A Sermon by St John of Kronstadt on the Nativity of Christ

The Word became flesh; that is, the Son of God, co-eternal with God the Father and with the Holy Spirit, became human – having become incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. O, wondrous, awesome and salvific mystery! The One Who had nobeginning took on a beginning according to humanity; the One without flesh assumed flesh. God became man – without ceasing to be God. The Unapproachable One became approachable to all, in the aspect of an humble servant. Why, and for whatreason, was there such condescension [shown] on the part of the Creator toward Histransgressing creatures – toward humanity which, through an act of its own will hadfallen away from God, its Creator?
It was by reason of a supreme, inexpressible mercy toward His creation on the part of the Master, Who could not bear to see the entire race of mankind – which, He, in creating, had endowed with wondrous gifts – enslaved by the devil and thus destined foreternal suffering and torment.
And the Word became flesh!...in order to make us earthly beings into heavenly ones, in order to make sinners into saints; in order to raise us up from corruption intoincorruption, from earth to heaven; from enslavement to sin and the devil – into the glorious freedom of children of God; from death – into immortality, in order to make us sons of God and to seat us together with Him upon the Throne as His royal children. O, boundless compassion of God! O, inexpressible wisdom of God! O, great wonder, astounding not only the human mind, but the angelic [mind] as well!


The Fourteen Thousand Holy Children of Bethlehem of Bethlehem

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

When the Magi from the east did not return to Jerusalem from Bethlehem to inform Herod about the newborn King but rather, at the angel's command, returned to their homeland another way, Herod became as enraged as a wild beast and ordered all the children two years old and under in Bethlehem and its surroundings to be killed.

This frightening command of the king was carried out to the letter. His soldiers beheaded some of the children with swords, smashed others against stones, trampled others underfoot, and strangled others with their hands. And the cries and wails of the mothers rose to heaven, lamentation, and bitter weeping; "Rachel weeping for her children" (Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:18), as had been prophesied.

This crime against the multitude of innocent children was carried out a year after the birth of Christ, at the time when Herod was seeking to find the Divine Child. He asked Zacharias about his son John, so that he might kill him, since he naturally thought that John was the new king. As Zacharias did not turn John over, he was slain in the Temple by order of Herod. St. Symeon the God-Receiver would also have been murdered soon after the Presentation in the Temple, had he not already reposed in God.

After murdering the children of Bethlehem, Herod turned against the Jewish elders who had revealed to him where the Messiah would be born. He then killed Hyrcanes, the high priest, and the seventy elders of the Sanhedrin. Thus, they who had agreed with Herod that the new Child-king must be killed came to an evil end. After that, Herod murdered his brother, sister, wife and three sons.

Finally, God's punishment came to him: he began to tremble, his legs became swollen, the lower part of his body became putrid, and worms came out of the sores; his nose became blocked and an unbearable stench emanated from him. Before his last breath, he remembered that there were many captive Jews in prison, and he ordered that they all be killed so that they would not rejoice in his death. Thus, this terrible ruler gave up his inhuman soul and handed it over to the devil for eternal possession.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Fourteen Thousand Holy Children of Bethlehem


Merry Christmas

 May the blessings and joy of Christ our Saviour's birth fill your hearts, souls and lives with His Love this Christmas and throughout the coming year.  


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 blessing 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 ineffable bliss coming from the Jesus Prayer and visions.
"I lived constantly contemplating our God's mysteries. Forgive me, my elder, you know better than I what it is like, that light which warms up and illuminates all within me. I desired nothing else. Paradise was there. I lacked only one thing. The Holy Communion. And that is why I have finally come here: to receive your blessing; for the time of my repose is near, and I do not want to depart without the Holy Mysteries."
That very day the Divine Liturgy was served, and they communicated. Afterwards the disciple had a bit of dry bread and greens together with his teacher and guide. Thus full of bliss, Father Serapios departed for his beloved desert.
The great hesychastic father Daniel the Hosiopetritan, after the daily liturgy would withdraw into his cell for an hour of silence. It was an hour dedicated to tears and compunction. He would always say that "The lantern illuminates the world around it, but buries its mouth . . . ."
There have been many ascetic fathers on the Holy Mountain who were dedicated totally to prayer, vision, and practising all the virtues. That is why they received divine consolations from heaven, illuminations from above. Such was the Romanian hermit Theophylaktos, who came from Vatopedi to St. Basil's desert with three monks under obedience to him. Frequently he stayed in caves, in which it was possible to attain greater hesychia, clearer watchfulness of mind, and higher exaltation of soul. He used to say that in one of the caves of this desert, the idolaters who had inhabited the Athonite peninsula prior to the monks' arrival had hidden a statue which had once stood on the peak of Mount Athos and served as a lighthouse. There was a large diamond on the statue's head which was used as a sort of lamp to guide travelers by sea.
At one time Theophylaktos, who prayed unceasingly, did not go to the cave as was his usual habit. He stayed in his hut by himself instead. During his prayer an angel of the Lord appeared and conversed with him. Coming back from accomplishing a task which had been assigned to him, one of the elder's monks in obedience passed by the hut and heard a discussion. He wondered who the visitor was to whom his elder was talking. With curiosity he entered, calling "Elder! are you here?" At that very moment the angel disappeared.
"O, my son," the elder sadly replied, he who was such a great runner in the heavenly race. "I wish you had not come .... I have lost a great blessing." And he explained the visitation.
He is the same father who took care of the wounded roader, and his face shone with light shortly before his falling asleep.
I once had the blessing of meeting the elder Christodoulos, who had been a monk under obedience to the great neptic2 father of Katounakia, Kallinikos the Recluse. In the course of one day's polite hospitality to me, the unworthy, in his remote hermitage, Father Christodoulos told me much about his ever memorable elder, some of which is included in the third edition of Contemporary Agioritan Profiles.
Elder Kallinikos was a teacher of the Jesus Prayer and visions who for fifty-five years had confined himself within the limits of his hut, which measured twenty metres in all.
That is why he was called a recluse. He was born in 1853 and reposed in 1930.
A friend and lover of hesychia, of vigilance and of noetic3 prayer was Dionysios from Cyprus, who as an ascetic remained in Kafsokalyvia's skete and then returned to Stavrovouniou in Cyprus in 1875, where he became the father of many spiritual children.
There is a prayerful, eremitic breeze which often blows over the blessed Katounakia. There many years ago I met the hesychastic elder Anthimos. He struggled in ascesis in a hut above where the Danielites were located. He was a man of silence. Whenever he did talk, he almost always spoke about the ceaseless prayer of the heart, noetic prayer. "The Jesus Prayer deifies man, while praying to the Theotokos prepares one for deification," he used to say.
"All Holy Mother of God, help me. My blessed Panagia . . ." a monk would say, and his voice echoed sweetly from the depths of his heart as he walked on the paths of St. Anne's skete. "We place all our hope in her, and we are consoled by her," he continued. "She is our mother, our heart's salvation. Otherwise we are following a route which we do not know where it is leading."

The Holy Martyr Boniface (Commemorated on December 19)

The Holy Martyr Boniface was the slave of a rich young Roman woman named Aglaida and he dwelt with her in an iniquitous cohabitation. But they both felt the sting of conscience and they wanted somehow to be cleansed of their sin. And the Lord granted them the possibility to wash away their sin with their blood and to finish their life in repentance.
Aglaida learned that whoever keeps relics of the holy martyrs in the home and venerates them receives great help in gaining salvation. Under their influence, sin is diminished and virtue prevails. She arranged for Boniface to go to the East, where there was a fierce persecution against Christians, and she asked him to bring back the relics of some martyr, who would become a guide and protector for them.
As he was leaving, Boniface laughed and asked, "My lady, if I do not find any relics, and if I myself suffer for Christ, will you accept my body with reverence?" Aglaida scolded him, saying that he was setting off on a sacred mission, but he was not taking it seriously. Boniface pondered her words, and during the whole journey he thought that he was unworthy of touching the bodies of the martyrs.
Arriving at Tarsus in Cilicia, Boniface left his companions at the inn and proceeded to the city square, where they were torturing Christians. Struck by the beastly horrible torments, and seeing the faces of the holy martyrs radiant with the grace of the Lord, Boniface marveled at their courage. He embraced them and kissed their feet, asking them to pray that he might be found worthy to suffer with them.
The judge asked Boniface who he was. He replied, "I am a Christian," and then refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They stripped him and hung him upside down, beating him so hard that the flesh fell from his body, exposing the bone. They stuck needles under his nails, and finally they poured molten tin down his throat, but by the power of the Lord he remained unharmed. The people who witnessed this miracle shouted, "Great is the God of the Christians!" Then they began to throw stones at the judge, and then they headed for the pagan temple, in order to cast down the idols.
On the following morning, when things had quieted down somewhat, the judge directed that the holy martyr be thrown into a cauldron of boiling tar, but this also caused the sufferer no harm. An angel come down from Heaven and bedewed him as he stepped into the cauldron. The tar overflowed the cauldron, splattering and burning the torturers themselves. St Boniface was then sentenced to beheading by the sword. Blood and a milky fluid flowed from his wounds. Beholding such a miracle, about 550 men believed in Christ.
St Boniface's companions, waiting for two days at the inn for him in vain, began searching for him, thinking that he had gotten drunk somewhere. At first their search was without success, but finally they came across a man who had been an eyewitness to the martyr's death. The man also led them to the place where the decapitated body lay. St Boniface's companions tearfully begged his forgiveness for their unseemly thoughts about him. After they ransomed the martyr's remains, they brought them back to Rome.
On the eve of their arrival an angel appeared to Aglaida in her sleep and told her to prepare herself to receive her former slave, now the brother and fellow-servant of the angels. Aglaida summoned the clergy, and she received the holy relics with great reverence. Then she built a church on the site of his grave and dedicated it to the holy martyr. There she enshrined his relics, glorified by numerous miracles. After distributing all her wealth to the poor, she withdrew to a monastery, where she spent fifteen years in repentance, then fell asleep in the Lord. She was buried beside St Boniface. The sins of the one were washed away by his blood, the other was purified by her tears and asceticism. Both were found worthy to appear unsullied before our Lord Jesus Christ, Who desires not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his wickedness and live (Ezek. 33:11).
We pray to St Boniface for deliverance from drunkenness.


Why Are Vigil Lamps Lit Before Icons

by St. Nikolai of Ohrid and Zica
Living Water
First - because our faith is light. Christ said: I am the light of the world (John 8,12). The light of the vigil lamp reminds us of that light by which Christ illumines our souls.
Second - in order to remind us of the radiant character of the saint before whose icon we light the vigil lamp, for saints are called sons of light (John 12,36; Luke 16,8).
Third - in order to serve as a reproach to us for our dark deeds, for our evil thoughts and desires, and in order to call us to the path of evangelical light; and so that we would more zealously try to fulfill the commandments of the Saviour: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works" (Matthew 5,16).
Fourth - so that the vigil lamp would be our small sacrifice to God, Who gave Himself completely as a sacrifice for us, and as a small sign of our great gratitude and radiant love for Him from Whom we ask in prayer for life, and health, and salvation and everything that only boundless heavenly love can bestow.
Fifth - so that terror would strike the evil powers who sometimes assail us even at the time of prayer and lead away our thoughts from the Creator. The evil powers love the darkness and tremble at every light, especially at that which belongs to God and to those who please Him.
Sixth - so that this light would rouse us to selflessness. Just as the oil and wick burn in the vigil lamp, submissive to our will, so let our souls also burn with the flame of love in all our sufferings, always being submissive to God's will.
Seventh - in order to teach us that just as a vigil lamp cannot be lit without our hand, so too, our heart, our inward vigil lamp, cannot be lit without the holy fire of God's grace, even if it were to be filled with all the virtues. All these virtues of ours, after all, like combustible material, but the fire which ignites them proceeds from God.
Eighth - in order to remind us that before anything else the Creator of the world created light, and after that everything else in order: And God said, let there be light: and there was light (Genesis 1,3). And it must be so also at the beginning of our spiritual life, so that before anything else the light of Christ's truth would shine within us. From this light of Christ's truth subsequently every good deed is created, springs up and grows in us.
May the Light of Christ illumine you as well!

PRAYER TO THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS – St Nikolai of Ohrid and Zhicha

Waves of passion disturb my spirit, great sadness and anguish have overwhelmed my soul. Embalm my soul with Thy Son's peace, O Most Holy One, and by His Grace drive away every doubt and despair. Calm the storm of my sins that, like a fiery worm, burn me, and quench its flame. Fill my heart with joy, O Most Pure One, and disperse the fog of my iniquities before me, for it confuses me. Illumine me with the light of Thy Son. Helpless is my soul, and everything is cumbersome, even prayer. Here I am, cold as a stone, my lips whispering prayers, while my heart remains immovable, for it is smothered in anguish. Melt the ice which envelops my soul and warm my heart with Thy love.

I rely not on human protection, but fall down before Thee, O Most Pure Sovereign Mother of God; reject me not, but hearken unto the prayer of Thy servant. Sadness has overcome me; I can endure the demonic attack no more. I
have no protection; there is no shelter for this poor man, and in this battle I am ever being wounded. I have no consolation, but in Thee, O Holy Sovereign. O Hope and Protection of all who believe, reject not my prayer. Amen.

O Most Holy Mother of Christ, Most Pure, Most Blessed Theotokos, Satan is pounding at me like the waves of the sea against a ship, pursuing me by day and tormenting me at night. I have no peace; turbulent is my soul, my spirit
trembles. Hearken, O Most Holy One and help me. Intercede before the dear Lord that He may have mercy on me and forgive the sins I have committed. O Most Holy Mother of Jesus, Thy grace is great, and the mightiest opponent to the powers of hades. Thou art able to save even the greatest of sinners who, having been cast into the depths of hell by unclean powers, should call upon Thee. So too, save me, for lo, Satan will have me stumble and will destroy my faith, but I trust in the Lord. I magnify Thee, Who art more holy than the Cherubim and the Seraphim.


Love and Comfort

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside.

"Your son is here," she said to the old man.

She had to repeat the words several times before the patient's eyes opened.

Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack,
he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent..
He reached out his hand.
The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.

The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed.
All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile.

He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward,
the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital -
the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients..

Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words.
The dying man said nothing,
only held tightly to his son all through the night.

Along towards dawn, the old man died.
The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding
and went to tell the nurse.
While she did what she had to do, he waited.

Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy,
but the Marine interrupted her.

"Who was that man?" he asked.
The nurse was startled,
"He was your father," she answered.

"No, he wasn't," the Marine replied.
"I never saw him before in my life.."

"Then why didn't you say something when I took you to him?"

"I knew right away there had been a mistake,
But I also knew he needed his son,
and his Son just wasn't here.

When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son,
Knowing how much he needed me, I stayed."
I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey.
His Son was killed in Iraq today,
and I was sent to inform him.
What was this gentleman's name?

The nurse with tears in
her eyes answered,
"Mr. William Grey" ........

The next time someone needs you ........
Just be there.




St. John Chrysostom: The Greatest Interpreter of the Apostle Paul

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

No mortal has interpreted the Epistles of the Apostle Paul with greater love and depth than St. John Chrysostom. Had St. Paul himself interpreted them, he could not have interpreted them better. Behold, history tells us that it was Paul himself who interpreted them through the mind and the pen of Chrysostom.

When St. Proclus was a novice under Chrysostom, during the time that he was patriarch, it was his duty to announce visitors. A certain nobleman was slandered before Emperor Arcadius and the emperor had expelled him from the court. This nobleman came to implore Chrysostom to intercede with the emperor on his behalf.

Proclus went to announce him to the patriarch but, looking through the partly opened door, saw a man bent over the patriarch, whispering something in his ear while the patriarch wrote. This continued until dawn. Meanwhile, Proclus told the nobleman to come back the next evening, while he himself remained in amazement, wondering who the man with the patriarch was, and how he managed to enter the patriarch's chamber unannounced. The second night the same thing happened again, and Proclus was in still greater amazement. The third night the same thing happened again, and Proclus was in the greatest amazement.

When Chrysostom asked him if the nobleman had come by, he replied that he had already been waiting for three nights, but that he couldn't announce him because of the elderly, balding stranger who had been whispering in the patriarch's ear for three nights. The astonished Chrysostom said that he did not remember anyone entering to see him during the previous three nights. He asked his novice what the stranger looked like, and Proclus pointed to the icon of the Holy Apostle Paul, saying that the man was like him.

Therefore, it was the Apostle Paul himself who was directing the mind and pen of his greatest interpreter.

Church of Protection of The Holy Virgin in Le Bons Bay

In 2007, with the blessings of Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, foundations were consecrated for a church, to be dedicated to the Protection of the Holy Virgin. A Church, built in 1599 and now housed in the Outdoor Museum of Wooden Architecture in Novgorod, Russia, was used as a prototype.


Saint Peter the Aleut Books

Travel to far away frozen Alaska, and to it's beautiful Aleutian Islands. Look back two hundred years ago. Here you will meet a boy. Cungacknaq is his name. He is an Aleut.
Witness the Aleuts struggling for survival in the harsh Arctic Circle. See the hand of God in Cungacknaq's life, and the mighty plan, the Lord has to call Saint Peter the Aleut, as the First and Neo Martyr of Orthodoxy on the American Continent.
The book is fully illustrated, glossy soft cover and is 63 pages, in brilliant color. It is printed in A4 size which makes it slightly larger than 8.5 x 11.
For a limited time each book will be autographed by the authors, Avra Economakos Hopkins and Al Hopkins.
To order using a check or money order, address your payment to:
Athena Art Studios
P.O. BOX 96
Elwood, IN 46036
Cost: $20 which will include free shipping to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada.
For over seas shipment please contact us at : contact@saintpeterthealeut.com


Saint Nektarios of Aegina (1846-1920)

Life of the Saint.
Our Ηoly Father Nektarios was born on 1 October 1846 at Selymbria in Thrace. His parents, Dimos and Maria Kephalas, were pious Christians but not rich in this world’s goods. Their son was baptized Anastasios and, from infancy, showed great piety and love for study. When his mother taught him Psalm 50, he liked to repeat the verse: I shall teach thy ways unto the wicked and sinners shall be converted unto thee. After finishing elementary school, he was sent by his parents to Constantinople to continue his education, at the same time as working in a shop. The boy did not become entangled in worldly cares, but fixed his mind entirely upon building up the inner man in the image of Christ by prayer and meditation on the writings of the holy Fathers.

When he was twenty, he left Constantinople for a teaching post on the island of Chios. The young people and villagers where he taught were encouraged to live in piety and virtue by his words and above all by the example of his ascetic, prayerful life. On November 7, 1876, he became a monk in the famous Monastery of Nea Moni, for he had long desired to embrace the Aesthetic life. Seeking only those things which are above, he was beloved by all the brethren as the very pattern of gentleness and obedience, and was ordained deacon after one year. Thanks to the generosity of a pious islander and to the protection of Patriarch Sophronius of Alexandria, he was able to complete his studies in Athens and to obtain the diploma of the Faculty of Theology. In 1885, he arrived in Alexandria where he was soon ordained priest, then consecrated Metropolitan of Pentapolis (an ancient diocese in Cyrenaica, in what is now Libya). He was appointed preacher and secretary to the Patriarch, whose representative he became in Cairo, where he had charge of the Church of Saint Nicholas.

Daily readings from scriptures December 2011

1 2Thess 2:13‐3:5 Lk 20:9‐18
2 2Thess 3:6‐18 Lk 20:19‐26
3 Gal 1:3‐10 Lk 12:32‐40
4 Gal 3:234:5 Lk 13:1017
5 Gal 5:22‐6:2 Mt 11:27‐30
6 Heb 13:17‐21 Lk 6:17‐23
7 1Ti 1:18‐20;2:8‐15 Lk 21:5‐7,10‐11,20‐24
8 1Ti 3:1‐13 Lk 21:28‐33
9 Gal 4:22‐27 Lk 8:16‐21
10 Gal 3:8‐12 Lk 13:18‐29
11 Col 3:411 Lk 14:1624
12 Eph 5:8‐19 Jn 10:9‐16
13 1Ti 5:11‐21 Mk 8:22‐26
14 1Ti 5:22‐6:11 Mk 8:30‐34
15 2Ti 1:8‐18 Mk 2:23‐3:2
16 2Ti 1:1‐2,8‐18 Mk 9:33‐41
17 Heb 11:33‐12:2 Lk 14:1‐11
18 Heb 11:910,1723,3240 Mt 1:125
19 2Ti 2:20‐26 Mk 9:42‐10:1
20 Heb 10:32‐38 Mk 9:33‐41
21 2Ti 4:9‐22 Mk 10:11‐16
22 Titus 1:5‐2:1 Mk 10:17‐27
23 Isa 9:6‐7; Heb 2:11‐18 Mt 2:13‐23
24 Gal 3:8‐12 Lk 13:18‐29
25 Gen 1:113; Num 24:218; Mic 4:67;5:24
Isa 11:110; Bar 3:354:4; Dan 2:3145
Gal 4:47 Mt 2:112
26 Gal 1:11‐19 Mt 2:13‐23
27 Acts 6:8‐15;7:5,47‐60 Mt 21:34‐42
28 Heb 5:11‐6:8 Mk 11:23‐26
29 Heb 2:11‐18 Mt 2:13‐23
30 Heb 7:18‐25 Mk 12:1‐12
31 1Ti 3:14‐4:5 Mt 3:1‐11


Is there another life?

«For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come». (Heb. 13:14)
Mankind is full of queries. Children have queries, the youth have queries and men have queries. Similarly, the elderly and women also have many questions. The whole world has countless queries. But if there is one query which worries a person most, it is this-is there another life? And this question becomes all the more tormenting as one is approaching the hour of death. Does another life exist? Present life exists because we live it. But a future life? Who is going to tell us? Who has gone to the other life and come back? But such a witness exists. And He is an unfaltering withness. He is a witness who has never told a lie. He is the One who has heralded: «l am the truth». The very one who was in heaven and descended down to earth. «He who is in the heavens... and from heaven descended". This witness is our Lord Jesus Christ. He tells us through His teachings that there exists yet another life. Jesus Christ always spoke about this other life. In his every sermon, He referred to this other life, the eternal life, the Kingdom of Heaven, to His Father's House in Paradise.
 On the subject of this after-life, He once told a descriptive parable about the rich man and the poor Lazarus. The first part of the parable refers to life here on earth, the present life. The second part refers to the next life. Here in this life the rich man lived a horrible lifestyle. He was harsh and indifferent towards everyone; not to mention a glutton, a drinker, riotous and a hedonist. Richly dressed in «purple and dark red», not the slightest concerned him about the poor. Neither a thought about the soul or about death.
Lazarus indeed was a hero. He had a great soul. His patience alone was unattainable. Poor, full of sores, without a home, with nothing, alone, all alone as he was. Yet he never held one single grudge against God. It was sufficient for him to eat the crumbs of the gluttonous rich man's food in order to fill his hunger as well as tolerating the dogs that licked his sores.

To the Holy Spirit . Prayer of St. Augustine

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.


Saint Amphilochios (November 23)

Saint Amphilochios, who was born in Cappadocia, shone forth in asceticism and divine knowledge even from his youth. He was consecrated Bishop of Iconium in 341, he struggled courageously against the blasphemies of Eunomius, Macedonius the enemy of the Holy Spirit, and the followers of Arius. He was present at the Second Ecumenical Council of the 150 Fathers, which took place in Constantinople, convoked during the reign of Theodosius the Great in the year 381. In 383 Amphilochios wished to persuade the Emperor Theodosius to forbid the Arians from gathering in Constantinople and to commit the churches to the Orthodox, but the Emperor was reluctant to do such a thing. The next time that Amphilochios entered the palace, he addressed Theodosius with proper honour, but slighted his young son Arcadius in his presence. Theodosius was indignant, and said the dishonour shown to his son was equally an insult to himself. To this Saint Amphilochios answered that as he would not suffer an insult to his son, so he ought to believe that God is wroth with those who blaspheme His Only-begotten. Saint Theodosius understood and admired Amphilochios' ingenious device, and he issued the desired edict in September of the same year. Saint Amphilochios, having reached deep old age, reposed in peace about the year 395. Saint Basil the Great wrote many letters to Saint Amphilochios, his friend and Fellow champion of the Faith, and at his request wrote his treatise On the Holy Spirit, which besides demonstrating the divinity of the Holy Spirit and His equality with the Father and the Son, defends the Church's unwritten ancient traditions, such as making the sign of the Cross, turning towards the East in prayer, no kneeling on Sunday, and so forth.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
O thunder divine, thou husbandman of faithful men, the Spirit's clear trump, O axe that hewest heresies, Hierarch Amphilochios, thou great servant of God the Trinity, ever with the Angels on high cease not interceding for us all, O Saint.


Kykkos icon of Mother of God "Merciful"

The name of this icon comes from that of Mt. Kykkos in the north-western part of Cyprus. The holy image, which, according to a legend, was painted by the Apostle St.Luke, was sent by him to the Egyptian Christians. In Egypt, however, disturbances broke out and. in order to save the icon, it was translated to a secluded island. On the way there it was seized by Arabs, but soon Byzantines recaptured it and sent it to the imperial palace in Constantinople. In the reign of Emperor Alexius Comnenus (1081-1118), the icon was translated to Cyprus. There exist numerous legends associated with this event, which tell about countless cures of members of the imperial family and common people. This miracle-working icon has one interesting feature: no one can see its original, for it is kept under a coverlet. He who dares lift the coverlet will suffer God's punishment. In 1699, Patriarch Gerasimus of Alexandria removed the coverlet and was punished. Only after he offered a prayer to the Mother of God was his wrongdoing forgiven. Apparently, it was in the 17th century that copies of this miraculous icon appeared in Russia. Feast day; November 12/25.



4 cups Milk
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Fine semolina
1/4 cup Butter
Zest from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch of Salt
5 Eggs; lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Vanilla
1 lb Filo pastry sheets
1 lb Unsalted butter; melted

1 cup honey
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water (or more if a wetter consistency is desired)
1 one inch strip of orange rind
Add all syrup ingredients to a sauce pan and bring to a boil and let cool.

Mix milk, sugar, semolina, butter, lemon rind, cinnamon stick orange blossom water, and salt in a saucepan and heat until thickened, stirring constantly.
Let the custard simmer gently over low heat for 5 minutes continuing to stir constantly.

Take from heat and remove cinnamon.  Cover with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent skin forming.  When cool, blend in eggs and vanilla.

Butter a 13 x 9 inch pan.  Place half of the filo pastry sheets in the pan, brushing each sheet with the melted butter.

Pour in custard and top with remaining sheets, again brushing butter on each sheet as you layering the top crust, make sure to brush top with butter and score the top sheets of filo in 3 inch squares or diamonds. With a spray mister, sprinkle the top lightly with water.

Bake in oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and the custard is set when tested with a knife.
Remove from oven and cool thoroughly in the dish.

Cool syrup to lukewarm before straining and pouring over the cool pie.
Let the Galatoboureko completely cool before serving.


Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt

Commemorated on October 19

"Saint John of Kronstadt was a married priest, who lived with his wife in virginity. Through his untiring labours in his priestly duties and love for the poor and sinners, he was granted by our Lord great gifts of clairvoyance and miracle-working, to such a degree that in the last years of his life miracles of healings — both of body and of soul — were performed countless times each day through his prayers, often for people who had only written to him asking his help. During his lifetime he was known throughout Russia, as well as in the Western world. He has left us his diary My Life in Christ as a spiritual treasure for Christians of every age; simple in language, it expounds the deepest mysteries of our Faith with that wisdom which is given only to a heart purified by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Foreseeing as a true prophet the Revolution of 1917, he unsparingly rebuked the growing apostasy among the people; he foretold that the very name of Russia would be changed. As the darkness of unbelief grew thicker, he shone forth as a beacon of unquenchable piety, comforting the faithful through the many miracles that he worked and the fatherly love and simplicity with which he received all. Saint John reposed in peace in 1908." (Great Horologion)


 Start getting you recipes lined up for the Holiday season!
These cookies are traditionally served during the Christmas and New Years Holidays, but Mom would make them for us anytime of the year.
I have modified Moms recipe by using ground clove instead of the whole clove which is traditionally placed in the center of each cookie before baking. I do this for 2 reasons one, I never liked biting into the cookie and chewing on a whole clove, secondly in my mind I think it is unsafe for little kids to have a whole clove hidden under all that beautiful powder sugar.

3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove

3/4 pound butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons Metaxa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups confectioners' sugar for decoration

Sift flour with baking powder and spices. Set aside.

Cream butter and gradually add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, brandy, almond, and vanilla. Beat again until very light.
Add flour to the butter mixture and almonds, mix well but don’t over work the dough. Chill 30 minutes or until it can be handled easily.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Shape level tablespoonfuls of dough into crescent-shapes. Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheet line with parchment paper. Insert whole clove into center of each. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light...do not brown.
Cool the cookies on the sheets for a few minutes roll them in powdered sugar while they're still hot.  You can roll several times to create a thicker coating.  Cool the cookies completely, Dust generously with more confectioners’ sugar.

Saint John Chrysostom Nov. 13th

This great ecumenical teacher and hierarch died in the city of Comana in the year 407 on his way to a place of exile. He had been condemned by the intrigues of the empress Eudoxia because of his daring denunciation of the vices ruling over Constantinople. The transfer of his venerable relics was made in the year 438, thirty years after the death of the saint during the reign of Eudoxia's son emperor Theodosius II (408-450).
St John Chrysostom had the warm love and deep respect of the people, and grief over his untimely death lived on in the hearts of Christians. St John's disciple, St Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434-447), during services in the Church of Hagia Sophia, preached a sermon praising St John. He said, "O John, your life was filled with sorrow, but your death was glorious. Your grave is blessed and reward is great, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ O graced one, having conquered the bounds of time and place! Love has conquered space, unforgetting memory has annihilated the limits, and place does not hinder the miracles of the saint."
Those who were present in church, deeply touched by the words of St Proclus, did not allow him even to finish his sermon. With one accord they began to entreat the Patriarch to intercede with the emperor, so that the relics of St John might be brought back to Constantinople.
The emperor, overwhelmed by St Proclus, gave his consent and gave the order to transfer the relics of St John. But those he sent were unable to lift the holy relics until the emperor realized that he had sent men to take the saint's relics from Comana with an edict, instead of with a prayer. He wrote a letter to St John, humbly asking him to forgive his audacity, and to return to Constantinople. After the message was read at the grave of St John, they easily took up the relics, carried them onto a ship and arrived at Constantinople.
The coffin with the relics was placed in the Church of Holy Peace (Hagia Eirene). When Patriarch Proclus opened the coffin, the body of St John was found to be incorrupt. The emperor approached the coffin with tears, asking forgiveness for his mother, who had banished St John. All day and night people did not leave the coffin.
In the morning the coffin was brought to the Church of the Holy Apostles. The people cried out, "Father, take up your throne." Then Patriarch Proclus and the clergy standing by the relics saw St John open his mouth and say, "Peace be to all." Many of the sick were healed at his tomb.
The celebration of the transfer of the relics of St John Chrysostom was established in the ninth century.


The Holy Great Martyr Menas of Egypt,

 The Holy Great Martyr Menas of Egypt,an Egyptian by birth, was a military officer and served in the Kotyaeion region of Phrygia under the centurion Firmilian during the reign of the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311). When the emperors began the fiercest persecution against Christians in history, the saint refused to serve these persecutors. He removed his soldier's belt (a sign of military rank) and withdrew to a mountain, where he lived an ascetic life of fasting and prayer.

Once he happened to arrive in the city during a pagan festival. At the climax of the games the saint's accusing voice rang out, preaching faith in Christ, the Savior of the world. At his trial before the prefect Pyrrhus, the saint bravely confessed his faith, saying that he had come to denounce the impious. The prefect was angered, and had Menas arrested.

Pyrrhus offered to restore the saint's former rank if he would offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. When he refused, he was put to cruel tortures, then he was beheaded. This occurred in the year 304. Christians gathered up the martyr's relics by night and hid them until the end of the persecution. Later, they were brought to Egypt and placed in a church dedicated to St Menas southwest of Alexandria.

The saint received grace from God to work miracles, and to help those in need. St Menas is noted for healing various illnesses, delivering people from possession by demons, and as a protector, especially during times of war. We also ask his help in finding lost objects.

Prayer of Saint John Chrysostom Hourly Prayers of the Day and Night

01. O Lord, deprive me not of Thy heavenly blessings;

02. O Lord, deliver me from eternal torment;

03. O Lord, if I have sinned in my mind or thought, in word deed, forgive me.

04. O Lord, deliver me from every ignorance and heedlessness, from pettiness of the soul and stony hardness of heart;

05. O Lord, deliver me from every temptation;

06. O Lord, enlighten my heart darkened by evil desires;

07. O Lord, I, being a human being, have sinned; do Thou, being God, forgive me in Thy loving kindness, for Thou knowest the weakness of my soul.

08. O Lord, send down Thy grace to help me, that I may glorify Thy holy Name;

09. O Lord Jesus Christ, inscribe me, Thy servant, in the Book of Life, and grant me a blessed end;

10. O Lord my God, even if I have done nothing good in Thy sight, yet grant me, according to Thy grace, that I may make a start in doing good.

11. O Lord, sprinkle on my heart the dew of Thy grace;

12. O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me, Thy sinful servant, cold of heart and impure, in Thy Kingdom.

13. O Lord, receive me in repentance;

14. O Lord, leave me not;

15. O Lord, save me from temptation;

16. O Lord, grant me pure thoughts;

17. O Lord, grant me tears of repentance, remembrance of death, and the sense of peace;

18. O Lord, grant me mindfulness to confess my sins;

19. O Lord, grant me humility, charity, and obedience;

20. O Lord, grant me tolerance, magnanimity, and gentleness;

21. O Lord, implant in me the root of all blessings: the fear of Thee in my heart;

22. O Lord, vouchsafe that I may love Thee with all my heart and soul, and that I may obey in all things Thy will;

23. O Lord, shield me from evil persons and devils and passions and all other lawless matters;

24. O Lord, Who knowest Thy creation and that which Thou hast willed for it; may Thy will also be fulfilled in me, a sinner, for Thou art blessed forever and ever. Amen

O Pure Virgin

By St. Nektarios of Aegina
Translated by Bishop Basil (Essey)

O pure and virgin Lady, O spotless Theotokos:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!
O Virgin Queen and Mother, O dewy Fleece most sacred:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O height transcending heaven above, O beam of light most radiant:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O joy of chaste and virgin maids, surpassing all the angels:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O brilliant light of heaven above, most clear and most radiant:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Commanding Chief of heavenly hosts, O holiest of holies:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O ever virgin Mary, O Mistress of creation:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O Bride all pure and spotless, O Lady all holy:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O holy Mary, Bride and Queen, O cause of our rejoicing:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O Maiden Queen honorable, O Mother most holy:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

More precious than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Surpassing Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, and Powers:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, song of the Cherubim; Rejoice, hymn of the Angels:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, ode of the Seraphim, and joy of the Archangels:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, O peace, Rejoice, O joy, and haven of salvation:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O bridal chamber of the Word, unfading, fragrant blossom:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, delight of paradise, Rejoice, life everlasting:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, O holy Tree of Life, and Fount of immortality:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

I supplicate thee, Lady, I humbly call upon thee!

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O Queen of all, I beg thee, to grant me thy favor:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O spotless and most honored Maid, O Lady all holy:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

I call upon thee fervently, thou temple most holy:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O thou my help, deliver me from harm and all adversity:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

And by thy prayers show me to be an heir of immortality:

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!