22/12/2012

SUNDAY BEFORE CRISTMASS




                                                                                                                             By   His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

Through the Old Testament’s prophesies, the Lord Almighty prepared mankind to receive the Messiah, Who would be God Incarnated. He would had dwelt and lived amongst men. God promises Moses, that He will built His tent amongst the people of Israel, and that He will be their God and they will be His people (Lev. 26:11, 12). The prophet Isaiah, more than any other prophet, foretold that God will take up human flesh and, as the God-Man, will live amongst men. Even the name ‘Emmanuel’, which was given by the Angel means: God is with us.
Man cannot know how God became man. Man’s mind cannot understand the depth of this “great mystery”, in other words, how God was incarnated as a perfect man and simultaneously His human nature had received the fullness of the Deity within it, without the two Natures being confused or mingle or mixed.
God the Word took up all the human nature, but without sin. The human nature is receiving all the Hypostasis of God the Son and Word and at the same time the Son remains inseparable from the Father and the Holy Spirit, filling all Creation with His Divine presence. He is presence not in partial, but as the whole God in all Creation and in all parts of the Creation. To this All-presence of the Word of God the term “Emmanuel” is expressed, which means God is with us.
The presence and dwelling of God amongst men is the presence of salvation and the source of God’s Gifts and Charismata. The presence of God the Word in man’s history was an offering of redemption, which man so desired and could not find on his own. God the Word with His Incarnation brought the Heavenly Kingdom of God to men and is extended in eternity. God had to come in a physical manner to enlighten man’s mind through His Teachings. With the sanctification of the human nature, Christ could free it from the bondage of the sinful passions. Man’s mind and heart would have been cleansed from the stain of sin and he would become free from the tyranny of guilt and death itself.
With the Incarnation of the Word man’s relationship with God the Father has been restored and men are worthy to become, through Grace, ‘sons of God’. The Incarnation of the Word of God opened Paradise and ended the authority of Satan. For the Nativity in Bethlehem of Judaea had to take place, in order that the Sacrifice on Golgotha be realized.  
Mankind, after the Fall of the first-created, was enslaved completely to sinful passions. Men’s hearts were turned to evil from their youth. Human nature was so much disfigured and corrupted, that God had decided that His Spirit will not rest amongst men, because of their sinfulness. With the Sacrifice, which was offered by Christ, all those who believe in His name, are no longer slaves, but His friends and co-heirs in His Heavenly Kingdom.
The presence of the Lord within the Orthodox Church is eternal. Emmanuel, the Son of God, the Son of the Ever-Virgin Mary, is within and remains within the Church and grants to all Orthodox faithful salvation till the ends of time.
How many times did not our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ called the men of His time and still continues calling all men to accept His Teachings? The Feast Day of Christ’s Nativity has approached. How many of us have prepared accordingly to receive Christ within our hearts?
We all have been busy with the cleaning of our homes! We all ran to make our Christmas shopping’s, to prepare Christmas sweets, to buy new clothes and festival gifts! In all these, how many of us have prepared the inner part of our souls to receive the Heavenly Infant of Bethlehem? How many of us have turned our thoughts towards our brothers and sisters who truly have the need of our support? How many have forgiven those who trespassed against them? How many of us ran and participated in the Holy Sacrament of Confession and cleansed their souls from their daily sins?   
But, my beloved brethren, how many families also cry and suffer during these holy days, because many gamble? Men, who worked throughout the year, in few moments gamble and find themselves penniless, unable to buy even the basic food for their homes? And, for all these problems the reasons rely in the passion of wanting to win more and more money. Greed blinds their thoughts and enslaves their hearts, with the hope of a quick way of becoming rich. How great pain we cause to the Infant Christ during these days. When instead of going to the Church, we prefer to stay at home or at the casino?
Christ is born in the hearts of men, when we open our hearts to Him and invite Him with true faith and love. Christ is born and man is reborn.
Beloved, on the occasion of the coming great feast of the Incarnation of the Son and Word of God, let us decorate our souls with true faith and good deeds, in order that Emmanuel will dwell within our personal life and we become the living temples of His love. Amen.

17/12/2012

11th Sunday of St. Luke The Great Banquet




By
His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

«A man made a great banquet and invited many».

Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, many times used parables in order to make the people understand the heavenly truths which He revealed. Thus, today, He used an image from the daily life, in order to reveal the importance of man’s participation in the banquet which is offered by God’s Love, the Holy Sacrament of the Divine Eucharist.

Before us lays a banquet. A great banquet, which is offered by God. It is a banquet which the Wisdom of God invites all men saying: ‘Come, eat my bread and drink wine, which I offer to you”. It is a banquet of which Prophet King David had spoke of: “You have prepared before Me a banquet contrary to those who make Me sad; You have anointed My head with oil and Your cup I drunk as the most best”. It is a great banquet which is offered for our salvation by the Lamb, the Son and Word of God. A great banquet, in the midst of which the Heavenly Lamb of God invites everyone saying: “come, for all is prepared”.

            In the midst of the Holy Sacrament of the Divine Eucharist the extreme Love of God is expressed, Who “desires that all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth” (1 Τim. 2:4).  The special characteristic of God’s Love towards man is the offering and the sacrifice. He who loves sacrifices everything for him whom is loved. He, who loves less, offers less. But, he who loves more, offers even more. Our Lord Jesus Christ extremely loved “His own in the world”, and for this reason He offers Himself “for the life and salvation of the world”. St. John the Evangelist speaking about the greatness of this divine love says: “Thus God loved the world, that He gave His own begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not parish, but have eternal life” (John 3:15-16).

09/12/2012

BEARING THE SHAME OF CONFESSION


From "Remember thy First Love"  by Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou.

Question: In taking the steps which you have presented W to us, the most difficult thing, I think, is to overcome the rear of shame. This is what I try to do in my parish. People will not come to confession although their souls are burdened and things are driving them crazy, because they cannot overcome the shame to admit their sins. How do you lead people in this direction?
Answer: I think that the strength to bear shame is a gift from God. When I was a young and inexperienced spiritual father, Elder Sophrony told me to encourage the young people to confess precisely the things of which they are ashamed, for if they learn to do so, shame is transformed into strength against the passions, and they will overcome sin. This is precisely what occurred in the person of Zacchaeus. He bore shame voluntarily, and the Lord, Who was on His was to Jerusalem in order to suffer the Cross of shame, saw Zacchaeus bearing shame for His sake and recognized in him a kindred spirit. Zacchaeus had put himself prophetically in the way of the Christ, in the way of the Cross, and in a prophetic way the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ was activated in the heart of Zacchaeus. His heart was enlarged and he was able to enter into the power of faith. Christ has saved us through the Cross of shame, so when we suffer shame for His sake He considers this as gratitude, and in return He transmits to us His grace which regenerates our life.
This is exactly what happens in confession. Those who confess sincerely and take upon themselves the shame for their sins are regenerated. But those who shrug their shoulders and say, 'Nothing special, the usual things...' they do not bear any shame, their heart remains unmoved, and they hardly receive any benefit. But those who, with shame and a contrite heart, strip their souls naked before God and before another mortal, 'of like passions' (Acts 14:15) with them—that shame of theirs really finds the heart, humbles it and brings it to the surface. This then, opens the heart to receive the grace of regeneration, of consolation. We see this in the life of many that come to us: the greater the shame they bear with contrition, accusing themselves before God, the greater the grace they receive to amend their lives and make a new beginning.

Orthodox Heritage Vol. 10, Issue 11-12
http://apantaortodoxias.blogspot.co.nz/

07/12/2012

CONTEMPORARY MIRACLES THE LIMITLESS POWER OF THE DIVINE LITURGY



          My dear brothers & sisters in the Living Christ, Glory be to God.
         A group of villagers in Greece were digging in a quarry when suddenly a large section of the quarry collapsed and crushed those working there.  It appeared initially that everyone who was working in the quarry died. The wife of one of workers, Argiro, a very poor but pious women, believing that her husband was dead, requested that the village priest celebrate 40 Divine Liturgies in a chapel near where the accident took place for the repose of the soul of her husband.  She daily took a prosforo, a bottle of wine and a candle to the priest.  After the priest had celebrated 20 Liturgies, a demon became very angry with the great piety of Mrs. Argiro.
           The demon, the greatest of all deceivers in the universe transformed himself into the likeness of a fellow villager that was known to Argiro. His plan was to dissuade the priest from performing 40 liturgies for the soul of Argiro husband.  He met her one morning as she was taking the πρόσφορο, the wine and the candle to the priest in the remote chapel. He said to you: “You should know that the priest cannot go to the Church today because he has an emergency.  You need not trouble yourself by going to the Church.  You can give him your offerings tomorrow.  The demon did this three times during the course of the forty days when the forty Liturgies were to be performed. With the passing of time, a big effort was being made to recover the bodies from the caved in quarry.   Forty days had elapsed since the terrible accident took place and they were digging ever deeper into the rubble.  As they were digging one day, they reached a point when they suddenly heard a voice.  It was a human voice that was saying to them; “Be careful, I am alive! Dig carefully, because there are two rocks hanging just above me and they could fall upon me and kill me.”
            They were truly startled at hearing the voice and they continued digging very carefully around the area where they heard the voice.  They found a man alive and he happened to be the husband of Άrgiro.  They immediately told Άrgiro that her husband was the one found alive. They all wondered how it was possible for a man to stay alive for 40 days without food and water. In response to their amazement, Άrgiro husband told them the following amazing story. He told them that an invisible being would visit him every day to give him bread, a small container of wine and a lit candle. He said: “This is what happened to me during the forty days when I was buried except for three times when I did not eat; neither did I see a light.  I became very upset over this and I began lament over all the sins I committed in life.  I felt this way because   the invisible hand of God was no longer helping me.  At this point, I was ready to die from hunger and thirst.”

06/12/2012

9th Sunday of St. Luke.



Luke l2:l6-2l
By
His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

            In today's Gospel reading, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ emphasied the importance of laying up treasure toward God.  He used the example of a very rich man, whose "ground yielded plentifully" (Luke l2:l6). His mind was troubled of what he should do?  So many new things were added to his riches.  What now?  Where is the space to gather all these riches?

            The rich man, as one can see clearly through the Gospel, was considered only for himself.  He spoke only with himself.  He desides things, which are profitable to him.  In his thoughts about what to do, he never, even for once, thanked God for all the plentifully goods, which God had provided him with.  The rich man is very selfish and does not think for anyone else except for his own benefits.                         

            He desides to pull down his barns and build greater, and there he will store all his crops and his goods (Luke l2:l8).  And then, as though there was one else in the whole world, said to himself: "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry" (Luke l2:l9).

            When man becomes blind, because of material and worldly riches, then he cannot see anything else beside his own needs.  To be rich is not sinful, nor can anyone say that it is  wrong.  But all riches come from God, and thus man has to use this God-given gift for the benefit of all those who are in need. 

            God entrusts you with worldly goods, in order to see how you will use them to become more richer in God through charitable deeds.  If you have achieved something in your life, do not forget that God, behind the scenes, blessed you, enlighted you and assisted you.  Therefore it is your duty to examine yourself and say, 'Why has God given me so many things?  How can I glorify my Lord and Saviour through the riches, which He has provided me with?  Whom can I help?  Whom can I feed?  Whom can I dress?  Whom should I visit in hospitals?  How can I help children to study and become important and useful people in society?

            These are the questions which all of us must have in mind, when things are going well in our businesses.  God blesses us in order that we should assist those who are truely in need.  And let no say, that they are to many beggars around the streets, who should we help?  Help one, give him foud, clothing anything.  But when you give, give it with your heart.  Do not allow evil thoughts to over rule your good intentions.  If the man is in need, your will not lose your reward.  But if you harden your heart, then you turn your back to Christ, because He said, "I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me" (Matth. 25:35-36).

Also in other part of Holy Scripture our beloved Lord promised us saying, that "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward" (Matth. l0:42).  On the contrary, when one does not perform good deeds towards his felow man, then his actions are reflecting to Christ Himself, as this is proved with the condemnation of all those who neglected their duty to do good to others.  "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels ... Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me" (Matth. 25:4l, 45).  The results of each individuars deeds is pointed out in the following words: "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matth. 25:46).
           
The foolish rich man made one serious, but vital mistake in his life.  Although he was not a thief, but a very hard working man, he missed out in that he never considered the needs of those in need, the poor, the sick, the orphans, the widows, etc.  He just thaught about how he will build more stores; make more shops; make his income grow more and more, just to have everything which he will need to have a good and ease life, drinking and having sexual pleasures.
           
But God gave him the opportunity.  He gave him plentifully, so that he will be without any excuse.  St. Paul the Apostle of the Nations teaches us that, on the final Judgement "every mouth shall be stopped, and all the world shall become guilty before God" (Rom. 3:l9), for everyone has the chanch to practice good, but they avoid doing so.
           
My beloved friends, the rich man of today's Holy Gospel acted very foolish, beleiving that through the worldly pleasures he will overcome all difficulties in life.  But he never considered the Will of God, and ended dying.  Everything which he worked for was lost for him.  He took nothing.  Worse of all is the fact that he lost the eternal life offered by God.  He ended to be taken violently by the demons into everlasting damnation.
           
Let us, therefore wake up from the spiritual sleep, which is caused by the material things surrounding us.  Let us becoma free from the love of the vanity of this world.  Let us become true Orthodox Christians, devoted to God's Will, and let us practice His Commandments.  To achieve everlasting life, let us become workers of true Faith and good deeds for the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Elder Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia: The Disposition of a Moralist



Man has such powers that he can transmit good or evil to his environment. These matters are very delicate. Great care is needed. We need to see everything in a positive frame of mind. We mustn’t think anything evil about others. Even a simple glance or a sigh influences those around us. And even the slightest anger or indignation does harm. We need to have goodness and love in our soul and to transmit these things. We need to be careful not to harbour any resentment against those who harm us, but rather to pray for them with love. Whatever any of our fellow men does, we should never think evil of him. We need always to have thoughts of love and always to think good of others. Look at Saint Stephen the First-Martyr. He prayed, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." We need to do the same.
We should never think about someone that God will send him some evil or that God will punish him for his sin. This thought brings about very great evil, without our being aware of it. We often feel indignation and say to someone: "Have you no fear of God’s justice, are you not afraid of God’s punishment?" Or else we say, "God will punish you for what you’ve done," or, "O God, do not bring evil on that person for what he did to me"; or, "May that person not suffer the same thing."
In all these cases, we have a deep desire within us for the other person to be punished. Instead of confessing our anger over his error, we present our indignation in a different way, and we allegedly pray to God for him. In reality, however, in this way we are cursing our brother. And if, instead of praying, we say, "May God repay you for the evil you have done to me," then once again we are wishing for God to punish him. Even when we say, "All very well, God is witness," the disposition of our soul works in a mysterious way and influences the soul of our fellow man so that he suffers evil.

05/12/2012

St Nicholas of Myra



Saint Nicholas (Greek: Άγιος Νικόλαος [="victory of the people"]) (270–6 December 346) is the canonical and most popular name for Nikolaos of Myra, a saint and Greek Bishop of Myra (Demre, in Lycia, part of modern-day Turkey). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker (Greek: Νικόλαος ο Θαυματουργός). He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose English name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas. In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari, in southeastern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as Nikolaos of Bari.
The historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered among Orthodox Christians. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, children, and students in Greece, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Albania, Russia, Slovakia, Serbia, and Montenegro.
Translation of his relics
On 26 August 1071 Romanus IV, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (reigned 1068–1071), faced Sultan Alp Arslan of the Seljuk Turks (reigned 1059–1072) in the Battle of Manzikert. The battle ended in humiliating defeat and capture for Romanus. As a result the Empire temporarily lost control over most of Asia Minor to the invading Seljuk Turks. The Byzantines would regain its control over Asia Minor during the reign of Alexius I Comnenus (reigned 1081–1118). But early in his reign Myra was overtaken by the Islamic invaders. Taking advantage of the confusion, sailors from Bari in Apulia seized the remains of the saint over the objections of the Orthodox monks. Returning to Bari, they brought the remains with them and cared for them. The remains arrived on 9 May 1087.

20/11/2012

THE ENTRANCE OF THE THEOTOKOS



21st November

By
His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes



          The Entrance of the Ever Virgin Mary and Theotokos in God’s Temple is considered to be one of the most important events in the History of Salvation.  All the Orthodox Church around the world is celebrating the Entrance of the Mother of God, the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary, into the Holy of Holies.

          The faithful and all the heavenly Powers conjoin and concelebrate. Earth rejoices and the faithful Orthodox Christians gather to honor with all piety and respect the all praised Mother of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We venerate the holy icon of the Theotokos. With a humble and broken heart all those who suffer address their prayers to Her, in order to express their needs and beseech Her protection and help. All true faithful will bless Her, they shall sing hymns to Her and all generations will glorify Her. The Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, is the source of our sanctification and salvation, for She had gave birth to the incarnated Son and Word of God.

          The Entrance of the Ever Virgin Mary consist the preparation of the salvation of mankind. She enters the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest was allowed to enter only once a year. The Prophet Zacharias, the father of St John the Forerunner and Baptist, and many young virgins receive Mary, when she was only three years of age, dedicated to God by Her parents Joachim and Anna.

The Mother of God, Mary, enters the Holy of Holies, where She was honored to become the living Ark and Temple of God.  She is been fed by Archangel Gabriel with heavenly food. She enters the Holy of Holies, where She surpassed in holiness the holiness of all the Angelical Hosts. She enters the Holy of Holies, as a golden censer, for She had conceived within Her holy womb all the Fire of the Deity. She enters the Holy of Holies, as a golden jug which contains the Heavenly Manna, the Heavenly Bread, the God-Man Jesus Christ. She enters the Holy of Holies and She nurtures the Creator and Provider of all the World.  

17/11/2012

The soul longs for the Lord.


When the soul by the Holy Spirit comes to know the Mother of God; when in the Holy Spirit the soul becomes kin to the Apostles, the Prophets, and all the Saints and Righteous Ones, then she is irresistibly drawn to that world, and cannot remain, but is bothered, and thirsts, and cannot cease from prayer, and although the body becomes exhausted and wants to lie down on a bed, even while lying in bed the soul longs for the Lord and the Kingdom of the Saints.

- St. Silouan the Athonite

13/11/2012

8th Sunday of St Luke The Good Samaritan



(Luke 10:25-37)
By
His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

A certain man was traveling from Jerusalem to the city of Jericho. He was a peaceful and hard working man, who was struggling for his daily bread and caring about his family. On his way, he suddenly fell into the hands of thieves. What can anyone expect to follow? They stripped him of whatever he had, they mistreated him with cruelty, they wounded him and abandoned him in the midst of the desert, lying down in his own blood and half dead without any help.  
In today’s Holy Gospel reading our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gives us the example of the suffering man, who fell in the hands of evil thieves. He was stripped from every good thing that he possessed. He is the man, who departed from the sacred law of God and was abandoning the holy city of God, Jerusalem, in order to go to the city of sin, Jericho. Thus, he brought upon himself the sufferings which he endured.
The priest and the Levite, although, are close to the scene and they have seen what had had happened, yet, they do nothing! They do not want even to look upon the man and they leave him and depart in a hurry! They flee from the crime scene! They flee from their duty! This is what many typical religious people do today: They, who suppose to be religious, are in reality only typically. They are those people who, through religion, seek worldly glory from men, instead of seeking the glory which is offered by God. They live not according to the Orthodox Christian Faith and virtues, but in accordance of their own vain glory, self-love and self-satisfaction.
Today, how many times we see the sufferings of our fellow man? How many times we hear the sigh and we notice the tears of the ones who are in pain and suffering, and we abandoned them, saying: “I have no time for them”, in order that we do not miss our pressure and valuable time!  Or, in order that we won’t spend few of our money! Or, in order that we might not get tired and suffer for the sake of our fellow man! Thus, we depart from the crime scene and do not perform our good and righteous duty.

5th Sunday of St. Luke


By His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes
THE PARABLE OF THE RICH MAN AND THE POOR LAZARUS
Luke 16:19-31

The Parable of the Holy Gospel does not refer to the Second Coming of Christ, neither to His Last Judgement, but to the period of time between man’s death and the Second Glorious Coming of Christ our Lord and God. This period is called:  The Middle Condition of the souls.
           What is death?
           Death, according to Holy Scriptures, is the separation of the human’s soul from his body. Death was not created by God right from the beginning, but came as the result of man’s Fall, disobedience and unrepentance (Gen. 3:9-13). “And unto Adam He said, because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt  not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”(Gen. 3:17-19).
           Death has three forms:
 a)                Physical Death, occurs when the body stops functioning biologically. The soul is separated from the body (Gen. 3:19) “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom; the rich man also died, and was buried” (Luk 16:22).

31/10/2012

2012 - NOVEMBER - SACRED LESSONS

Daily readings from scriptures November 2012


1 Col 4:2-9 Lk 11:47-12:1
2 Col 4:10-18 Lk 12:2-12
3 2 Cor 5:1-10 Lk 9:1-6
4 Gal 6:11-18 Lk 16:19-31
5 1Thess 1:1-5 Lk 12:13-15,22-31
6 1Thess 1:6-10 Lk 12:42-48
7 1Thess 2:1-8 Lk 12:48-59
8 1Thess 2:9-14 Lk 13:1-9
9 1Thess 2:14-19 Lk 13:31-35
10 2Cor 8:1-5 Lk 9:37-43
11 2Cor 4:6-15 Lk 10:25-37
12 1Thess 2:20-3:8 Lk 14:12-15
13 1Thess 3:9-13 Lk 14:25-35
14 1Cor 4:9-16 Jn 1:44-51
15 1Thess 5:1-8 Lk 16:1-9
16 1Thess 5:9-28 Lk 16:15-17:4
17 2Cor 11:1-6 Lk 9:57-62
18 Eph 2:14-22 Lk 12:16-21
19 2Thess 1:1-10 Lk 17:20-25
20 2Thess 1:10-2:2 Lk 17:26-37
21 Exod 40:1-35; 1Kg 7:51-8:11; Ezek 43:27-44:4  - Heb 9:1-7 Lk 10:38-42;11:27-28
22 2Thess 2:13-3:5 Lk 18:31-34
23 2Thess 3:6-18 Lk 19:12-28
24 Gal 1:3-10 Lk 10:19-21
25 Gal 3:23-4:5 Lk 18:18-27
26 1Tim 1:1-7 Lk 19:37-44
27 1Tim 1:8-14 Lk 19:45-48
28 1Tim 1:18-2:15 Lk 20:1-8
29 1Tim 3:1-13 Lk 20:9-18
30 1Tim 4:4-16 Lk 20:19-26

Litany in the fields of Mount Athos for a rich and blessed field crop


7th Sunday of St Luke


Luke 8:41-56
By
His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes
In man’s life all things are relative. Everything which takes place is relative. In other words, from the moment of man’s birth nothing is absolutely certain. In our daily life, we use the expression: “Everything is written”. But, in reality, nothing is written. Man himself writes his own history, according to his own free will, choices and actions. The future is not written and it remains unknown, the present is known but, yet, it becomes past. But, everything which takes place in time belongs to relativity. For example, it is relative if one will study, or if he will be successful in business; or if one becomes a good parent, or someone will be happy or unfortunate, healthy or ill; if one lives for many years or his life time shall be short; all the previous mentioned fall under the law of relativity. But, one thing is very certain in man’s life and this event is unavoidable and the only certain event in his life which is death. Everything which is born in this life will face death.
The ruler of the synagogue Ja’iros had an only begotten daughter who was dying.  She was only twelve years old and she was at the final stage of her life. Death waits without any feelings, without any compassion, without any mercy, and with his painful sting he brings the final strike in Ja’iros’s house. The message: “Your daughter is dead”, was heard as like a lightning.
Death from the time of the Fall of the first created man became an inseparable companion and an enemy of man. The decision of God in the Garden of Delight, “you are earth and to the earth you shall return”, is realized. Through death the life span of sin is terminated and the new way of eternal life is offered. Man is not erased from the face of the earth, he does return to nothingness. Man’s existence is terminated in the grave. But, man through death enters in other conditions, which are real, unchangeable and eternal. He enters either in the Kingdom of Heaven or in the condition of suffering.
The death of one beloved, relative or friend, creates a confusion of feelings. Sadness, fear, anger, anxiousness and many times even disappointment rule those moments. Man is lost in his thoughts and with tears in his eyes, facing the unknown, he stands with helplessness concerning his future.
Ja’iros when he heard about the death of his only beloved daughter, he became speechless and helpless. And before any other thoughts had the chance to enter into his mind, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, interferes and says to Ja’iros: “Do not be afraid, but have faith”! Don’t be afraid because you have heard this sad message, but have faith in Me and your daughter will be saved.
Only when man is closed to Christ he does not fear death. Only with Christ one has hope. Only with the faith to Christ man overcomes death. And for this reason all the Saints through the faith in Christ were victorious against all the methods of Satan and at the end they were victorious over death himself, who is the last enemy.
Faith in Christ is the power which saves and gives life o man. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is man’s only certain hope and salvation. No one can overcome death but only the Saviour of the world, Who through His death on the ross overcame the power of death and offered life to all those who will believe in His Name. Jesus Christ, the Son and Word of God, is the Lord of Life and death.
Man’s life many times I described as the sea. The problems of life rise as enormous waves, which struggle to take us down into the ocean’s depths, into despair and hopelessness. The abyss opens its mouth to swallow us. But, when one is armed with the faith in Christ, then in his most difficult moments, man finds the power to face and to confront these difficult moments, which as great waves they break out upon the ship of life in the multiform of tribulations, illnesses, temptations and deaths.  
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, invited Ja’iros to stand well in his faith to Him. Believe and do not be despaired. Do not lose your hopes. The fruit of the faith to Christ is the victory of the faithful against death himself. For this reason the holy Martyrs of our Holy Orthodox Church were able to gain victory over death, because they were steadfast in their faith into Christ.
Man who does not have faith, can be described as a ship without a compass. Faith is the victorious power, which leads man into the virtuous way of life. If one is without faith, he cannot achieve any virtue. If man is without faith, then he cannot only overcome the smallest problems of life, but, neither can he will be able to face the frightful hour of death and everything which follow death!  
When the hour of death arrives, no one can help us, neither the best and skilled doctors, nor our friends, nor the powerful and rich, nor our relatives, nor scientists, nor those in authorities, nor those who have money and riches. Only Christ can save and comfort us. And the Lord saves all those who turn to Him, as He saved Ja’iros’s daughter. And this was the result of his solid faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Our faith must be solid and truthful, we must stand in steadfastness avoiding any form of doubt. We must never bend before the problems of life, no mater how great they might be. The faith in Christ is a strong alliance, which will never disappoint anyone who believes. This is the reason why during the Holy Sacrament of Baptism, the Priest asks the God-parents to confess faith in Christ, by asking them: “Do you join Christ”? And they respond saying: “I do join Him”!
Man’s life intermingles between joy and sadness.  The joyful moments are exchanged with sad moments. For this reason St Paul teaches us saying, that one should be joyful with those who are happy, and sad with those who are misfortune, for our life is like the field of lilies, which today they flourish and tomorrow the wither and die.    
Everything around us witnesses the vanity and the mortality of all earthly pleasures. The problems of life will never end. Christ is offering the only solution. Let us strengthen within us the faith in Christ. Only, when we have been armed with the spiritual armor of God, which is offered to us by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, in other words faith, hope and love, and we practice these virtues in our daily life, then we shall be able to overcome all adversity powers and finally death itself.


A Pastoral Word on Halloween The Joyous Feast of Pumpkin


by Bishop [now Archbishop] Kyrill
It is that time of the year when the secular society in which we live is preparing for the festival of Halloween. Many do not know its spiritual roots and history, and why it contradicts the teachings of the Church. The feast of Halloween began in pre-Christian times among the Celtic peoples of Great Britain, Ireland and northern France. These pagan peoples believed that life was born from death. Therefore they celebrated the beginning of the "new year" in the fall (on the eye of October 31 and into the day of November 1) when, as they believed, the season of cold, darkness, decay and death began. A certain deity whom they called Samhain was believed by the Celts to be the Prince of Death and it was he whom they honored at their New Year's festival*.
From an Orthodox Christian point of view, we can see many diabolical beliefs and practices associated with this feast which have endured to this time. On the eve of the New Year's festival, the Druids, who were the priests of the Celtic cult, instructed their people to extinguish all hearth fires and lights. On the evening of the festival, a huge bonfire built from oak branches (oak was regarded by the Celts as sacred) was ignited. Upon this fire sacrifices were burned as an offering in order to appease and cajole Samhain, the Prince of Death. It was also believed that Samhain, being pleased by the offerings, allowed the souls of the dead to return to their homes for a festal visit on this day. It is from this belief that the practice of wandering about in the dark dressed up in costumes imitating ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, fairies, etc. grew up. For the living entered into fellowship and communion with the dead by what was, and still is, a ritual act of imitation, through costume and the activity of wandering around in the dark of night, even as the souls of the dead were believed to wander.

21/10/2012

On Hesychia and the Cleansing of the Mind and Heart



A proven lover of the desert was the blessed Russian hieromonk Father Serapios, who visited the great hesychast and recluse Kallinikos in 1912-13, to ask his bless¬ing that he might depart and join those athletes who contended in the field of the desert.
Elder Kallinikos, an experienced teacher of the Jesus Prayer, described to the Russian monk the dangers, traps and delusions which the enemy of our salvation uses to attack those who live in seclusion, especially those without a spiritual guide. But when he saw Father Serapion's wounded heart, burning with divine desire, he gave in, on condition that he could be his guide. Father Serapios celebrated the liturgy in St. Gerasimos' chapel and then, with the prayers tid blessing of his coach and elder Kallinikos, left to go toward Athos' peak.
Twelve years passed since that meeting. Then one night, around midnight, the great hesychast's disciple came to his teacher's remote hut and knocked on the door. Elder Kallinikos, thinking that the knock might be a delusion from the devil, asked, before he opened the door, for the Symbol of Faith to be recited. Father Serapios obeyed, even adding the "Our Father" and the "One is Holy, One is the Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father." At this, Elder Kallinikos opened the door, threw his arms around him and asked, "Where have you been all these years, my brother? Believe me, I thought you were lost, although I never stopped praying for you. Where did you stay? What was your food?"
"Holy Father," replied Father Serapios in a weak voice, "after you blessed me, I went to the peak of Athos. I stayed three days and nights, but not being able to endure the cold, I went to Panagia.1 I tried to stay there, but I could not find my beloved hesychia, because many pilgrims visited there.
"A bit farther down, I discovered a cave. Not even the shepherds of Lavra when herding their sheep could see me there, because I hung an old cassock over the cave's opening. I ate the things I found in the forest: chestnuts, shoots, acorns, roots and bulbs. I drew water from the well near Panagia's hut. Day and night my soul was filled with ineffa¬ble bliss coming from the Jesus Prayer and visions.

6th Sunday of St Luke


 (Luke 8:26-39)
By His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes
            As our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ visited the villages of Judaea, he met a man from the village of Gergeseen. Now, this particularly man few years ago became possessed by many demons, who made him suffer in many ways. The possessed man was in a wild condition, the result of the demons’ influence. He was ripping off his clothes and was living in the tombs of the dead. Although his relatives were tiding him up with chains, in order that he will be unable to harm any other human being, he was breaking his chains and was led by the demons into the wilderness.      
            In this miserable condition our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, meets with the possessed man. The appearance of the possessed man is pitiable and frightful. Yet, the Merciful Lord walks into the wilderness in order to meet with His troubled creation, man. He meets with him and opens a dialogue with the unclean spirits, which with His Divine authority casts out and banishes them away from His creation.
            The Work of Salvation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had as its final goal to free man from the bondage and the tyranny of the evil one, Satan. With man’s fall into sin, day after day, year after year, he was drifting far away from God, falling more and more into the traps of the enemy. Mankind became enslaved to the devil. The peak of this tyranny is achieved, when man is possessed by evil spirits.
            When the evil spirit posses man’s soul, then it rules over both his soul and body, in other words man’s whole existence. Man acts whatever Satan tells him to do, without having understanding of what he says or does. Man’s soul and conscience are paralyzed by the evil forces and are unable to react against them. Man lives the greatest misery of his existence.
            Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for the love towards man, came to free him. He came to meet with every man. He came to discuss with us and to guide us back to God the Father.

20/10/2012

Sunday of the 7th Ecumenical Synod



By His Eminence Panteleimon Metropolitan of Antinoes

In the year of our Lord 726 AD, the Emperor of Byzantium, Leon III Isauros, influenced by the heretical teachings of the Nestorians and Paulicians, who opposed the use of holy icons, forbidden the veneration of the holy icons. But this imperial decision was not accepted by the majority of the Orthodox people of the Byzantine Empire. The reaction of the Orthodox faithful reached its peak, when the Emperor ordered to remove the miraculous holy icon of Christ the Savior, which was above the palace’s main entrance. This action was considered as an act of high treason. Thus, from that moment the iconoclast period began and lasted more than 120 years.
The heresy of iconoclast doesn’t refer only to the prohibition of the veneration of the holy icons, but it was a wide religious and ecclesiastical reformation. The iconoclasts refused not only the veneration of the holy icons, but also that of the holy relics of the holy Saints, their intervention and those of the holy Mother of God, the Ever Virgin Mary and Theotokos.
 The Orthodox people rebelled and, having as their leader someone called Kosmas, gathered an army and sailed against the capital city of Constantinople. Unfortunately, Leon III, as a skilled general and Emperor, managed to overtake the rebellions, captured and beheaded Kosmas. From that day Emperor Leon III enforced the general prohibition of the veneration and use of holy icons. He raised a cruel persecution against anyone who was a friend of the holy icons. The Orthodox Empire entered into a period of struggle which lasted more than 120 years. The people were divided into iconoclasts (those who destroy the icons) and those who were friends of the icons.    
            Numerous martyrs and confessors gave their lives defending the true teachings of the Orthodox Church concerning the holy icons, the holy relics and the interventions of the holy Saints. Many scholars, Bishops and Monks, wrote books clarifying the true meaning of the veneration of the holy icons. They distinguished between the worship which is offered only to God and the honoring veneration which is offered to the holy Saints, who are in reality the true friends of Christ. Among those who defended the holy icons are St John of Damas, St Basil the Great, and St Theodore Abbot of the Monastery of Studite.

08/10/2012

3rd Sunday of St Luke


The resurrection of the widow’s son of Nain
(Luke 7:11-18)

By
His Eminence
Panteleimon Metropolitan of Antinoes

            When death occurs it saddens our hearts. For man was not created by God to die; but, was created with the possibility of not dying. If Adam never had disobeyed God’s Commandment in the Garden of Delight, death would never occurred and man would participated in an eternal life here on earth. Man would never had to face pain, sufferings, mortality and finally death, which became his greatest enemy, because of the Fall and the Disobedience to God’s Commandment.
            In today’s Gospel’s reading, we see before our very eyes a mother who accompanies her only begotten son to its tomb. The whole picture moves our hearts. The mother with great pain in her soul accompanies the fruit of her womb to its final resting place. She is surrounded by many people and, yet, she remains by herself with the only thought, the lost of her precious child, who was her only comfort in life as she had lost her husband some time ago.  
            The situation is dramatic. During this hopeless time, the moment, when she preceded towards the tomb, unexpectedly Christ meets with her. Christ meets with the dead young man and changes the course of life. The Source of Life confronts with the death of His creation, and with authority He commands saying: “Young man, I say to you, rise” (Luke 7:14). Immediately, “the dead sat up rise” (Luke 7:15).
            The people of Nain were filled with sacred fear, a deep astonishment and an indescribable admiration, when they witnessed this sensational miracle. They had seen and heard about the many miracles which the Lord had performed. But, this, which took place before their very eyes and only by His commandment, was stunning. They witnessed a dead man being raised from the dead. They saw a fellow countryman, who they thought that was for ever lost, coming back to their society alive and in good health.

30/09/2012

2ND SUNDAY OF ST LUKE


CONCERNING LOVE
By His Eminence
Panteleimon, Archbishop of Antinoes

            Man is by nature a social being. He lives, moves, acts and develops within a society of human beings. Right from the beginning of Creation, God Himself noticed, that “is not good for man to be alone upon the earth”, and thus He forms the woman taken out from one of Adam’s ribs, fulfilled the missing flesh and thus presented Eve to Adam, to be a helpmate for him. In other words, God Himself created and then blessed the society of man. Our ancestors, the Greek philosophers, said: “A man, who does not live with other fellow men, either has to be a god or crazy”. 
            The Triune God is social, because He is Three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is One in His Essence, but Three in His Hypostases or Persons. (Hypostasis means the way of existence). Among the Three Persons an absolute and perfect harmonious relationship exists. None of the created things in the whole Universe, either visible or invisible, knows that which is of the Father, but only the Son; and no one knows that which is of the Son except of the Father. The Holy Spirit searches the depths of the Father’s Essence.
            The Love of the Three Persons is mutual and it is expressed towards the world, especially towards man. Love is from God, and anyone who loves his neighbor is from God and knows God. He who does not have love, does not know God, because God is Love (1 John 4:7-8). He, who struggles to remain in the love towards his fellow man, partakes of the love of God and God dwells in the heart of that person who has love. For this reason, if God has loved us so much, we also must love one another in a similar manner (1st John 4:11).
            Love is the connection link in our relationships with our fellow man. The question of today’s Gospel reading is: Do we love correctly? Is our love that love which God demands from us, pure and unconditional? Is our love distinguished from the worldly love?    

23/09/2012

1st Sunday of St. Luke. (Luke 5:1-11)


By: His Eminence  Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

 
            In today’s Gospel reading St. Peter with the rest of the holy Apostles were astonished at the catch of fish which they had caught.  Christ our Lord had sat in St. Peter’s boat and was teaching the people.  The Disciples had worked very hard all night long, but they had caught nothing.  St. Peter at the commandment of Christ let down the net and then God’s blessings came, for "they caught a great number of fish" (Luke 5:6).
           
Obedience to God’s Will is man’s first and foremost duty.  Second most important is to carry out His Divine Commandments.  The godly man strives to conform himself to whatever God wishes.  Man through obedience to God identifies himself with God, and his will with God’s Divine Will.

            The holy Apostle Peter at the greatest moment of his difficult hours of disappointment and depression, showed obedience to Christ.  The result is obvious.  God blesses the work of all those who struggle with honesty.

            In our daily struggle to survive there are some moments, when we feel let down.  Many times despair and dissolution overcome our hearts, when we hope for some things that do not come right. 

            How many times do we turn to God and not see any results?  Did God not hear our prayers? Is He relaxing in His Heavenly Kingdom and does not care for us? No! The answer to these questions lie in that we must not only turn to God, but we must also learn to trust God.

            St. Peter not only accepted Christ in his fishing boat, but also showed absolute obedience to His commandment.  Without a second discussion he threw the nets into the shallow waters of Gennesaret.  Because of his obedience God blessed his work.

            Now, how many times does it happen in our life that we accept Christ not in our boat, but in our hearts, but we are not obedient to Him?  How many times do we say that we believe in the Lord, but, yet, we have not made the effort to bow and humble ourselves before Him?  How many times do we pray to God, but within our hearts we do not learn to trust Him? How many times do we find ourselves in difficult situations and we ask for God’s help and assistance, but in reality we do not believe in His Providence? How many times do we believe that God will interfere, like magic, to fulfil our wishes?  Finally, how many times, when we see no results of Divine intervention, we turn away from God?

            St. Peter was blessed, because he showed obedience to Christ.  God’s blessings came as the result of Peter’s obedience to His Will.  The miracle at Gennesaret came about because of St. Peter’s faithfulness. St. Peter knew very well, being an experienced fisherman, that there could be no fish in the shallow waters of Gennesaret.  All night long he worked with his collaborafors and, yet, they caught nothing.  But, he showed obedience to Christ’s word and he let down the nets. For Christ’s sake he did not hesitate. He did not say, that ‘We are wasting our time’.  He just obeyed and trusted Christ’s word.