Saint Andrew of Crete – Sermon on the Transfiguration of Christ our Lord.

All of you who, by taking off the cloak of irrationality because of the Word’s self-emptying,? have raised up your minds from the earth and learned to think “the things that are above,” (Col 3.2) come now – if you trust me – as I spread out before you a spiritual banquet of words: let us ascend with the Word today, as he goes up the high mountain of the Transfiguration! Let us take off the material, shadowy life that we wear, and put on “the robe woven from above as a single whole,” (cf John 19.23) made beautiful in every part by the rays of spiritual virtue. Christ himself, the pure goal of life, the supernatural Word of the one who begot him, the one who came down from above for our sakes and became a poor man in our flesh out of love for humanity, wishes us – who are already purified in life and mind, who have been given the spiritual wings of sincere thoughts – to make this ascent with him. This is clear from the fact that he takes with him chosen Apostles to be nearer in their relationship to him than ever, and leads them up the high mountain. What is he going to do, what is he planning to teach them? By revealing to them the glory and radiance of his own divinity, more brilliant than lightning, he had, a little earlier in a mystical way, transformed the nature which had once heard the words, “You are earth, and to earth you shall return” now he will reveal it in full view by his transfiguration.

19.08.2022Read more

The Christian Spiritual Life – St. Seraphim of Sarov.

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. (Matt. 16:24)

The best known of the Orthodox saints of modern times, St. Seraphim of Sarov, has much to teach the Orthodox Christians of these last times. Unfortunately, the striking nature of some of his spiritual experiences – which indeed stand in glaring contrast to the ordinary Christian experience of our days – has led some to miss the whole point of his teaching.

St. Seraphim was born in 1759 in Kursk, in the heart of Holy Russia, to a pious merchant family. Raised in the fear of God and strict Orthodox life, he also knew very early the mercies of God at first hand; at the age of ten he was miraculously healed of a serious affliction by the Mother of God through her Kursk Icon (which now is in America and continues to work miracles).

Through the reading of Scripture and other basic Christian literature, a deep desire for spiritual things was kindled in him and he began to long to serve God in the monastic calling.

Upon the counsel of the holy recluse Dositheus of Kiev, he went to Sarov Monastery where, at the age of 27, he was tonsured a monk. By a life of constant prayer and unceasing spiritual warfare, he drew upon himself God’s grace and was granted the gifts of prophecy, discernment and healing. Thousands flocked to him for counsel and hegreeted all who came to him with the words “Christ is Risen!” No one who came to him left without consolation and an answer to his spiritual need. More than once he was seen in uncreated light, shining more brightly than the sun.

01.08.2022Read more

Saint Archbishop John (Maximovitch) – About the Apostles Peter and Paul.

The day of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is the culminating feasts of the Gospel. Although the last event in the life of Christ which is related in the Gospel as His Ascension into heaven (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51), the preaching of the Apostles is closely bound up with the Gospel. The Gospel tells us of their being chosen, and the Gospel indicates beforehand the end of Apostolic activity.

Telling of the appearance of Christ on the sea of Tiberias and the restoration to apostleship of Peter, who by his triple confession corrected his triple denial, the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian speaks also of the prediction to the Apostle Peter concerning the end of his struggle. When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whether thou wouldest not. This spoke He, signifying by what death he should glorify God (John 21:18-19).

It was not pleasing to the Lord then, to reveal the face of each of the other Apostles, although, when sending them to preach, He predicted to them, the persecutions that awaited them (Matt. 10:17-36). Now, to the question of Peter about John, Christ replied: If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me (John 21:22).

12.07.2022Read more

Protopriest Victor Ilyenko – On the Saints of God (Sermon on the 2nd Sunday of Pentecost, the feast of All Russian Saints).

The Orthodox Church lovingly beholds the saints of God, who shone forth in faith in and love for God, patterning their lives on the Gospel. It is rare for a week to go by when divine service is not held in our church in honor of some saint. In those churches where services are celebrated daily, there are saints that are commemorated every day. Songs of praise for them are lifted year round. We do not hear the entire life histories of each saint in church, but in the troparia and kontakia that are sung, we learn in brief outlines of the image of the saint, his or her works and spiritual beauty. The soul of a saint, invisibly present wherever he is remembered with love, arouses in our hearts feelings of faith and love.

The saints are no strangers to us. For we are all of one Christian family! Of course, they do not live in our homes, we do not see them directly: but let us be bound with them in love! Love overcomes time and space.

Parents — especially mothers — know that a child does not need to be within one’s range of sight at all times in order for us to love them. In fact, whoever may not be at home with us, is more desired and missed. That is the nature of our love for the saints. We love them, even though they lived long ago, and we know them only through words. Our common love for Christ is shared with them, it relates us, unites us within one family.

26.06.2022Read more

Saint Archbishop John (Maximovitch) – Sermon on the Holy Pentecost.

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit share one nature, one essence, one substance. That is why the Three Faces are the Trinity, one-in-substance. Humans also have one nature, one substance.

But while God is the Indivisible Trinity, divisions occur in mankind constantly... The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have common thought, common will, common actions. What the Father desires, the Son also desires, and the Holy Spirit also desires. Whatever the Son loves, so do the Father and the Holy Spirit also love. Whatever is pleasing to the Holy Spirit, is pleasing to the Father and Son. Their actions are also common among them, all act in conjunction and in accord.

12.06.2022Read more

Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica – First Homily on the Ascension of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

1. The Jews kept the Feast of the Passover, the crossing from Egypt to the land of Palestine, as laid down in their law, and we have celebrated the gospel Pascha, the passage of our human nature in Christ from death to life (cf. JN. 5:24; I JN. 3:14), from corruption to incorruption (cf. I COR. 15:42, 50). What words can express the superiority of this celebration over the solemnities of the old law and the events commemorated on its holy days? No one can adequately state how much more excellent it is. The enhypostatic Wisdom of the most high Father, God's pre-eternal Word who is beyond all being, who was united with us in His love for mankind and lived among us (JN. 1:14), has now revealed through His actions a cause for celebration even more distinctly superior than Pascha's excellence. For we now celebrate the transition of our nature in Him, not just from the subterranean regions up on to the earth, but from the earth to the heaven of heavens, and to the throne above the heavens of Him who rules over all.

2. Today the Lord not only stood with His disciples after His resurrection, but was also parted from them and was taken up into heaven as they watched (Acts 1.9-11), ascended and entered into the true Holy of Holies and sat down on the right hand of the Father, far above all principality and power and every name and honor that is known and named, either in this world, or in that which is to come (cf. Eph. 1.20-21). There were many resurrections before Christ’s resurrection, and similarly, there were many ascensions before His ascension. The Spirit lifted up Jeremiah the prophet, and an angel took up Habakkuk (Bel & Dr. 33-39 LXX). In particular it is written that Elijah went up with a chariot of fire (2 Kgs. 2.11). But even he did not go beyond the realms of earth, and the ascension of each of those mentioned was just a sort of movement lifting them up from the ground without taking them out of the area surrounding the earth. Similarly, the others who were resurrected all died and returned to the earth. By contrast, Christ has risen and death no longer has dominion over Him (cf. Rom. 6.9), and now He has ascended and sat down on high, every height is below Him and bears witness that He is God over all (Rom. 9.5).

02.06.2022Read more

Synaxarion for the Sunday of the Blind Man.

On this day, the sixth Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the miracle which our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ performed for the man who had been blind from birth.

This miracle, like those of the Samaritan woman and the paralytic, was brought about through the use of water in this way: As Christ was speaking with the Jews and showing them that He is together with the Father, existing before Abraham, they sought to stone Him. He then left that place where He had been speaking with them and met a blind man who was wandering about and who had been blind from birth, having only the shape and form of eyes. When the Savior saw him, His Disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). The reason they asked this is because they had heard Him telling the paralytic at the Sheep's Pool, “Behold, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:14), as if to say that “the sins of the parents are visited upon the children...”

28.05.2022Read more

Synaxarion for the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman.

On the fifth Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the feast of the Samaritan woman.

This feast has been placed during the week of Mid-Pentecost because Jesus, on this day, clearly bore witness to Himself as the Messiah, that is, the Christ or anointed One (for Messiah in Hebrew means anointed one), and also because He had worked the miracle at the Sheep’s Pool on the previous Sunday.

22.05.2022Read more

The Testament of the Forty Holy and Glorious Martyrs of Christ who died at Sebaste (A Translation from the Greek Text).

The Testament  of the Forty Holy and Glorious Martyrs of Christ  who died at Sebaste [1].

Meletius, Aetius, and Eutychius, prisoners of Christ, send greetings in Christ to the holy bishops and presbyters in every city and country, to the deacons and confessors and to all others who pertain to the Christian Church.

1. When by God’s grace and the common prayers of all we accomplish the contest set before us, and hasten to the prize of our heavenly calling[2], then this is the determination we wish made with regard to the collection of our remains by the friends of our father, the presbyter Proidus, and our brothers Crispinus and Gordius, with all their zealous community, and Cyril, Mark, and Sapricius son of Ammonius, so that our bones may be laid to rest in the town of Sarim below the city of Zelon[2]. For, though we come from different localities, we have none the less decided that we should have one and the same place of rest. We endured the same contest: and therefore we have decided to have a common resting-place at the spot we have mentioned. This was a determination of the Holy Spirit, and it was pleasing to us as well.

22.03.2022Read more

Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica – Homily on the Second Sunday of Lent.

I shall introduce my homily to your charity today with the Lord’s own words, the quintessence, in fact, of the Gospel preaching: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17; cf. 3:2 and Mark 1:15). Not only is it at hand, but it is in us, for the Lord also says, “The kingdom of heaven is within you” (Luke 17:21). Nor is it merely within you, for before long it will come more openly to abolish every principality, power and might (cf Eph. 1:21), and to grant invincible strength, inexhaustible riches and unchanging, incorruptible and unending enjoyment, glory and might solely to those who live according to God’s will and have passed their time here in a way that pleases Him.

2. Since the kingdom of God is at hand and within us and will soon arrive, let us make ourselves worthy of it by works of repentance. Let us exercise force on ourselves, driving away evil prejudices and habits. For "the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matt. 11:12). We should emulate the patience, humility and faith of our God-bearing Fathers. “Whose faith follow”, it says, “considering the end of their manner of life” (Heb. 13:7). Let us mortify those parts of us which belong to the earth: fornication, impurity, evil passion and covetousness, especially during these holy days of the fast. This is why the grace of the Spirit taught us first about God’s terrible Judgment which is to come, then reminded us of Adam’s exile, and afterwards pointed out to us the faith that is surest of all. For fear of the Judgment and in grief at the exile, we should hold fast to the faith, humble ourselves and neither yield to self-indulgence, nor open the door to all the passions and make room for them by means of our unbelieving, insatiable stomachs. This would mean following the wide and easy way, destroying ourselves with pleasure. Since we love the strait and narrow way which leads to life, and fasting is its starting point and first furlong, let us vigorously make our way through these forty days of fasting.

20.03.2022Read more