A modern Saint in a brother – Saint Porphyrios of Athens, Greece (+1991)

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COMING HOME – ORTHODOXY

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Athens, Greece

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Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia (Mount Athos) & Athens, Greece (+1991)

December 2

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A modern Saint in a brother

Saint Porphyrios of Athens, Greece (+1991)

In the old days, during the feast of the Theophany, we used to sanctify homes. One year I also went to sanctify. I would knock on the doors of the apartments, they would open for me, and I walked in singing “In Jordan, You were baptized O Lord….”

As I went along  Maizonos Street in the center of Athens (Greece) I saw an iron door. I opened it, walked into the courtyard which was full of tangerine, orange and lemon trees, and proceeded to the stairs. It was an outdoor staircase that went up, and down was the basement. I climbed the stairs, knocked on the door, and a lady appeared. Since Continue reading “A modern Saint in a brother – Saint Porphyrios of Athens, Greece (+1991)”

Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia & Athens, Greece (+1991) & his wild birds

http://saintsofmyheart.wordpress.com

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ATHENS OF MY HEART

SAINTS OF MY HEART

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Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia & Athens, Greece (+1991)

December 2

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Saint Porphyrios

of Kafsokalivia & Athens, Greece (+1991)

& his wild birds

Saint Porphyrios was born Evangelos Bairaktaris in the village of Aghios Ioannis in the province of Karystia on the Greek island of Euboea (mod. Evia). The youngest of four, he left school after the first grade and worked in the town of Chalkida at a shop to make money for the family. He was a hard and obedient worker, and stayed there for a few years before moving to Piraeus on the mainland (it is Athens’ port) and working in a general store run by a relative.

Although he hardly knew how to read at the time, Elder Porphyrios had a copy of the Life of St John the Hut-Dweller which he read as a boy. St John inspired him. St John the Hut-Dweller was late fifth-century Constantinopolitan saint who secretly took up the monastic life at the famed monastery of the Acoimetae (Unsleeping Ones). After living for some years according to a very strict rule, St John was granted permission by his abbot to go life near his parents so as to cleanse his heart of earthly love for them. He then dwelled in a hut beside his family, identity unknown, for three years. He revealed himself to his mother on his deathbed.

Young Evangelos was inspired by St John the Hut-Dweller’s story and wanted nothing more than to become a monk. He tried to run away to Mt Athos, the Holy Mountain, to become a monk on a few occasions. When he was 12, he succeeded at his goal and entered the life of obedience to two very strict and severe elders. At the age of 14, he became a monk under the name Niketas, and at 16 he took his full vows.

During these early years of the monastic life, Elder Porphyrios was given no praise but many tasks. He spent much time alone on the mountain with no one but the birds. He learned the Psalms and the prayers by heart. And at age 19, he received a gift from the Holy Spirit of clear sight. When this gift came, he saw his elders approaching his position even though they were far away and around a corner. He knew what they were doing. Later in his life, Elder Porphyrios was able to use this gift of sight to counsel and care for the souls of the many people who came to him seeking God’s grace.

The simplicity of Elder Porphyrios’ heart is visible in his recognition of the songs of praise sung by the birds to Almighty God, a realisation he had while living on the Holy Mountain:

“One morning I was walking alone in the virgin forest. Everything, freshened by the morning dew, was shining in the sunlight. I found myself in a gorge. I walked through it and sat on a rock. Cold water was running peacefully beside me and I was saying the [Jesus] prayer. Complete peace. Nothing could be heard. After a while the silence was broken by a sweet, intoxicating voice singing and praising the Creator. I looked. I couldn’t discern anything. Eventually, on a branch opposite me I saw a tiny bird. It was a nightingale. I listened as the nightingale trilled unstintingly, its throat puffed out to bursting in sustained song. The microscopic little bird was stretching back its wings in order to find power to emit those sweetest of tones, and puffing out its throat to produce that exquisite voice. If only I had a cup of water to give it to drink and quench its thirst!

Tears came to my eyes…” (Elder Porphyrios, Wounded by Love, p. 31).

Elder Porphyrios’ love of the animal world, and of birds in particular, is illustrated by his taming of two wild parrots later in life. He wished also to tame an eagle, but I don’t know if that happened. One of his parrots would say the Jesus Prayer with him.

Ill health forced Elder Porphyrios to leave Mount Athos, and he returned to Evia where we lived at the Monastery of St Charalambos, Levka. In 1926 he was ordained priest and was given the name Porphyrios. He lived at the Monastery of St Charalambos for twelve years as a spiritual guide and confessor, and then three years at the deserted Monastery of St Nicholas in Ano Vatheia.

1940 saw the Second World War and Elder Porphyrios’ move to Athens. He became the chaplain and confessor at the Polyclinic Hospital where he served for many years, leading the liturgy and hearing confessions and ministering to the staff and patients of the hospital, many of whose previous contact with Christianity had been minimal or merely formal.

From 1955 to 1979, he lived at the Monastery of St Nicholas in Kallisia. He was still chaplain at the Polyclinic, but he was now able to also live out his lifelong dream of being a monastic at the same time. In 1979, he moved to Milesi, a village that overlooks Evia, where he lived at first in a caravan and later in a single-cell built of cinder blocks. However, the goal of founding a monastery was realised, and in 1984 he was able to move into one of the rooms of the complex under construction, and in 1990 the foundation stone of the monastic church was laid.

He returned to the Holy Mountain and died at his hermitage in Kavsokalyvia, where he had become a monk so long ago, December 2 1991.

Stories about Elder St Porphyrios abound. One time, a young man on the verge of suicide received a phone call out of the blue, and it was the saint (neither knew each other) who counselled him not to kill himself. This young man was converted, and later met Elder Porphyrios before becoming a priest himself. One young woman had a vision of Elder Porphyrios while she, too, was contemplating suicide. At both these times, Elder Porphyrios had been at prayer when the Lord made the miracle happen.

Elder Porphyrios was a man who could be deeply moved by the words of Scripture:

“One Good Friday we were doing the service. The church was packed with people. I was reading the Gospel, and when I came to the phrase, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani, that is, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? I was unable to finish it. I didn’t read the words ‘why have you forsaken me?‘ I was overcome with emotion. My voice broke. In front of me I saw the whole tragic scene. I saw that face. I heard that voice. I saw Christ so vividly. The people in the church waited. I said nothing. I was unable to continue. I left the Gospel on the reading stand and turned back into the sanctuary. I made the sign of the cross and kissed the Holy Table. I brought to my mind another image, a better one. No, not a better one. There was no more beautiful image than that one, but the image of the Resurrection came to my mind. At once I calmed down. Then I returned to the Holy Doors and said:

‘Excuse me, my children, I got carried away’” –Wounded by Love.

Imagine if more ministers were so drawn into Scripture that their hearts were pierced in the formality of Sunday services!

I have run on long enough. There is much to say. I encourage you to learn the life and teachings of this saint — they are even available in the English book Wounded by Love: The Life and Teachings of Elder Porphyrios.

I am not afraid of death – Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos, Greece (+1989)

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

http://ex2x2lettersfromgreece.wordpress.com

EX 2X2 LETTERS FROM GREECE

ATHENS OF MY HEART

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I am not afraid of death. Not, of course, because of my works, but because I believe in God’s mercy.

Blessed Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos of Athens, Greece (+1989)

Source:

https://orthodoxword.wordpress.com & HERE

ORTHODOX WORD

300+ heart shape photos, St Valentine an Orthodox Saint, Mariagge & Love

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http://orthodoxsaintvalentine.wordpress.com

ORTHODOX SAINT VALENTINE

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The Real Life of Saint Valentine

Feast day: February 14, +269

The ancient martyrology of the Church of Rome marks February 14th as the remembrance of “the martyr Valentine, presbyter of Rome” (Valentinus means “vigorous” in Latin).

The Martyrdom of Saint Valentine in Rome

Saint Valentine lived in Rome in the third century and was a priest who helped the martyrs during the persecution of Emperor Claudius II the Goth. The great virtue and catechetical activities of the Saint had become familiar. For this he was arrested and brought before the imperial court.

“Why, Valentine, do you want to be a friend of our enemies and reject our friendship?” asked the emperor.

The Saint replied “My lord, if you knew the gift of God, you would be happy together with your empire and would reject the worship of idols and worship the true God and His Son Jesus Christ.”

One of these judges stopped the Saint and asked him what he thought about Jupiter and Mercury, and Valentine boldly replied, “They are miserable, and spent their lives through corruption and crime!”

The judge furiously shouted, “He blasphemes against the gods and against the empire!”

The emperor, however, continued his questions with curiosity, and found a welcome opportunity to finally learn what was the faith of Christians. Valentine then found the courage to urge him to repent for the blood of the Christians that was shed. “Believe in Jesus Christ, be baptized and you will be saved, and from this time forward the glory of your empire will be ensured as well as the triumph of your armory.”

Claudius became convinced, and said to those who were present: “What a beautiful teaching this man preaches.”

But the mayor of Rome, dissatisfied, began to shout: “See how this Christian mislead our Prince.”

Then Claudius brought the Saint to another judge. He was called Asterios, and he had a little girl who was blind for two years. Listening about Jesus Christ, that He is the Light of the World, he asked Valentine if he could give that light to his child. St. Valentine put his hand on her eyes and prayed: “Lord Jesus Christ, true Light, illuminate this blind child.” Oh the great miracle! The child saw! So the judge with all his family confessed Christ. Having fasted for three days, he destroyed the idols that were in the house and finally received Holy Baptism.

When the emperor heard about all these events, he initially thought not to punish them, thinking that in the eyes of the citizens he will look weak, which forced him to betray his sense of justice. Therefore St. Valentine along with other Christians, after they were tortured, were beheaded on 14 February in the year 268 (or 269).

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3 photos from the Holy Relics of Saint Valentine

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The Relics of Saint Valentine in Athens, Greece

After the martyrdom some Christians salvaged the body of the Saint and put a bit of his blood in a vile. The body of the martyr was moved and buried in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla, a burial place of most of the martyrs. Over the years somehow he was “forgotten” since almost every day there were buried in these catacombs new martyrs for several decades. The memory of Valentine’s martyrdom however remained robust, particularly in the local Church of Rome. Officially the memory of St. Valentine was established in 496 by Pope St. Gelasius.

Roman Catholics were detached from the body of the Church in 1054 AD. So Saint Valentine is a Saint of the Holy, One, Apostolic & Catholic Orthodox Church (Eastern Orthodox Church) because he martyred on 269 AD before the Great Schism.

Fifteen centuries pass and we arrive at 1815, at which time the divine intention was to “disturb” the eternal repose of the Saint. Then the relics were donated by the Pope to a gentle Italian priest (according to the custom of the time). After this the relics are “lost” again until 1907 where we find them in Mytilene (Lesvos Island, Greece) in the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady. It seems that after the death of the priest that a descendant of his had inherited the relics who had migrated to Mytilene, which was then a thriving community of West-European Catholic Christians. There they remained until 1990 when they were moved to Athens in a Roman Catholic Italian community, where they are today.

Saint Valentine the Greek, 

from Athens, Greece

We should first say that there is not sufficient information on the national origin of the Saint, though there are some other (shades of) evidence that the Saint was of Greek origin. For example, the earliest depiction of the Saint bearing the inscription «O ΑΓΙΟC BAΛΕΝΤΙΝΟC” in Greek, is in the Church of Our Lady the Ancient (Santa Maria Antiqua) of the 6th century which was the parish of Greeks in Rome. The church particularly venerated saints who were Greeks and generally from the East. The decoration and renovation of the church was ordered by the Greek Pope John VII (705-707) and finished by his successors, including the last Greek Pope Zacharias (741-752). But perhaps it is no coincidence that after seventeen centuries, the remains arrived in Greece.

We hope that the Holy Relics of St. Valentine will return soon to his Home, to the Eastern Orthodox Church, as recently miraculously returned the Holy Relics of St. Savvas the Sanctified which they had the Roman Catholics as in 1965.

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Photos: The Holy Relics of St Sabbas the Sanctified

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Video: The miraculous return of the Relics of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified

from Roman Catholics to Eastern Orthodox Church

St. Sabbas the Sanctified during his lifetime told his disciples that his incorrupt body would be removed from his monastery and later would rest in the Lavra, which he founded. He said this return of his relics would come before the end of the world. This prophecy was fulfilled when the holy relics of St. Sabbas were stolen by the crusaders of the First Crusade (1096 – 1099) together with many other relics and brought to Venice, Italy where he was enshrined in a church dedicated to St. Anthony. Nearly nine centuries later his relics were returned to Israel.

On 10 October 1965 the relics of St. Savvas were returned by Pope Paul VI to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The reception was made, at the direction of Patriarch Benediktos of Jerusalem, by Bishop Vasilios of Jerusalem, Fr. Theodosios the Abbot of Bethany, Fr. Seraphim the Abbot of St. Savvas Lavra, and the Hierodeacon (and future Metropolitan of Nazareth) Kyriakos.

Though it is commonly recorded that this gesture on behalf of the Pope was made merely as an ecumenical gesture, such as that of the skull of St. Andrew in Patras, with regards to the return of the relics of St. Savvas there is more to the story. In fact, it was St. Savvas himself who was urging Pope Paul VI to have his relics returned, appearing first to his predecessor Pope John XXIII in his dreams and causing a scene in his reliquary.

Fr. Seraphim, the Abbot of St. Savvas Lavra, explains everything as follows:

“The Pope did not give us the holy relic because he loved us, but because he [St. Savvas] would constantly appear to him [Pope John XXIII] and would bother him to have his relics returned to his monastery. When the Pope died he did not take the wishes of the Saint into account, so he appeared again to his successor [Pope Paul VI]. Even in the church where his holy relics were treasured in a glass coffin, he would hit the glass and cause trouble, frightening the guards and the Latin monks.”

Patriarch Benediktos had insisted that Fr. Seraphim attend the reception of the relics. He even told the Abbot: “In your days, Fr. Seraphim, Saint Savvas has returned!” Fr. Seraphim responded: “No, in your days, Your Holiness.”

When the Orthodox representatives arrived at the Church of Saint Anthony in Venice they wondered if indeed these were the relics of Saint Savvas. Fr. Seraphim observed every inch of the incorrupt relic to see if he could see a sign of authenticity. He noticed that one of the eyes of St. Savvas was missing. This proved it for him, since in his biography it is said that the Monophysites removed one of his eyes. Moved by this Fr. Seraphim would not leave the side of the relics till they arrived at his monastery. Even when the holy relics arrived in Athens where they were to be venerated by the faithful prior to the return, Fr. Seraphim stood all night guarding the holy relics while everyone else was sleeping. Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth describes the scene as if Fr. Seraphim and St. Savvas were having a conversation that night.

A problem arose when it came time to dress the holy relics in Orthodox vestments, since the Latins had dressed him in Latin vestments. After nine centuries it would be impossible to manoeuvre the body so as to put on the rason, the monastic schema and epitrachelion among other things. To further complicate matters, the hands of St. Savvas were crossed over his chest. Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth describes what then happened as follows: “We then saw Abbot Seraphim kneel before the holy relics and pray for a good amount of time. At one point he arose and did prostrations and lifted the arms of Saint Savvas as one would a living man before the amazed eyes of us all.” They were able to change the vestments without a problem in Venice before the return to Jerusalem.

When the glass coffin arrived at the Piazza San Marco on the pier, there was a gondola that transported it by escort to an area near the airport. In a strange coincidence it was the same pier the sacred relic had disembarked centuries ago. Countless pigeons were gathered there, as if they were there to honor the event. Even many years later, when Fr. Seraphim and Metropolitan Kyriakos would reminisce about those days, they would always talk about the pigeons.

When the holy relics finally arrived in Jerusalem it was first brought to the Church of the Resurrection for many days. Here the women could venerate the holy relics prior to being brought permanently to the all-male monastic Lavra of St. Sabbas. Fr. Seraphim tells of a certain miracle at this time in Jerusalem. An Orthodox nun who was waiting to venerate the holy relics had doubts over whether or not the Latin’s had indeed given the authentic relics to the Orthodox. It was then that she saw the head of St. Savvas lift and turn to her, then it returned again in its place. Her joy removed all doubts.

(Elder Seraphim of Saint Sabba’s Monastery, Publications Migdonia – Greek book)

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Saint Valentine: Patron of married andall that unite them love

and want to marry with Orthodox Christian Marriage.

Apart from the historical data we have for Valentine’s life, there is accompanied various stories, such as from those who say he is the patron Saint of married and all that unite them love and want to marry with Orthodox Christian Marriage.

The Saint had a reputation as a peacemaker, and one day while cultivating some roses from his garden, he heard a couple quarrel very vigorously. This shocked the Saint, who then cut a rose and approached the couple asking them to hear him. Even though they were dispirited, they obeyed the Saint and afterwards were offered a rose that blessed them. Immediately the love returned between them, and later they returned and asked the Saint to bless their marriage. Another tradition says that one of the charges against Valentine was that he did not adhere to the command of the emperor which stated that men who had not fulfilled their military obligations were not allowed to marry; meanwhile the Saint had blessed the marriage of young Christian soldiers with their beloveds.

Besides all this, the likely choice of him as the “saint of lovers” is to be associated with the pagan festival of Lupercalia, a fertility festival, celebrated by the Romans on February 15. Others connect the celebration of this feast with the mating season of birds during this period. Certainly, however, the Saint has nothing to do with the commercialism (marketing) of flowers, gifts and secular centers which trivialize Eros, this great gift of God.

Saint Valentine and Orthodoxy

Many, however, raise the objection that St. Valentine is not mentioned anywhere in the calendar of the Orthodox Church. Indeed on 14 February in the calendar of the Church there are commemorated Saints Auxentios, Maron and the martyrs Nicholas and Damian. The explanation is simple: in ancient times hagiographic directories, biographies and martyrologia were written to be primarily used locally in their own character, and the fame and reputation of a saint locally does not mean that it extended also throughout the Church. So there may be saints honored widely in one region and completely unknown in another, eg, St. Demetrios, who is famous throughout the Eastern Church, yet in the West is not honored at all, and is almost unknown, but this does not mean that he is not a saint. Another example of the modern Church: Many New-Martyrs of Greece (1453-1821) who in Greece is known, yet in Russia is completely unknown, but this does not mean that he is not a saint.

Honor Martyrs – Imitate Martyrs

We honor our saints and St. Valentine when we imitate their courage to proclaim their faith in Christ the Savior, who did so even at the cost of their lives. We honor them when we beseech them to appeal to God to have mercy on us and forgive our many sins. We honor them when they are our models of the life in Christ. We do not honor the saints when we measure their ‘worth’ by worldly amusements and festivities in the best circumstances…

So Orthodox Church have the feast day of Saint Valentine on February 14 (+269) as we see in the Orthodox site ORTHODOX ENGLAND:

http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/stdfeb.htm – ORTHODOX ENGLAND

See also:

http://sthermans.ca/saints-life-of-valentine.asp – ST HERMAN OF ALASKA ORTHODOX SOBOR

Price witness – Mimisis witness!

To imitate and to make the Valentine rejoice for us must live Christian lives near the Sacrament of Holy Confession by Orthodox Christian marriage (for those who wishing Marriage).

Here there are Confession hours to lead safely through Confession in the Orthodox Marriage having from God a blessed family!

ENGLAND:

Father Zacharias

St. John the Baptist Monastery Old Rectory,

Tolleshunt Knights by Maldon, Essex CM9 8EZ

United Kingdom

***

GERMANY:

Fr. Bill, Orthodox Church of Saints Paul & Peter

Esslingen, Germany

***

ARIZONA, USA:

Fr. Ephraim Filotheitis

 http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/index.php

St Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona, USA

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Source:

Encyclopedia New Advent (www.newadvent.org)

Patron Saints Index (www.catholic-forum.com/saints/indexsnt.htm)

Oxford Dictionary of Saints

Hellenism & Orthodoxy, Publications PSL Livani (Greek book)

Saint Valentine of Athens, Publications Good Type (Greek book)

Elder Seraphim of Saint Sabba’s Monastery, Publications Migdonia (Greek book)

http://gkiouzelis.wordpress.com

ABEL-TASOS GKIOUZELIS

http://orthodoxsaintvalentine.wordpress.com

ORTHODOX SAINT VALENTINE

1

Saint Valentine:

Patron of married and all that unite them love and want to marry

with Orthodox Christian Marriage

https://ex2x2lettersfromgreece.wordpress.com/?s=love

https://heartquestionsandanswers.wordpress.com/love/

Love

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https://heartquestionsandanswers.wordpress.com/marriage/

Marriage

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300+ heart shape photos, Saint Valentine an Orthodox Saint &

articles about love & Marriage

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 Κέρκυρα… Corfy, Greece

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THE SACRED ICONS & THE HOLY CROSS – FR. ANTHONY ALEVIZOPOULOS, GREECE

http://ex2x2lettersfromgreece.wordpress.com

EX 2X2 LETTERS FROM GREECE

31.8.2015 - 1.jpg

Cherubim are Angels

Exodus 25:17-21

«17 “Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 18 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 19 Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. 20 The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. 21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you» (Exodus 25:17-21).

Exodus 26:31

«31 “Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker» (Exodus 26:31).

Hebrews 9:5

«5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now» (Hebrews 9:5).

25.07.15 - 1

The Sacred Icons and the Holy Cross

By

Fr. Anthony Alevizopoulos, Greece

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

ATHENS OF MY HEART

God is the unique Being, the absolute existence; nothing can be compared with Him and the honor which is due Him, i.e. worship and adoration, is rendered unto none other; neither to some non-existent god nor to some idol.

But God’s grace is transmitted in every way in accordance with His will; even through material objects or even through the shadow of holy men, as was the case with the shadow of the Apostles, which is their imprint, a type of image (Acts 5, 12-16. 19,11-12).

In the Old Testament some of the objects which transmitted the miraculous grace of God were the bronze snake of Moses, the Ark of the Covenant, the sheep-skin coat of the Prophet Elias, et al. Every desecration of the sacred objects was severely punished by God (see Num. 10,15-20. I Kings 5, 2-4).

The teaching of the Orthodox Church concerning the holy icons has a Christological foundation. God is by essence unapproachable; He can neither be expressed by words nor depicted. The Son and Word of God, how­ever, became man and we beheld His glory (Jn 1, 14). Thus we can depict the person of Christ which consti­tutes the visible sign of the invisible presence of God, an “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1, 15). In the Ortho­dox Church that which is seen can be depicted; we express the same confession of faith either by written or oral word and even by depiction. The icon of Christ constitutes the confirmation of the incarnation of the Son and Word of God, which was a totally real, and not a docetic or imaginary, one.

Through the sacred icons we express our internal desire to grow in the love of Christ and the saints, to attain to the “new creation in Christ” and to become “conformed to His image” (Rom. 8,29). Just as the word sanctifies our lips, in a like way the icon, which trans­mits the same meaning as does the word, sanctifies our eyes and our mind.

The icons of the saints refer to “the new man” and are a declaration of our belief in our tranformation in Christ and in the incorruption of man and the entire world. They do not refer to the “beauty” of this world, but rather symbolize the beauty and the glory of the “future age”. This is why the holy icons lack the dimen­sion of “depth” and are two-dimensional. They proclaim a transfigured world which however we observe “as through a mirror” (I Cor. 13, 12). The holy icons give us the feeling that there exists a new world that is being transformed, and they constitute the assurance of our hope, expressed in the words of our Lord: “Behold I make all things new” (Rev. 21,5).

The honor rendered to the holy icons is placed within the framework established by the Seventh Ecu­menical Council. According to the Holy Fathers of this council, the honor shown towards the holy icons refers back to the ancient Church and confirms the belief in the real incarnation of God the Word. This council ordains that along with the Holy Cross icons be made for the Churches, to be placed on the sacred vessels and the vestments of the priests, in the homes and in the roads; icons of Christ, the Theotokos and all the saints. It further underlines:

“For the more frequently they [the sacred icons] are seen, all the more those who see them are moved to remembrance and desire of those depicted; to them [the icons] they render greetings and a veneration of honor, but not true worship, which in accordance with our faith, is due only unto the divine nature…for the honor rendered to the icon is transfered to the prototype, and he who venerates the icon venerates the person depicted thereon”.

Orthodox Christians believe that the Holy Cross is their only pride (Gal. 6,14). It is the instrument through which sin, the source of death, was set at naught (Rom. 5,12. 8,3). The Cross is thus no longer a symbol of death and of shame (Deut. 21,23), but a source of eternal life. Through the Cross the curse is done away with, conciliation “in Christ” is brought about, and “the new man” is created (Eph. 2, 15- 16). These truths are expressed in many of the hymns of the Church:

“You spread out Your hands on the Cross, Ο Merciful One, and You gathered together the Nations that were far from You so that they might glorify Your great goodness”.

“By spreading out Your divine hands upon the Cross, Ο Jesus,

You brought unto Yourself the work of Your hands, and You freed all from the hands of the Evil One and subjected them [unto You], for which cause let us faithful hymn Your majesty, for indeed it is glorified”.

The Cross of Christ is thus characterized by the Lord Himself as glory, as the judgment of this world, as the casting out of the Devil and as exaltation (Jn 12, 24-33). Our Church characterizes the Cross as “a weapon against the Devil”, because he trembles and shudders at the sight of the Cross, not being able to bear its power.

“Lord, You have given us Your Cross as a weapon against the Devil; for he shudders and trembles, not being able to gaze upon its might.

For its resurrects the dead,

and abrogated death;

for which cause we venerate

Your entombment and Your Resurrection”.

The Holy Cross of Christ becomes a standard and a measure of either man’s triumph or his condemnation, depending upon the position he takes vis-a-vis it. Who­ever equates Christ’s Cross with that of the thieves, is equated with the unrepentant thief and is condemned. On the contrary, whoever differentiates the Cross of Christ and considers it to be a royal scepter, and invokes the mercy of Christ, is likened unto the good thief, and the road leading to Paradise is opened up before him. In this way the Holy Cross becomes the measure of the judg­ment of the world, “the scale of justice” as it is called by the hymn of the Church:

“Your Cross stood between two thieves

as a scale of justice.

The one is led down to hell

by the weight of his blasphemy,

the other is lightened from the burden of his sins

unto the knowledge of things divine.

Ο Christ-God, glory to You”.

When we speak of the Holy Cross we do not mean only Christ’s crucifixion, but also the wood of the Cross. For this, too, is sanctified by its contact with the Body of Christ, and that is why it, too, is venerated: “The wood of Your Cross do we venerate, Ο Lover of man, for on it was nailed the Life of all things”, states one of the Church’s hymns. The sign of the Cross is also “divine and venerable”, says St. Gregory Palamas, for it is “a venerable seal, sanctifying and perfecting all the marvelous and ineffable good things that come from God”. It is an image of the crucified Christ and it draws its power and grace from His passion. This is why the sealing with the sign of the Cross is the external sign of all of the Church’s Mysteries through which man’s salvation is wrought.

The Cross of Christ expresses the ineffable love of God, but at the same time it also expresses man’s infinite value in God’s sight. A contemporary theologian says that Christ put sin to death without slaying the sinner; He did away with guilt and yet saved the guilty one. This is the great difference between Christ and human justice which crushes guilt by deriding and disgracing the guilty one. However, Christ did not simply conquer sin but also the consequence of sin which is death, and restored man to his pristine purity. Thus He led man to a surpassing of death, to the life of immortality and incorruption. Thus we do not have here a lifting of some type of Augustinian inherited guilt, nor room for any type of “payment” or “ransom” – save only in the patristic sense – and certainly not an Ansel-mian satisfaction of Divine justice. Rather the weight rests on Christ’s love, Who achieved the most extreme limits of sacrifice in behalf of those whom He loves. And it is in precisely this that we see man’s infinite value.

Making the sign of the Cross is an early Christian Tradition testified to by St. Justin the Martyr (+ 150) and by Tertullian (+ 200). The latter writes: ” We Christians in all our travels and in all our movements about, at every departure and upon every arrival, when we put on our clothes and shoes, in the bath and at the table, when we light our lamp, when we sit or sleep, in all the acts of our every-day life in general, we make the sign of the Cross”.

” This custom,” Tertullian concludes, “has its beginnings in the Church’s Tradition, it is strengthened through habit and should be preserved in faith”.

Orthodox Christians unite the three fingers of their right hand and place them first on their forehead, then on their stomach and finally bring them to their two shoulders from right to left. All of the Church’s theology is depicted in the sign of the Cross. By uniting our three fingers we depict and confess our belief in the One Triune God. From the forehead we bring our fingers to the stomach, and by so doing “typify the Son” Who was pre-eternally born of the Father and came down to earth by His birth from the Virgin Mary. When we place our united fingers on our shoulders we do so to “typify the Holy Spirit”, Who is characterized as being the “arm” and the “might” of God. By uniting the remaining two fingers we depict Christ’s incarnation and the inseparable union of the two natures, through which human nature was cured and exalted to the height of theosis.

We must not make the sign of the Cross in a mech­anical way, but conscientiously, with inner participation. We should make the sign of the Cross upon our bodies distinctly and not carelessly, but in accordance with the order of the Church: with our three fingers joined together and as if the Cross itself were touching us. It is understood that the sign of the Cross must be accom­panied by analogous faith in that which it depicts and b> the unwavering decision to crucify and do away with oui sinful selves and our passions; to put on the new man and ever be orientated towards the Cross and the Resur­rection of Christ.

Orthodox Christians therefore render respect and honorary veneration to the Cross just as they do to the holy icons, in relation always to the personage of Christ. This also holds true for the honor rendered to the saints. This honor is not adoration and worship, but an express­ion of respect and love towards persons and things which God Himself honored by abundantly bestowing upon them His grace. This veneration would be transformed into worship only in such case where one were to render it by identifying in his conscience that which he vener­ated with God. No Orthodox Christian, however, ever identifies the Holy Cross, the sacred icons or the saints with God, nor does he differentiate the honor accorded them from their relationship to the person of our Lord.

Source:

http://www.egolpion.com/root.en.aspx

http://www.egolpion.com/Icons_Cross%20%20.en.aspx

ANTI HERETICAL MANUAL

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO WHEN THEY FEAR THE FREEDOM OF THEIR CHILDREN? – BLESSED FR. EPIPHANIOS THEODOROPOULOS OF ATHENS, GREECE (+1989)

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

http://ex2x2lettersfromgreece.wordpress.com

http://orthodoxsaintvalentine.wordpress.com

ORTHODOX SAINT VALENTINE

EX 2X2 LETTERS FROM GREECE

ATHENS OF MY HEART

15 - 1

What can parents do when they fear the freedom of their children?

http://paintingleaves.blogspot.com

PAINTING LEAVES

Blessed Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos of Athens, Greece (+1989):

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 Holy Virgin Mary the Mother of God and to the Saints, asking them to bring him to reason.

(Taken from Elder Epiphanios in “Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit”, Protecting Veil Press)

Source:

https://orthodoxword.wordpress.com & HERE

ORTHODOX WORD

“MY WORST HELL IS TO REALIZE THAT I HAVE SADDENED A BELOVED PERSON” (FR. EPIPHANIOS THEODOROPOULOS)

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

ATHENS OF MY HEART

imageff0093_south_african_jade_plant“My worst hell is to realize that I have saddened a beloved person”

Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos (+1989)

p-epifanios
Blessed Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos of Athens, Greece (+1989)

(Taken from Elder Epiphanios in “Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit”, Protecting Veil Press)

Source:

https://orthodoxword.wordpress.com & HERE

ORTHODOX WORD

MARRIAGE & VIRGINITY IN CHRIST – BLESSED FR. EPIPHANIOS THEODOROPOULOS OF ATHENS, GREECE (+1989)

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

http://ex2x2lettersfromgreece.wordpress.com

http://orthodoxsaintvalentine.wordpress.com

ORTHODOX SAINT VALENTINE

EX 2X2 LETTERS FROM GREECE

ATHENS OF MY HEART

Flowers_in_Rwanda

Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos
Blessed Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos (+1989)

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.

Blessed Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos of Athens, Greece (+1989)

whitey(Taken from Elder Epiphanios in “Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit”, Protecting Veil Press)

Source:

https://orthodoxword.wordpress.com & HERE

ORTHODOX WORD

TRUE LOVE IS LIKE THE FLAME OF A CANDLE – BLESSED FR. EPIPHANIOS THEODOROPOULOS OF ATHENS, GREECE (+1989)

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

http://ex2x2lettersfromgreece.wordpress.com

http://orthodoxsaintvalentine.wordpress.com

ORTHODOX SAINT VALENTINE

EX 2X2 LETTERS FROM GREECE

ATHENS OF MY HEART

10 Years - Photo by +Mark Metternich www.wildforlight.com #NightPhotography #Ocean #Oregon

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.

Blessed Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos of Athens, Greece (+1989)

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(Taken from Elder Epiphanios in “Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit”, Protecting Veil Press)

Source:

https://orthodoxword.wordpress.com & HERE

ORTHODOX WORD

PRECIOUS VESSELS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: BLESSED FR. EPIPHANIOS THEODOROPOULOS OF ATHENS, GREECE (+1989)

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

ATHENS OF MY HEART

Final Frame - Photography by +Daniel Greenwood www.facebook.com-photographybydanielgreenwood #night #beach #seascape

epiohaniousPrecious Vessels of the Holy Spirit:

Blessed Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

of Athens, Greece, +1989

╰⊰¸¸.•¨*

From the Counsels

of

Blessed Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

Source:

https://orthodoxword.wordpress.com & HERE

ORTHODOX WORD

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)

NO NEED TO FEAR THE ANTICHRIST – SAINT PORPHYRIOS OF ATHENS, GREECE (+1991) ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* AND VIDEO WITH SERMON OF ST PORPHYRIOS ABOUT ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FAITH

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

ATHENS OF MY HEART

6

No need to fear the Antichrist

╰⊰¸¸.•¨*

Saint Porphyrios of Athens, Greece (+1991)

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/80170.htm

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

Christians throughout history have occasionally got onto an apocalyptic bandwagon, reading world events and deciding the end must be near. Some of this is normative for Christians as Scriptures do contain some warnings about the end times. World events seemed to indicate the world must be coming to an end: The Christian Byzantine Empire thought of itself as chosen by God to live “on earth as it is in heaven.” They were stung and stunned by the rise of enemies of Christianity and its seemingly unstoppable advances against the Christian Empire. The end of the world seemed near. Then Byzantium fell to the Turks and many imagined the apocalypse. But history continued on. The Russian Empire was viewed by its Orthodox members as heaven on earth, but its Christian adherents began to fear the world’s end as the Empire teetered on the brink of destruction. Then communism came to power and many thought it was definitely the end times, yet history kept moving on into the future. Communism fell, and time moved on.

Americans have grown increasing apocalyptic about every great or small political battle. So many Americans lately have come to feel doom if the political party they oppose comes to power. Every election, I hear some talking about having to leave America if “the other political party wins.” Some see a cataclysmic end to the cosmos if the president, congress or supreme court gets anything wrong. Fear and hatred become preached and taught by those from any end of the political spectrum. Some feel that once again we are at the end of the world because the Supreme Court is slated to make some decision on gay marriage and gay rights.

Recently a friend sent me a conversation from some of the Greek elders on Mount Athos regarding the end times. The elders were discussing the fear that was griping Europe in 1986 as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was unfolding. Many saw it as the events described in Scripture about the world’s end and the coming of the AntiChrist. Feeling threatened once again by world events people were convinced evil was being unleashed on earth. This is an excerpt of a longer article in which the Elders tell us why they don’t fear the Antichrist nor the apocalypse:

One day Elder Porphyrios (now Saint Porphyrios) had told me:

“Father Athanasios (taking me by the hand tightly), I’m blind now, my eyes do not work physically because I have cancer of the pituitary gland, but I have spiritual eyes and see. Before you leave, I want you to tell me, what did Elder Aemilianos say about 666 and the Antichrist?”

This was in the days of Chernobyl. People were upset by this and went by the dozens every day, particularly to Elder Porphyrios near Athens, asking: “What will happen? Will the Antichrist come and stamp us with 666″?

The Elder asked me: “Tell me, my child, what did Elder Aemilianos say about 666 and the Antichrist?”

I told him: “He told us in a gathering a few days ago to not worry. We should be interested in having a vibrant relationship with Christ and not give much attention to the Antichrist, because then he will become the center of our lives and not Christ.”

. . .

He told me: “For us Christians, when we experience Christ there is no Antichrist. . . .

When we have Christ inside us, can the Antichrist come? Can anything opposite this enter our souls? For this reason, my child, today we do not have Christ within us and because of this we worry about the Antichrist.

When Christ is within us, everything becomes Paradise. Christ is everything, my child, and the Opposer we should not fear; this you should always tell people.

. . .

And you should tell the people to not fear the Antichrist. We are children of Christ, we are children of the Church.”

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Photos: St Porphyrios Kafsokalyvitis of Athens, Greece

Feast day December 2, +1991

porfirios

Sermon of Saint Porphyrios

about Orthodox Christian Faith

SEARCHING FOR THE TRUTH – FR. ΑΝΤΗΟΝΥ ALEVIZOPOULOS, GREECE

http://orthodoxyislove.wordpress.com

ORTHODOXY IS LOVE

trakoscan castle XIX... - Photography by Roberto Pavic aka roblfc1892 bit.ly-1IXILFu Trakoscan castle, Croatia #trakostan #castle #reflection-

Searching for the Truth

by

Fr. Anthony Alevizopoulos, Greece

http://www.egolpion.com/root.en.aspx

http://www.egolpion.com/searching_truth.en.aspx

ANTI HERETICAL MANUAL

The problem of where the truth lies has occupied mankind down through the ages; it is a problem that is always contemporary and of its very nature leads man to seek an answer. The Philosophers, especially the ancient Greeks, posed the question: “What is the truth?” and most men have searched for it rationally. Some said that truth is an Idea, a “principle of all things”, the “prime mover unmoved” and called it God.

But this “God”, the God of the philosophers, cannot redeem. He touches only man’s rational faculty, and not man as a whole; no one can come into personal commu­nion with him since he is not a person, but something impersonal; an universal Mind that acts blindly, or is so distant and so transcendental that he has no interest in man or in the world.

There can be no doubt that anyone with a good disposition, upon observing creation and using his human potential, can discover evidence of God’s existence. However, he will discover only the concept of God, but not God Himself, salvific truth.

Others, down through the ages, have created world idols and a multitude of deities. They established “divine” laws and rules and created systems of worship of human provenance. All these, however, are simply expressions of man himself; they do not transcend the created realm, created reality; they do not, in other words, reveal the one true God Who transcends the created world.

Again, still others believe that man is by nature God. It remains simply for him to understand “his true self; nothing need change save his stance vis-a-vis his God-self, rejecting any thought that might differentiate him from his own divinity and recognize the existence of a God outside and beyond him.

In the final analysis, such an approach to God cannot satisfy man. It leads to an infinite loneliness which is contrary to human nature. By nature, man seeks warmth, love, communion with others and not only with himself; Without these things, he cannot exist. That is why he continuously seeks them. He is not satisfied with man-made concepts concerning God. He desires to rise above created reality, above creation and seek the meaning of life in communion with the uncreated and eternal God.

MAN DIGGING FOR FOOD IN TRASH SPARKS RESTAURANT TO TAKE ACTION IN VIRGINIA BEACH, USA – VIDEO

http://americaofmyheart.wordpress.com

AMERICA OF MY HEART

20150513

zorba-fotiadou-2

Eleni Fotidou is the owner of Zorba’s,

a Greek restaurant on Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach

zorba-fotiadou-1

Man digging for food in trash sparks restaurant to take action in Virginia Beach, USA

http://orthodoxyislove.wordpress.com

ORTHODOXY IS LOVE

A man was seen by employees of a Virginia Beach restaurant digging through a trash can looking for something to eat and the business took action.

Eleni Fotidou is the owner of Zorba’s, a Greek restaurant on Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach.

“I never want to see anyone like that,” says Fotidou.

Last Friday, she and others were disturbed.

“We didn’t quite realize what he was doing at first, but to take a better look at it at him, you realize he’s searching for food,” says Samantha McCauley.

The owners say they were heartbroken when they looked outside and saw the man looking for food in the trash.

“No one is allowed in 2015 to go to bed starving,” says Fotidou.

The owners showed us their security video from last Friday. They said minutes after the man was searching through the trash, you can see him walking away.

A woman who works nearby ran after him to give him water. They offered him food but he declined and seemed upset.

So they took action and hung up signs near the trashcans encouraging anyone in need of food to come inside.

They said hanging the signs are easier than having an awkward conversation with someone in need who might be too embarrassed.

A restaurant in Oklahoma went viral after posting a similar sign about six weeks ago.

The owners at Zorba’s said helping others is what they are accustomed to doing.

“In Greece, it’s the home of hospitality. We learn to do that, in Greece we are all big families. We always help each other, love each other,” says Fotidou.

They said they have only seen a handful of people going through the trash and the area doesn’t see too many homeless people. But these owners said the thought of just one person without any food is too much, and they’re happy to take action and fill the stomach of someone in need.

SAINT JOSE MUNOZ-CORTEZ THE NEW MARTYR OF ATHENS, GREECE, FROM CHILE & CANADA (+1997)

Twelve - Photography by Thomas Fliegner www.gnomlinchen.de Twelve Apostels Australia, Great Ocean Road. #australia #seascape #sunset

http://americaofmyheart.wordpress.com

AMERICA OF MY HEART

imgres

jose_munoz_0

Saint Jose Munoz-Cortes the new martyr of Athens, Greece, 

from Chile & Canada (October 31, +1997)

http://latinamericaofmyheart.wordpress.com

LATIN AMERICA OF MY HEART

At the end of October 1997, a terrible event occurred, one that shook the entire Orthodox world. In Greece, a young Romanian brutally murdered Joseph, Jose, Munoz-Cortes, guardian of the renowned Miracle-working, Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Mother of God: The Keeper of the Portal.

An obituary compiled by the members of the “Icon’s House” Society in Montreal stated: “We live in a time of the flowering of spirituality, but only of satanic spirituality — a time when all that is of Christ, of Jesus, of God, evokes a tormenting irritation in carnal man and a rabid malice in the deluded. One of those deluded men brutally murdered Jose Munoz-Cortes, the guardian of the Miracle-working, Myrrh-streaming Icon of the Mother of God, the Keeper of the Portal.

In the fall of 1982, through ways unfathomable to the mind, an Orthodox Spaniard, an instructor of art history at the University of Montreal, was called by the Lord to a special service, which he was allowed to bring to its conclusion with a martyric death. In the face of his death, questions far from those contained in the police inquiry involuntarily arise. What did he feel when he first visited the Nativity Skete on Holy Mount Athos, where, as if accidentally, he noticed the Iveron Mother of God Icon? How did he understand the words of the Abbot of the Skete, Fr. Clement, when he unexpectedly yielded to the requests of the visiting young iconographer, saying, “The Most-Holy Virgin will leave with you”?

In what way was the gradual realization of the miracle expressed for him — from that very day, November 24, 1982, when Jose woke up in his Montreal apartment around three o’clock in the morning and noticed a blessed scent of unknown origin wafting over to him?

The Lord lead him with His mighty hand and His lofty design, and under these circumstances everything in the life of the future guardian of the Miracle-working Icon developed without artifice, and if it is possible to say so, naturally. An offspring of an ancient race, Jose was born in 1948 (1950) to a pious Catholic family in Chile. In 1962 while living in Santiago the 14-year-old boy was struck by the Orthodox divine services in the local Holy Trinity and Kazan Mother of God Church. He found himself in the church accidentally, as it were, while on the way to the Catholic cathedral. Two years later Archbishop Leonty of Chile baptized him into Orthodoxy. He studied theology in college for three years. Later, he wanted to accept monasticism, but there was not a men’s community where he had moved in Canada. Therefore, he continuously turned with prayers to the Most-Pure Theotokos that she show him his path, praying: “There I will go.”

He was certainly granted the possibility to stand before a miracle in this world, the kind of miracle that is impossible to comprehend. And the Holy miracle-working Icon, the Hope of those without Hope has healed not only the bodies but also the souls of those who turn to it, taming cruel hearts, bestowing the gift of tears, helping to find hope. Whoever saw the faces of the people, Orthodox and heterodox alike, in the many parish churches and monasteries to which Brother Jose brought the grace-filled myrrh-streaming Icon entrusted to him, the Icon of the Keeper of the Portal which opened the gates of heaven to the faithful, that person could not but comprehend, to the extent possible, how awesome and difficult to bear was the obedience given to this man, and how intolerable it must have been for the ancient serpent, the enemy of the Church of Christ.

In the sixth kontakion of the wonderful akathist to the Montreal Myrrh-Streaming Icon it is correctly noted: “You chose as the proclaimer of your miracles and the keeper of your icon in the Russian Diaspora not a bishop, not a prince, nor a monastic instructor, but an ordinary man from a foreign people, that no one might boast before God of his earthly origin. Rather that we may praise the praiseworthy, to know the Lord and in an Orthodox manner to call to Him: Alleluia.”

The more blinding the uncreated light of Christ’s miracles, the darker it is in the kingdom of this age. The murder of Jose Munoz-Cortes, guardian of the Miracle-working Icon of the Mother of God, is, we trust, still one more sign of the depletion of the branches of our time that have lived out their usefulness and a sign of the impending (rapid) approach of the victory that overcometh the world. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). 

15th_Anniversary_of_the_Martyrdom_of_Brother_Jose_MunozCortes__115810

Jose Munoz-Cortez, Brother Joseph’s Last Days

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roy-mart05-3

Saint Jose Munoz-Cortez & Saint John Maximovitcn

FR. GEORGE PAULIDIS BISHOP OF NICEA, ATHENS, GREECE (+1990): A SAINT OF OUR TIMES

tumblr_ngn59com1I1t1prrio1_500

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

ATHENS OF MY HEART

«One winter night, his phone ring around midnight. Just picked up the phone, a female voice spoke:

“I do not know whom I speak , but before committing suicide , I wanted to listen for the last time a human voice…”.

Divine providence ring the phone of fr.George. Was there any discussion, without disclosing his status, Fr. George (it was then Bishop of Nicea, Athens) except that he speaks with a cleric. He never learned what happened next, but I’m sure that the Grace of God will not let a human soul disappear like that night».

SOURCE:

Fr. John Kostof

From Atheism to Christ

Publisher: St. John Damascene

Athens 2011

TRUTH TARGET

http://www.truthtarget.gr

THE HOLY CONFESSION & THE FR. GEORGE PAULIDIS OF GREECE (+1990) – THE PORTER OF LOVE

http://ex2x2lettersfromgreece.wordpress.com

EX 2×2 LETTERS FROM GREECE

11toledo

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

ATHENS OF MY HEART

«Some Holy Tuesday [Tuesday before Sunday Easter] after a sermon in a church of Lamia, Greece, appeared at the end of his short sermon a young man asking insistently to confess that very evening.

Fr. George was jaded and suggested the next day. But the young were kind and insisted on pressing to receive him that very night.

The heart of Fr. George could not refuse such a persistent. And we can imagine the surprised of Fr.George, when the young man pulled from the pocket and enecheirise a small bottle, telling him:

“My father, I wanted to deliver this bottle contained poison because tonight I was thinking about killing myself. Afterward preaching change my mind…”.

Such was his influence».

SOURCE:

Fr. John Kostof

From Atheism to Christ

Publications: St. John Damascene

Athens 2011

http://www.truthtarget.gr

TRUTH TARGET

ORTHODOXY IS – ORTHODOX COLLEGE STUDENTS IN USA RESPOND TO THE QUESTION “WHAT IS ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY”

http://americaofmyheart.wordpress.com

http://californiaofmyheart.wordpress.com

AMERICA OF MY HEART

maxresdefault

Orthodoxy Is

Discussion Questions for Use At OCF or Youth Group Meetings can be downloaded here:

http://www.ocf.net

EX 2×2 LETTERS FROM GREECE: SAINT PORPHYRIOS OF ATHENS, GREECE (FEAST DAY DECEMBER 2, +1991) & NUN PORPHYRIA, EX TAXI DRIVER IN ATHENS ON 1997-2007 (+2015)

x4

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

ATHENS OF MY HEART

146898.p

https://ex2x2lettersfromgreece.wordpress.com/?s=PORPHYRIOS

https://ex2x2lettersfromgreece.wordpress.com/?s=PORPHYRIA

Ex 2×2 Letters From Greece:

Saint Porphyrios of Athens, Greece (Feast day December 2, +1991)

& Nun Porphyria, ex TAXI driver in Athens (1997-2007)

A WONDROUS APPEARANCE & A GREAT MIRACLE OF SAINT PORPHYRIOS OF ATHENS, GREECE (+1991)

beautiful_japan_by_aparks45-d3k0dkv

http://lettersfromanex2x2.blogspot.com

LETTERS FROM AN EX 2X2

https://athensofmyheart.wordpress.com

ATHENS OF MY HEART

In the book, “Traveling the walls of the city”, Nun Porphyria mentions a wondrous appearance and a great miracle of Saint Porphyrios (+1991), which shows that life continues after death, and teaches us that we should never loose hope, for God is All-Good and All-Powerful:

It was 2PM, and I was in the Square “Agion Anargyron” of Athens.

I was stopped at a light facing Athens. A man approached me…”Can you take me to Menidi?”

“No,” I replied, “I can’t.” I couldn’t because at 3PM I had to take the taxi towards Pireus.

The man stood in front of me, and was waiting for another taxi to pass by. Something within me said that I should help him. I made a sign for him to come over. As soon as he entered the taxi, he exclaimed: “It’s impossible!” And he took the photograph of Elder Porphyrios [that I had in the taxi] in his hands, and kissed it. At that instant, the light changed, and I turned to head towards Menidi. I wanted to take back the photograph, but when I saw how much he looked at it with longing, I regretted my thought.

“Do you know him?” He asked me.
“No, but from his books I got to know him and love him very much.”
“Do you want, my lady, to hear how I got to know him?”
“Of course” I replied with joy.
“I heard that my wife was gravely sick, with cancer. The doctors gave her three months to live. During that time, my oldest son was finishing high school. And he told us that he had arranged to go with ten of his fellow students to Mount Athos for a week. We said it was alright; the children left.

“In the meantime, my wife took a turn for the worse. The doctor that was following her told us that the end was near. We asked him in anguish: ‘Doctor, what can we do to give her a little more life?’ He replied: ‘We can do a surgery, and may God help!’ he replied. I agreed, and my wife consented, because she wanted to remain until our son returned.

“My son returned so happy, so joyous, like we had never seen him before. He told us how beautiful it was there, and how warmly the monks received them, and how much peace he sensed within his soul. He said that he sensed the presence of God so much that he had forgot that his mother was sick. She was reminded, when Elder Porphyrios appeared before him. He told us some wondrous things about Elder Porphyrios, which appeared unbelievable to us.”

“Excuse me,” I interjected, “When did this occur?”
“This occured in 1996.

“All the children were sitting below a tree, and speaking and laughing, when straightaway a monk approached them. They stood up and kissed his hand, and the Elder began to say each child’s name. As you could image, the children were surprised that he knew their names and families. To my son he said: ‘Tell your mother to not have surgery, she’s all better!’

“‘You know her?’ he asked.
“‘I know her, I know all of you!’
“‘Who are you?’ they asked.
“‘I am Elder Porphyrios’ he said, and he left.

“During their return from the Holy Mountain they stopped in Ouranoupolis at a drug store to buy aspirin, for they were seasick and nauseous. Entering the pharmacy, they saw a photograph of Elder Porphyrios and said: “There is the Elder Porphyrios we saw on the Holy Mountain!” As soon as the pharmacist saw this, he was confused.

“‘I’m sorry, children, you saw this Elder on Mount Athos? Are you sure?’
“‘Of course we’re sure,’ they replied, ‘we all talked with him. And of course we were surprised that he knew our names and our families. When we asked him who he was, he replied that he was Elder Porphyrios.’
“‘Children, I’m sure that you saw him, but…Don’t be alarmed when I tell you…The Elder has been dead for five years!’
“The children were shocked! ‘Impossible!’ they said, we just were speaking to him!’

“And my wife and I believed that they saw someone else, who looked like him and called himself Porphyrios. Because all monks resemble each other.

“‘You don’t believe me, eh? In any case, he said that you should not get the surgery, because you are well,’ the child said to his mother. Two days later, we went to the hospital. The next morning, the surgery would have taken place. The time came, and though I was waiting with anguish outside the operating room, right away, I saw my wife come out. I ran near her and asked: ‘What happened?’
“‘I’m not getting an operation, I am well!’

“The doctor came out from behind her. ‘What happened, Doctor?’
“‘I don’t know, she doesn’t want to get the operation!’
“‘I told you,” she said, ‘I am better!’
“‘Honey, are you crazy?’ I took her in my arms and tried to convince her that she needed the surgery. She replied: ‘I told you that I feel better. Do the tests and you will see that I am better, I feel it!’

“‘Great!’ said the doctor, ‘Let’s not force her, if she is feeling well.’
“‘You don’t believe? Great! Do your tests to confirm this.’

“In reality, the tests were run. The next day the results came back, and the doctor took on a grave appearance.”‘What did the tests show?’ we asked him. It was as if the sickness had never touched her! The doctors looked at the old tests and the new ones, and were going crazy! It’s impossible, and they said they would have to order new ones the next day, they said in surprise.

“When my son came, and saw the doctors ordering more tests, he told me: ‘Why don’t you believe that which Elder Porphyrios said on Mount Athos?’
“Then, the doctor said: ‘What did you say? Did you mention Elder Porphyrios?’
“‘He said that my mom is well and should not get the surgery!’

“The doctor pulled out a photograph of Elder Porphyrios from his pocket. ‘You saw him, my boy, on Mount Athos?’

“‘Yes, him!’

“‘The tests are correct! Your wife is well, and now you can leave for sure! Go get ready!’

“The doctors had given my wife three months to live. Two years have passed since then, and she is much better than she was before her sickness. Because of this, I love Elder Porphyrios very much. We have been to the Monastery many times. And whenever we have difficulties, he strengthens us.”

This man’s story of another miracle of our Elder, gave me great joy. The only thing that I whispered as the man departed was: “Thank you.”

TAXI… “TELL YOUR MOTHER TO NOT HAVE SURGERY, SHE’S ALL BETTER!”

Respect nature

It was 2PM, and I was in the Square “Agion Anargyron” of Athens.

I was stopped at a light facing Athens. A man approached me…”Can you take me to Menidi?”

“No,” I replied, “I can’t.” I couldn’t because at 3PM I had to take the taxi towards Pireus.

The man stood in front of me, and was waiting for another taxi to pass by. Something within me said that I should help him. I made a sign for him to come over. As soon as he entered the taxi, he exclaimed: “It’s impossible!” And he took the photograph of Elder Porphyrios [that I had in the taxi] in his hands, and kissed it. At that instant, the light changed, and I turned to head towards Menidi. I wanted to take back the photograph, but when I saw how much he looked at it with longing, I regretted my thought.

“Do you know him?” He asked me.
“No, but from his books I got to know him and love him very much.”
“Do you want, my lady, to hear how I got to know him?”
“Of course” I replied with joy.
“I heard that my wife was gravely sick, with cancer. The doctors gave her three months to live. During that time, my oldest son was finishing high school. And he told us that he had arranged to go with ten of his fellow students to Mount Athos for a week. We said it was alright; the children left.

“In the meantime, my wife took a turn for the worse. The doctor that was following her told us that the end was near. We asked him in anguish: ‘Doctor, what can we do to give her a little more life?’ He replied: ‘We can do a surgery, and may God help!’ he replied. I agreed, and my wife consented, because she wanted to remain until our son returned.

“My son returned so happy, so joyous, like we had never seen him before. He told us how beautiful it was there, and how warmly the monks received them, and how much peace he sensed within his soul. He said that he sensed the presence of God so much that he had forgot that his mother was sick. She was reminded, when Elder Porphyrios appeared before him. He told us some wondrous things about Elder Porphyrios, which appeared unbelievable to us.”

“Excuse me,” I interjected, “When did this occur?”
“This occured in 1996.

“All the children were sitting below a tree, and speaking and laughing, when straightaway a monk approached them. They stood up and kissed his hand, and the Elder began to say each child’s name. As you could image, the children were surprised that he knew their names and families. To my son he said: ‘Tell your mother to not have surgery, she’s all better!’

“‘You know her?’ he asked.
“‘I know her, I know all of you!’
“‘Who are you?’ they asked.
“‘I am Elder Porphyrios’ he said, and he left.

“During their return from the Holy Mountain they stopped in Ouranoupolis at a drug store to buy aspirin, for they were seasick and nauseous. Entering the pharmacy, they saw a photograph of Elder Porphyrios and said: “There is the Elder Porphyrios we saw on the Holy Mountain!” As soon as the pharmacist saw this, he was confused.

“‘I’m sorry, children, you saw this Elder on Mount Athos? Are you sure?’
“‘Of course we’re sure,’ they replied, ‘we all talked with him. And of course we were surprised that he knew our names and our families. When we asked him who he was, he replied that he was Elder Porphyrios.’
“‘Children, I’m sure that you saw him, but…Don’t be alarmed when I tell you…The Elder has been dead for five years!’
“The children were shocked! ‘Impossible!’ they said, we just were speaking to him!’

“And my wife and I believed that they saw someone else, who looked like him and called himself Porphyrios. Because all monks resemble each other.

“‘You don’t believe me, eh? In any case, he said that you should not get the surgery, because you are well,’ the child said to his mother. Two days later, we went to the hospital. The next morning, the surgery would have taken place. The time came, and though I was waiting with anguish outside the operating room, right away, I saw my wife come out. I ran near her and asked: ‘What happened?’
“‘I’m not getting an operation, I am well!’

“The doctor came out from behind her. ‘What happened, Doctor?’
“‘I don’t know, she doesn’t want to get the operation!’
“‘I told you,” she said, ‘I am better!’
“‘Honey, are you crazy?’ I took her in my arms and tried to convince her that she needed the surgery. She replied: ‘I told you that I feel better. Do the tests and you will see that I am better, I feel it!’

“‘Great!’ said the doctor, ‘Let’s not force her, if she is feeling well.’
“‘You don’t believe? Great! Do your tests to confirm this.’

“In reality, the tests were run. The next day the results came back, and the doctor took on a grave appearance.”‘What did the tests show?’ we asked him. It was as if the sickness had never touched her! The doctors looked at the old tests and the new ones, and were going crazy! It’s impossible, and they said they would have to order new ones the next day, they said in surprise.

“When my son came, and saw the doctors ordering more tests, he told me: ‘Why don’t you believe that which Elder Porphyrios said on Mount Athos?’
“Then, the doctor said: ‘What did you say? Did you mention Elder Porphyrios?’
“‘He said that my mom is well and should not get the surgery!’

“The doctor pulled out a photograph of Elder Porphyrios from his pocket. ‘You saw him, my boy, on Mount Athos?’

“‘Yes, him!’

“‘The tests are correct! Your wife is well, and now you can leave for sure! Go get ready!’

“The doctors had given my wife three months to live. Two years have passed since then, and she is much better than she was before her sickness. Because of this, I love Elder Porphyrios very much. We have been to the Monastery many times. And whenever we have difficulties, he strengthens us.”

This man’s story of another miracle of our Elder, gave me great joy. The only thing that I whispered as the man departed was: “Thank you.”

Nun Porphyria was born and raised in Piraeus, one of five sisters. Early on she worked with shoes, but later became a taxi driver. She believes becoming a taxi driver was the will of God, which she did for ten years.
She has many stories where the taxi became for her a pulpit from where she was able to do the work of Christ and bring people closer to the Church. For example, she helped a drug addict get off the habit with her comforting and loving words, she would open up the doors of love to unbelievers, and even took in to her home a prostitute and helped her find a job (today she is married and has two children); her preaching was with words and acts of love.

Nun Porphyria became a nun after she was hit hard by a motorcycle while crossing the road. She had prayed to either be taken to heaven by Elder Porphyrios or to live and become a nun. One year later, after her recovery and putting her life in order, on the same date and time of her accident, she entered the monastery.

She has published a book about her stories from the taxi, which her spiritual father urged her to publish. Today she is a nun at Agia Skepi in Palaio Faliro, Athens. She continues her ministry of love there.

One piece of advice she has for the people regards a question she often gets: Why should I go to church when the priest himself doesn’t believe the things he preaches? Nun Porphyria answers that we do not go to church for the priest, but for our own soul. The words of the Divine Liturgy ought to penetrate the heart through the mind in order for us to experience its joys. And why should we expect forgiveness within the church and not allow forgiveness for priests? This is an injustice. We do not know what may be going on in the life of the priest. He may have his issues as we have our issues. We must learn to forgive priests and the great value of humble obedience.

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Nun Porphyria was born and raised in Piraeus, one of five sisters. Early on she worked with shoes, but later became a taxi driver. She believes becoming a taxi driver was the will of God, which she did for ten years.
She has many stories where the taxi became for her a pulpit from where she was able to do the work of Christ and bring people closer to the Church. For example, she helped a drug addict get off the habit with her comforting and loving words, she would open up the doors of love to unbelievers, and even took in to her home a prostitute and helped her find a job (today she is married and has two children); her preaching was with words and acts of love.

Nun Porphyria became a nun after she was hit hard by a motorcycle while crossing the road. She had prayed to either be taken to heaven by Elder Porphyrios or to live and become a nun. One year later, after her recovery and putting her life in order, on the same date and time of her accident, she entered the monastery.

She has published a book about her stories from the taxi, which her spiritual father urged her to publish. Today she is a nun at Agia Skepi in Palaio Faliro, Athens. She continues her ministry of love there.

One piece of advice she has for the people regards a question she often gets: Why should I go to church when the priest himself doesn’t believe the things he preaches? Nun Porphyria answers that we do not go to church for the priest, but for our own soul. The words of the Divine Liturgy ought to penetrate the heart through the mind in order for us to experience its joys. And why should we expect forgiveness within the church and not allow forgiveness for priests? This is an injustice. We do not know what may be going on in the life of the priest. He may have his issues as we have our issues. We must learn to forgive priests and the great value of humble obedience.

SOURCE:

Greek book:

Nun Porphyria

Traveling in the Walls of the City

Athens 2010

LOVE FOR THE PERSON WITH AIDS

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At one time, I took a sick person to him who was diagnosed with AIDS. Some of my friends who knew that I was friendly with the Elder Porphyrios of Athens and Oropos, Greece (+1991) asked me to help this sick person who was extremely depressed. The AIDS victim was in really bad shape and he wanted to commit suicide. When I heard that he wanted to commit suicide, I sent him to another priest who was also a doctor. His name is Fr. Stamatis. The sick person went to this priest but the priest advised him to go and see Elder Porphyrios.

I took him to the Elder. He was a person who did not appear to look like a Christian. He had a very worldly look about him. I left him in the cell with the Elder. The Elder kept him there for a long time. When he finished, he came out of the cell crying but he was very serene with a prayer rope in his hand that the Elder had given him. He was crying but not in a way that made him appear helpless. His eyes were filled with light. The Elder called me into his cell. “Come in here so that I can speak to you. What was that soul that you brought to me? What a marvelous soul that was!”

The person from that encounter repented and he truly lives in a spirit of penance. I have seen him many times since then as a doctor. I see that he has been reborn. He visits monasteries. He goes to confession. He receives Holy Communion and he thanks Christ for AIDS because this has become for him the reason for his true salvation.

From the book: “Miraculous Occurences and Counsels of Elder Porphyrios”

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Elder Porphyrios of Athens, Oropos & Kafsokalivia, Greece

SAINT PORPHYRIOS OF ATHENS, OROPOS & KAFSOKALIVIA, GREECE (+1991)

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

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

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ST PORFYRIOS OF KAFSOKALIVIA, ATHENS & OROPOS, GREECE (+1991)

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St Porfyrios of Kafsokalivia, Athens & Oropos!

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

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

Feast Day of Saint Meletios of Lardos, Rodos Island: February 12th.

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St Porfyrios of Kafsokalivia, Athens & Oropos (+2/12/1991)

Elder Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia today became officially a Saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church!

I am so happy and touched! He was always in my heart and I have prayed to him a lot of times and he has helped me so much…! Please, Saint Porphyrios, pray for us all! Glory to God!!!!

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St Porfyrios of Kafsokalivia, Athens & Oropos

SOURCE: http://simplyorthodox.tumblr.com – SIMPLY ORTHODOX

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Sayings of St. Porfyrios of Kafsokalivia

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Enrolled into Calendar of Saints of the Orthodox Church 27th November 2013
Elder Porphyrios Bairaktaris (1906-1991) was an Athonite hieromonk known for his gifts of spiritual discernment–i.e. a type of clairvoyance which he sometimes called “spiritual television.”
A native of Evia province, the future Elder Porphyrios (his birth name had been Evangelos, while his monastic name was Nikitas) became a monk at the age of fourteen or fifteen. He served in the Athonite skete of Kafsokalyvia), in the Cell of St. George, under two spiritual fathers: Fr. Panteimon and Fr. Ionnakios. Forced by pleurisy to depart the Holy Mountain, he returned to his birthplace, where he was unexpectedly elevated to the priesthood at the age of 21 by Porphyrios III, Archbishop of Mount Sinai and Raithu. With the outbreak of World War II he became a hospital chaplain in Athens, in which post he continued for three decades (1940-1970). His later years were devoted to the construction of the Holy Convent of the Transfiguration of the Savior. After 1984 he returned to Mount Athos, occupying the same cell which he had earlier in life been forced to abandon.
Through his role as spiritual father, Elder Porphyrios became known to an ever-wider circle of Orthodox followers. Several compilations of stories and sayings attributed to him have been published.

This is the way we should see Christ. He is our friend, our brother; He is whatever is good and beautiful. He is everything. Yet, He is still a friend and He shouts it out, “You’re my friends, don’t you understand that? We’re brothers. I’m not…I don’t hold hell in my hands. I am not threatening you. I love you. I want you to enjoy life together with me.”
Love Christ and put nothing before His Love. He is joy, He is life, He is light. Christ is Everything. He is the ultimate desire,He is everything. Everything beautiful is in Christ.
Somebody who is Christ’s must love Christ, and when he loves Christ he is delivered from the Devil, from hell and from death.

A DIALOGUE WITH FR. EPIPHANIOS THEODOROPOULOS & AN ATHEIST: ATHENS, GREECE

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One morning, the Father-Elder (Geronda) Epiphanios Theodoropoulos was in a conversation with 2-3 visitors at his home. One of them was an ideological atheist and a communist.  Suddenly, someone from outside came rushing in, and informed them that the city of Athens had been flooded with photographs of Mao Tse Tung, with the inscription “Glory to the great Mao”. It was the day that the Chinese dictator had died.

Geronda Epiphanios: That’s the way things are, my child.  Atheists do not exist.  Only idolaters exist, who take down Christ from His throne and in His place they enthrone their own idols.  We say: “Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”.  They say: “Glory to the great Mao”.  You pick and choose which one you prefer.

Atheist: You also choose your drug, grandpa. The only difference is, that you call it Christ, others call it Allah, or Buddha, etc. etc…

Geronda Epiphanios: My child, Christ is not a drug. Christ is the Creator of the entire universe. He is the one Who governs everything wisely, from the multitudes of infinite galaxies, down to the minutest particles of the microcosm. He has given life to all of us.  He is the One Who brought you into this world and has bestowed you with so much freedom, that you can actually doubt Him, and even deny Him.

Atheist: Grandpa, its your right to believe in all of those things.  But that doesn’t mean they are true.  Do you have any proofs?

Geronda Epiphanios: You think all of this is just a fairy tale, don’t you?

Atheist: Naturally.

Geronda Epiphanios: Do you have any proof that it is a fairy tale? Can you prove that what I believe is false?

Atheist: ……………….

Geronda Epiphanios: You didn’t reply, because you don’t have any proof either.  Which means, you believe they are fairy tales.  I spoke to you of believing, when I referred to God; you, however, although rejecting my belief, essentially believe in your faithlessness, since you cannot back it up with proofs either. However, I must tell you that my belief is not something “out of the blue”; There are certain supernatural events, upon which it is founded.

Atheist: Just a minute! Since we are talking about believing, what would you say to Muslims or Buddhists for example?  Because they also talk about believing. And they too have high moral standards.  Why is your belief better than theirs?

Geronda Epiphanios: So! The criterion of the truth is supposedly judged by this question of yours?  Because the truth is most certainly one; truths cannot be many in number. The thing is, who is the possessor of the truth? That is the major question. Hence, it is not a matter of a better or worse belief! It is a matter of the only true belief!

I agree, that other beliefs also have moral teachings. Naturally, Christianity’s moral teachings are incomparably superior. But, we do not believe in Christ because of His moral teachings. Or for His prompting to “Love one another”, or for His sermons on peace and justice, freedom and equality. We believe in Christ, because His presence on earth was accompanied by supernatural events, which was a sign that He is God.

Atheist: Look, I also admit that Christ was an important philosopher and a great revolutionary, but let’s not make Him a god now……

Geronda Epiphanios: My dear child!  All the great disbelievers in history were snagged by that detail.  The fishbone that stuck in their throat, which they just couldn’t swallow, was exactly that:  That Christ is also God.

Many of them were willing to say to God: “Don’t tell anyone that You are God incarnate; Just say that You’re an ordinary human, and we shall be more than ready to deify you. Why do You want to be an incarnate God, and not a deified human?  We are willing to glorify You, to proclaim You as the greatest among men, the holiest, the most ethical, the noblest, the unsurpassable, the one and only, the unprecedented…  Isn’t that enough for You ?

Ernest Renan –he was the head of the chorus of deniers- thunders out the following, with regard to Christ: “For tens of thousands of years, the world shall be uplifted through You”, and “You are the cornerstone of mankind; if one were to wrench Your name away from this world, it would be like shattering its foundations” and “the aeons shall proclaim that amongst the sons of men, never was there born anyone that could surpass You”.  But this is where Renan and his likes stop. Their very next phrase is: “But a God, You are not!”

And those poor wretches cannot perceive that all of these things constitute an indescribable tragedy!  Their dilemma is inevitably relentless: Either Christ is an incarnate God, in which case, He is indeed, only then, the most ethical, the holiest and noblest personage of mankind, or, He is not an incarnate God, in which case, He cannot possibly be any of these. In fact, if Christ is not God, then we are talking about the most horrible, the most atrocious and the most despicable existence in the history of mankind.

Atheist: What did you just say?

Geronda Epiphanios: Exactly what you heard!  It may be a weighty statement, but it is absolutely true. And I will tell you why.

Let me ask: What did all the truly great men say about themselves, or what opinion did they have of themselves ?

The “wisest of all men”, Socrates, proclaimed that “I came to know one thing: that I know nothing”.

All the important men in the Old and New Testament, from Abraham and Moses, through to John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul, characterized themselves as “earth and ashes”, “wretches”, “monstrosities”, etc…. [1]

But, strangely enough, Jesus’ attitude is quite the opposite!  And I say strangely enough, because it would have been natural and logical for Him to have a similar attitude. In fact, being far superior and surpassing all others, He should have had an even lower and humbler opinion of Himself [2].  Ethically more perfect than any other, He should have surpassed everyone and anyone in self-reproach and humility, from the moment of the world’s Creation to the end of Time.

But, the exact opposite is observed!

First of all, He proclaims that He is sinless: “Who among you shall check Me for sin?” (John, 8:46). “The lord of this world is coming, and he can find nothing in Me.”  (John, 14: 30)

He also pronounces very high ideas of Himself: “I am the light of the world” (John, 8, 12);  “I am the path and the truth and the life”  (John, 14: 6).

But, apart from these, He also projects demands of absolute dedication to His Person.  He even penetrates the holiest of man’s relationships, and says: “Whomsoever loves their father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me. and whomsoever loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew, 10: 37).  “I came to turn man away, against his father, and the daughter against her mother and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matthew, 10: 35).  He even demands a life and a death of martyrdom from His disciples: “They shall deliver you to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you shall be dragged before leaders and kings for My sake…. And brother shall deliver his brother to death and the father his son, and the children shall revolt against their parents and shall put them to death…. And you shall be hated by everyone, for my namesake…. And he that shall endure to the end, he shall be saved…. Do not fear those who destroy the body….. Whomsoever shall deny Me before mankind, I too shall deny him…. Whomsoever has forfeited his soul for My sake, shall recover it” (Matthew, 10: 17 onward).

And now I ask you:  Has anyone ever dared to demand for himself the love of mankind, forsaking their very life? Has anyone ever dared to proclaim his absolute sinlessness?  Has anyone ever dared to utter the words: “I am the truth”? (John, 14: 6)  No-one, and nowhere!  Only a God can do that. Can you imagine your Marx uttering things like that?  They would take him for a lunatic and nobody would be willing to follow him!

Now, just consider, how many people sacrificed everything for Christ’s sake, even their very life, having believed in the veracity of His words regarding Himself!  If His proclamations about Himself were false, Jesus would have been the most despicable character in history, for having led so many people to such a huge sacrifice!  What ordinary man – no matter how great, how important, how wise he may be – would deserve such a tremendous offer and sacrifice?  Well?  No-one!  Not unless he were God!

In other words: Any ordinary man that would demand such a sacrifice from his followers would have been the most loathsome person in history.  Christ, however, both demanded it, and achieved it. Yet, despite this ‘achievement’, He was proclaimed by the very deniers of His divinity as the noblest and holiest figure in history.  So, either the deniers are being illogical when they proclaim this most loathsome figure as “holiest”, or, in order to avoid any illogicality, and to rationalize the co-existence of Christ’s demands and His holiness, they must concede to accepting that Christ continues to remain the noblest and holiest figure in mankind, but, only under the condition that He is also God!  Otherwise, as we said, He would be, not the holiest, but the most loathsome figure in history, being the cause of the greatest sacrifice of all ages, and in the name of a lie!  Thus, Christ’s divinity is proved by His very deniers, on the basis of those very characterizations of His person!

Atheist: What you just said is really very impressive, but it is nothing but speculation. Do you have any historical facts that would confirm His Divinity?

Geronda Epiphanios: I told you at the beginning, that the proofs of His Divinity are the supernatural events that took place while He was here on earth.  Christ did not rest on the proclamation of the above truths alone; He certified His statements with miracles as well.  He made blind people see and cripples walk; He satisfied the hunger of five thousand men and manifold numbers of women and children with only two fish and five loaves of bread; He commanded the elements of nature and they obeyed; He resurrected the dead, amongst which was Lazarus, four days after his death. But the most astounding of all his miracles was His own Resurrection.

The entire edifice of Christianity is supported on the event of the Resurrection.  This is not my speculation. The Apostle Paul said it: “If Christ had not risen (from the dead), our faith would be futile”. (Corinthians I, 15: 17).  If Christ is not resurrected, then everything collapses. But Christ was resurrected, which means He is the Lord of life and death, therefore God.

Atheist: Did you see all of this?  How can you believe it?

Geronda Epiphanios: No, I didn’t see any of it, but others did: the Apostles. They in turn made this known to others, and they actually “signed” their testimony with their own blood. And, as everyone acknowledges, a testimony of one’s life is the supreme form of testimony.

Why don’t you likewise bring me someone, who will tell me that Marx died and was resurrected, and that he is willing to sacrifice his life in order to testify it?  I, as an honest man, will believe him.

Atheist: I will tell you. Thousands of communists were tortured and died for their ideology.  Why don’t you embrace communism in the same way?

Geronda Epiphanios: You said it yourself.  Communists died for their ideology. They didn’t die for real events.  In an ideology, it is very easy for deception to seep through; and because it is a characteristic of the human soul to sacrifice itself for something it believes in, this explains why so many communists died for their ideology. But that doesn’t compel us to accept this ideology as something true.

It is one thing to die for ideas, and another to die for events.  The Apostles didn’t die for any ideas.  Not even for the “Love one another”, or any of the other moral teachings of Christianity. The Apostles died for their testimony of supernatural events. And when we say ‘event’, we mean that which is captured by our physical senses, and is comprehended through them.

The Apostles suffered martyrdom for “that which they heard”, “that which they saw with their own eyes”, “that which they observed and their hands touched”  (John I, 1) [3]

Just like the clever speculation by Pascal, we say that one of the three following things happened to the Apostles: either they were deceived, or, they deceived us, or, they told us the truth.

Let’s take the first case.  It is not possible for the Apostles to have been deceived, because everything that they reported, was not reported to them by others.They themselves were eye and ear witnesses of all those things. Besides, none of them were imaginative characters, nor did they have any psychological inclination that made them accept the event of the Resurrection.  Quite the contrary – they were terribly distrustful.  The Gospels are extremely revealing, in their narrations of their spiritual dispositions: they even disbelieved the reassurances that some people had actually seen Him, resurrected.

And one other thing. What were the Apostles, before Christ called them?  Were they perhaps ambitious politicians or visionaries of philosophical and social systems, who were longing to conquer mankind and thus satisfy their fantasies?  Not at all.  They were illiterate fishermen. The only thing that interested them was to catch a few fish to feed their families.  That is why, even after the Lord’s Crucifixion, and despite everything that they had heard and seen, they returned to their fishing boats and their nets. In other words, there was not a single trace of disposition in these men for the things that were to follow.  It was only after the day of the Pentecost, “when they received strength from on high”, that they became the teachers of the universe.

The second case:  Did they deceive us?  Did they lie to us?  But then, why would they deceive us?  What would they gain by lying?  Was it money? Was it status?  Was it glory?  For someone to tell a lie, he must be expecting some sort of gain.  The Apostles though, by preaching Christ – and in fact Christ crucified and resurrected – the only things that they secured for themselves were: hardships, labours, lashings, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger, thirst, nakedness, attacks from robbers, beatings, incarcerations and finally, death.  And all this, for a lie?  It would be undoubtedly foolish for anyone to even consider it.

Consequently, the Apostles were neither deceived, nor did they deceive us. This leaves us with the third choice: that they told us the truth.

I should also stress something else here:  The Evangelists are the only ones who recorded true historical events. They describe the events, and only the events. They do not resort to any personal judgments.  They praise no-one, and they criticize no-one.  They make no attempt to exaggerate an event, nor eliminate or underestimate another.  They let the events speak for themselves.

Atheist: Are you excluding the possibility that in Christ’s case, it was just an incident of apparent death?  The other day, the newspapers had written about someone in India whom they buried and three days later they exhumed him and he was still alive.

Geronda Epiphanios: My poor child!  I will recall the words of the blessed Augustine again:  “O faithless ones, you are not actually mistrustful; indeed, you are the most gullible of all.  You accept the most improbable things, and the most irrational, the most contradictory, in order to deny a miracle!”

No, my child. It was not a case of apparent death with Christ. First of all, we have the testimony of the Roman centurion, who reassured Pilate that Christ’s death was a certainty.

Then, our Gospel informs us that on the same day of His Resurrection, the Lord was seen talking with two of His disciples, walking towards Emmaus, which was more than ten kilometers away from Jerusalem.

Can you imagine someone, who could go through all the tortures that Christ underwent, and three days after His “apparent death”, spring back again?  If anything, he would have to be fed chicken soup for forty days, in order to be able to open his eyes, let alone walk and talk as though nothing had happened!

As for the Hindu, bring him here to be flogged with a scourge – do you know what a scourge is? It is a whip, whose lashes each have a lead chunk or a piece of broken bone or sharp nails attached to their end – bring him here, so we can flog him, then force a crown of thorns on his head, crucify him, give him bile and vinegar to drink, then pierce his side with a spear, put him in a tomb, and then, if he comes back from the dead, then we can talk.

Atheist: Even so, but all the testimonies that you have invoked belong to Christ’s Disciples.  Is there any testimony on this matter, that doesn’t come from the circle of His Disciples?  Are there any historians for example, who can certify Christ’s Resurrection?  If so, then I will also believe what you say.

Geronda Epiphanios: You poor child!  You don’t know what you’re saying now!  If there had been such historians who had witnessed Christ resurrected, they would have been compelled to believe in His Resurrection and would have recorded it as believers, in which case, you would again have rejected their testimony, just like you rejected Peter’s testimony, John’s testimony, etc.  How can it be possible, for someone to actually witness the Resurrection and yet, NOT become a Christian?  You are asking for a roasted fowl, on a waxen skewer, that also sings!  It just can’t be done !

I will remind you though – because you are asking for historians – of what I said earlier: that the only true historians are the Apostles.

Nevertheless, we do have testimony of the kind that you want; and it is by someone who didn’t belong to the circle of His Disciples: it was Paul.  Paul not only wasn’t a Disciple of Christ, he actually persecuted Christ’s Church relentlessly.

Atheist: They say that Paul suffered from sunstroke and that it was the cause of his hallucination.

Geronda Epiphanios: My child, if Paul was hallucinating, the thing that would have come to the surface, would have been his subconscious.  And in Paul’s subconscious, the Patriarchs and the Prophets would have been top ranking.  He would have hallucinated about Abraham, and Jacob and Moses, and not Jesus, whom he considered a rabble-rouser and a fraud!

Can you imagine a faithful old granny seeing Buddha or Jupiter in her dream or delirium?  She would most probably see Saint Nicholas or Saint Barbara, because she believes in them.

One more thing. With Paul, we have –as Papini notes- the following miraculous phenomena:  First of all, the abruptness of his conversion. Straight from faithlessness to faith. With no intermediate preparatory stage.  Secondly, the steadfastness of his faith. No wavering, no doubts.  And thirdly, his faith lasted for a whole lifetime.  Do you believe that all these things can occur after a case of sunstroke?  They can in no way be attributed to such a cause.  If you can explain how, then explain it.  If you can’t, then you must admit the miracle.  And you must know that for a man of his time, Paul was exceptionally well-educated. He was not your average little person, who was totally clueless.

I will also add something else.  We today, my child, are living in an exceptional era. We are living the miracle of Christ’s Church.

When Christ said of His Church that “the gates of Hades shall not overpower Her” (Matthew 16:18), His followers were very few in number. Almost two thousand years have passed, since that day. Empires vanished, philosophical systems were forgotten, world theories collapsed. But Christ’s Church remains indestructible, despite the continuous and dramatic persecutions it has undergone. Isn’t that a miracle?

And one final thing.  In Luke’s Gospel it says that when the Holy Mother visited Elizabeth (the Baptist’s mother) after the Annunciation, she was greeted with the words: “blessed are you amongst women”.  And the Holy Mother replied as follows: “My heart magnifies the Lord. Behold, from this moment on, all generations shall call me blessed” (a’ 48).

What was the Holy Mother at that time?  She was just an obscure daughter of Nazareth. How many knew her?  And yet, since that day, empresses have been forgotten, distinguished women’s names have been extinguished, the mothers and wives of great generals went into oblivion. Who remembers, or even knows, Napoleon’s mother or Alexander the Great’s mother? Almost no-one.  But, millions of lips across every length and breadth of the world, throughout the ages, venerate that humble daughter of Nazareth, the “more precious than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim”.  Are we, or aren’t we –the people of the twentieth century– living in this day and age the verification of those words of the Holy Mother?

The exact same things are observed in a “secondary” prophecy of Christ:  While He was staying at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him and poured her expensive fragrant oil over His head. Christ commented: “Amen, verily I say to you, that wherever this gospel will be preached in the world, it will also mention what this woman did, in her memory” (Matthew, 26: 13).  Now, how large was His circle of followers at the time, so that one could say that they outdid themselves in order that their Master’s prophecy be fulfilled?  Especially a prophecy such as this one, which, by today’s world standards, is of no importance to most people.

Are they or aren’t they miracles?  If you can, explain them.   But if you can’t, then admit them as such.

Atheist: I have to admit that your arguments are pretty solid. But I would like to ask you one more thing:  Don’t you think that Christ left His work unfinished?  That is, unless He deserted us.  I can’t imagine a God that would remain indifferent to mankind’s suffering.  We are down here toiling, while He, up there, remains apathetic.

Geronda Epiphanios: No, my child.  You aren’t right. Christ did not leave His work unfinished.  On the contrary, He is the one unique case in history where a person has the certainty that His mission was accomplished, and had nothing further to do or to say.

Even the greatest of philosophers, Socrates, who discussed and taught during his whole lifetime, and towards the end composed an intricate “Apology”, would have even more to say, if he had lived.

Only Christ – in the time bracket of three years – taught what He had to teach, did what He had to do, and finally said (on the Cross): “It is finished”.  Another sample of His divine perfection and authority.

As for the abandonment that you mentioned, I can understand your concern.  Without Christ, the world would be a theatre of insanity.  Without Christ, you cannot explain anything: why are there sorrows, why injustices, why failures, why sicknesses, why, why, why…. Thousands of monumental “why”s.

Try to understand!  Man cannot approach all of these “why”s with his finite logic.  It is only through Christ that everything can be explained. All these trials merely precondition us for eternity. Perhaps then, we might be honored by the Lord with a reply to some of those “why”s.

It might be worthwhile, if I read you a beautiful poem* from Constantine Kallinikos’ collection “Laurels and Myrtles”, with the title “Questions”:

I asked a desert father of seventy years,

whose silver strands were blown by the wind:

Tell me o father, why, on this earth,

do the light and the dark inseparably move ?

And why must they – like twins – together sprout:

the thorn and the rose, the tear and the smile?

Why, in the loveliest part of the woodland green

have scorpions and vipers concealed their nests?

Why must it be, that the tender bud,

before unfolding its fragrant bloom,

be struck by a worm in the heart of its stem,

And left to die, like a shrivelled rag ?

Why are the plow, the seed and the hands

a must for the wheat, to become our bread?

Why must everything useful, noble, divine

always be purchased with tears and our blood,

while selfishness ever  rampantly reigns,

and lewdness is swallowing up the world?

And why, amongst such harmony around,

must tumult and disorder find their way?

The hermit replied, with his somber voice

and right arm pointing to the sky,

that there, beyond those clouds of gold,

the Almighty weaves a tapestry divine.

But since we are wanderers of the lower plane

We see nothing but the knots and strings below,

It is no wonder, why the mind sees wrong,

when it should always be thankful and give praise:

for the day will come, when Christians all,

with souls that ride the skies with wings,

will gaze atop God’s tapestry and see

how careful and orderly everything was!

My child, Christ never abandoned us.  He is forever with us, as a helper and a supporter, until the end of time.  But you will realize this, only when you become a conscientious member of His Church and be joined by Her Sacraments.

SOURCE:

Counsels for Life – From the Life and Teachings of Father Epiphanios

Orthodox Kypseli Publications

Thessalonica GREECE, 2005

THE TRACES OF GOD IN CHILE, CANADA & ATHENS, GREECE

All-Things-Brigh-and-Beautiful-pink lily pad

‪15th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Brother Jose Munoz-Cortes

For the fifteen years, as myrrh continued to flow from the Montreal Iveron icon of the Mother of God, Brother Joseph devoted himself to its care, accompanying it on numerous trips to parishes all over the United States and Canada, to South America, Australia, and Europe.

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was making preparations to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, when it was shaken by the news of the tragic death of the icon’s guardian, Brother Joseph (José) Muñoz- Cortes. He was brutally murdered on the night of October 31 in a hotel room in Athens.

Brother Joseph was born in Chile in 1950, into a pious Roman Catholic family of Spanish descent. He was a boy of twelve or thirteen when, passing by the Russian Orthodox church in Santiago, he was attracted by the sound of singing and went in. There he became acquainted with Archbishop Leonty of blessed memory, and under his influence José was baptized into the Orthodox Church two years later, with his mother’s consent. As a university student, José was studying theology when Metropolitan (then Archbishop) Vitaly, on a trip to Chile, learned of the youth’s monastic aspirations and invited him to Canada. José lived for about a year at the metochion (a monastic affiliate of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Mansonville) in Montreal, but the hectic life there did not suit him, and he left to live on his own, while preserving a genuine monastic disposition to the end. A talented artist, he secured a job teaching art (watercolor) at the University of Montreal, and began studying iconography.

In the summer of 1982, Brother Joseph went to Mt Athos with a particular interest in visiting some sketes and monasteries specializing in icon painting. At the small skete of the Nativity of Christ, Brother Joseph felt an immediate and strong attraction for an icon of the Mother of God, a contemporary (1981) copy of the ancient and revered Iveron Icon. He was disappointed to learn that it was not for sale, but to his great joy, as he was leaving the skete, Abbot Clement, unexpectedly handed the icon to him, saying that it pleased the Mother of God to go with him to America. Back in Montreal, Brother Joseph began reading an akathist daily before the icon. A few weeks later, on November 25, he awoke and smelled a strong fragrance. The new icon was streaked with myrrh, miraculously emanating from the hands of the Mother of God.

For the next fifteen years, as myrrh continued to flow from the Icon, Brother Joseph devoted himself to its care, accompanying it on numerous trips to parishes all over the United States and Canada, to South America, Australia, and Europe. Everywhere, the Mother of God worked miracles, healing souls and bodies, reconciling adversaries, strengthening the fainthearted, inspiring repentance, and consoling those burdened by grief or misfortune. This applied not only to Orthodox believers, but to many heterodox as well. But where grace abounds, one can expect trials and tribulations, and the difficulties that Brother Joseph endured can only be imagined: “Come here,” “Go there”; he was criticized for not doing as others wanted, he was offered fantastic sums of money for the Icon (he himself lived in monastic poverty, readily giving what he had to those in need; or he bought icons and materials for painting icons). At all times, Brother Joseph tried to be sensitive and obedient to the will of the Mother of God. He was, first and foremost, her devoted servant. He was also faithful in fulfilling the countless requests for prayers that he received, daily commemorating scores of people, among whom were several dozen godchildren.

While the sinister circumstances of his death are still unclear, it is tempting to speculate concerning the motive for such a ghastly murder; after all, the Icon was not in Brother Joseph’s possession at the time. From a spiritual perspective, however, the explanation is apparent. As written in an obituary prepared by the Icon’s Home: “We live in a time of great spiritual awakening, but the spirit that awakens is that of satan, and all that is of Christ, of Jesus, of God, is a goading irritant to the carnal man, inciting the infernal wrath of the deluded.”

May the life and martyric death of this true warrior of Christ be for us a compelling example, and may his memory be eternal.

Orthodox America

SAINT JOSEPH MUNOZ-CORTES OF CHILE