Sunday, December 25, 2016

Incarnation & New Creation

By Michael Hansen

Too much of Christian theology is located outside of the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is particularly true in the realm of eschatology (the study of “last things”). If you were to go to your average Christian bookstore and ask for a good book on the “end times” or eschatology, the clerk would take you to a bookshelf that had very little to do with Jesus. These books will tell you everything you might want to know about the emergence of the modern nation of Israel in 1941 to the present day, but the story of Jesus will hardly be mentioned. Once you begin to realize that even eschatology must find its center in Jesus, much of the frilliness of modern “end times” literature can be easily discarded.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Did Kosmas the Aitolos Say "Curse the Pope" and "The Pope is the Antichrist"?

Fr. Irenaios Delidimos

By John Sanidopoulos

On 14-15 November 2014 at the Monastery of Vlatadon in Thessaloniki, Fr. Irenaios Delidimos gave a revealing speech titled "Saint Kosmas the Aitolos and the Theological Authority of his Works. An Anniversary: 1714-2014." In one section of this speech he analyzed two phrases attributed to St. Kosmas, in which he supposedly said "Curse the Pope" and "The Pope is the Antichrist," among other things.

Fr. Irenaios begins by stating that in the biography of St. Kosmas by Metropolitan Augoustinos Kantiotis, certain passages attributed to St. Kosmas were doubted to be authentic by the Metropolitan. Among these, for example, were passages by St. Kosmas in which he allegedly talks about the origins of Judas Iscariot. However, regarding the phrase "Curse the Pope," the Metropolitan passes it over in silence, although he often made comments throughout his book, especially with passages that made a particular impression on him. It seems like he did not know what to do with it, and perhaps the Metropolitan did not like this passage, because it contradicted the Apostle Paul: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Rom. 12:14).

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

To Go to Heaven, We Must Live Heavenly

By Hieromartyr Barlaam, Archbishop Of Perm
(written in 1908)

Heaven is our true homeland, eternal, holy, safe from all enemies, from every destroying act of the elements, which themselves will be burned, and destroyed (II Pet. 3:10)....

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Second Coming Will Not Be In Silence

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"Our God shall come and shall not keep silent" (Psalm 50:3).

The vocation of a commander is different than the vocation of a judge. The commander does not show himself to his enemy immediately, but allows his enemy to think whatever he wants about him; for the main purpose of the commander is to conquer. The judge, however, immediately shows himself to those whom he has to judge.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Eschatological Expectation of the Church

By Metropolitan Daniel of Kaisariani, Vyron and Hymettos

The eschatological expectation of believers, members of the Church, is based on the teaching of Holy Scripture concerning the state of Our Lord Jesus Christ in glory, to whom the Church turns man's mind and attention.

Two states of Jesus Christ are distinguished in Holy Scripture. The first is that of evacuation (kenosis) and humility, beginning from the conception and culminating in the death on the Cross. The second is that of elevation and glory, beginning from the Descent into Hades and culminating in the seat on the right hand of God the Father, and from then onwards until His Second Coming and the Day of Judgement.

Monday, October 3, 2016

On the Prophecies of St. Andrew the Fool for Christ

In his Synaxaristes, St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite makes an important note for the commemoration of St. Andrew the Fool for Christ on May 28th. He does not write anything about the life of this Saint, but after stating that he reposed in peace and giving the iambiac verses, he notes the following reason for not writing anything further:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Lamb of the Apocalypse and the Divinity of Christ

By Proptopresbyter Antonios G. Alevizopoulos

The Godhead of Christ is also proclaimed in the last Book of the Holy Scripture: The Revelation of John. 

When Christ's disciple saw the sealed book, which no-one could open, neither in heaven, nor on the earth, he began to lament inconsolably for the misery of the human race, which would remain in the darkness of ignorance. Then, one of the elders proceeded to speak, and says to him: "Do not weep, because the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book and to loosen its seven seals" (Revelation 5:5). 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Concerning the Resurrection of the Dead (St. John of Damascus)

By St. John of Damascus

We believe also in the resurrection of the dead. For there will be in truth, there will be, a resurrection of the dead, and by resurrection we mean resurrection of bodies.1 For resurrection is the second state of that which has fallen. For the souls are immortal, and hence how can they rise again? For if they define death as the separation of soul and body, resurrection surely is the reunion of soul and body, and the second state of the living creature that has suffered dissolution and downfall. It is, then, this very body, which is corruptible and liable to dissolution, that will rise again incorruptible. For He, who made it in the beginning of the sand of the earth, does not lack the power to raise it up again after it has been dissolved again and returned to the earth from which it was taken, in accordance with the reversal of the Creator's judgment.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Concerning the Antichrist (St. John of Damascus)

By St. John of Damascus

It should be known that the Antichrist is bound to come. Everyone, therefore, who confesses not that the Son of God came in the flesh and is perfect God and became perfect man, after being God, is Antichrist.1 But in a peculiar and special sense he who comes at the consummation of the age is called Antichrist. First then, it is required that the Gospel should be preached among all nations, as the Lord said,2 and then he will come to refute the impious Jews. For the Lord said to them: “I am come in My Father’s name and you received Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive.”3 And the Apostle says, “Because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”4 The Jews accordingly did not receive the Lord Jesus Christ Who was the Son of God and God, but will receive the imposter who calls himself God. For, that he will assume the name of God, the angel teaches Daniel, saying these words: “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers.”5 And the Apostle says: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day of the Lord shall not come except there come the apostasy first and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits in the temple of God,6 showing himself that he is God;” in the temple of God he said, not our temple, but the old Jewish temple. For he will come not to us but to the Jews, not for Christ or the things of Christ: wherefore he is called Antichrist.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Liturgy and Eschatology (Fr. Alexander Schmemann)

By Fr. Alexander Schmemann

It is a great honour and also a joy to be giving this first memorial lecture. Dr Nicolas Zernov, in whose memory this lecture has been established, played a tremendous role in my life and in the life of many of my contemporaries, Russian Orthodox boys growing up in exile — a role of encouragement and inspiration in demanding from us, and showing us an example of, committed and unbroken service to the Orthodox Church. It was so easy for Russians in exile in the 20s and 30s to forget the past and to settle down happily by the waters of Babylon. It is men like Nicolas Zernov who encouraged and inspired us with their own example in maintaining faithfulness to the realities which he himself had served all his life: the Church and Russia, Christian Russia. So it is with real gratitude that I have accepted this invitation. I have been walking round Oxford for two days now and all the time remembering my first meeting with Dr Zernov. I was sixteen years old, and it was at a conference of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius. I didn't speak English, I didn't understand what was discussed, I didn't even attend many of the sessions — I was more interested in playing tennis. But the fact remains that it was there, not in Paris but at that Fellowship conference in Britain, that I discovered the direction which my life was to take. For that I shall always be indebted to Nicolas Zernov.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Eschatology and the Byzantine Liturgy

By David M. Petras

Eschatology as a word immediately invokes in our mind something exotic and exciting. “Eschatos” — “the last,” where are we going and how will we get there? The Byzantine Liturgy also invokes the same feeling — it is something exotic and exciting. Of course, it is different for someone who was born a Byzantine, or has entered the Byzantine world by conversion (not necessarily by a change of religion or faith but even within the same religion or faith), and for someone who experiences a Byzantine Liturgy from the outside. In a talk to the North American Orthodox- Catholic Theological Consultation on the occasion of its fiftieth meeting in Milwaukee on October 26, 1996, the noted theologian Jaroslav Pelikan (+ 2006) suggested that at least one of the fundamental reasons for the division between the Eastern and Western churches was “fundamental differences of spirituality,” and that the schism may date to the fourteenth century. Western Christians entering a Byzantine Church often have very strong reactions to something that is quite different, a totally different spirituality. The reaction may be quite positive, a feeling of connectedness, of mystery, of total immersion in a timeless world. The reaction may also be negative, a feeling of irrelevance, of overwhelming pietism and ritual, a failure to connect. No matter what the reaction, though, most will agree on one point, “the Eastern Church is more eschatological,” even if this means here only more “exotic.”

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The "Last Things" in the Revelation of St. John

By Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos

The "last things" are presented somewhat differently by St. John in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. St. John writes differently because he received the truth differently. He is not just writing a book based on certain sources. He writes what he has seen in visions or received through special inspiration. "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day and I heard behind me a loud voice. When I saw him I fell at his feet and I looked, and lo, in heaven there was an open door! and lo a throne stood in heaven" (Rev. 1:10-17; 4:1-3). Every vision stands for itself and has its own message. Through all of these images Christ speaks about the mysteries of God's will for the Church and the world (Rev. 1:1; 2:2-7; 5:1-5).

Friday, August 19, 2016

The "Last Things" in Holy Scripture

By Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos

All matters of religion appear difficult to most people because they are of a spiritual nature; but even more difficult is the topic of the "last things," for they have to do with future realities "that are not seen" (Heb. 11:1; Jn. 3:10-12), that only faith can "see," examine, and make real.

The Jewish people were the beloved people of God and yet they were not satisfied with their present life in this world. All the great personalities of the Old Testament lived with hope for the future, for the fulfillment of the promises made by God to Abraham. Their main hope was the hope of the coming of the Messiah­ Savior, who would bring days of divine blessings for the Jewish people and for the whole world (cf. Lk. 2:25; 24:21). And they expected this to happen at some future date, in the last days of history ­ "in the last days," "in that day," "in the day of the Lord" ­ as this time was often referred to.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Woman Clothed With the Sun (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Book of the Holy Apocalypse of John mentions a great sign which appeared in heaven, which was a woman clothed with the sun, beneath her feet was the moon while on her head she was crowned with twelve stars, and she was pregnant and crying from the pain of childbirth.

"And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and crying out in the pain and agony of giving birth" (Rev. 12:1-2).

According to the interpreters of the Holy Apocalypse, Andrew of Caesarea and Arethas of Caesarea, the woman of the Apocalypse clothed with the sun and which was a great sign, is according to some the Most Holy Theotokos, while others say it is the Church. However, there is a connection between the Theotokos and the Church, because the person who unites both is Christ. Andrew more interprets this woman to be the Church, while Arethas of Caeasarea analyzes it as relating to the Theotokos.

Andrew of Caesarea writes: "Some believe that the woman refers generally to the Theotokos who suffered that which was soon to happen before her bearing of God was known. However, the great Methodius understands her to be the holy Church." Arethas of Caesarea also interprets her this way: "It is said this woman is the Mother of the Lord," because she is pure and free of all earthly things, and "he writes that in heaven, not on earth, she is equal to the angels." And Oecumenius, Bishop of Trikka, also writes that the woman clothed with the sun is the Theotokos: "He is speaking of the mother of our Savior, as I have said. Naturally the vision describes her as being in heaven and not on earth, as pure in soul and body, as equal to an angel, as a citizen of heaven, as one who came to effect the incarnation of God who dwells in heaven ('for,' he says, 'heaven is my throne' [Isa 66:1]), and as one who has nothing in common with the world and the evils in it, but wholly sublime, wholly worthy of heaven, even through she sprang from our mortal nature and being."

Thus, there is a very close connection between Mary the Theotokos with the Church. There are wondrous analogies made by these two interpreters, Andrew and Arethas, who were both Bishops of Caesarea in Cappadocia.

The sun which clothes the woman is Christ, who is the Sun of righteousness. We may perceive this "as clothing the holy Virgin with the noetic sun, namely Christ." That the woman is pregnant and crying from pain means the Mother of God "had the sun in her womb," and in this way shows "the child she bore was the Lord, who exceeded the house of the mother and all creation, covering or clothing the mother" (Arethas).

Also, the Church has the Sun of righteousness. "Therefore, the Church is clothed with the Sun of righteousness." The Church "is in birth pangs for each one of those who are being born anew through water and the Spirit, 'until Christ is formed in them,' as the apostle says" (Andrew).

The crown of twelve stars "are the holy apostles," who honor the Panagia and glorify the Church. The moon is "worship according to the law" which is demoted because it was defeated by the spirit of the Gospel" (Arethas).

"Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who 'will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.' And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days" (Rev. 12:3-6).

Here also the two interpreters speak of the Theotokos and the Church.

The dragon is Satan who is against God's Ten Commandments and uses heretics against the Theotokos and the Church. The venomous dragon urged Herod to kill the infants of Bethlehem and undo Christ. But the child with the help of Joseph, who received Him and His mother fled to Egypt, and so "escaped the hostile attempt" (Arethas).

Moreover, the dragon is the the apostate devil who is armed against the Church. "The apostate always arms himself against the Church, desiring to make those food for himself who are being born anew from her. Rather, through the Church he persecutes Christ Himself, since He is the head of the Church, and He makes His own what belongs to the faithful... Through those who are baptized the Church is always giving birth to Christ, since in them He is being formed to the fullness of spiritual maturity, as the apostle says... The saints are caught up in the midst of temptations, lest they be subdued by difficulties beyond their powers." Then the elect, who despise political noise and worldly desires, flee "into the wilderness of all wickedness, bearing all manner of virtuous conduct." They even flee to the sensible wilderness, where those who are in the mountains, caves and holes of the earth are saved (Andrew, Methodius).

"Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you. He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short'" (Rev. 12:7-12).

Then we read:

"When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring — those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus."

The Mother of God escaped war with the dragon with her two wings, namely the promptings of the Angels, one of which took place with the Magi to not return to Herod, and the other so as to flee to Egypt (Arethas).

Since the dragon/devil failed to fight the Virgin and kill her Son, he inaugurated another way, namely all that took place on the Cross, "to cultivate the passion of unbelief in the mother, and the loss of her Son through death." The river that ran from his mouth are the temptations the Theotokos went through during the Passion of her Son, which is the sword that pierced through her holy soul (Arethas).

Still, the Church which is being persecuted by the devil, avoids the war with the two wings of the eagle, which are the two Commandments, and goes into the wilderness to live away from pleasure. And although the Church flees into the wilderness, the dragon makes a river appear of unbelieving men and wicked demons and various other temptations against the children of the Church who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus (Andrew).

It becomes obvious that in this apocalyptic image the Theotokos and the Church are closely connected. Both have great glory coming from the Sun of righteousness, Christ. Both give birth to Christ, the Theotokos by giving her flesh to Christ, and the Church continuously gives birth, through her Mysteries, to children, brethren and friends of Christ. All of them are at war with the devil, but they face him through Christ by living in the wilderness of dispassion. The wilderness is the hesychastic life, the keeping of the commandments of Christ, the purity of the body and soul, and above all the garment that surrounds them, which is the glory of God. Unbelievers and heretics, who are instruments of the devil, cannot harm them.

The Theotokos has great glory in the heavens, enjoying the glory of her Son, and the Church as the body of Christ is divinized, shining with divine glory.

The feasts of the Mother of God are associated with the Despotic feasts, and are brilliant festivals of the Church, which illuminate the faithful Christians.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Γυνή περιβεβλημένη τόν ἥλιον", July 2016. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Transfiguration: An Apocalyptic Vision at the Center of the Gospel

By Fr. Jean Corbon

Christians are still too likely to misunderstand the Transfiguration and look upon it as just one miracle among others, a kind of apologetic proof. The feast celebrating it has likewise become indistinct to them, perhaps because it is the only one not to have a place in the chronological sequence of the Lord’s feasts. It is a commemoration of an event that occurred during his mortal life, but it is celebrated after Pentecost and in the bright light of summer (August 6). Yet this event, which upsets the logic that we see as governing time, is precisely the one that best brings home to us the eschatological condition of the body of Christ; it is an apocalyptic vision at the center of the Gospel.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Problems in Contemporary Antichristology

By Protopresbyter Fr. Thomas Bambinis

The Schengen Treaty, electronic identities and sermons on the Antichrist, whose number is said to be in the barcode system, constitute a powerful temptation for the members of the Church. The Orthodox people are choked with terror about future suffering and the risk of losing the gift of Chrismation. Two possibilities are put before them: either receive the mark of the Antichrist which results in eternal damnation, or not accept it which results in suffering, because then you can neither buy nor sell. Naturally this dilemma is stressful and creates anxiety and concern for the future. In some cases this anxiety takes the form of panic or even leads to financial planning for the future in order to overcome the difficult years of the Antichrist. Under these conditions, people's reactions take political overtones. Thus, the struggle is oriented towards pressing the government to not create favorable conditions for the rule of the Antichrist.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Homily On How the Mercy of God Delays the Dreadful Day (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).

Brethren, the mercy of God delays "that day which burns like a furnace, according to the words of the Prophet Malachi" (Mal. 4:1). Therefore, let the scoffers be ashamed, who scoff at the promise of God and say: "Where is the promise of His coming?" (2 Pet. 3:4). God has not forgotten His promise but the sinners themselves have forgotten it. God, according to His immeasurable mercy, waits for the sinners to come to their senses, repent and to prepare themselves for that day which is not repeated. Behold that day is not like the many days which are given to men for the sake of repentance and to prepare for the encounter with God. That day is the only day and it differs from all other days, for it does not come for the sake of repentance but rather for judgment. Just as the Dreadful Judgment is only one and unrepeatable, thus is that day only one and unrepeatable.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Control and Subversion of Eschatological Alarmism

By Monk Moses the Athonite

It is a fact that we live in difficult, turbulent, uncertain and tough times. Some with zeal, fanaticism, extremism and exaggeration intensify this climate. They are fond of demonologies, antichristologies, eschatologies, myths, scientism and morbidities. They even use the Church for their fraudulent purposes. Unfortunately the ignorant are swayed by radio and television broadcasts, books and articles. One of the publishers of such books is Mr. Liakopoulos.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Unfortunate Effects Apocalyptic Beliefs Can Have On Morality

Jonathan D. Fitzgerald
December 5, 2010
The Huffington Post

When I was a kid I knew The World was going to Hell in a hand basket. I didn't know what that phrase meant, still don't really, but I knew that it was one of the only times I could get away with saying hell, because it wasn't swearing. The World was actually going there.

Perhaps a couple definitions are necessary here at the outset. In my conservative, evangelical-before-we-knew-what-evangelical-was upbringing, Hell meant that very literal -- perhaps underground -- place where real flames burn real, bad people forever. And The World meant non-Christians, as in "be in the world, but not of it." Evangelicals often refer to any not-usses, any thems, as The World.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Prophetic Elder Paisios and the Misuse of His Words

By Monk Moses the Athonite

Very much has been said and written about the blessed Elder Paisios the Athonite (1924-1994). Already 16 years have passed since his blessed repose. He passed away on 07/12/1994 in the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian in Souroti, Thessaloniki and is buried there. His tomb is a pan-Orthodox place of pilgrimage. People of all ages come from far away to light a candle and invoke help for their needs.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Prophets and Prophecy in the Church

The following homily was delivered on October 19, 2014 for the feast of the Prophet Joel in the Cathedral of the Holy Protection in Edessa, at the request of Metropolitan Joel of Edessa.

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

On this occasion [the feast of the Prophet Joel] he [Metropolitan Joel of Edessa] asked me to say a few constructive and supplicatory words, therefore in obedience I wanted to speak on the Prophet Joel and prophecy in the Orthodox Church and in our Orthodox tradition. Essentially I will speak about the theology of prophecy and generally the great value had by the Prophets in both the Old and New Testaments.

The first point is that when one reads, my beloved brethren, the Old Testament, especially the lives of the Prophets, one will find that the Prophets were not just some thinkers, they were not just some theologians, as we now call them, nor were they philosophers. Because there is a huge difference between a Prophet and a philosopher. Philosophers think and attempt to discover God, while Prophets had an experience of God and God revealed Himself to them. Prophets, and this is very important, have encountered the living God, the pre-incarnate Word of the Old Testament, namely the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Yahweh before the incarnation. They saw Him and they communicated with Him. They acquired a participation in the pre-incarnate Word and through Him with God the Holy Trinity. If we read the books of the Prophets, especially the first chapter of each to see how they begin, we will see this reality.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Elder Porphyrios: "I Don't Like To Prophesy"

By Hieromonk Fr. George Kavsokalyvites
(From the Holy Kalyva of Zoodochos Pege, of the Holy Skete of Kavsokalyvia on Mount Athos)

At a time when more and more people feel the need, because of the profound crisis affecting mankind, to deal with eschatological events as described in the Apocalypse of Saint John the Theologian, as well as those things revealed by the Grace of God to the Prophets, the Fathers of the Church and contemporary saintly elders like Elder Paisios, we must especially stand with the view of Elder Porphyrios, and decode why such a great Saint of our time, while knowing with precision and detail everything that we are living and where things come from, avoided talking about these things.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Term 'Kingdom of God' Is Not In the New Testament

By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides

Both fundamentalist and non-fundamentalist biblical scholars, who have been victims of Augustinian and Carolingian presuppositions, become prone to misunderstandings of what they read in the Bible, especially when terms and symbols denoting glorifications which produce prophets are alluded to.

A classical example is 1 Cor. 12:26. Here St. Paul does not write, "If one is honored," but "If one is glorified," i.e. has become a prophet. To be glorified means that one has seen the Lord of Glory either before His incarnation or after, like Paul did on his way to Damascus to persecute the Incarnate Lord of Glory's followers.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Freedom of the Fathers and the Enslavement of Fanaticism

The following is from an interview with Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic), a disciple of St. Justin Popovich, translated from the Russian to Serbian and published in a Serbian monastery periodical in 2002 (here, in Serbian).

Below is a part of his answer to the question,

“Our Church warns us about that which is called the personal tax number, which you refer to as the social number, etc. We know the Greeks had similar issues (Identification Card).”

If we look at it realistically, can the Church avoid the required laws and norms of mass registration? I believe that it’s not our issue. In Greece there are a few who said that this was the number of the Antichrist – 666 - and that everyone will be sealed with it. Which means that this is the seal of the Antichrist which will be on us. However, I think this is nonsense. Would the demons offend us in such a way – through computers, numbers? This is too primitive. However, a worse thing can occur – the more deeper and mightier we begin losing the feeling, we are opening the door wider for the demons. He can act more deeper within us....

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What Do Athonite Monks Say About the Last Days? (Abbot Ephraim of Vatopaidi)

Archimandrite Ephraim, Abbot of Vatopaidi Monastery, was asked the following question and responded:

What do Athonite Monks say about the Last Days?

Well, nowadays it is fashionable to speak about the Antichrist. Satan attacks from the left and from the right: he advises man either not to take care for the end times, or he tries to convince him that the end of time comes tomorrow. People apt to think about the End Times are afraid of everything, and that can bring only spiritual harm. A great number of such advice is not God-pleasing. A true Christian has to take care about the moment of his death – our death is our Last Day. Be devoted to our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Church that keeps the Tradition will inform us about the Antichrist, and She is the One that will tell us what to do.

Monday, May 16, 2016

"Behold, I Am Coming Soon" (Rev. 22:7)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"Behold, I am coming soon" (Rev. 22:7).

The unfaithful and the slayers of the spirit will say, "Nearly two thousand years ago He promised that He will come and He has not come yet!" This is how they, who ridiculed Him, will lament in eternal torment. But we who are prepared for happiness in His Kingdom know that He will come in power and glory just as He promised.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Truth About the Prophecies of Saint Nilus the Myrrhgusher

By John Sanidopoulos

The Story

Saint Nilus (+ 1651) was a bright beacon of sanctity who struggled valiantly in asceticism on the Holy Mountain of Athos, and who upon his repose gushed an abundant amount of myrrh that testified to his holiness and purity.

Between the years 1813 and 1819, a certain monk named Theophanes, also known as the "Prisoner", was troubled by a demon due to his many sins, and he also suffered from a hernia. In despair over his condition he planned to leave the Holy Mountain until one day St. Nilus appeared to him. St. Nilus showed him an abandoned hut and instructed him to settle there, promising to provide for his needs. Theophanes obeyed, although at first he did not know it was St Nilus - only later did the Saint reveal himself.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Easter on the Island of the Apocalypse - Patmos (documentary)

The documentary below is in Greek and takes us to the island of the Apocalypse, Patmos, during the solemn period of Passion Week and ends with how the locals celebrate the Resurrection of Christ on Easter.

Three of the most important and unique features of Patmos during this time is the Holy Washbowl Ceremony on Holy Thursday, the Easter gathering on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, and the procession on Bright Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

3 Holy Fathers On the Parable of the Ten Virgins

Saint Macarios the Great

The five wise virgins, watchful and alert, had taken oil in the vessels of their heart. That oil, not part of their own nature, means the grace of the Spirit. They were enabled to enter with the Bridegroom into the heavenly bridal chamber.

The other five virgins, however, were content with their own nature. They neither watched nor busied themselves to receive the oil of gladness [Ps. 44:6] in their vessels, while they were yet in the flesh. Instead, they sank into sleep through carelessness, slackness, idleness, and ignorance, or even fancied righteousness. Hence, they were shut out of the bridal chamber of the Kingdom, unable to give satisfaction to the heavenly Bridegroom. Held fast by their tie to the world, and by some earthly affection, they did not give their whole love or passionate devotion to the heavenly Bridegroom; thus they were not provided with oil.

Monday, April 25, 2016

About the Battle of the Lamb with the Beasts (Rev. 17:14)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"They will fight with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, for He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings" (Rev. 17:14).

Who speaks these marvelous words? John, who saw God. Who is this Lamb? Christ the Lord. Who is this Lord of Lords and King of Kings? Christ the Lord. With whom will He wage war and whom will He defeat? He will defeat the beast which has seven heads and all those whom receive authority, honor and riches from the unclean beast.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Christians as Kings and Priests (Rev. 5:10)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"You made them a kingdom and priests for God" (Rev. 5:10).

The Lord Jesus wants to make all men similar to Himself. As the Son of God, He wants all men to become the adopted sons of God. As a King, He wants them to be co-kings with Him. As a Priest, to be co-priests with Him. As Almighty, to share in His strength. As Eternal, to share in His immortality. As Holy, to share in His holiness. As the Resurrected One, to all be the children of the resurrection. This, the Lord desired and that is why He descended to earth: to separate us from the animals and to elevate us above the life of the animals and to give us dignity over His visible creation, a dignity which Adam had in Paradise before the Fall. Because of this, His love for mankind and His salvatory plan for all people, the Lord was crucified on the cross by the Jewish elders.

Monday, April 18, 2016

About Faithfulness in Suffering and the Crown of Life (Rev. 2:10)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).

By His suffering our Lord eased our suffering. He endured the greatest of pain and emerged as the Victor. That is why He can encourage us in our lesser sufferings. He suffered and endured in righteousness while we suffer and endure in expiating our own sins. This is why He can doubly remind us to endure to the end as He, the Sinless One, endured. Not one of us has helped nor alleviated His pains and endurance, yet He stands alongside each one of us when we suffer and alleviates our pains and misfortunes. That is why He has the right to tell each one who suffers for His Name's sake: "Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer," says Christ, for I alone have endured all suffering and am familiar with them. I was not frightened at a single suffering. I received them upon Myself and, in the end, overcame them all. I did not overcome them by dismissing them or fleeing from them but receiving them all upon Myself voluntarily and enduring them all to the end. And so you also should accept voluntary suffering, for I see and know how much and for how long you can endure.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Saint Antipas of Pergamum: A Martyr of the Apocalypse

Hieromartyr Antipas of Pergamum (Feast Day - April 11)

The Hieromartyr Antipas, a disciple of the holy Apostle John the Theologian (Sept. 26), was bishop of the Church of Pergamum during the reign of the emperor Nero (54-68).

During these times, everyone who would not offer sacrifice to the idols lived under threat of either exile or execution by order of the emperor. On the island of Patmos (in the Aegean Sea) the holy Apostle John the Theologian was imprisoned, he to whom the Lord revealed the future judgment of the world and of Holy Church.

"And to the angel of the Church of Pergamum write: the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you live, where the throne of Satan is, and you cleave unto My Name, and have not renounced My faith, even in those days when Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells" (Rev 2:12-13).

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Christ, the Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 1:17-18)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever" (Rev. 1:17-18).

Thus says the Lord Jesus to His beloved disciple John in a vision on the island of Patmos: "Do not be afraid of what! Do not be afraid of the persecution of the Church by the pagans. Do not be afraid of the tormentors who persecute my faithful on all sides. Do not be afraid of emperors who raise up persecutions against the Christians. Do not be afraid of powerful tyrants of this world who mock and ridicule My humility in My death. Do not be afraid of demons who blind men with passions so that they can't see the truth which I brought to the world. Do not be afraid of anything!"

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Majesty of Christ the Victor (Rev. 1:14)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"The hair of His head was as white wool or as snow and His eyes were like a fiery flame" (Rev. 1:14).

That is how John the Theologian (the one who gazed upon God) saw Jesus after His resurrection and victory. He saw Him as the Son of Man, clothed in a lengthy garment, girded about with a golden sash, with seven stars in His right hand, and His face "shone like the sun at its brightest" (Rev. 1:16). It was with this kind of power and glory that He appeared, Who on the cross was not radiant and Who seemed to be as the weakest of the sons of men to all the passersby.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Weakness of Man Before the Majesty of God (Rev. 1:17)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"When I caught sight of Him, I fell down at His feet as though dead" (Rev. 1:17).

It was St. John who fell as though dead when he saw the Lord Jesus in glory. St. John, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, the Evangelist, the Chaste One, the one who loved the Lord, and a zealot for holiness - could not stand on his feet nor compose himself when he saw his Teacher in His heavenly glory and power! But, "fell as though dead."

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Gathering of the Nations for Judgment (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"And all the nations will be assembled before Him" (Matt. 25:32).

All the nations will be assembled before the Lord Jesus when He appears in His glory surrounded by Holy Angels sitting on a throne as the judge of all the living and the dead. "All nations will be assembled," all, without exception. Not only the Jews who tormented Him, not only the Christians who glorified Him, but also the heathen who knew Him not, nor acknowledged Him. For if He did not appear to all nations, He sent to all nations someone or He gave something for the sake of knowing God's will and for the sake of salvation. That is why all nations must appear before Him for judgment. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

All Will Behold the Second Coming of the King of Glory

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him, He will sit upon His glorious throne" (Matt. 25:31).

This is how our Lord spoke just before His most horrible humiliations, before being bound, before being spat upon, before being slapped, and before being ridiculed prior to His crucifixion. In His most darkest hour, He speaks about His most vivid and most glorious hour. Before His most terrible and miserable departure from this world, He speaks about His second coming in His glory. At first, He came from the cave in Bethlehem, humble and unseen, and the second time, He will come on the clouds of His angels. The first time as though He sprouted out of the earth, and the second time He will appear from the heavens. The first time He stood and knelt on the ground, and the second time He will be sitting on His throne of glory.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Five Characteristics of the Second Coming of Christ

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Matt. 24:27).

The second coming of our Lord Jesus will be a coming in glory. Our Lord repeated this many times. Here He tells us in more detail as to what this, His coming, will resemble. He says it will resemble lightning. Through this He reveals the five characteristics of His glorious coming.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What Will Be the Sign of the Son of Man in the Heavens Before His Coming?

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens" (Matt. 24:30).

What kind of sign will the sign of the Son of Man be, which once had been shown briefly? That is the cross, more brighter than the sun, which manifested itself over Jerusalem before the coming of an earlier personification of the Antichrist by the name of Julian the Apostate. And in lieu of every homily concerning this miraculous sign, it is worthwhile to quote here the letter of St. Cyril of Jerusalem written to Emperor Constantius, the son of Constantine the Great and predecessor of Julian the Apostate. A portion of his letter reads:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Son of Man Shall Come in His Glory (St. Theophylact of Ochrid)

Meatfare Sunday
The Last Judgment

Matthew 25:31-46

By St. Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

31-33. When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Will There Be Salvation For All? (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

Letter 148: To a blacksmith, Radosav I

By Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

You would like for God to pardon all sinners of His Terrible Judgement. Are you again tempting Christ just like that enemy of God tempted Him on the mountain? "If you are the all-merciful Son of God, have mercy on Judas and Cain and all serious sinners, and I will worship you!" This is how you could phrase your tempting of Christ. And the Lord Himself could respond to you and say, "Was I not merciful enough when I descended from My eternal glory into human darkness and gave My whole self as a sacrifice for mankind? How shall I pardon those who never asked Me for it; who despised My offered mercy to their last breath; who spilled the blood of My faithful disciples like water; who remained servants of Satan to the end?"

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Synaxarion for Meatfare Sunday

By Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos


On the same day, we commemorate the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and His impartial Judgment.


When Thou, O Judge of all, shalt sit to judge the earth,
Mayest Thou judge me, too, worthy to hear Thee say, “Come hither.”


The most Divine Fathers placed this parable after the first two [those of the Publican and Pharisee and of the Prodigal Son], lest anyone, learning about God’s love for mankind in those parables, should live carelessly, saying: "God loves mankind, and when I cease from sinning, I shall be ready to accomplish everything." They set this fearful day here, in order to instill fear, through death and the expectation of future torments, in those who are heedless, and to bring them back to virtue, not trusting in God’s loving-kindness alone, but taking into account that He is a just Judge, Who will render unto each man according to his deeds. Moreover, since the souls of those who have died stood in our midst yesterday, it was fitting that the Judge should come today. In a certain way, the present Feast is, as it were, the consummation of all the Feasts, just as it will be the final day for all of us. We should reflect that the Fathers will assign the beginning of the world and Adam’s fall from Paradise to the following Sunday, and that the present Feast is the end of all our lives and of this world. The Fathers assigned it to the Sunday of Meatfare, so as to curb greed and gluttony through the fear aroused by this Feast, and to summon us to show compassion to our neighbors. Furthermore, since, after reaping delight, we were exiled from Eden, and came under judgment and the curse, the present Feast is placed here, and also because, on the next Sunday, on which we commemorate the fall of Adam, we are going to be figuratively cast out of Eden, until Christ comes and brings us back to Paradise.

Christ’s coming is called the Second Coming, because whereas He first came to us in bodily form, quietly and without glory, He will now come from Heaven with wonders that transcend nature, with conspicuous radiance, and corporeally, so that He may be recognized by all as being He Who first came and delivered the human race, and Who is going to judge it, to see whether it has preserved what was given to it. When His Coming will take place, no one knows; for the Lord kept this hidden even from the Apostles. But until then, at any rate, He indicated that it will be preceded by certain signs, which some of the Saints explained in greater detail. It is said that the Second Coming will occur after seven millennia have passed. Before Christ comes, the Antichrist will come. He will be born, as Saint Hippolytos of Rome says, from a harlot, who will appear to be a virgin, but will be of the Hebrew race, of the tribe of Dan, the son of Jacob; and he will supposedly live as Christ did, and will perform as many miracles as Christ, and will raise the dead. But all of these things—his birth, his flesh, and everything else—will be an illusion, as the Apostle says; and he will then be revealed as the son of perdition, with all power, with signs and deceitful wonders. However, as Saint John of Damascus says, the Devil himself will not be transformed into flesh, but a man who is the offspring of fornication will receive all the energy of Satan, and will suddenly rise up. He will appear good and gentle to all, and then there will be a mighty famine. He will supposedly satisfy the people, will study the Holy Scriptures, will practice fasting, and, compelled by men, will be proclaimed king; he will show especial love to the Hebrew race, restoring them to Jerusalem and rebuilding their temple. Before seven years have passed, as Daniel says, Enoch and Elias will come, preaching to the people that they should not accept him. He will arrest and torment them, and will then behead them. Those who choose to remain pious will flee far away into the mountains; when he finds them, through the agency of demons, he will make trial of them. Those seven years will be cut short for the sake of the elect, and there will be a mighty famine, and all the elements will be transformed, so that everyone will all but disappear.

After this, the Lord will suddenly come from Heaven like lightning, preceded by His honorable Cross, and a river of boiling fire will go before Him, cleansing the entire earth of pollution. The Antichrist will immediately be seized, and he and his minions will be handed over to the eternal fire. As the Angels sound their trumpets, the entire human race will be gathered together from the ends of the earth, and from all the elements, in Jerusalem, because this is the center of the world, and there are set thrones for judgment, but with their souls and bodies all transformed into incorruption and having a single form, the elements themselves having been transformed into a superior state, and by a single word the Lord will separate the righteous from the sinners; those who have done good will depart, gaining eternal life, whereas the sinners will go to eternal punishment, and never will there be an end to their torments.

It should be known that Christ will not be looking at that time for fasting, bodily hardships, or miracles, good though these things are, but for things that are far superior, namely, almsgiving and compassion. To the righteous and the sinners He will speak of six virtues: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me food; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took Me in; naked, and ye clothed Me; I was sick, and ye visited Me; I was in prison, and ye came unto Me; for inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Everyone can do these things according to his own ability. Then every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The torments which the Holy Gospel recounts are these: “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched; and cast him into the outer darkness.” Clearly accepting all these things, the Church of God believes that the abiding of the Saints with God and the perpetual effulgence of His light and their ascent to Him are the delight of Paradise and the Kingdom of Heaven, and that alienation from God and the consumption of souls by the awareness that, through carelessness and temporal pleasure, they have been deprived of Divine illumination are the torment, the darkness, and the like.

In Thine ineffable love for mankind, O Christ God, count us worthy to hear Thy desired voice, number us with those on Thy right hand, and have mercy on us. Amen.


Kontakion in the First Tone
O God, when You come upon the earth in glory, the whole world will tremble. A river of fire will bring all before Your Judgment Seat and the books will be opened, and everything in secret will become public. At that time, deliver me from the fire which never dies, and enable me to stand by Your right hand, O Judge most just.

Doxastikon of Matins in the First

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Let us go before, O brethren, and cleanse ourselves for the Queen of virtues; for behold she hath come bringing to us fortune of good deeds, quenching the uprisings of passion and reconciling the wicked to the Master. Let us welcome her, therefore, shouting to Christ God, O thou who arose from the dead, keep us uncondemned, who glorify Thee, O Thou who alone art sinless.