, You receive individual people with great kindness, but ignore justice in general.”

The Devil said all of this, poisoned with great bitterness, whilst there poured forth from his nostrils a black flame.

Having said these things, he fell silent. A voice was heard in response, coming forth from the Divine sanctuary, saying the following:

O all-cunning and ruinous dragon, are you yet not satisfied with your evil and destructive desire to gobble up the world? Now you have even the nerve to try to do away with this man, who has come with contrition to entreat the mercy of My compassion – to devour him, too? Can you offer up enough sins that, by them, you can tilt the balance of justice against the precious blood which I shed on the Cross for this man? Behold My murder and death, which I endured for the forgiveness of his sins.

You, when he turns again to sin, do not turn him away, but receive him with joy, neither chastising him nor preventing him from committing sin, out of the hope that you might win him over. Yet, I, Who am merciful and love mankind, Who counselled My laudable Apostle Peter, to forgive sins seven times seventy (Matt. 18:22), do I not show him mercy and compassion? Indeed – simply because he flees to Me – I will not turn him away until I have won him over. Furthermore, I was crucified for sinners and for their salvation; My immaculate hands were nailed to the Cross, that those who so wish might take refuge in Me and be saved. For this reason, then, I neither turn away nor reject anyone, even if he should fall many times a day and many times return to Me; such a person will not leave My Temple saddened, for I came not to call the righteous, but to call sinners to repent.”

During the time that this voice was heard, the Devil was fixed in his place, trembling and unable to run away. The voice then again began to say: “We have heard from all that you say, O Seducer, that I am not just; to the contrary, I am just beyond all. In whatever moral state I find a person, in that state I judge him. Look at this man, who a few moments ago repented, having returned from sin and having fallen at My feet with a sincere resolution to abandon sin, and thereby having conquered you.

Therefore, I will accept him immediately and save his soul, since he did not lose hope in his hard toil for salvation.

Look how much he merits by his repentance before Me, for which he is honoured. As for you, let your hatred be shred to pieces and you disgraced.”     While this was being said, the repentant brother had thrown himself before the Icon of the Saviour. With his face to the ground and lamenting, he surrendered his spirit to the Lord. At the same time that the repentant brother departed to the Lord, a great tempest fell upon Satan, like a fire from Heaven, and devoured him. From this incident, my brothers, let us learn of the limitless compassion of God and of His love of man – what a good Master we have! – that we might never again be disheartened by our sins, but rather look after our salvation with zeal.

from the Evergetinos
http://focusunsw.blogspot.gr/search?updated-max=2016-04-22T10:14:00%2B10:00&max-results=8

Troparion of the Feast:

Today is the prelude of God’s good will and the proclamation of the
salvation of man. The Virgin hath manifestly appeared in the Temple of God
and proclaimeth Christ unto all. To her let us cry aloud: Rejoice, O thou
fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation!

Apolytikion of Gregory, Bp. of Agrigentum
First Tone

O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.

Kontakion of Gregory, Bp. of Agrigentum
Fourth Tone

With the Holy Spirit’s rays, which shine a great light, doth the Church illuminate the way of them that celebrate thy joyous falling asleep today, O righteous Father, supremely blest Gregory.

St. Amphilochius, in Tone IV:
Spec. Mel.: “Thou hast given a sign …”:

Having inherited a mind with free will * and an intellect with absolute power over the passions, * O most blessed father, * thou didst impart intelligent mastery to thy higher part, * that, weighed with a scale most true, * it might go higher. * Wherefore, thou art admitted to divine vision * and the knowledge of God, * O divinely inspired hierarch.

ODE VI, Canon of St. Gregory
Irmos: As Thou didst deliver the prophet from the uttermost depths of the abyss, O Christ God, deliver me also from my sins, in that Thou lovest mankind, and guide Thou my life, I pray.

Following in the steps of the Master with a blameless life, O glorious one, unjustly oppressed and slandered, thou didst remain impervious to thine ill treatment.

Seizing thee like savage beasts, as thou wert an innocent lamb, O father, those who lived together in wickedness condemned thee to prison; but thou wast preserved by divine grace.

ODE VII, Canon of St. Gregory
Irmos: O God of our fathers, Who saved the children from the fire by the Angel and transformed the thundering furnace into dew: Blessed art Thou!

Taking heed of thy patience, O father, the Master sacredly adorned thee with yet greater miracles, and thou drivest away the gloom of infirmities.

ODE VIII, Canon of St. Gregory
Irmos: O Thou Who coverest thy chambers with waters, Who settest a
bound of sand for the sea and sustainest all things: Thee doth the sun
hymn, Thee doth the moon glorify, and to Thee doth all creation offer
hymnody, as to the Creator of all, forever.

The maiden who slandered thee, a righteous man, because of the wickedness
of all-iniquitous men, is freed from the dreadful wounding of the demons by
thy supplication, O blessed one, and in the midst of the council God, the Judge
of the contest, glorified thee for all ages.

Those who through wickedness taught against thee are filled with gloomy
darkness, O father Gregory, and thy radiant life shined forth before the fathers,
in whose presence thou didst work a miracle, holding a burning coal in thy
hand.

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