Which teachings do we follow?


May the Lord help us always follow the way of justice...

*...We accept only those teachings that nourish our self-love and ego and help us follow our own way, the way of sin. We fight against anything that comes in contrast with our goals, anything that rebukes the futility of our erroneous path. We fight truth because we follow the teachings that we ourselves have created or that we have heard from others. The ones that are in agreement with our desire, to live well in this temporary life.

Whatever is in agreement with our goals and the path that we have chosen we regard as true. We unquestionably accept it and project it as grounds for defending our own convictions and the mistaken teachings we follow, which do not agree with what Christ taught and for which we know deep in our heart are incorrect...May the Lord help us always follow the way of justice within Christ's light. Amen.

Teachings of St Luke of Crimea
Published by 'Orthodox Kypseli'


A Vision of Saint Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain

Father Paul Jaroslaw, an Orthodox priest from Homer, Alaska, relates a story from the life of Saint Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain.

The scenes in this video are from the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra on the Holy Mountain in Greece, and the chanting is done by the monastic brotherhood of the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, also on the Holy Mountain.

Saint Savvas the New of Kalymnos (5 December)

Saint Savvas was born in 1862 in Herakleitsa, Eastern Thrace to Constantine and Smaragda, very poor and he was there only son. When he was baptized he was given the name Vasilios.
From a young age he had a calling for the holy monastic life and secretely left for Mount Athos at the age of twelve where he entered St. Anne's Skete. Along with the usual monastic duties, this is where he learned iconography and Byzantine music.
After twelve years, he traveled to Jerusalem for a pilgrimage to the holy sites. He arrived in 1887 and entered the monastery of St. George Hozevitou and lived there for seventeen years as a hermit in the deserted and rugged cliffs. After serving for a period as a novice, he was tonsured a monk and given the name Sava.
In 1890, he joined the brotherhood of the Abbott Kallinikos (from Alatsata of Asia Minor) and in 1902 was ordained a deacon. In 1903, a year later, he was ordained to the holy priesthood by Archbishop Nikodemos from Diokesaria. He spent almost 10 years in the desert by the Jordan where he led an austere life and occupied himself with prayer and iconography. His dwelling consisted of two cells which he reached by ascending up a rope ladder. This isolation was necessary for successful inner concentration and noetic prayer and he made great spiritual progress there.
Due to the irregularities caused by the raids of the Arabs in the Holy Land, and health reasons, Sava was forced to leave. He returned to Greece where he searched for a quiet place to continue his monastic life. He was attracted to the island of Patmos, where he lived for a while in the hermitage of Grava and later at the Monastery of St. John. [1]
He later traveled for three years, throughout Greece, looking for a suitable place to stay. He visited Mount Athos, then the Monastery of Phaneromenis, then Salamina and finaly the island of Hydra but in 1919, he was invited to stay at the Greek island of Aegina, by St. Nektarios, to serve as a priest at the Convent of the Holy Trinity, and stayed for six years at this convent (from 1919 until 1925). There he taught the nuns the sacred art of iconography and Byzantine music. This period was one of the most significant events in his biography due to his friendship with St. Nektarios; who was at the height of his spiritual development at this time. Sava had the opportunity to confess and receive counsel from the saint and the two held each other in high esteem and considered each a saint.
Savvas conducted the funeral service for Saint Nektarios and is also renowed for painting the first icon of the saint.
One day St. Savvas asked the abbess not to let anyone disturb him for forty days, during which he remained confined to his cell in which the nuns could hear constant conversation (between the living Saint and the reposed Saint). After 40 days, he came out of his cell holding an icon of the saint. He handed it to the abbess and asked her to place it in the church for veneration. The abbess was surprised since Nektarios had not been formerly glorified ("canonized") as a saint, and was afraid that the convent would get into trouble. Although Savvas was always meek and humble, he insisted, and told her in a commanding manner: "You must show obedience. Take the icon and place it on the icon stand, and do not scrutinize the will of God." He knew the holiness and purity of St. Nektarios.
After the repose of St. Nektarios, the number of pilgrims to the convent increased due to the growing reputation of the saint as a miracle-worker. This greatly disrupted the quiet life that Savvas loved and with the encouragement of Gerasimos Zervos [2], he departed in 1925 and went to the island of Kalymnos.
There, he spent the last years of his life as the priest and spiritual father at the Convent of All Saints. As a confessor, he combined leniency with severity. He was lenient on certain sins and severe to others. He remained an ardent spiritual striver until the end of life and practiced extreme forms of self-restraint with regard to food, drink, and sleep. St. Savvas became a shining example of virtue to all who came into contact with him. Many smelled a heavenly fragrance in his presence and some even saw him rising above the ground as he stood at prayer.
Towards the end of his life, St. Savvas was in a state of intense prayer and holy contrition. For three days he did not receive anyone and he gave his last counsels: requested love and obedience in Christ. When he was on the point of death taking his last breath, suddenly he received strength, brought his blessed small hands together, and clapped them repeatedly saying his last holy words: "The Lord! The Lord! The Lord!" then chanted the troparion for Evangelismos (which vespers were being celebrated at that exact time by churches which followed the Old calender). He went to the Lord in 1948 on the eve of the feast of the Annunciation according to the Patristic calender. One nun saw the soul of the saint ascending in a golden cloud towards heaven. After about 10 years when the saint's grave was opened in accordance to the Greek Orthodox custom, his body was found whole and intact-uncorrupt and a heavenly fragrance emanated from the grave which covered the whole island of Kalymnos, this phenomenon was witnessed by many, including the local bishop. This was a testament to the sanctity of the saint. Numerous miracles and healings have since been attributed to St. Savvas the New of Kalymnos.

Let us faithful praise Holy Savas, the glory and protector of Kalymnos,
and peer of the Holy Ascetics of old;
for he has been glorified resplendently as a servant of Christ,
with the gift of working miracles,
and he bestows upon all God's grace and mercy.

Today the island of the Kalymnians celebrates your holy memory with a rejoicing heart;
for it possesses as truly God-given wealth,
your sacred body that has been glorified by God, O Father Savas,
approaching which they receive health of both soul and body.

Rejoice, thou new star of the Church,
the offspring of Thrace and the beauty of Kalymnos,
O God-inspired Savas, fellow citizen of angels and equal of all the saints.



Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh was born in Lausanne in 1914. He spent his early childhood in Russia and Persia, his father being a member of the Russian Imperial Diplomatic Corps. His mother was the sister of Alexander Scriabin, the composer. During the Russian Revolution the family had to leave Persia, and in 1923 settled in Paris where the future Metropolitan was educated, graduating in physics, chemistry and biology, and taking his doctorate in medicine, at the University of Paris.

In 1939, before leaving for the front as a surgeon in the French army, he secretly professed monastic vows. He was tonsured and received the name of Anthony in 1943. During the occupation of France by the Germans he worked as a doctor and took part in the Anti-Fascist movement of the Resistance. After the war he continued practising as a physician until 1948, when he was ordained to the priesthood and sent to England to serve as Orthodox Chaplain of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius. He was appointed vicar of the Russian patriarchal parish in London in 1950, consecrated as Bishop in 1957 and Archbishop in 1962, in charge of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain and Ireland. In 1963 he was appointed Exarch of the Moscow Patriarchate in Western Europe, and in 1966 was raised to the rank of Metropolitan. At his own request he was released in 1974 from the function of Exarch, in order to devote himself more fully to the pastoral needs of the growing flock of his Diocese and all who come to him seeking advice and help.
Metropolitan Anthony is Honoris Causa Divinity Doctor: of Aberdeen University 'for preaching the Word of God and renewing the spiritual life of this country'; of the Moscow Theological Academy for his theological, pastoral and preaching work; of Cambridge University; and of the Kiev Theological Academy. His first books on prayer and the spiritual life (Living Prayer, Meditations on a Theme and God and Man) were published in England, and his texts are now widely published in Russia, both as books and in periodicals.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, died peacefully 4th August, 2003, at the age of 89
You can read sermons and talks of Metropolitan Anthony following this link:


The Death of a Repentant Sinner.

Source: “On the Banks of God’s River,” by St. Nilus (translated by the St. Herman Brotherhood, 1969).From my birthplace where I had been occupied for nearly twenty years, it pleased the Lord to move me first to St. Petersburg and then to that blessed corner of the Novgorod province, to that quiet and God-fearing little town of Valdai, where only recently one could still hear the forlorn tinkling of the bell affixed to the arch of the coachman’s troika, (which has since given way, alas! to a new railroad). There my wife and I developed a close friendship with one of the local priests who also became our spiritual father. Once, during confession with my wife, he had occasion to say to her: “But you know, even in this day and age some people are bestowed the gift of seeing their guardian angel!”Our dear priest communicated no details and I decided to question him properly at the first opportunity. Here is what I discovered, as I recorded in my notebook.Today (April 25, 1907) I reminded our spiritual father about my wife’ s confession and asked: “Batiushka, what was it that you told my wife during confession about an angel appearing to one of your spiritual children?”“Yes,” he replied, “that actually happened, but I learned of it through the confession of one of my parishioners, and confessions are to be kept secret.”I wasn’t deterred and began to press:“But,” I asked, “is this parishioner still living?”“No, he died.”“In that case,” I said, “what can hinder you from making it known, especially if what you have to tell can serve to benefit us sinners?’’My spiritual father thought and thought, and then related to me the following:I had among my parishioners in the village a man by the name of Dimitri. He was a peasant and led a bad life; he stole, he cursed, he was a drunkard and a debauch. In short, he appeared to be at the bottom of the barrel. He had been living this way for a long time and there was no hope for any change. Then one day, as he was preparing to go to the fields to do some tilling, he came into the passage which led out from his dwelling, and suddenly he felt as though someone with tremendous force hit him on the back of the head. The blow was such that one minute he was standing upright and the next minute he was lying with his face smashed flat to the floor. There had been no one in the passageway at the time and Dimitri was perfectly sober. The swiftness of what had happened stunned and terrified him.“I arrived at the field,” Dimitri later told me in confession, “my face a bloody mess, I washed it in the stream, but couldn’t seem to get down to work; my mind was fixed on puzzling out what had happened. I sat at the edge of the field lost in thought; I recalled my wicked life. For a long time I sat, turning this over in my mind until finally I determined that I was done with my sinful habits and that I will begin a new life as pleases God and befits a Christian. In tears I stood on my knees in the middle of my field. Making the sign of the cross, I loudly cried out to God: ‘In Thy Name I vow to Thee that from henceforth I shall sin no more!’ And since then I have become a different man; I broke loose from my old ways: I stole no more, I stopped drinking, stopped swearing, ceased my wanton behavior...”“Do you mean to say,” I asked Dimitri, “that since making your vow you haven’t even met with any temptations?“How could that be! Of course I have, Batiushka. Often times I have felt a strong pull towards my old habits, but God has helped me and I have been able to resist. Once, however, it did happen that I gave in, the neighboring village was celebrating its parish feast and holding a fair. There I was making my way when what should I see lying in the road but someone’s wallet. It was stuffed tight and without thinking twice I snatched it up and into the pocket, l didn’t even stop to count the money—I was afraid someone might be watching. I had time only to see that the wallet contained a lot of bills and a lot of silver. I continued on my way, thinking to myself: Well, I certainly won’t return this wallet, and if I should meet its owner… Hey, but isn’t this a tidy sum that’s come my way! And suddenly… BAM! I was down flat against the stoney surface of the road. And just as before, my whole face was cut and bleeding, and I hadn’t been drinking. Getting to my feet, I saw—where the dickens!—a monstrous rock lying in the middle of the road where it had no business. I must have tripped over it. Here I let out with the blackest, most foul curse, and at that very moment, above me, directly over my head, something suddenly made a noise, like some gigantic bird. I glanced upwards and froze: over me, face to face, hovered an angel beating its wings. “Dimitri,” he said severely, “where is your vow to God? I heard you make it in your field, I saw you pray. And now you’re again back to your old ways?”My entire body was shaking when suddenly I found courage to cry out to him: “Who are you? One of hell’s demons, or an angel from heaven?”“I am from those above, not from those below!” replied the angel and became invisible.“It was awhile before I came to myself. When I did, I took from my pocket the wallet and flung it away from me as far as I could.I did not continue to the festival but returned home pondering what I had seen.”“That,” said Batiushka, “is what Dimitri told me in confession. And here is what later happened. To the amazement of all who knew him, reports began to spread of Dimitri’s goodness, his kindness. He became utterly transformed to the good down to the very soles of his feet. Ten years passed since the angel’s appearance. Dimitri remained true to his vow. In the eleventh year I was called to Dimitri’s village. ‘Batiushka! Dimitri has fallen ill; he asks that you come to see him.” I went without delay. Coming into his cottage I found Dimitri in bed, his eyes closed. I called to him and was startled when he suddenly sat bolt upright and thrust his arms towards me. I moved away, frightened, as I was carrying the Holy Gifts.“’Watch yourself!’ I said, ‘don’t you see, I have the Holy Gifts! I all but dropped them!’“’Batiushka!’ cried Dimitri gasping excitedly, ‘just now before you came I again saw the angel. He told me to prepare myself as I am to die this very night.’“What was he like?” I asked.“I was blinded by his light!” replied Dimitri in a tone of spiritual rapture.“Did you ask him if God will forgive your sins?”“God will forgive that which a spiritual father absolves ,” replied Dimitri firmly. “Whatever you loose here will also be loosed there!”I prepared to hear his confession.I gave him Holy Communion and, sinner that I am, I didn’t think he looked so very sick. He was still a robust peasant, not yet old. I left him fully persuaded that he would recover. About the angel—I didn’t know what to think.That night Dimitri reposed…This is what I was told, according to his priestly conscience, by the kind pastor of one of the churches in the peaceful town of Valdai.http://members.cox.net/orthodo


Dimissal Hymn of St. Nektarios of Aegina

First Tone
The offspring of Selyvria and the Guardian of Aegina. The true friend of virue who didst appear in the last years. O Nektarios we faithful honour thee as a godly servant of Chirst. For thou pourest (forth) healings of every kind to those who piously cry out: Glory to Christ who hath glorified thee; Glory to Him who made thee wondrous: Glory to Him who worketh healing all through thee.

St John Chrysostom on the End Times

Wait ‘til the end and you will see the outcome of events. Don’t fuss, don’t worry yet awhile. Imagine someone who is not of the trade watching a blacksmith start melting down gold and mixing in ashes and straw. If he does not wait till the end, he will think that the poor piece of gold is going to be destroyed. Imagine someone else, born and bred on the sea, being suddenly landed on terra firma and not having the least notion about agriculture. He sees a farmer collecting grain and shutting it in a barn to protect it from damp. Then he sees this same farmer take the same grain and cast it to the winds, spreading it on the ground, maybe in the mud, without worrying any more about the dampness. Surely he will think that the farmer has ruined the grain, and he will reprove him. Is such reproof justified? Yes it is, not due to facts about the grain, but because of the man’s ignorance, the pride and rashness of the judgment made. Because if this individual, before committing himself, had waited for the summer, he would change his ideas. He would see the grain waving in the fields, he would see the farmer sharpening his scythe to reap the very grain that he had scattered and left to rot, he would see how greatly that grain had multiplied. Now, if the farmer waits all the winter, so much the more ought you to await the final outcome of events, remembering who it is that plows the soil of our souls. And when I speak of the final outcome, I am not referring to the end of this present life, but to the future life —God’s plan for us aims at our salvation and glory.



Constantine's parents were Emperor Constantius Chlorus and the Empress Helena. Chlorus had other children by another wife, but from Helena he had only Constantine. After his coronation Constantine fought three great battles: one, against Maxentius, a Roman tyrant; the second, against the Scythians on the Danube and the third, against the Byzantines. Before the battle with Maxentius, while Constantine was greatly concerned and in doubt about his success, a brilliant Cross appeared to him in the sky during the day, completely adorned with stars and written on the Cross were these words: "By this Sign Conquer." Astonished, the emperor ordered a large cross to be forged similar to the one that appeared to him and that it be carried before the army. By the power of the Cross he achieved a glorious victory over the enemy who was superior in members. Maxentius was drowned in the Tiber river. Immediately after that, Constantine issued the famous Edict of Milan in the year 313 A.D. to halt the persecution of Christians. Defeating the Byzantines, Constantine built a beautiful capital on the Bosphorus which from that time on was called Constantinople. Before that, however, Constantine succumbed to the dreaded disease of leprosy. As a cure, the pagan priests and physicians counseled him to bathe in the blood of slaughtered children. However, he rejected that. Then the Apostles Peter and Paul appeared to him and told him to seek out Bishop Sylvester who will cure him of this dreaded disease. The bishop instructed him in the Christian Faith, baptized him and the disease of leprosy vanished from the emperor's body. When a discord began in the Church because of the mutinous heretic Arius, the emperor convened the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, 325. A.D., where the heresy was condemned and Orthodoxy confirmed. St. Helena, the pious mother of the emperor, was very zealous for the Faith of Christ. She visited Jerusalem, discovered the Honorable Cross of the Lord, built the Church of the Resurrection on Golgotha and many other churches throughout the Holy Land. This holy woman presented herself to the Lord in her eightieth year in 327 A.D. Emperor Constantine outlived his mother by ten years. He died in Nicomedia in his sixty-fifth year in 337 A.D. His body was interred in the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Constantinople.

Christian Cartoons! ! !

Have you ever seen Christian Cartoons before? Enjoy!


My child, since your elder has experience with prayer, there is no danger of being deluded. Do as your elder tells you, and don't feel sad if grace comes and goes. For this is how it trains a person to think humbly and not become arrogant. In the beginning, this is how an infant acts. "Woe to thee, O city, when thy king is a child," say the Holy Scriptures. "Woe to thee, O soul, when thy nous is a beginner in these things!" (Eccl. 10:16)

The nous, my child, cannot remain motionless, especially the nous of the one who is spiritually weak. One moment he needs reading, another moment chanting, later silence. When a person is silent, the nous finds the opportunity to meditate on various themes from the Scriptures which he had read previously. So when you give the nous whatever it likes that is good, it gains strength, just as the body does when it receives healthy food. But when you give it just anything, then it is darkened instead of being enlightened. Likewise, when it is tired it needs rest.

In this manner, it learns to discern the good from the bad. Thus the nous becomes all light, all clarity. It sees the soul's purity. It sees the thorns. It endures temptations. Grace increases. The body is cleansed of passions. The soul becomes peaceful. And finally, everything comes in succession as if chained together, quickly and without much toil. This is all the result of perfect obedience. Furthermore, you should know that he who has perfect obedience is totally free from cares.

Now then, the nous is the steward of the soul that carries its food - that is, whatever you give it. So when it is at peace and you give it the good things it wants, it lowers them into the heart. First of all, the nous is cleansed from whatever predispositions it was obsessed with in the world. It is disentangled from the cares of life, and by constantly saying the prayer, it completely stops wandering. And then you realize that it has been purified, because it no longer inclines towards the evil and filthy things which it had seen or heard in the world. Afterwards, through the prayer that is going in and out of the heart, the nous clears a path and expels all indecency, evil, and filth from the heart. For the nous declares war against the passions and against the demons, who arouse the passions and who have been lurking in the heart for so many years without anybody seeing or knowing about them. But now that the nous has acquired purity - its original garment - it sees them and, like a watch-dog, barks, howls, and fights with them as lord and guard of the entire intellectual part of the soul. It wields the name JESUS like a weapon and flogs the enemies, who also are barking like wild dogs, until it throws them all out to the periphery of the heart. Then the nous begins to clean up all the filth and dirt with which the demons had defiled us every time we assented to do anything evil and sinful. It proceeds to fight with the demons in order to drive them out and remove them entirely, so that they do not disturb it at all. And it constantly struggles to throw out the filth which they constantly throw in. Then, as a good steward, it carries provisions suitable for the enlightenment and health of the soul.

In all of this, purifying grace assists. The one praying is covered under the protection of obedience as if he were in the shade. He is guarded by the grace of him who has assumed the responsibility of his soul before God. And slowly the change of the Most High occurs. In short, once the demons have been completely banished and the inner heart has been purified, the defilement ceases. The nous is enthroned upon the heart as a king and rejoices like a groom with his bride in the bridal chamber. He celebrates with a holy, peaceful, pure joy. He says the prayer effortlessly. And then grace acts freely and shows his nous the promises that he expects to receive as a reward, if he carries out his obligations without fail. Once grace has come upon him, he is henceforth calm and peaceful, and it raises him to theoria in proportion to the foundation's capacity.

So it is primarily the fear of God, faith, perfect obedience, and self-denial that bring all these good things. Then a person attains blessed love and finally dispassion, so that evil is no longer active in his nous; rather, he cries out from the depths of his heart, "My soul thirsted for Thee, my God! When shall I come and appear before Thy holy countenance?" (Ps. 41:2) And he awaits death as the greatest joy; he awaits the time when these eyes will close and the other ones will open, whereby he will see everything with joy forever.

Therefore exert yourself, my child, exert yourselves in blessed obedience where all these good things lie, and live as one soul in different bodies. Then the elder is relieved and has time to pray for you with all his soul and is full of joy and delight.

+ Elder Joseph the Hesychast +

+ St. Irenaeus of Lyons

The Church . . . though disseminated throughout the world, carefully guards this preaching and this faith, which she has received, as if she dwelt in one house. She likewise believes these things as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; she preaches, teaches and hands them down harmoniously, as if she possessed one mouth. For though the languages of the world are dissimilar, nevertheless the meaning [or force] of tradition is one and the same. To explain, the churches which have been founded in Germany do not believe or hand down anything else; neither do those founded in Spain or Gaul or Libya or in the central regions of the world. But just as the sun, God's creation, is one and the same throughout the world, so too, the light, the preaching of the truth, shines everywhere and enlightens all men who wish to come to a knowledge of the truth. Neither will any of those who preside in the churches, though exceedingly eloquent, say anything else (for no one is above the Master); nor will a poor speaker subtract from the tradition. For, since the faith is one and the same, neither he who can discourse at length about it adds to it, nor he who can say only a little subtracts from it.

Taiwanese Orthodox Missionary's Letter to the Greek People

A letter from the first Taiwanese Orthodox missionary Pelagia Yu to the Greek people.

I am Chinese, born in Taiwan and my Christian name is Pelagia. I was a Protestant Christian, and it took me five years to become Orthodox. I love to read the Holy Bible and have all of its publications in the Chinese language.
I have visited Greece and discovered that it is a truly unique country. While travelling in your country, even before I arrived, on the plane I saw how different in temperament Greek people were, how cheerfully they conversed with each other, how they laughed and how they applauded the pilot after the landing, something unheard of for us Asians, who are more conservative and do not easily display emotion. I learnt after this experience that the expression of freedom requires passion and liveliness.
In Greece, I visited many churches, I participated in the Divine Liturgy, and when I received Holy Communion it reduced me to tears even though I did not understand the Greek language, because the Orthodox faith is the same, no matter what the language.
I would have liked to be born Greek, to have been born Orthodox, to have received Holy Communion and venerated holy icons from my years of infancy right up until my death.
I cry for me and my compatriots, because instead of Holy Communion, we eat and drink food sacrificed to idols.
I would have liked to be born Greek, so my ears may be filled with holy hymns.
I cry for me and my compatriots, whose ears are filled with the noise of sutras and the screeches of those who worship the idols.
I would have liked to be born Greek, so that I may smell the sweet aroma of incense.
I cry for me and my compatriots, who are constantly assaulted by the pungent smell of the smoke rising up from the sacrifices offered up to the idols.
I would have liked to be born Greek, so that my hands could touch the holy icons, the holy relics of the Saints and be filled with the love of Christ.
I cry for me and my compatriots, whose hands touch the idols and the things sacrificed to them, but who in reality are holding on to nothing.
I would have liked to be born Greek, so that I may light candles to Christ - not like here, where we burn money as an offering to the spirits.
I was searching for the Truth, using more than 30 different publications of the Holy Bible, which unfortunately, were all full of errors (translated by non-Orthodox).
I would have liked to be born Greek, so that I may read the Holy Bible in its original form!
I cry for me and my compatriots, because, although we have eyes, we are blind.
I would have liked to be born Greek, so that I may be able to see the grace of God all around me.
I cry for me and my compatriots, who are surrounded by temples dedicated to false gods.
Yes, I am Orthodox, but living in Taiwan, I have very limited opportunities to experience the Orthodox Christian way of life.
I cry for me, because I do not have the ability to show my compatriots the greatness of our faith. The people here want to see signs and miracles.
I cry for me and my compatriots, because we do not have the gift of hearing of and seeing so many miracles, so many holy words that you have seen and heard over 2000 years in Greece, and which you still see. Taiwan is not an Orthodox country, our feast days and holy days do not look at all like yours.
I am disappointed that in Greece, although you have so many beautiful mountains, you do not look after them, you burn them down. However, I am amazed that practically every mountain in Greece has at least one monastery. We have mountains filled with Buddhist temples and monasteries.
I would have liked to be born Greek, so that I may go and pray at an Orthodox monastery easily.
I cry for me and my compatriots. For the first time, I visited an Orthodox monastery dedicated to St John the Forerunner in Pelion. I travelled to Greece from Taiwan - 16 hours on the plane, a few hours on the train to Larisa and another hour with the monastery car, that was driven by one of the nuns.
I saw the ancient ruins of the Holy Monastery, I saw so many other places in Greece that have been abandoned and my heart bled. In Taiwan, we do not have such a wealth of archaeological artefacts, holy and beautiful places, but you do not appreciate them.
I cry that we do not have beautiful icons. I cry because I feel like Christ is weak and naked here.
Greeks, you think you are poor due to the economic crisis you are going through, but you do not know how truly rich you are.
Taiwan is a country with a huge amount of material development and progress, and yet it remains in the darkness of Satan and our spiritual life is empty.
In Greece, I saw a lot of people, especially on Sundays, drinking and celebrating and not going to church. But here in Taiwan our fellow citizens, mainly young people, even if they wanted to, find it impossible to come to church, because the only Orthodox church in the entire country is a small room on the 4th floor of a huge apartment building on the outskirts of Taipei. Many times, people cannot fit into the church and remain outside for the duration of the services.
My brothers and sisters in Greece, even though I am spiritually handicapped, I still have my legs active so that I can kneel before you and beg.
I pray that you consider me like the poor man Lazarus, so that you may throw to me some crumbs from the spiritual treasures you have, of the gifts you give to your churches, of the many little churches you build on all corners of your homeland.
Our Orthodox flock in Taiwan, as you know, is small - less than 100 people. We are not wealthy. We do not have the means to buy a decent place in the city that will be able to meet our needs for worship, catechism and teaching. Fr. Ionas conducts lessons on a regular basis, targeted mainly at the young people of our city and of course, open to whomever wants to come and meet us in person; those people that up until now have only had the opportunity to see the Orthodox Church in Taiwan through the Internet.
We do not ask for help to build an Orthodox church building here. It would cost millions. Please help us to buy a bigger place in the city centre, which we will convert into a church, for the sake of our nation, our brothers and sisters, who have never had the opportunity to hear about and know our Christ. We are a country of 23 million people! And yet we have need of your help.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, if the need arises, I will do whatever is in my power to repay a little of your love. I will do whatever is needed with all my heart and for the duration of my life.
I thank you. Forgive me.
Pelagia Yu.
Source: Translated by P.S.Z. This article was originally published in Greek in the Periodicαl "Agios Kosmas o Aitolos" (Issue 84 - first quarter 2011) and online at http://www.iersyn.gr/pelagias_letter.php (Tuesday 22nd February 2011).
Hat Tip: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/05/taiwanese-orthodox-missionarys-letter.html


The Way of the Pilgrim

I just returned from a pilgrimage to Mount Athos and as much as I would like to share what one feels in such a spiritual journey, it is difficult to put into words. Everything is so impressive and so divine that you can’t ch...oose what to say. One may tell stories about the historical buildings, the vistas, the old icons, the relics, the music, but at the end of the day the one thing that boldly comes out and makes all the other things possible is the monk’s commitment to a life in Christ, their desire to go beyond the image of Christ and achieve also His likeness. Living for a week in a monastic republic, in a place where everyone you meet is trying to become a saint is an extraordinary experience because it reveals, in opposition your shortcomings and you start questioning the depth of your own faith and the real state of your own commitment. Living a life that has it’s sole purpose to achieve union with God, seems a no brainer on Mount Athos because everyone there is trying the same thing, is something as common as breathing, it is natural and the pilgrim is attracted in this movement, either realizing it or not. By conforming himself to the monastic life he also starts pursuing the same goal of self edification and the grace of God changes something in him. He’s not impatient anymore and the 5-6 hours night services seem short, even though a week before an hour-long service may have seemed interminable. He get’s used with silence more than noise, he get’s to think more about spiritual food than the gastronomical rewards of the city. Without realizing it the pilgrim is aligned in this grace-attracting environment. All starts to seem natural to him, despite the fact that his usual habitat, the noisy and secular city, has disappeared. This new rhythm of life fits him like a glove because it is what he really wants, it is what he was supposed to follow all along, but did not even knew it existed. But here comes the moment of leaving the mountain. One is initially happy to go home to the family and share the experiences, the beautiful places, the chanting, the relics, the conversations. But as the boat takes the pilgrim away from the mountain and the mountain fades in the haze of the horizon there is an unexplainable longing that starts settling in his soul. As he gets closer to the world there is something that calls him back and that call, he does not realize it now, will be with him forever. This is the gift of the mountain. The greatest shock however is when he is back into the world and meets the first “man from the city” (Luke 8:27) as Jesus met the demoniac in Gadara. The colors of the city hurt the pilgrim’s eyes now, the loud and rhythmic music inflicts pain in his years, everything disturbs the inner peace he was able to briefly experience on the mountain. This is the moment when he realizes, in this contrasting encounter, that there is something wrong with the world he was living in. He can see clearly now that the world is corrupted and does not follow God anymore, that the world is indeed possessed by a legion of demons (Luke 8:30) that drive all the people in a spiritual desert, far from the richness and the abundance of the spirit, in a barren place where the mere existence of God is forgotten. But he did not realize it until his eyes were open. So he desperately tries to share this with someone from the world, tries to tell them that what they do is wrong, that this is not what God wants from us to be selfish and greedy, and pursue only the needs of the flesh, that one has to take care more of the soul and what he gets in return is laughter, irony and indifference. The same happened with the Gadarenes, they saw Christ miracle, the saw the possessed coming back to normality and instead of asking Christ to stay with them and cure them also, they sent Him away as something strange and unknown that might change their self sufficient way of life (Luke 8:37). So at this moment the pilgrim realizes that he is the cured demoniac of Gadara, and, released from his demons, he is sent now in the world to be a witness of the healing power of Jesus Christ “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8:39). He is however not alone because God has His people spread around the world; they are the salt of the earth. They are not perfect, as the monks are not perfect, but they share a deeper understanding of the purpose of life, their eyes have been open to paradise and that vision will stay with them and will motivate them despite the world around. So the pilgrim continues his way into the world and as he fades into the horizon, swallowed by the crowd, one can distinctly hear him saying loud and clear: Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner. Amin.
By Fr. Vasile Catalin Tudora . http://www.pravmir.com/


Behind every test lurks the blessing of God. Elder Ephraim, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Philitheou.

Sorrow is not nice. However, behind it, behind the pain, behind the sorrow, behind the test, lurks the blessing of God, the rebirth, the reforming of man, of family. Almost everyone attributes his/her conversion to some test. They believe everything goes well, then God takes their child, and then there is mourning, pain etc. Then comes the grace of God which overshadows them, making these people calm. They approach the Church, approach the confession, approach the priest. Thanks to that child they go to the Church. Their pain makes them to seek, to pray for repose, to request liturgies.
Pain relieves the heart and makes it receptive to the word of God, while earlier it was hard and unreceptive. For example, a man during his youthful exuberance thinks, "I am and no one else is". There go the degrees, the glories, the health, the beauty and everything else. However, when he is laid in bed sick, he thinks differently. Vanity of vanity, everything is vanity. I may die, he thinks. What is the benefit of all these and he starts to think differently. It is like a man approaching him and tells him, "read this book and check what it says". He hears a word of God and then he listens to it. And if you give him a book, his pain has already made his heart suitable and he opens the book and the Bible and reads it and thus starts the repose of man. And when he is healed, immediately then he stands up and lives carefully his life and does not live like before with pride and with the fantasy he had.

Sickness and sorrow is by and large medicine of the providence of God to bring man closer to Him and increase his virtue.

The sickness and sorrow is by and large medicine of the providence of God to bring man closer to Him and increase his virtue. Job was the best man on earth but God wanted to make him even better. Before he was tested, Job was not famous. As soon as he was tested and fought, struggled, crowned and became rich, after that began his glory to this day. His example is the most brilliant one and empowers every man that is being tested. If he was tested being a saint, so much more us who are sinners. The result was he was made holy and was given again years of life and blessed him doubly and thrice with what he had, thus becoming a bright example throughout the centuries and for him to relax and say: "As the Lord wished so it happened. May the name of the Lord be blessed". He lowers his head and says: "God gave and God took" And even if He took my child, hasn't God given him to me? He took it. Where is my child? In heaven? So what happens there? He reposes there.

Behind every test lurks the will of God and the benefit which naturally he could not see at that time, but with time he will know the benefit. We have many such examples.

Like also the Saints Andronicus and Athanasia. They were a couple. He was a jeweler of great wealth etc. Part of his profit from work was used to feed his family. Another part of his profit he gave to the poor and a third of his profit was lent to people who had no money, interest free. They had two happy daughters. One day both died from sickness. Both parents went to bury them. Athanasia, the unfortunate one, would cry inconsolably over their graves. So did Andronicus. With great pain he started for home. Poor Athanasia stayed behind to mourn over their graves. "My children" and "My children" she cried. The sun was setting and the cemetery was closing. In her sorrow she saw a monk coming to her and telling her: "Lady why are you crying?"

How could I not cry Father?" (She thought he was the priest of the cemetery). "I buried both my children, my two angels, I laid them in their graves and I and my husband are left alone. We have no more freshness anymore.

He tells her: "Your children are in paradise with the angels. They are in the joy and grace of God and you cry? Pity, and you are a Christian.

"So they live my children? Are they angels?"

Of course your children are angels"

He was the Saint of that Church. Finally both Andronicus and Athanasia became monastics and were sanctified.

Elder Ephraim, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Philitheou.
Tested spiritual admonitions for receiving our spiritual health and salvation.
Publication, "Orthodox Kypseli" Thessalonica.


To God

A soul, of lamentations worthy, sorrows and is sighing,

and with a loud and fervent voice, the name of God is crying,

and saying, my God save me now, my God, have mercy on me,

O God, You've seen my darkness now, so shed Your light upon me,

my God, don't turn away from me, but quickly hear my pleading,

enlighten my soul's eyes, O God, with spiritual leading;

because they have been blinded from the sins within my depths.

O wretched self, I cannot see; my God, I lose my steps.

Miserable me, I cannot see, my God, where I am going,

or where I stand, or that I am a stranger, passed my knowing.

Many clouds and mists my soul in darkness shroud and cover,

and without measure I embitter You, my sweetest Savior.

O wretch, within I feel upheaval, mourning pierced my side,

for Your All-Holy Spirit, Lord, to me must be denied;

my soul must weep eternally her poverty of grace,

and without ceasing to lament in tears that woeful place.

I must avenge myself for all the pain sin makes me suffer,

and with the rivers of my tears, my deep repentance offer;

the tender earth to which I will return, with weeping drench,

to cleanse and flood away the traces of my sins' foul stench.

I am no longer worthy, Lord, to hope in Your compassion,

I'm worthy only of hell-fire, and suffering damnation.

But you, my refuge is in You, my God and my Salvation...
Orthodox Poetry Of Gerondissa (Abbess) Xeni Of Aegina, Greece (1867-1923)


1. Watchfulness is a spiritual method which, if sedulously practiced over a long period, completely frees us: with God's help from impassioned thoughts, impassioned words and evil actions. It leads, in so far as this is possible, to a sure knowledge of the inapprehensible God, and helps us to penetrate the divine and hidden mysteries. It enables us to fulfill every divine commandment in the Old and New Testaments and bestows upon us every blessing of the age to come. It is, in the true sense, purity of heart, a state blessed by Christ when He says: 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God' (Matt. 5:8); and one which, because of its spiritual nobility and beauty - or, rather, because of our negligence - is now extremely rare among monks. Because this is its nature, watchfulness is to be bought only at a great price. But once established in us, it guides us to a true and holy way of life. It teaches us how to activate the three aspects of our soul correctly, and how to keep a firm guard over the senses. It promotes the daily growth of the four principal virtues, and is the basis of our contemplation.

2. The great lawgiver Moses - or, rather, the Holy Spirit -indicates the pure, comprehensive and ennobling character of this virtue, and teaches us how to acquire and perfect ft, when he says: 'Be attentive to yourself, lest there arise in your heart a secret thing which is an iniquity' (Deut. 15:9. LXX). Here the
phrase 'a secret thing' refers to the first appearance of an evil thought. This the Fathers call a provocation introduced into the heart by the devil. As soon as this thought appears in. our intellect, our own thoughts chase after it and enter into impassioned intercourse with it.

3. Watchfulness is a way embracing every virtue, every commandment. It is the heart’s stillness and, when free from mental images, it is the guarding of the intellect.

4. Just as a man blind from birth does not see the sun's light, so one who fails to pursue watchfulness does not see the rich radiance of divine grace. He cannot free himself from evil thoughts, words and actions, and because of these thoughts and actions he will not be able freely to pass the lords of hell when he dies.

5. Attentiveness is the heart's stillness, unbroken by any thought. In this stillness the heart breathes and invokes, endlessly and without ceasing, only Jesus Christ who is the Son of God and Himself God. It confesses Him who alone has power to forgive our sins, and with His aid it courageously faces its enemies. Through this invocation enfolded continually in Christ, who secretly divines all hearts, the soul does everything it can to keep its sweetness and its inner struggle hidden from men, so that the devil, coming upon it surreptitiously, does not lead it into evil and destroy its precious work.

6. Watchfulness is a continual fixing and. halting of thought at the entrance to the heart. In this way predatory and murderous thoughts are marked down as they approach and what they say and do is noted; and we can see in what specious and delusive form the demons are trying to deceive the intellect. If we are conscientious in this, we can gain much experience and knowledge of spiritual warfare.

7. In one who is attempting to dam up the source of evil thoughts and actions, continuity of watchful attention in the intellect fat produced by fear of hell and fear of God, by God's withdrawals from the soul, and by the advent of trials which chasten and instruct. For these withdrawals and unexpected trials help us to correct our life, especially when, having once experienced the tranquility of watchfulness, we neglect it. Continuity of attention produces inner stability; inner stability produces a natural intensification of watchfulness; and this intensification gradually and in due measure gives contemplative insight into spiritual warfare. This in its turn is succeeded by persistence in the Jesus Prayer and by the state that Jesus confers in which the intellect, free from all images, enjoys complete quietude.

8. When the mind, taking refuge in Christ and calling upon Him, stands firm and repels its unseen enemies, like a wild beast facing a pack of hounds from a good position of defense, then it inwardly anticipates their inner ambuscades well in advance. Through continually invoking Jesus the peacemaker against them, it remains invulnerable,

9. If you are an adept, initiated into the mysteries and standing before God at dawn (cf. Ps. 5:3), you will divine the meaning of my words. Otherwise be watchful and you will discover it.

10. Much water makes up the sea. But extreme watchfulness and the Prayer of Jesus Christ, undistracted by thoughts, are the necessary basis for inner vigilance and unfathomable stillness of soul, for the deeps of secret and singular contemplation, for the humility that knows and assesses, for rectitude and love. This watchfulness and this Prayer must be intense, concentrated and unremitting.

11. It is written: 'Not everyone who says to Me: "Lord, Lord" shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father' (Matt. 7:21). The will of the Father is indicated in the words: 'You who love the Lord, hate evil’ (Ps. 97:10). Hence we should both pray the Prayer of Jesus Christ and hate our evil thoughts. In this way we do God's will.

12. Through His incarnation God gave us the model for a holy life and recalled us from our ancient fall. In addition to many other things. He taught us, feeble as we are, that we should fight against the demons with humility, fasting, prayer and watchfulness. For when, after His baptism. He went into the desert and the devil came up to Him as though He were merely a man, He began His spiritual warfare by fasting and won the battle by this means - though, being God, and God of gods. He had no need of any such means at all.

13. I shall now tell you in plain, straightforward language what I consider to be the types of watchfulness which gradually cleanse the intellect from impassioned thoughts. In these times of spiritual warfare I have no wish to conceal beneath words whatever in this treatise may be of use, especially to more simple people. As St Paul puts it: 'Pay attention, my child Timothy, to what you read' (cf. 1 Tim. 4:13).

14. One type of watchfulness consists in closely scrutinizing every mental image or provocation; for only by means of a mental image can Satan fabricate an evil thought and insinuate this into the intellect in order to lead it astray.

15. A second type of watchfulness consists in freeing the heart from all thoughts, keeping it profoundly silent and still, and in praying.

16. A third type consists in continually and humbly calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ for help.

17. A fourth type is always to have the thought of death in one's mind.

18. These types of watchfulness, my child, act like doorkeepers and bar entry to evil thoughts. Elsewhere, if God gives me words, I shall deal more fully with a farther type which, along with the others, is also effective: this is to fix one's gaze on heaven and to pay no attention to anything material.

19. When we have to some extent cut off the causes of the passions, we should devote our time to spiritual contemplation; for if we fail to do this we shall easily revert to the fleshly passions, and so achieve nothing but the complete darkening of our intellect and its reversion to material things.

20. The man engaged in spiritual warfare should simultaneously possess humility, perfect attentiveness, the power of rebuttal, and prayer. He should possess humility because, as his fight is against the arrogant demons, he will then have the help of Christ in his heart, for 'the Lord hates the arrogant' (cf. Prov. 3:34. LXX). He should possess attentiveness in order always to keep his heart clear of all thoughts, even of those that appear to be good. He should possess the power of rebuttal so that, whenever he recognizes the devil, he may at once repulse him angrily; for it is written: 'And I shall reply to those who vilify me; will not my soul be subject to God?' (Pss. 119:42; 62:1. LXX). He should possess prayer so that as soon as he has rebutted the devil he may call to Christ with 'cries that cannot be uttered' (Rom. 8:26). Then he will see the devil broken and; routed by the venerable name of Jesus — will see him and his dissimulation scattered like dust or smoke before the wind.

+ St. Hesychios the Priest +

The Venerable Belt of the Mother of God

This ribbon has been blessed through contact with the Holy Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos, which is kept at the Monastery of Vatopaidi. The Holy Belt was a gift to the Monastery from the Byzantine emperor John Cantecuzenus. Through these ribbons and by the grace of the Most Holy Mother of God - to Whom our Monastery is dedicated - many miraculous events have occurred. Persons suffering from cancer and other illnesses have been restored to health. More particularly however, sterile persons, as well as others unsuccessful in bearing children, have been able to conceive and bear healthy children. The patient is girded with a ribbon for a period of time, living in repentance, having made Confession, praying, and receiving the Holy Eucharist regularly. The husband and wife should follow an identical way of life, with fasting and with abstinence from marital relations, according to their ability, during the entire time they are wearing the holy ribbon. A faithful spiritual life with continual repentance and partaking in the Holy Mysteries of the Orthodox Church must be a lifelong practice, as this constitutes the only way of communion and ultimately union with God in this present world and in the age to come. Holy Great Monastery of Vatopaidi 630 86 Karyes, Holy Mountain (Athos) Greece
It was made clear to me, a few days ago, that I need to pay more attention to the fact that I'm getting older, and that I must be prepared, each and every day, to stand before the Lord, and make account of my life. I was sitting in a seafood restaurant, prior to a board meeting of an organization I belong to, having lunch with two friends.

Sitting in a restaurant on the waterfront in the city of Edmonds, Washington, I noticed two women sitting at a table near ours. One woman looked exceptionally old, and was laboring, quite slowly, to bring her spoon to her mouth. I was sitting, as I prefer to do, with my back to the window, with my two friends facing me from across the table. To my immediate right was an exit door, leading to the boardwalk outside the restaurant. The younger of the two women, upon the completion of their meal, pushed the older woman, who was in a wheelchair, past me, and was attempting to open the door. Seeing her struggle, I stood up, stepped forward, and asked to be of assistance. I opened the door, and as they were passing through, the younger woman announced that her mother was celebrating her 101st birthday. Hearing this, I leaned forward, taking the elderly woman's hands into mine, and wished her a happy birthday. Being a gentleman, I told her that I would consider myself a lucky man, should I, when reaching 80, look as young as she, on her 101st birthday. The sweet woman looked into my face with a big smile, and said, "We're of the same generation, aren't we!" (I'm sixty-five.)

As I stepped back into the restaurant, my friend, Dr. Bakken commented on what a sweet old woman she was. When I told them what she's said about me, my friends broke up laughing. A moment later, the young waitress came to pour more coffee, and told us that the old woman I'd held the door open for, was celebrating her 101st birthday. Dr. Bakken said, "so is Father Tryphon."

Nothing like being mistaken for 101, to remind oneself of the necessity of being prepared for the Judgment Day.

Abbot Tryphon


Biblical Readings May

1 Acts 5:12-20 Jn 20:19-31
2 Heb 13:7‐16 Mt 5:14‐19
3 Acts 4:1‐10 Jn 3:16‐21
4 Acts 4:13‐22 Jn 5:17‐24
5 Acts 4:23‐31 Jn 5:24‐30
6 Acts 5:1‐11 Jn 5:30‐6:2
7 Acts 5:21‐33 Jn 6:14‐27
8 1Jn 1:1-7 Mk 15:43-16:8
9 Acts 6:8‐7:5, 47‐60 Jn 4:46‐54
10 1Co 4:9‐16 Lk 9:12‐19
11 Acts 8:18‐25 Jn 6:35‐39
12 Acts 8:26‐39 Jn 6:40‐44
13 Acts 8:40‐9:19 Jn 6:48‐54
14 Acts 9:19‐31 Jn 15:17‐16:2
15 Acts 9:32-42 Jn 5:1-15
16 Acts 10:1‐16 Jn 6:56‐69
17 Acts 10:21‐33 Jn 7:1‐13
18 Acts 14:6‐18 Jn 7:14‐30 (M)
19 Acts 10:34‐43 Jn 8:12‐20
20 Acts 12:1‐11 Lk 9:1‐6
21 Acts 26:1,12‐20 Jn 10:1‐9
22 Acts 11:19-26,29-30 Jn 4:5-42
23 Acts 12:12‐17 Jn 8:42‐51
24 Acts 12:25‐13:12 Jn 8:52‐59
25 2Co 4:6‐15 Mt 11:2‐15
26 Acts 14:20‐27 Jn 9:39‐10:9
27 Acts 15:5‐34 Jn 10:17‐28
28 Acts 15:35‐41 Jn 10:27‐38
29 Acts 16:16-34 Jn 9:1-38
30 Acts 17:1‐15 Jn 11:47‐57
31 Acts 17:19‐28 Jn 12:19‐36


The Simple Shepherd – Papa Nicholas Planas

One of the most inspiring righteous figures to come to our attention in recent years is Papa Nicholas Planas. The revelation of this saintly Greek Orthodox priest to English language readers [1] is truly providential, for his life contains virtually all the elements of the spiritual conflicts that beset 20th century Orthodoxy, and in his personality is to be found the antidote to the stifling complexities of our modern times.

"The mark of Orthodoxy is simplicity of heart which brings faith. -- Photios Kontoglou

Born in mid-nineteenth century Greece, Papa-Nicholas was married and the father of one child, after which he spent the rest of his life in celibacy. He was ordained deacon in 1879 and priest in 1884, and his entire life passed in the midst of the noisy and bustling city of Athens as though he were living in a cave in the desert; "his mind was a stranger to everything." Ills inner state was of such purity, and the intensity of his spiritual life was so great, that it is not surprising to learn that saints often appeared to him, or that he was clairvoyant and worked countless miracles. In his guilelessness and deep faith Papa-Nicholas regarded these divine gifts and manifestations as being quite natural; if, however, he chanced to relate some vision and saw that his listeners were astounded, he was apt to say, "I didn't see anything; I just make things up," so as to avoid any reputation of being holy. He himself had no idea of his sanctity, "but rather tears for his sins were never absent from his eyes."

Papa-Nicholas was a perfect modern example of Ft. Seraphim of Sarov's instruction to "acquire the spirit of peace, and thousands around you will be saved." He shunned all occasions of argument. Once, when two wardens were quarrelling in his presence, he hid under a table--not out of timidity, but as a wise strategist of spiritual warfare. In advising one of his spiritual daughters on how to control her temper, he said, "Do you think, my child, that I don't know how to speak out? I know, but I think of the results, and so I keep quiet." Throughout his life his spirit of peaceful meekness constantly amazed everyone with whom he came in contact. Even when admonishment was called for, Papa Nicholas had no need of many words: his life itself, his very presence served to bring the erring soul to amendment, for he possessed an abundance of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit caused him to be cheerful even when he met with bitterness or grief. Uneducated by worldly standards, extremely simple both in speech and demeanor, he was often misunderstood and ridiculed; those affected by modernist trends regarded him as something of a fool. But throughout his life he was never slandered-that is, he was never accused falsely. He believed that the reason he had been so protected was because whenever he stepped out of the house he began to pray the following from Psalm 118: "My steps do Thou direct according to Thy saying, and let no in iniquity have dominion over me. Deliver me from the false accusation of men, and I will keep Thy commandments. . ." etc. Many people today, as then, consider this kind of approach to the problems of life to be simplistic, childish, old-fashioned, or even superstitious. It simple, and it is child-like and old fashioned, but it partakes of the simplicity of the Gospel and the divine power that comes to those that consider themselves to be the least among men. As one writing about Papa-Nicholas put it, today "calm and peace have been brushed aside, and spiritual confusion is left with us ."

The focus of Father Nicholas' entire life and indeed of all creation was the traditional liturgical cycle of the Orthodox Church, culminating in daily Divine Liturgy--in fifty years he never once missed daily Liturgy, regardless of snowstorms or revolutions, "not even with the invasion of the English and French!" His commemorations would last for hours. Whenever he was given a slip with names, he would save it and commemorate the names daily for several months until one of his helpers 'weeded it out' so as to keep the conscientious priest from being entirely overwhelmed. "His love for prayer did not allow him to take his physical powers into account." One who attended Papa-Nicholas' services remembers: "When he commemorated the saints, he wished, if it were possible, to commemorate every single saint--as many as were found in the Synexarion, each one separately by name. Since much time was consumed, some would begin to cry out to him, 'Papa-Nicholas! say"...and of all Thy saints!" '; but he, without becoming troubled in the least, would continue to the end."

So intensely did he enter into the liturgical life of the Church that it can be fairly said that his own individual personality ceased to exist as he took on more and more of the "psychology" of the church services. The spirit of prayer did not leave him even as he went about the bustling streets of the city. Once he was so enrapt in prayer that when an old man invited him to step inside a hut to take shelter from the pouring rain, he confessed that he didn't even notice it was raining, and in fact, the old man saw with astonishment that Father Nicholas' cassock was perfectly dry although he had already been walking some distance in the rain.

Such a prayerful union with God inevitably came into conflict with the Enemy of our salvation. But with all the temptations and blandishments of the Evil One Papa-Nicholas always dealt firmly and with great confidence in the Lord. As he told one of his spiritual daughters: "With patience, my child, I overcame all the obstacles which appeared before me,"

Perhaps the most serious of these obstacles was the forced change of the Church Calendar from the old to the new observance. This allowed a demonic spirit of confusion to enter the Greek Church soon after the same spirit had entered the Orthodox Church in Russia through the Revolution, causing both Churches to stumble in one way or another, and admitting to both a craving for modern ideas and innovations which ultimately shattered the harmony of Orthodoxy throughout the world. How did Papa-Nicholas deal with these apocalyptic events and influences?

When one of his Readers asked him about the controversial Calendar reform, Papa Nicholas replied, "From conviction, the Old, and from obligation, the New!" In other

words, he continued to serve according to the Old Calendar--even when this necessitated serving secretly at night, but he did not leave the New Calendar bishops who had enacted this unlawful change. To the "ecclesiastical politics" of his day he reacted with his characteristic patience, meekness, and with obedience wherever possible without compromising the principles of traditional Orthodoxy.

When his secret serving according to the Old Calendar was discovered he was often reprimanded by the higher authorities in the Church. He always appeared when summoned and took his dressing-down without self-justification, disarming his accusers with his childlike simplicity and forthrightness. His intent was to remain true to his conscience; he did not try to build up a following or in any way stir up the faithful over the issue of the Calendar, although he blessed others to follow his example and to work for the formal reinstatement of the Old Calendar. Over and ever he said to everyone, "Whatever has been done uncanonically cannot stand--it will fall."

Sadly, the Calendar question was never resolved. The harsh and quite unchristian polemics that have become a hallmark of many in the Greek Old Calendar Movement since then are far removed from the behavior of Papa-Nicholas who is championed as the Movement’s founder. One cannot help but wish that his stirring example of charity had been taken more to heart by those that shared his love for the Traditions of the Church in that otherwise worthy movement.

Photios Kontoglou, the great 20th century iconographer of Greek Orthodoxy, himself a lover of the Church's Traditions, wrote that "for Christians there does not exist a more effective teaching than reading the life of a saint--especially that of one who has lived in our own time and Who, by his own life, was manifested as a saint without fanfare." Papa Nicholas has been described as "a living sermon." In his life we find not only a lesson in dealing with some of the unprecedented difficulties facing the Church today, but also a criterion by which we may measure our own behavior as Orthodox Christians, wherever we are, whatever our circumstances, no matter what scandals, temptations, or trials come our way.

[1] Material for this article comes from the book Papa-Nicholas Planas, by the Nun Martha; translated from the Greek and published by' Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1981.

Fr. Alexey Young






"60 Minutes" cameras capture the monastic life, including chanting, prayers, rituals, and the priceless relics and icons from the Byzantine Empire stored on "The Holy Mountain," Mt. Athos. Bob Simon reports.


A Paschal Homily of Blessed Justin of Chelije.

Our father, Archimandrite Justin Popovich (1894-1979) was a theologian, a champion, a writer, a critic of the pragmatic church life, a philosopher, and archimandrite of the Monastery ?elije, near Valjevo. Sentenced to Immortality Man sentenced God to death; ...by His Resurrection, He sentenced man to immortality. In return for a beating, He gives an embrace; for abuse, a blessing; for death, immortality. Man never showed so much hate for God as when he crucified Him; and God never showed more love for man than when He arose. Man even wanted to reduce God to a mortal, but God by His Resurrection made man immortal. The crucified God is Risen and has killed death. Death is no more. Immortality has surrounded man and all the world. By the Resurrection of the God-Man, human nature has been led irreversibly onto the path of immortality, and has become dreadful to death itself. For before the Resurrection of Christ, death was dreadful to man, but after the Resurrection of Christ, man has become more dreadful to death. When man lives by faith in the Risen God-Man, he lives above death, out of its reach; it is a footstool for his feet: “O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?” (I Cor. 15:55).When a man belonging to Christ dies, he simply sets aside his body like clothing, in which he will again be vested on the day of Dread Judgement. Before the Resurrection of the God-Man, death was the second nature of man: life first, death second. But by His Resurrection, the Lord has changed everything: immortality has become the second nature of man, it has become natural for man; and death – unnatural. As before the Resurrection of Christ, it was natural for men to be mortal, so after the Resurrection of Christ, it was natural for men to be immortal. By sin, man became mortal and transient; by the Resurrection of the God-Man, he became immortal and perpetual. In this is the power, the might, the all-mightiness of the Resurrection of Christ. Without it, there would have been no Christianity. Of all miracles, this is the greatest miracle. All other miracles have it as their source and lead to it. From it grow faith, love, hope, prayer, and love for God. Behold: the fugitive disciples, having run away from Jesus when He died, return to Him because He is risen. Behold: the Centurion confessed Christ as the Son of God when he saw the Resurrection from the grave. Behold: all the first Christians became Christian because the Lord Jesus is risen, because death was vanquished. This is what no other faith has; this is what lifts the Lord Christ above all other gods and men; this is what, in the most undoubted manner, shows and demonstrates that Jesus Christ is the One True God and Lord in all the world. Because of the Resurrection of Christ, because of His victory over death, men have become, continue to become, and will continue becoming Christians. The entire history of Christianity is nothing other than the history of a unique miracle, namely, the Resurrection of Christ, which is unbrokenly threaded through the hearts of Christians form one day to the next, from year to year, across the centuries, until the Dread Judgment. Man is born, in fact, not when his mother bring him into the world, but when he comes to believe in the Risen Christ, for then he is born to life eternal, whereas a mother bears children for death, for the grave. The Resurrection of Christ is the mother of us all, all Christians, the mother of immortals. By faith in the Resurrection, man is born anew, born for eternity. “That is impossible!” says the skeptic. But you listen to what the Risen God-Man says: “All things are possible to him that believeth!” (Mark 9:23).The believer is he who lives, with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his being, according to the Gospel of the Risen Lord Jesus. Faith is our victory, by which we conquer death; faith in the Risen Lord Jesus. Death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin. The Lord “has removed the sting of death.” Death is a serpent; sin is its fangs. By sin, death puts its poison into the soul and into the body of man. The more sins a man has, the more bites, through which death puts its poison in him. When a wasp stings a man, he uses all his strength to remove the sting. But when sin wounds him, this sting of death, what should be done? One must call upon the Risen Lord Jesus in faith and prayer, that He may remove the sting of death from the soul. He, in His great loving-kindness, will do this, for He is overflowing with mercy and love. When many wasps attack a man’s body and wound it with many stings, that man is poisoned and dies. The same happens with a man’s soul, when many sins wound it with their stings: it is poisoned and dies a death with no resurrection. Conquering sin in himself through Christ, man overcomes death. If you have lived the day without vanquishing a single sin of yours, know that you have become deadened. Vanquish one, two, or three of your sins, and behold: you have become younger than the youth which does not age, young in immortality and eternity. Never forget that to believe in the Resurrection of the Lord Christ means to carry out a continuous fight with sins, with evil, with death. If a man fights with sins and passions, this demonstrates that he indeed believes in the Risen Lord; if the fights with them, he fights for life eternal. If he does not fight, his faith is in vain. If man’s faith is not a fight for immortality and eternity, than tell me, what is it? If faith in Christ does not bring us to resurrection and life eternal, than what use is it to us? If Christ is not risen, that meant that neither sin nor death has been vanquished, than why believe in Christ? For the one who by faith in the Risen Lord fights with each of his sins there will be affirmed in him gradually the feeling that Christ is indeed risen, has indeed vanquished the sting of sin, has indeed vanquished death on all the fronts of combat. Sin gradually diminishes the soul in man, driving it into death, transforming it from immortality to mortality, from incorruption to corruption. The more the sins, the more the mortal man. If man does not feel immortality in himself, know that he is in sins, in bad thoughts, in languid feelings. Christianity is an appeal: Fight with death until the last breath, fight until a final victory has been reached. Every sin is a desertion; every passion is a retreat; every vice is a defeat. One need not be surprised that Christians also die bodily. This is because the death of the body is sowing. The mortal body is sown, says the Apostle Paul, and it grows, and is raised in an immortal body (I Corinthians 15:42-44). The body dissolves, like a sown seed, that the Holy Spirit may quicken and perfect it. If the Lord Christ had not been risen in body, what use would it have for Him? He would not have saved the entire man. If His body did not rise, then why was He incarnate? Why did He take on Himself flesh, if He gave it nothing of His Divinity? If Christ is not risen, then why believe in Him? To be honest, I would never have believed in Him had He not risen and had not therefore vanquished death. Our greatest enemy was killed and we were given immortality. Without this, our world is a noisy display of revolting stupidity and despair, for neither in Heaven nor under Heaven is there a greater stupidity than this world without the Resurrection; and there is not a greater despair than this life without immortality. There is no being in a single world more miserable than man who does not believe in the resurrection of the dead. It would have been better for such a man never to have been born. In our human world, death is the greatest torment and inhumane horror. Freedom from this torment and horror is salvation. Such a salvation was given the race of man by the Vanquisher of death – the Risen God-Man. He related to us all the mystery of salvation by His Resurrection. To be saved means to assure our body and soul of immortality and life eternal. How do we attain this? By no other way than by a theanthropic life, a new life, a life in the Risen Lord, in and by the Lord’s Resurrection. For us Christians, our life on earth is a school in which we learn how to assure ourselves of resurrection and life eternal. For what use is this life if we cannot acquire by it life eternal? But, in order to be resurrected with the Lord Christ, man must first suffer with Him, and live His life as his own. If he does this, then on Pascha he can say with Saint Gregory the Theologian: “Yesterday I was crucified with Him, today I live with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him, today I rise with Him” (Troparion 2, Ode 3, Matins, Pascha).Christ’s Four Gospels are summed up in only four words. They are: “Christ is Risen! Indeed He is risen! ”In each of these words is a Gospel, and in the Four Gospels is all the meaning of all God’s world, visible and invisible. When all knowledge and all the thoughts of men are concentrated in the cry of the Paschal salutation, “Christ is Risen!”, then immortal joy embraces all beings and in joy responds: “Indeed He is risen!”