God always helps

God always helps. He always comes in time, but patience is necessary. He hears us immediately when we cry out to Him, but not in accordance with our own way of thinking.

- Elder Joseph the Hesyhast

True Orthodoxy

A touchstone of true Orthodoxy is the love for Christ’s Saints.

- Fr. Seraphim Rose (via James)

Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs, Great Hierarchs and Ecumenical Teachers, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom

The three Hierarchs—an earthly trinity as they are called in some of the wonderful troparia of their service—have taught us in their writings and equally by their lives, to worship and to glorify the Holy Trinity, the One God in three Persons. These three luminaries of the Church have shed the light of the true Faith all over the world, scorning dangers and persecutions, and they have left us, their descendants, this sacred inheritance by which we too can attain to utmost blessedness and everlasting life in the presence of God and of all the Saints.

The Feast and commemoration of the Three Hierarchs is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is conducted on the morning of the feast and preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service. A Great Vespers is conducted on the evening before the day of the Feast.

Scripture readings for the Feast of are the following: At Vespers: Deuteronomy 1:8-17; Deuteronomy 10:14-21; and the Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9. At the Matins: John 10:9-16. At the Divine Liturgy: Hebrews 13:7-16, Matthew 5:14-19.

In many Greek Orthodox parishes the Feast of the Three Hierarchs is combined with a celebration of Greek Letters. This usually includes special events which are dedicated to the preservation and promulgation of the ideals of Orthodox Christianity and Hellenic education. The Three Hierarchs were great men of letters who were not only defenders of Orthodox Christianity, but supporters of Greek learning.

Orthodox Christian Saints commemorated on December

On Tuesday, November 27, 2013, the Sacred and Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided the formal inclusion in the List of Saints of the Orthodox Church of elder Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia and of venerable Meletios of Lardos.

Feast Day of Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia: December 2nd.

Feast Day of Saint Meletios of Lardos: February 12th.

Yesterday, we comemorated a beloved Saint, Saint John the Russian, the Confessor of Evia. You can find out more information about his life and his miracles here.

This is an excerpt from the Akathist hymn to Saint John:

You lived the life of the bodiless on earth in your physical flesh, O John, (3) and imitating the ranks of the Bodiless Angels, God Who fashioned you glorified you in wondrous and divine works. Therefore, you hear from those who are amazed by you such words as these:

Hail, the precious icon of piety,
Hail, rich support of the holy faith.
Hail, perfect one in godly struggles,
Hail, privileged one serving uplifted things.
Hail, the fair pinnacle of all the Righteous ones,
Hail, the sacred radiance of the confessors.
Hail, the most-precious joy of the Church,
Hail, the most-prided offspring of noble Russia.
Hail, lamp of the radiance of the saints,
Hail, treasury of incorrupt and sacred gifts.
Hail, O boast of the Russians.

Alive in Christ Jesus

We venerate the Saints as we seek their intercession with God, but we adore and worship only God in Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We venerate the Images (Icons) as well as the relics of the saints and martyrs. Yet according to the decisions and Canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, this veneration relates not to the icons as such, but to their prototypes, or to the persons whom they represent.

The interior walls of our temples are adorned with the icons and frescoes of the saints as a reminder that we are surrounded by the cloud of witnesses, the saints, and that the Church Militant (here on earth) is not separated from the Church Triumphant (in heaven). In Christ, death does not divide us, for the saints are not dead, but alive in Christ Jesus.

- Father Tryphon, Abbot of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island

An Orthodox Saint who has the title Fool-for-Christ is one who is known for his apparent, yet holy, insanity.

One form of the ascetic Christian life is called foolishness for the sake of Christ. The fool-for-Christ set for himself the task of battling within himself the root of all sin, pride. In order to accomplish this he took on an unusual style of life, appearing as someone bereft of his mental faculties, thus bringing upon himself the ridicule of others. In addition he exposed the evil in the world through metaphorical and symbolic words and actions. He took this ascetic endeavor upon himself in order to humble himself and to also more effectively influence others, since most people respond to the usual ordinary sermon with indifference. The spiritual feat of foolishness for Christ was especially widespread in Russia.

—(Excerpted from The Law of God, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY: 1993)

St. Xenia’s icon is made by Cayce Mary Grace

Saints Constantine and Helen, Equal to the Apostles (commemorated by the Orthodox Church on May 21 - New Calendar)

Troparion (Tone 8)

Having seen the figure of the Cross in the heavens,

And like Paul not having received his call from men,

O Lord, Your apostle among rulers, the Emperor Constantine,

Has been set by Your hand as ruler over the Imperial City

That he preserved in peace for many years,

Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O only lover of mankind.

Kontakion (Tone 3)

Today Constantine and his mother Helen

Reveal the precious Cross,

The weapon of the faithful against their enemies.

For our sakes, it has been shown to be a great sign, and fearsome in battle.

Correct your own sins

image

Do not lose your temper with those who sin. Do not have a passion for noticing every sin in your neighbor and judging it, as we usually do. Everyone will give an answer for himself before God. Especially, do not look with evil intention on the sins of those older than you, with whom you have no business. But correct your own sins, your own heart.

- St. John of Kronstadt, “My Life in Christ”

Saint George the Great-martyr and Trophy-bearer (commemorated on Easter Monday)
The holy, glorious and right-victorious Great-martyr and Trophy-bearer George was a Christian Roman soldier killed under Diocletian at the beginning of the fourth century. Though he was born in Cappadocia, his mother was from Palestine, and thus he is a particular favorite of many Palestinian Christians. He is also the patron saint of Moscow, Georgia, and England, amongst other places. The Church commemorates George on April 23, and the translation of his relics on November 3.
According to Tradition, George was born to a Christian family during the late 3rd century. His father was from Cappadocia and served as an officer of the army. His mother was from Lydda, Palestine. She returned to her native city as a widow along with her young son after the martyrdom of George’s father, where she provided him with a respectable education and raised him in piety.
The youth, it would seem, followed his father’s example in joining the army soon after his coming of age. He proved to be a charismatic soldier and consequently rose quickly through the military ranks of the time. By his late twenties he had gained the titles of tribunus (tribune) and later comes (count). By that time George had been stationed in Nicomedia as a member of the personal guard attached to Roman Emperor Diocletian (reign 284–305).
In 303, Diocletian issued an edict authorising the systematic persecution of Christians across the Empire. His caesar, Galerius, was supposedly responsible for this decision and would continue the persecution during his own reign (305–311). It is believed that George was ordered to take part in the persecution but instead confessed to being a Christian himself and criticised the imperial decision. An enraged Diocletian proceeded in ordering the torture of this apparent traitor and his execution.
Then, after innumerable forms of torture, George was executed by decapitation in front of Nicomedia’s defensive wall on April 23, 303. The witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to also become Christians, and so they also joined George in martyrdom as consequence. George’s body was then returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour George as a martyr.

Saint George the Great-martyr and Trophy-bearer (commemorated on Easter Monday)

The holy, glorious and right-victorious Great-martyr and Trophy-bearer George was a Christian Roman soldier killed under Diocletian at the beginning of the fourth century. Though he was born in Cappadocia, his mother was from Palestine, and thus he is a particular favorite of many Palestinian Christians. He is also the patron saint of Moscow, Georgia, and England, amongst other places. The Church commemorates George on April 23, and the translation of his relics on November 3.

According to Tradition, George was born to a Christian family during the late 3rd century. His father was from Cappadocia and served as an officer of the army. His mother was from Lydda, Palestine. She returned to her native city as a widow along with her young son after the martyrdom of George’s father, where she provided him with a respectable education and raised him in piety.

The youth, it would seem, followed his father’s example in joining the army soon after his coming of age. He proved to be a charismatic soldier and consequently rose quickly through the military ranks of the time. By his late twenties he had gained the titles of tribunus (tribune) and later comes (count). By that time George had been stationed in Nicomedia as a member of the personal guard attached to Roman Emperor Diocletian (reign 284–305).

In 303, Diocletian issued an edict authorising the systematic persecution of Christians across the Empire. His caesar, Galerius, was supposedly responsible for this decision and would continue the persecution during his own reign (305–311). It is believed that George was ordered to take part in the persecution but instead confessed to being a Christian himself and criticised the imperial decision. An enraged Diocletian proceeded in ordering the torture of this apparent traitor and his execution.

Then, after innumerable forms of torture, George was executed by decapitation in front of Nicomedia’s defensive wall on April 23, 303. The witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to also become Christians, and so they also joined George in martyrdom as consequence. George’s body was then returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour George as a martyr.

Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas the Wonderworker
This divine Father, who was from Asia Minor, was from childhood reared in the royal court of Constantinople, where he was instructed in both religious and secular wisdom. Later, while still a youth, he left the imperial court and struggled in asceticism on Mount Athos, and in the Skete at Beroea. He spent some time in Thessalonica being treated for an illness that came from his harsh manner of life. He was present in Constantinople at the Council that was convened in 1341 against Barlaam of Calabria, and at the Council of 1347 against Acindynus, who was of like mind with Barlaam; Barlaam and Acindynus claimed that the grace of God is created. At both these Councils, the Saint contended courageously for the true dogmas of the Church of Christ, teaching in particular that divine grace is not created, but is the uncreated energies of God which are poured forth throughout creation: otherwise it would be impossible, if grace were created, for man to have genuine communion with the uncreated God. In 1347 he was appointed Metropolitan of Thessalonica. He tended his flock in an apostolic manner for some twelve years, and wrote many books and treatises on the most exalted doctrines of our Faith; and having lived for a total of sixty-three years, he reposed in the Lord in 1359.
His holy relics are kept in the Cathedral of Thessalonica. A full service was composed for his feast day by the Patriarch Philotheus in 1368, when it was established that his feast be celebrated on this day. Since works without right faith avail nothing, we set Orthodoxy of faith as the foundation of all that we accomplish during the Fast, by celebrating the Triumph of Orthodoxy the Sunday before, and the great defender of the teachings of the holy Fathers today.Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Second Tone

When You descended unto death, O Lord who yourself are immortal Life, then did You mortify Hades by the lightning flash of Your Divinity. Also when You raised the dead from the netherworld, all the Powers of the heavens were crying out: O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory be to You.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

O Gregory the Miracle Worker, light of Orthodoxy, support and teacher of the Church, comeliness of Monastics, invincible defender of theologians, the pride of Thessalonica, and preacher of grace, intercede forever that our souls may be saved.
Seasonal Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: “Hail, unwedded bride!”

Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas the Wonderworker

This divine Father, who was from Asia Minor, was from childhood reared in the royal court of Constantinople, where he was instructed in both religious and secular wisdom. Later, while still a youth, he left the imperial court and struggled in asceticism on Mount Athos, and in the Skete at Beroea. He spent some time in Thessalonica being treated for an illness that came from his harsh manner of life. He was present in Constantinople at the Council that was convened in 1341 against Barlaam of Calabria, and at the Council of 1347 against Acindynus, who was of like mind with Barlaam; Barlaam and Acindynus claimed that the grace of God is created. At both these Councils, the Saint contended courageously for the true dogmas of the Church of Christ, teaching in particular that divine grace is not created, but is the uncreated energies of God which are poured forth throughout creation: otherwise it would be impossible, if grace were created, for man to have genuine communion with the uncreated God. In 1347 he was appointed Metropolitan of Thessalonica. He tended his flock in an apostolic manner for some twelve years, and wrote many books and treatises on the most exalted doctrines of our Faith; and having lived for a total of sixty-three years, he reposed in the Lord in 1359.

His holy relics are kept in the Cathedral of Thessalonica. A full service was composed for his feast day by the Patriarch Philotheus in 1368, when it was established that his feast be celebrated on this day. Since works without right faith avail nothing, we set Orthodoxy of faith as the foundation of all that we accomplish during the Fast, by celebrating the Triumph of Orthodoxy the Sunday before, and the great defender of the teachings of the holy Fathers today.
Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Second Tone

When You descended unto death, O Lord who yourself are immortal Life, then did You mortify Hades by the lightning flash of Your Divinity. Also when You raised the dead from the netherworld, all the Powers of the heavens were crying out: O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory be to You.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

O Gregory the Miracle Worker, light of Orthodoxy, support and teacher of the Church, comeliness of Monastics, invincible defender of theologians, the pride of Thessalonica, and preacher of grace, intercede forever that our souls may be saved.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: “Hail, unwedded bride!”

Like a group of trees…

Abba Poemen said that Abba John said that the Saints are like a group of trees, each bearing different fruit, but watered from the same source. The practices of one Saint differ from those of another, but it is the same Spirit that works in all of them.

The 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste (Commemorated by the Holy Orthodox Church on March 9/March 22)
All of them were soldiers in the Roman army and steadfastly believed in the Lord Jesus. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of Licinius, they were brought to trial before the commander. When he threatened to strip them of their honor as soldiers, one of them, St. Candidus, responded, “Not only the honor of being a soldier, but take away our bodies, for nothing is more dear or honorable, to us than Christ our God.” After that, the commander ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs. While the servants were hurling stones at the Christians, the stones turned and fell back on the servants, severely striking them. One of the stones struck the commander’s face and knocked out his teeth. The torturers, angry as wild beasts, bound all of the holy martyrs and tossed them into the lake and stationed a guard around it so as to prevent any of them from escaping. There was a terrible frost and the lake froze around the bodies of the martyrs. So that their pain and suffering would be worsened, and in order to persuade one of them to deny Christ and acknowledge the idols of Rome, the torturers heated a bath by the side of the lake in sight of the frozen martyrs. Indeed, one of them was persuaded. He came out of the water and entered the bath. And behold, an extraordinary light appeared from heaven which warmed the water in the lake and the bodies of the martyrs. With that light, thirty-nine wreaths descended from heaven over their heads. Upon seeing this, a guard on the shore removed all his clothes, confessed the Name of the Lord Jesus and entered the lake so that he could become worthy of the fortieth wreath in place of the betrayer. Indeed, the last wreath descended upon him. The next day the entire town was astonished when they saw that the martyrs were still alive. Then, the wicked judges ordered that the lower part of their legs be broken and their bodies thrown into the water so Christians could not recover them. On the third day the martyrs appeared to Peter, the local bishop, and summoned him to gather their relics and remove them from the water The bishop with his clergy went out into the dark of night and beheld the relics of the martyrs shining brightly in the water. Every bone which was separated from their bodies floated to the top and glowed like a candle. Bishop Peter gathered and honorably buried them. The souls of these martyrs, who suffered for all of us, went to the Lord Jesus, resurrected with glory. They suffered honorably and were crowned with unfading glory in the year 320 A.D.
(From the Prologue of Ochrid)

The 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste (Commemorated by the Holy Orthodox Church on March 9/March 22)

All of them were soldiers in the Roman army and steadfastly believed in the Lord Jesus. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of Licinius, they were brought to trial before the commander. When he threatened to strip them of their honor as soldiers, one of them, St. Candidus, responded, “Not only the honor of being a soldier, but take away our bodies, for nothing is more dear or honorable, to us than Christ our God.” After that, the commander ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs. While the servants were hurling stones at the Christians, the stones turned and fell back on the servants, severely striking them. One of the stones struck the commander’s face and knocked out his teeth. The torturers, angry as wild beasts, bound all of the holy martyrs and tossed them into the lake and stationed a guard around it so as to prevent any of them from escaping. There was a terrible frost and the lake froze around the bodies of the martyrs. So that their pain and suffering would be worsened, and in order to persuade one of them to deny Christ and acknowledge the idols of Rome, the torturers heated a bath by the side of the lake in sight of the frozen martyrs. Indeed, one of them was persuaded. He came out of the water and entered the bath. And behold, an extraordinary light appeared from heaven which warmed the water in the lake and the bodies of the martyrs. With that light, thirty-nine wreaths descended from heaven over their heads. Upon seeing this, a guard on the shore removed all his clothes, confessed the Name of the Lord Jesus and entered the lake so that he could become worthy of the fortieth wreath in place of the betrayer. Indeed, the last wreath descended upon him. The next day the entire town was astonished when they saw that the martyrs were still alive. Then, the wicked judges ordered that the lower part of their legs be broken and their bodies thrown into the water so Christians could not recover them. On the third day the martyrs appeared to Peter, the local bishop, and summoned him to gather their relics and remove them from the water The bishop with his clergy went out into the dark of night and beheld the relics of the martyrs shining brightly in the water. Every bone which was separated from their bodies floated to the top and glowed like a candle. Bishop Peter gathered and honorably buried them. The souls of these martyrs, who suffered for all of us, went to the Lord Jesus, resurrected with glory. They suffered honorably and were crowned with unfading glory in the year 320 A.D.

(From the Prologue of Ochrid)

If prayer is right, everything is right

Prayer is the test of everything; prayer is also the source of everything; prayer is the driving force of everything; prayer is also the director of everything. If prayer is right, everything is right. For prayer will not allow anything to go wrong.

- St. Theophan the Recluse