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Saint Andrew the Apostle (Greek: ‘Ανδρέας, Andreas; early first century—mid to late first century AD), called in the Orthodox tradition Protokletos, or the First-called, is the brother of Peter the Apostle. The name “Andrew” (from Greek : “ανδρεία”, Andreia, manhood, or valour), like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews from the second or third century BC. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him.
For November 30th, 2008, the feast of St. Andrew the First-called Apostle, Fr. Michael Varlamos reads the life of the saint in lieu of the sermon at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in St. Clair Shores, MI.
The New Testament records that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, by which it is inferred that he was likewise a son of Jonah, or John.[Mt. 16:17] [Jn. 1:42] He was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee.[Jn. 1:44] Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that He will make them “fishers of men” (Greek: ἁλιείς ἀνθρώπων, halieis anthropon). At the beginning of Jesus’ public life they occupied the same house at Capernaum.[Mk. 1:21-29]
The Gospel of John teaches that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him and John the Evangelist to follow Jesus.[Jn. 1:35-40] Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother.[Jn. 1:41] Thenceforth, the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus.
The new church of St. Andrew
The new church in the city of Patras, in a Byzantine style, was founded in 1908 by King George the I, and it was consecrated in 1974 by Metropolitan – Bishop Nicodemus. The Church of St. Andrew of Patras is the largest church in the Balkans, and it can fit inside a total of 5,500 faithful.
The old church of Patras
Right on the spot where St. Andrew was martyred – the old city of Patras, a new basilica was built over the ruins of a former Byzantine basilica (erected over the ruins of an ancient Greek temple) destroyed by the Turks.
In the gospel Andrew is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus.
Eusebius quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached in Asia Minor and in Scythia, along the Black Sea as far as the Volga and Kiev. Hence he became a patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to tradition, he founded the See of Byzantium (Constantinople) in AD 38, installing Stachys as bishop. His presence in Byzantium is also mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew written sometime during the second century. This diocese would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew is recognized as its patron saint.
Images from inside the Monastery of St Andrew, Romania
The cave of St Andrew, Romania
The Kievan hill where St. Andrew is said to have erected the cross is commemorated by the cathedral dedicated in his name
Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at Patras (Patrae) in Achaea. Though early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours, describe Andrew bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Christ was crucified, a tradition grew up that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross) and commonly known as “Saint Andrew’s Cross”; this was performed at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross on which Christ was crucified.
Remaints of the cross St. Andrew was crucified on, Patras – Greece
The precious head of St. Andrew, Patras – Greece
Andrew is the patron saint of Patras. According to tradition his relics were moved from Patras to Constantinople. Local legends say that the relics were sold to the Romans. The head of Andrew, considered one of the treasures of St Peter’s Basilica, was given by the Byzantine despot Thomas Palaeologus to Pope Pius II in 1461. In recent years, by decision of Pope Paul VI in 1964, the relics that were kept in the Vatican City, were sent back home to Patras, where they belong. The relics, which consist of the small finger, part of the top of the cranium of Andrew and small parts of the cross, have since that time been kept in the Church of St Andrew at Patras in a special shrine, and are revered in a special ceremony every November 30.
Photos from inside of the Church of St Andrew, Patras – Greece
The relics of the Saint in the Church of St Andrew, Patras, Greece
One thing is truthful!
(My beloved) know that our relationship with God is not a joke; know that this whole world with all its civilization is a fad. You closed your eyes forever (when you die – transl. note) and will no longer know about civilization or the endeavors to the Moon or Mars, and so on … All are shadows/hollows; only one thing is truthful: our relationship with Christ, the immortality of our soul and what awaits us beyond death, aiming an eternal torment or the eternal life.
Father George Calciu
On the Priesthood
“What does the priesthood mean? It means to be an enduring witness to human suffering and to take it upon your own shoulders. To be the one who warms the leper at his own breast, the one who gives life to the miserable through the breath from his own mouth. To be a strong comfort to every unfortunate one, even when you yourself are overwhelmed with weakness. To be a ray of shining light to unhappy hearts when your own eyes long ago ceased to see any light. To carry mountains of others’ sufferings on your shoulders, while your own being screams out with the weight of its own suffering. Your flesh will rebel and say, ‘This heroism is absurd, impossible! Where is such a man, where is the priest you describe so that I may put my own suffering on his shoulders?’ Yes, nevertheless, he does exist! From time to time there awakens within us the priest of Christ who, like the Good Samaritan, will kneel down by the side of the man fallen among thieves and, putting him upon his own donkey, will bring him to the Church of Christ for healing. And he will forget himself and comfort you, O man of suffering!”
Father George Calciu
May His Memory Be Eternal!
Taken from HOMILY SIX – TO ENCOURAGE FASTING
by Saint Gregory Palamas
(INCLUDING A BRIEF WORD ON THE ORIGIN OF THE WORLD)
THE INVISIBLE SERPENT, the originator of evil, is inventive, versatile and extremely skillful in contriving wickedness. He has means to hinder our good purposes and actions as soon as they begin. But if he fails to prevent them initially, he sets up other devices by which he can render them useless once they are underway. If he is unable to make them worthless when they are half way to completion, he knows other tricks and ways to invalidate them even once they are finished, and makes them a source not of reward but of harm to all but the most careful. First of all he points out how laborious and difficult to accomplish virtue is. In this way he fills us with laziness and despair, as though we were attempting difficult and impossible things and were therefore incapable of putting our intentions into action. Then he engenders disbelief in the rewards which God has promised to those who struggle.
2. But we, brethren, should rise above this trap by our soul’s courage, eagerness and faith. We should bear in mind the fact that just as the earth cannot yield worthwhile fruit without labor, so the soul cannot acquire anything which pleases God or leads to salvation without spiritual struggles. But while it is possible to find earth which is unsuitable for cultivation, every human soul is naturally suited to virtue. As we are all unavoidably condemned, however, by the judgment given against our forefather, to live by labor and toil, let us turn necessity into an honor and willingly offer to God what is ours not by our own will. Let us give up transitory things in exchange for things that endure, and receive what is beneficial in exchange for what is harmful, transforming short-lived toil into a means to gain eternal ease. If we labor here for the sake of virtue we shall certainly attain to the rest promised in the age to come. He who promised is trustworthy and is at hand to help all who readily take on the struggle for virtue. If He who can do all things gives us His help, is anything impossible to achieve?
3. When we remember this and eagerly apply ourselves to virtuous actions, the evil one, knowing that nothing can be good unless it is done in a good way, strives to persuade us not to accomplish any good work with the object of pleasing God or of winning His approval, but to look for other people’s approval. By this means he can deprive us of our reward from God and of all spiritual and heavenly honors. Let us frustrate these efforts of his by considering the great recompense stored up for those who live as God pleases, and how insignificant other people’s approval is. Not only is it not worth mentioning in comparison with the great and holy glory to come, but it is also insufficient reason to neglect and waste our flesh.
4. Even after suffering this defeat, the originator of evil undermined us with pride, the last and worst abyss. He suggests conceited thoughts and persuades us to boast as though we had managed to be virtuous through our own ability and intelligence. But let us remember that the Truth says, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5), and fend off all the evil one’s schemes. Let us do good works in a good way, with appropriate humility. If someone has a jar of precious perfume, whether he pours it out on to dung, or pours dung into the jar, he ruins and destroys the perfume. Be aware that, in the same way, whether someone rejects and discards virtue by his inaction, or mixes evil with his virtuous actions, he equally ruins and destroys virtue.
5. I am speaking to your charity on this subject in this present season of fasting, so that we may observe it together for our own sake unalloyed with anything evil. Fasting was of no benefit to that Pharisee in the Gospel, even though he always fasted two days a Week, because he had adulterated it with pride and condemnation of his neighbor (Luke 18:11-12). Not that this means fasting is unprofitable. Moses, Elijah and the Lord Himself showed how beneficial it is for those who fast properly in a way pleasing to God.
6. Moses fasted for many days. Awaken your minds, I entreat You, and lift them up at this opportune time, in company with Moses when he went up the mountain towards God. In this way may you start off afresh on your ascent, and be lifted up together with Christ, who did not merely go up a mountain but up to heaven, taking us with Him. Moses fasted for forty days on the mountain and according to the Scriptures he saw God, not darkly but face to face (Exod. 24:18). He talked to Him as someone would speak to his friend (Exod. 33:11, Deut. 34:10). He learnt from God and taught everyone about Him: that He is He Who eternally Is (Exod. 3:14) and will never cease to be, that He summoned what did not exist into existence, brought all things out of non-being and will not let them fall back into non-existence. In the beginning He brought the whole visible creation out of nothing all at once, just by a nod and His will. “In the beginning”, it says, “God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. i:i), not empty of course, nor without all that lies between them. The earth was interspersed with water, and both were full of air, animals and plants of various kinds, whereas the heavens were full of the various lights and fires, from which the universe is formed.
7. So then, “in the beginning God made heaven and earth”, as matter able to endure anything and strong enough to bear everything, rightly thereby dealing a blow from a distance to those who falsely hold that matter existed independently beforehand. Then He developed the world and embellished it. In six days He assigned to each of His creatures which made up His world its own due order. By His command alone He made the distinction between things, as if He were drawing out different kinds of treasure stored up in secret. He disposed and composed all things in complete natural harmony between themselves, each in relation to all, and all in relation to each. He surrounded the motionless earth, as a central point, with the higher circle of the perpetually moving heavens, holding them it, place by means of what lies between, all according to His wisdom, that the universe might stay stable while in motion. When the heavenly bodies all around were moving unceasingly and at great speed, the motionless earth had of necessity to take its place at the centre, its stability counterbalancing the motion, test the sphere of the universe roll off its course.
8. When the great Craftsman had assigned to each of the two boundaries of the universe its place, He made fast and set in motion this whole orderly world. He allotted to everything between heaven and earth its own properties. Some of His works He placed aloft and ordered them to move along a high course, going round at the same time as the upper boundary of the universe with beautiful regularity for ever. Such heavenly bodies are light, highly active and can be turned to the advantage of what lies below. They are wisely set very high above the central point so that, turning all around, they can sufficiently disperse the earth’s excessive coldness, while their own extreme heat is contained in its place. In a way they can also restrain the excessive speed of the upper heavenly limits by themselves moving in the other direction, and they keep these limits in place by their counterbalancing orbit. They provide us with the great benefits of distinct annual seasons, a means of measuring periods of time and, to those who are able to understand, knowledge of God who created, arranged and ordered them.
9. So some of His works He set spinning and dancing round in mid-air in the upper regions, both for the sake of the world’s beauty and to bestow a variety of benefits. Others, those which are heavy and have a passible nature, he put low down round the center. By their nature they come into being and pass away, are distinguishable from, yet comparable with, one another. When they suffer change they become more serviceable. He laid down an order for those creatures and how they relate to each other, that the whole might truly be called a world of perfect order.
10. At the creation first one thing was brought into existence, then another, then another and so on in turn. Last of all came man (Gen. 1:26), who was worthy of God’s greater honor and consideration both before and after his creation. All the visible world was made before him for his sake. Immediately after the foundation of the world, before he existed, the kingdom of heaven was made ready for him. A divine Counsel concerning him preceded him, and he was created by God’s hand and in His image. He did not take his whole being from matter or the visible world, like the other living creatures did, but only his body. His soul he took from the heavenly realms, from God Himself when He breathed fife into him in a way that defies description (Gen. 2:7). Man was a great wonder surpassing all else, towering above everything, superior to all. Man was capable of knowing God, as well as receiving Him and declaring Iiim, and was most certainly the highest achievement of the Creator’s sublime majesty. He had paradise for his home, specially planted by God (Gen. 2:8ff). There it was his lot to have sight of God, speak to Him face to face and receive a counsel and commandment from Him concerning the fasting appropriate to that place (Gen. 2:16-17). If he kept and observed this, he would remain free from death, toil and pain for ever.
11. Alas, he chose the treason of the serpent, the originator of evil, in preference to this commandment and counsel, and broke the decreed fast. Instead of eternal life he received death and instead of the place of unsullied joy he received this sinful place full of passions and misfortunes, or rather, he was sentenced to Hades and nether darkness. Our nature would have stayed in the infernal regions below the lurking places of the serpent who initially beguiled it, had not Christ come. He started off by fasting (Matt. 4:2, Luke 4:2, cf. Mark 1: 13) and in the end abolished the serpent’s tyranny, set us free and brought us back to life, as Moses foretold (Deut. 18:15, 18-19, Acts 3:22; 7:37). After fasting on the mountain Moses received tablets, the work of God (Exod. 31:18), and later received again, on a second set of tablets, the law written by the finger of God (Exod. 34:1-4). He instructed the holy nation in the law and by his work he hinted at, and showed a glimpse of, Christ’s future ministry. As Moses appeared as the liberator and savior of Abraham’s race, so later Christ did the same for the whole human race.
12. Elijah, when he too had fasted forty days (I Kgs. 19:8), saw the Lord on the mountain, not in fire, as the elders of Israel had earlier (Exod. 24:9-10, Deut. 5:23), but passing beyond the fiery vision by his God-pleasing fast, he saw the Lord in the sound of a light passing breeze (I Kgs. 19:12 LXX). He had approached more closely to our Lord’s words, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). For the sound prefigured the Truth and the preaching of Him who is Truth Itself, which rang out round all the ends of the earth, and the passing breeze prefigured the Spirit and grace.
13. From this vision while fasting Elijah also received power to anoint a prophet in his stead and bestow upon him a double portion of the grace he possessed, and to mount up above the earth in mid-air (2 Kgs. 2:9-11). This pointed clearly towards Christ’s ascension from earth to heaven which was to happen later (Acts 1:9-11). While Christ Himself was fasting in the wilderness, He defeated our tempter by force and took away his power against mankind (Matt. 4:1-11, Mark 1:13, cf. Luke 4:1-13). Having at last put down his tyranny, he set our nature free and handed him over for sport to all those willing to live according to His Gospel. In this way He fulfilled the words of the prophets and by His works inscribed grace and truth upon the symbolic events which took place in ancient times.
14. You see the benefits of fasting, and how it has made us worthy of so many great gifts? Even from its opposite, unlimited eating and self-indulgence, it is possible to see the advantage of fasting. For the last two weeks our city was given over to gluttony and lack of self-restraint, and straight away we had troubles, shouting, fights, disturbances, shameless songs and obscene laughter. But this week when the fast came it made everything more honorable. It took us away from frivolity’s expensive cares, stopped us tolling for the sake of our useless stomachs, set us instead to works of repentance and persuaded us not to labor for the food which perishes but for the food which endures to eternal life.
15. Where now are the slaughter of animals, the aroma of roasting meat, the variety of sauces and the cooks’ best endeavors? Where are the men who run around the streets and pollute the air with their impure voices? Where are those who beat the drum and make music around houses and tables, and their devotees who join in with applause and eat their fill of the food set before them to the accompaniment of kettledrums and flutes? Where are those who spend their days and nights at parties, who are always looking for places to drink, who keep each other company in drunkenness and the shameful acts that result from it? Once the fast was proclaimed all these evils went away and all things good took their place. Instead of disgusting songs, mouths now sing holy psalms. Instead of obscene laughter, there is salutary sorrow and tears. Instead of undisciplined outings and wanderings, everyone takes one and the same way to Christ’s Holy Church. If unlimited eating produces a dense swarm of sins, fasting is the root of all virtues and the foundation of God’s commandments.
16. Lack of self-control is actually an evil both ancient and modern, though it did not precede its antidote, fasting. By means of our forefathers’ self-indulgence in paradise and their contempt for the fast already in existence there, death entered the world. Sin reigned and brought in the condemnation of our nature from Adam until Christ.
The flood covered the whole earth because of the self-indulgence of Adam’s descendants in this world of ours and their disdain for the chastity which came before. In those days God said to Noah, “My Spirit shall not abide in these men, for they are flesh” (cf. Gen. 6:3 LXX). The deeds of those who are flesh are none other than unlimited eating, drunkenness, sensual pleasure and the evils that spring from them. Because of the abominable depravity and self-indulgence among the men of Sodom, fire fell on them from heaven (Gen. 19:24). “Behold”, says the prophet Ezekiel, “this was the iniquity of the men of Sodom, in fulness of bread they committed abomination” (cf. Ezek. 16:49-50). By means of this abomination, ignoring human nature they fell into unnatural unions. What deprived Esau, Isaac’s firstborn, of his birthright and his father’s blessing? Of course it was lasciviousness and an unreasonable demand for food (Gen. 25:25-34; 26:34-35, Heb. 12:16). Why were Eli’s sons condemned to death, and why did he meet a violent death at the news of the death of his children, whom he had not disciplined with proper care? Surely it was because they took the meat from the cauldrons before the time and used it (1 Sam. 2:12-17; 4:11, 17-18). Also, the whole Hebrew nation, while Moses was fasting on the mountain for their sake, were indulging themselves to their own detriment. They ate and drank and rose up to play, as the Scripture says (Exod. 32:6), and their sport was worshipping an idol, for it was then that the incidents surrounding the fashioning of the calf took place among them.
17. Sensual pleasure causes ungodliness as well as sin, but fasting and self-control result in the fear of God as well as virtue. Fasting must be accompanied by self-control. Why? Because eating our fill, even of humble foods, is a hindrance to the purifying mourning, godly sorrow and contrition in our souls, which bring about unswerving repentance leading to salvation. For without a contrite heart we cannot really lay hold of repentance. It is the restriction of self-indulgence, sleep and the senses according to God’s will that crushes our hearts and makes us mourn for our sins.
18. When that rich man in the Gospel said to himself, “Eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19), the wretch made himself fit for the eternal flames and unfit for this present life. Let us, on the contrary, brethren, tell ourselves to be temperate, to fast, to keep watch, to be restrained, to be humble and to suffer hardship for our salvation. Then we shall finish this present life in a good way pleasing to God and inherit the blessed life without end.
19. May we all attain to this by the grace and love towards mankind of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory, might, honor and worship, together with I lis Father without beginning and the life-giving Spirit, now and for ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
(From: Saint Gregory Palamas: The Homilies, trans. Christopher Veniamin, Mount Thabor Publishing, Waymart PA, 2009, pp 42-48)
From the Counsels of Blessed Epiphanios (Theodoropoulos)
True love is like the flame of a candle. However many candles you light from the flame, the initial flame remains unaffected. It doesn’t lessen at all. And every freshly lit candle has as much flame as the others do.
I want whoever is near me to feel that he has room to breathe, not that he is suffocated. I don’t call anyone to me. I don’t hold onto anyone. I don’t chase anyone away. Whoever wants comes, whoever wants stays, whoever wants leaves. I don’t consider anyone a supporter or a follower.
I am not afraid of death. Not, of course, because of my works, but because I believe in God’s mercy.
Speak more to God about your children than to your children about God…. The soul of the teenager is in a state of an explosion of freedom. For this reason he has a hard time accepting various counsels. So, rather than counseling him continuously and reproaching him now and again, leave the situation to Christ, to the Panaghia (Greek word meaning “All-Holy”. It is perhaps the most beloved term of endearment for the Mother of God in the Greek language) and to the Saints, asking them to bring him to reason.
Don’t be neglectful of prayer! At table, in the morning, afternoon and evening. In particular don’t miss Small Compline for any reason, tired though you may be. It’s a question of self-sacrifice and, in particular, of love. When a beloved person calls you very late at night, how are you able to speak sometimes for a few hours, despite your fatigue, without being put out, but being, rather, pleased?
Deal with your children as with colts, sometimes tightening and other times loosening the bit. When the colt kicks, without abandoning the bit, we loosen it, otherwise it will break. When, however, it is peaceful, then we tighten the bit and take the colt where we like.
Parents should love their children as their children and not as their idols. That is to say, they should love their children as they are and not how they would like them to be-to be like them.
Whoever fears God doesn’t fear anything else.
I am in pain and agonize over the path of the Greek people who are constantly being de-Hellenized, de-Christianized, de-colorized and cut off from their roots, and are losing their identity.
In marriage, abstention solely out of love for God is perfect, “the greatest.”(Elder Epiphanios uses terminology from the grading system at school to make his point. “The greatest” is an “A,” “very good,” is a “B,” etc). When the couple comes together, not obstructing the procreation of children, it is at the level of “very good.” And when they abstain solely to avoid the procreation of children, they are on the level of “good.” In any case all of these categories are above average and are only legitimate with the presupposition that they have been agreed upon by both spouses and not just one. Otherwise it is a sin.
God appointed the salvation of the world to His Son and not to us…. We must first look at our soul and if we can, let’s help five or six people around us.
When someone is free, he has rights and responsibilities. When he marries, he has few rights and very many responsibilities. When, however, he has children, he doesn’t have any rights at all, but only responsibilities.
Why do they put rubber tires with inner tubes on cars? So that they give in, to collapse a little with every little stone or pothole on the road, and in this way they pass obstacles. If the wheels were firm and unyielding, the car wouldn’t be able to move forward. It would fall apart after a short distance because of the vibration from the small inconsistencies of terrain. The same thing happens with yielding to others in the family. In this way many problems are surpassed and continuous spiritual progress is assured.
When people treat us unjustly, God justifies us.
[God allows virtuous people to suffer] so that they might be purified from even the slightest traces of their passions and so that they might receive an even greater crown in Heaven. Furthermore, as He allowed His beloved Son to suffer and to die on the Cross, what can we say for those people who, as holy as they may be, have filth and stains from sin?
Sadness purifies us. Man is truly man in sadness. In joy he is changed, he becomes someone else. In sadness he becomes that which he truly is. And this is the way, par excellence, that he approaches God. He senses his weakness. Many times, when he is in glory and joy, he feels that he is the “eye of the earth” or, if you prefer, the center of the universe: “I am, and nobody else!”
In pain and sadness he feels like an insignificant ant in the universe, that he is completely dependent, and he seeks the help and companionship of God. Those of us who have passed through pains, either psychical or physical, know that we never prayed as hard and with such quality and length, as we did when we were in the bed of pain or when some heavy psychical sadness tested us. While, when we have everything, we forget prayer and fasting, and many things. It is for this reason that God allows pain.
Don’t sit, glued to the television…. Guard yourselves from the means of mass blinding.
We didn’t come here [to the monastery] mainly for handiwork, or for the gardens or for the buildings. For even without these things we can save our soul. We came here primarily for the soul. And in order to save the soul, we must pass the day without sin, with meekness, canon (In this case, the daily rule of prayer, reading, prostrations, and so on, that a monk keeps in his room) and prayer.
I sacrificed everything even before I had anything. I sacrificed a place at the university as a professor. I sacrificed the position of first secretary of the Holy Synod. I sacrificed the position of director of a missionary brotherhood. I sacrificed the position of first priest of a large church. I sacrificed Episcopal (That is, the position of bishop) thrones…. All I have is a little epilrahili (In Greek, literally, “upon the neck.” It is the stole that the priest or bishop wears around his neck when hearing confession (hereafter, “stole”) so as to confess ten souls. Nothing else!
There is no greater satisfaction for me than to remain for hours in the seat of the confessional and to reconcile man to God.
Married and unmarried priests, let us not forget that we are representatives of the gentle and humble-hearted Jesus. We were called to progress in humility and not to quarrel in the holy altar for priority of honor.
Clerics and, in particular, celibate clerics must be chosen from those of a mature age, with excellent education, extreme piety, shining ethos, sterling character and complete spiritual formation: all those things that are acquired with labors and struggles, prayer and study, fasting and vigils, with voluntary poverty and hardships, and through various deprivations. For asceticism is not the privilege or responsibility of monastics alone, but of all the faithful and particularly of clerics, and especially of unmarried clerics. The Orthodox Church is deeply ascetic and those who don’t love asceticism and who are friends of luxury and comfort don’t have a place within Her.
The priest is the incarnation of the absolute, the expression of the constant, stable and unshakeable, the trumpet of Heaven, the image of incorruption, the mile-marker of eternity. May he remain forever unchanged, even in his external appearance, as a reminder and symbol of the ages and of the unchanging truths that he represents.
The priesthood is a very great gift of God toward mankind. It is the conduit of the grace of God.
It seems a blasphemy to me [an archimandrite's sadness at not having been elected bishop]. If you consider that your shell of a body can take bread and wine and, with the Holy Spirit’s consecration, transform it into the Body and Blood of Christ; that you have been given the power to make the children of Adam partakers of the Cross and resurrection of Christ through baptism, and how you have been given the power to place your hands and your stole over the head of the greatest sinner and to bring him out of confession with a pure and whitened soul, how can you then consider yourself unsuccessful? Because you haven’t put on a mitre? ( ). May God have mercy on us!
I have made an agreement with God: I will empty my pockets in almsgiving and He will fill them. He has never violated our agreement. Will I violate it? May it never happen!
Ah! My fathers, know how much I have ground down my will! I have loved two things in my life: reading and writing, both of which I have been deprived of, and the deprivation of which is as great for me as for him who loses the greatest joy in this world. When I study the Holy Scripture and patristic books, I leave the earth and go to Heaven. As for my own writing, forgive me for what I’m about to say … I get drunk. I see how others desire to write some text, and they erase, write, erase again, write again….
I don’t manage to write my thoughts in time, for I am flooded as with flakes of snow. I feel as though my pen has wings. However, in spite of my writing ability and my desire for study, I deprive myself and sit and pick up the telephone, which rings cons tandy, so as to find a solution to some problem or other. Or else I see people for confession for hours without end, and not only scholars, but also simple and unlettered people. In saying this I don’t undervalue the Mystery of confession as opposed to the work of writing. But the will of God was that I confess people and not that I study and write, though they much enchant me.
How crafty the devil is! To young people who managed to unite in Christian marriage he whispers, “How much better you would be if you went to the monastery and lived the heavenly spiritual pleasures, far from the cares of family life which sever you and keep you down!” While to those who went to the monastery, as they desired the life of virginity in Christ, he whispers, “How much better you would be, if you got married and made your home a temple of God, living the joys of marital life, far from ascetic mortification and the loneliness which depresses you!” And if the married one became a monk and the monk married, he would tell them the opposite. All this to throw the person into despair and to pull him from the path of salvation. For the path of salvation is both blessed marriage and virginity in Christ
The mathematics of God is completely different from the mathematics of humans. For us two and two equal four. For God two and two can make five or fifteen or anyd1ing else.
My heart only has entrances. It doesn’t have exits. Whoever enters remains there. Whatever he may do, I love him the same as I loved him when he first entered into my heart. I pray for him and seek his salvation.
My worst hell is to realize that I have saddened a beloved person.
(Taken from Elder Epiphanios in “Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit”, Protecting Veil Press)
With miracles, the Lord does not give a certificate of correctness of people’s faith. He does them out of love for his creatures.
Οn account of all those who have difficulties with the matter of the Lord’s miracles, Father stressed: When someone accepts the Resurrection of Christ–in other words, that Christ is God-then he can easily explain all the miracles.
Natural sciences ί n essence describe and certify. They don’t explain.
The Foolishness is Innumerable
For all the foolishness to be refuted, which is written against Christίanity, the mountains would have to be minds, the trees, pen holders, the sea, ink, and the fields, paper!
Many people write as they smoke and smoke as they write and write whatever the smoke blows.
The Law of Reserves
When you write, my child, do not present all your arguments at first. Keep a few ί n reserves, so that, if there is someone who answers, you can implement the golden «law of reserves. » Thus, you support your positions better.
We always have a boss: Either God, or the devil and our passions.
Man has freedom only as regards his choices: Το choose as a boss either Christ or the devil. From there on, the obligations begin both ί n the one case and ί n the other. Many call oppression the obligations of Christianity. We Christίans speak of struggle.
Sin and disbelief
Sin is that which prevents us from believing. Not logic. For this reason, if you tell an unbeliever to live for six months according to the ethics of the Gospel, and he does it, he will become a believer without even realizing it
«God does not exist» is usually said by people who are lewd and unethical. There has not been found nor will there be found an ethical, continent, virtuous, etc. man who will rather easily say: «God does not exist! »
What is Faith?
Faith and trust ί n God are not for you to say in the morning, « Ι believe that ί n a little while the sun will dawn. »
That is merely trust ί n the functioning of natural law and not ί n God. Faith is when, at a time when everything shows that the sun is being led to its setting, you say, « Α little more and the sun will be ί n the middle of the sky, » if the Lord has thus promised.
A Silencing Answer
Once, Father mentioned the following anecdote:
Α certain scholar, after quite a bit of argumentation to prove that God does not exist, said:
«If God exists, let him kill me this instant! » And because, of course, nothing happened, he continued: « You see? If He existed he would have killed me. » Then, an elderly lady told him: «Do you have children? » « Υes, » he answered. «How many? » «Three. » «Are they well behaved? » «Well, not all of them . . . the two listen to me, but the third . . . . » « Ιn other words? » asked the lady. «Well, » said the scholar, «he talks back to me; he doesn’t listen to what Ι tell him, he acts wayward . . . . » «Well then, you should kill him! » the lady told him. « My child? » the scholar said, amazed. «Oh, so there, hah! So, if you do not want to kill your child, how then do you imagine that God would kill you who loves you incomparably more than you love your child? »
He Would Sell Lemons!
Once, a certain father (who was strongly materialistίc) of one of the Elder’s spiritual children visited him to complain that he was exerting an «unacceptable» influence up ο n his son. At one moment, furthermore, he said, smiling mockingly at the Elder: «And don’t tell me, Father Epiphanios, that you, such a smart man, believe the things about Christ, Paradise, Hell, etc. » Then, the Elder got up automatically, set his politeness and meekness aside and, with a loud voice, told him: «Listen, Mister! If Ι did not believe all these things, Ι would prefer to be selling lemons at Omonia, rather than to be fooling you! Ι would prefer to be a completely illiterate labourer, rather than a lettered liar! » After this, the visitor departed with his head bowed . . . .
«God come to find me! »
Once, the Elder visited a certain, Spίritual child of his who was ί ll. There were also some other visitors, among whom was also a certain atheist doctor. After a little while, the conversation turned to religious topics and lasted quite a while. Ι n the end, the Elder addressed the doctor: « My doctor, despite your objections, Ι discern in the depth of your soul a good will and disposition. Without being a prophet, Ι believe that God will not leave you. Ι would like to submit to you one request. Would it be difficult, once a day, to say the following small expression: ‘God, if you exist, come to find me!’? Ι think it will not cost you anything nor does it clash with your conscience. » He accepted. Α few months later, the doctor diagnosed ίn himself neoplasm of the bones, in other words: cancer. He departed abroad. There, the doctors advised him to return to Greece, because it was a rapidly spreading form of cancer and he was quickly approaching his end. Before taking the return road home, he asked to confess and commune. He died ί n repentance a little whίle after his return to Greece.
Nature Doesn’t Recognize Justice
The Elder said: Professor Louvaris formulated ίn a first form the following argument, whose strength Ι have experienced ίn conversations: Marxists proclaim that there exists nothing beyond matter, and natural laws govern everything. However, nature knows οnly the law of strength. The laws of love, compassion and justice are unknown to it. Based ο n this logic, the fate of the lamb is for the wolf to eat it and for the rich person to oppress the poor person without ethical responsibility. Οnly the acceptance of ethical laws, after the rejection of materialίsm can justify the demand for social justice.
There Exists a Solution and You Foolishly Reject It!
Once, a lawyer who met the Elder for the first time asked him about reincarnation. Father Epiphanios answered him. After a lengthy Ρeriοd of discussion, the lawyer insisted on contίnuing on the same subject. So, the Elder said to him: « All right, but don’t you pity your time dealίng with these things? ». «Is it evil, Father? » « Νο, my lίttle child, it is not evil in the sense that you are researching a topic, but you are wasting your time in vain. » « Ι like searching. » «How old are you? » «About forty. » «So, you are forty years and you are still searching? And when will you settle? And after you settle, will you then have years before you ί n which to regulate your life ί n accordance with your settled convictions? Life is very short and leaves quickly! Υou can’t make searching the aim of your life. Υou must, of course, settle somewhere. » «Father, Ι don’t accept the approach ‘believe and don’t research’! » «But Ι am not telling you not to research. Ι am simply telling you that sometime you have to settle somewhere. Υou are already late. » After a little while, the lawyer departed and the Elder commented: «Do you know what it is for your tongue to have dried up from thirst, to have a little spring next to you and yet not approach it to be refreshed, but instead settle for swampy waters? Do you know what it is to tremble from the cold, for the fire to be next to you and for you not to extend your hands to get warm? Miserable people! »
(From the Life and Teachings of Father Epiphanios; taken from «ORHODOX KYPSELI » Publications)
The glorification of Saint Nektarios
Troparion To St. Nektarios
“The offspring of Selybria and the guardian of Aegina, the true friend of virtue who appeared in the last years. O Nektarios, we faithful honor you as a Godly servant of Christ. For you pour out healings of every kind for those who piously cry out, glory to Christ Who has glorified you, glory to Him Who has made you wondrous, glory to Him Who works healings for all through you.”
THE LIFE OF ST. NEKTARIOS
- St. Nektatios was born on October 1, 1846 in Selybria in Thrace to a poor family. His given name was Anastasios Cephalas.
- At the age of 14 he moved to Constantinople (Istanbul) in order to go to work and further his education.
- In 1866 he moved to the island of Chios where he taught school for seven years.
- St. Nektarios became a monk at the age of thirty, which is highly unusual in itself.
- Three years after becoming a monk he was ordained a Deacon, taking the name Nektarios.
- He graduated from the University of Athens in 1885.
- During his years as a student of the University of Athens he wrote many books, pamphlets, and Bible commentaries.
- Following his graduation he went to Alexandria, Egypt, where he was ordained a Priest and served the Church in Cairo with great distinction.
- In recognition of his piety and brilliance as a preacher, as well as his administrative ability, he was consecrated Bishop/Metropolitan of Pentapolis by Patriarch Sophronios, which was an Egyptian See, in 1889.
- He served as a Bishop in Cairo for one year, and was unjustly removed from his post by jealous clerics who envied his popularity with the people. Lies were made up about him by the jealous clergy. Patriarch Sophronios refused to listen to St. Nektarios. He was sent away from Egypt without a trial or explanation, and was never given an opportunity to defend himself.
- After his dismissal, he returned to Greece in 1891, where he sought employment as a preacher. He was appointed preacher in the jurisdiction of Euboia, a large Greek island, north of Athens, where he served for two and a half years.
- In 1893 he was transferred to part of the Greek mainland, west of Athens. He served as preacher there with the same great effectiveness as he had in Euboia.
- In 1894 he was appointed director of Rizarios Ecclesiastical School in Athens where his service was exemplary for fifteen years.
- He developed many courses of study, and wrote numerous books, all while preaching widely throughout Athens.
- In 1904 at the request of several nuns, he established a monastery for them on the island of Aegina. The Monastery was named Holy Trinity Monastery.
- In December of 1908, at the age of 62, St. Nectarios resigned as Director of the Theological school and withdrew to the Holy Trinity Convent on Aegina, where he lived out the rest of his life as a monk. He wrote, published, preached, and heard confessions from those who came from near and far to seek out his spiritual insights.
- While at the monastery, he tended the gardens, carried stones, and helped with the construction of the Monastery buildings that were built with his own funds.
- St. Nektarios died on the evening of November 9, 1920, (The day after the commemoration of St. Michael and St. Gabriel the Archangels), following hospitalization for Prostate Cancer.
- His body was taken to the Holy Trinity Convent, where he was buried by a Priest-Monk named Savas, who later painted the first icon of St. Nektarios.
- The funeral of St. Nektarios was attended by multitudes of people from all parts of Greece and Egypt.
- Many people regarded St. Nektarios as a Saint during his lifetime because of his purity of life, virtues, the nature of his publications, as well as the miracles he performed. St. Nektarios also had a unique gift of foreknowledge.
- The relics of St. Nektarios were removed from the grave on September 2, 1953. His relics gave out a beautiful fragrance.
- Official recognition of Nektarios as a Saint, by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, took place on April 20, 1961.
- The Feast Day of St. Nectarios is celebrated every year on November 9th.
- There have been more than two thousand miracles attributed to the intervention of St. Nectarios.
The first miracle attributed to St. Nektarios:
During the last days of his life, the Saint was in the room for the incurables of the hospital, among many poor patients who were at the point of death. Beside the bed of St. Nektarios was a patient that had been paralyzed for years. As soon as the Saint gave up his spirit, a nurse of the hospital, together with a nun who had accompanied the Saint, began to prepare the holy body for transportation to Aegina for burial. They removed an old sweater from the Saint, and placed it for convenience on the bed of the paralytic and continued to prepare the body. Suddenly, the paralytic patient became well and rose from his bed, praising the Lord. This was the first miracle after the repose of St. Nektarios, through which the Lord confirmed the sainthood of Nektarios.
Agni Parthene in Arabic, with views from the inside Monastery and Church of St. Nektarios from Aegina
The Monastery and the Church of St. Nektarios from Aegina
Saint Nektarios Monastery, located in the island Eghina (Aegina), is a monastery dedicated to St. Nectarios – a recent saint of the Orthodox Church. Saint Nektarios has been canonized by the Church of Greece.
(The picture above represents the bigger church “Holy Trinity” built near the monastery and finished after saint reposal)
The Monastery and the church of Saint Nektarios can be reached by bus leaving from Aegina to the opposite side of the mountain Palaiochora. One can get to Aegina island by boat which has a set schedule.
Saint Nektarios Monastery is located at a distance of about 6 kilometers from the downtown of Aegina. The Cathedral St Nektarios from Aegina is one of the largest cathedral in Greece.
Saint Nektarios, the protector of the Aegina island, had helped to raise this monastery between 1904 and 1910. Building a monastery in Aegina was a desire of the faithful nuns from the island. The monastery was built on the ruins of a former old Byzantine monastery.
(Above: photos from inside the nun’ monastery from Aegina)
Although at that time Saint Nektarios was the Metropolitan of Aegina, he worked on raising the monastery, carrying stones, arranging gardens and doing other physical work. The monastery was built as a result of saint love and from his funds.
At that time, the monastery was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. After the death of St. Nektarios, and especially after his canonization, the monastery received a second patron and benefactor: Hierarch Saint Nectarios Thaumaturge (the healer).
(Coffin with the saint’ relics from inside the “Holy Trinity” cathedral’ chapel)
His holy relics are preserved inside the monastery for many faithful pilgrims coming to Aegina to venerate them.
Holy Nektarios pray to Our Lord for us sinners!