Sts Cosmas and Damian the Holy Unmercenaries. (1 July )

The Holy Martyrs, Wonderworkers and Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian were born at Rome, brothers by birth, and physicians by profession. They suffered at Rome in the reign of the emperor Carinus (283-284 AD). Brought up by their parents in the rules of piety, they led strict and chaste lives, and they were granted by God the gift of healing the sick. By their generosity and exceptional kindness to all, the brothers converted many to Christ. The brothers told the sick, "It is not by our own power that we treat you, but by the power of Christ, the true God. Believe in Him and be healed". Since they accepted no payment for their treatment of the infirm, the holy brothers were called "unmercenary physicians".

Their life of active service and their great spiritual influence on the people around them led many into the Church, attracting the attention of the Roman authorities. Soldiers were sent after the brothers. Hearing about this, local Christians convinced Sts. Cosmas and Damian to hide for a while until they could help them escape. Unable to find the brothers, the soldiers arrested instead other Christians of the area where the saints lived. Sts. Cosmas and Damian then came out of hiding and surrendered to the soldiers, asking them to release those who had been arrested because of them.

At Rome, the Saints were imprisoned and put on trial. Before the Roman emperor and the judge they openly professed their faith in Christ God, Who had come into the world to save mankind and redeem the world from sin, and they resolutely refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. They said, "We have done evil to no one, we are not involved with the magic or sorcery of which you accuse us. We treat the infirm by the power of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and we take no payment for rendering aid to the sick, because our Lord commanded His disciples, ‘Freely have you received, freely give’" (Matt 10: 8).

The emperor, however, continued with his demands. Through the prayer of the holy brothers, imbued with the power of grace, God suddenly struck Carinus blind, so that he too might experience the almighty power of the Lord, Who does not forgive blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12: 31). The people, beholding the miracle, cried out, "Great is the Christian God! There is no other God but Him!" Many of those who believed besought the holy brothers to heal the emperor, and he himself implored the saints, promising to convert to the true God, Christ the Saviour, so the saints healed him. After this, Sts. Cosmas and Damian were honourably set free, and once again they set about treating the sick.

But what the hatred of the pagans and the ferocity of the Roman authorities could not do, was accomplished by black envy, one of the strongest passions of sinful human nature. An older physician, an instructor, under whom the holy brothers had studied the art of medicine, became envious of their fame. Driven to madness by malice, and overcome by passionate envy, he summoned the two brothers, formerly his most beloved students, proposing that they should all go together in order to gather various medicinal herbs. Going far into the mountains, he murdered them and threw their bodies into a river.

Thus these holy brothers, the Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian, ended their earthly journey as martyrs. Although they had devoted their lives to the Christian service of their neighbours, and had escaped the Roman sword and prison, their teacher treacherously murdered them.

The Lord glorifies those who are pleasing to God. Now, through the prayers of the holy martyrs Cosmas and Damian, God grants healing to all who with faith have recourse to their heavenly intercession.

The Unmercenary Sts Cosmas and Damian of Rome should not be confused with the Unmercenary Sts Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor (commemorated November 1), or the Unmercenary Sts Cosmas and Damian of Arabia (commemorated October 17).
Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)
Sainted Unmercenaries and Wonder Workers, regard our infirmities; freely you have received, freely share with us.
Kontakion (Second Tone)
Having received the grace of healing, you extend health to those in need, O glorious and wonderworking physicians. Hence, by your visitation, cast down the audacity of our enemies, and by your miracles, heal the world.


Discovery of the Relics of Sts. Cyrus and John the Unmercenaries (Feast Day - June 28)

The transfer of the relics of the Holy Martyrs, Unmercenaries and Wonderworkers, Cyrus and John from the city of Canopus (or Conopa, Conopis, Konopa), near Alexandria (where they suffered in the year 311) to the nearby village of Menouthis (or Menuthis, Manuphin), took place in the year 414. This Egyptian village was the center of a popular healing shrine dedicated to the goddess Isis. Demons would often appear in the dreams of people here in the form of Isis and gave them oracles, and the shrine was a center of much debauchery. Patriarch Theophilus (385-412) wanted to cleanse this place of demons by building a church dedicated to the four Evangelists, but he died and the cult of Isis flourished. His wish was fulfilled by his successor in the See of Alexandria, the holy Patriarch Cyril (412-444). He prayed fervently in carrying out this project. An angel of the Lord appeared in a vision to the hierarch and commanded the venerable relics of the previously unknown Sts. Cyrus and John be transferred to Menouthis from Canopus where the two martyrs were buried in a mass grave at St. Mark the Apostle's. Patriarch Cyril did the angel's bidding and the relics were transferred on June 28, 414 and placed in the church of the four Evangelists. St. Cyril eventually had the Temple of Isis destroyed and established a shrine dedicated to Sts. Cyrus and John, perhaps in 427/8.
From that time Menouthis began to be purified of demonic influence, and by the prayers of the holy Martyrs Cyrus and John there began to occur many miracles and healings far outshining the power of Isis. Ammonius, the son of Julian the mayor of Alexandria, was healed of scrofula; a Theodore healed of blindness; Isidore of Menouthis was cured of a decaying disease of the liver; the wife of Theodore from poisoning; a Eugenia of dropsy as well as many other people were healed of various diseases and torments by the relics of these saints. As was done with the cult of Isis, many Christians would sleep near the tomb of the martyrs hoping to receive a vision of Cyrus and John (a practice known as incubation), and many Christians did. When the saints would appear, they would either prescribe a special treatment for the afflicted or heal them at once. With all this, it did not take long before the cult of Isis was replaced by the holy martyrs Cyrus and John. Thanks to the numerous healing miracles that occurred through the prayers of the martyrs, many people renounced paganism. The name of the city was changed to Abukyr (or Abu Qir), a name that it keeps till this day in honor of St. Cyrus. It was also during the reign of Cyril that the Archimandrite Shenoute of Atripe led a great campaign in uprooting paganism and destroying its temples in Upper Egypt, including the last remnants in Menouthis (which is recounted by the historian Zacharias).

So many remarkable healings took place at the shrine of the Holy Martyrs Cyrus and John that in the seventh century St. Sophronius of Jerusalem (Mar. 11), after he was cured of ophthalmia, which physicians had declared incurable, by an apparition of the two Saints, in order to show his gratitude, wrote a detailed account of 70 of their miracles as well as an Encomium in the saints' honour. Miracles 1-35 concern natives of Alexandria, 36-69 are about Egyptians and Libyans, and 51-70 are about 'foreigners'.

A favorite among the many is the 53rd miracle. This was told to Sophronius by a man from Eleutheropolis (Beyt Guvrin), about 50 km south of Jerusalem. It concerns a boy called Theodore, the servant of Procopius of Eleutheropolis. The boy had a growth above his nose. He went to the sea, seeking a cure from Cyrus and John. While swimming, he was seized by a shark (canis marinus), which grabbed him by the heel in its jaws. He called upon Sts. Cyrus and John to save him, and he was cast up on the dry land and cured of both the wound to his foot and his facial deformity, leaving us to wonder whether the shark bit the tumour off Theodore's face, and was thus an unwitting agent of divine intervention.

The relics of Sts. Cyrus and John were transferred to Rome in 634, and placed in the suburban church of St. Passera (a corruption of Abbas Cyrus) on via Portuensis. This fact offers a clue to another purpose for the writing of St. Sophronius. At that time, Sophronius was in correspondence with Pope Honorius (625-638) over the monoenergist controversy, in which he hoped to gain Roman support against the Emperor Heraclius and Sergius, patriarch of Constantinople. Alexandria had gone over to 'the dark side' with the signing of the pact of union by its patriarch Cyrus in June 633, endorsing monoenergism. The text of the Miracles may have accompanied the relics to Rome in 634, a perfect gift to Pope Honorius, underlining the orthodoxy of these two Alexandrian martyrs, in stark contrast to the heresy recently embraced by the Alexandrian patriarch Cyrus. In that year, too, Sophronius may have been in Rome with John Moschus, who died in that city. In the same year, Sophronius issued his Synodical Letter, which contained a strong rejection of the imperially-sponsored doctrine of monoenergism. Unfortunately Honorius missed the point entirely and ended up initiating a new heresy, monothelitism, through his careless use of the term 'one will'. This term appeared in his letter of congratulations to Sergius for obtaining theological agreement with the Eastern churches on the basis of the pact of union. Thus the monothelite doctrine was born, and was only finally put to rest at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-681.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Since Thou hast given us the miracles of Thy holy Martyrs as an invincible battlement, by their entreaties scatter the counsels of the heathen, O Christ our God, and strengthen the faith of Orthodox Christians, since Thou alone art good and the Friend of man.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
With a great voice, O ye faithful, let us hymn the great physicians of the world, the pair beloved of Christ, the luminaries who are radiant with the beams of healing; and as we stand in their temple, we cry out: Cyrus and John, the bestowers of miracles and healers of the ailing, shine forth to the ends of the world.


The Holy Martyr Agrippina (Day 23 June)

The Holy Martyr Agrippina, was by birth a Roman. She did not wish to enter into marriage, and totally dedicated her life to God. During the time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Valerian (253-259) the saint went before the court and bravely confessed her faith in Christ, for which she was given over to torture. They beat the holy virgin with sticks so severely that her bones broke. Afterwards they put St Agrippina in chains, but an angel freed her from her bonds.

The holy confessor died from the tortures she endured. The Christians Bassa, Paula and Agathonike secretly took the body of the holy martyr and transported it to Sicily, where many miracles were worked at her grave. In the eleventh century the relics of the holy Martyr Agrippina were transferred to Constantinople.


Agrippina, purer than the lily,

Of God's Son, the betrothed,

Her soul, brighter than a flame

And her faith, firmer than a rock.

To the Lord she prayed, while being flogged,

Chanted psalms while enduring the wounds,

Forgiving everyone and blessing all,

As a pillar of blood, stood before judgment.

When her bones were crushed

An angel descended, the wounds healed!

But when new sufferings were imposed,

Agrippina's strength gave out,

To God, Agrippina gave her spirit,

The soul departed, the body remained.

The holy relics of St. Agrippina

Are the defense of the land of Sicily,

Medicine to the misfortunate and to the sick

And a protection from the battlesome hoards.

By the prayers of Saint Agrippina

May many miseries pass us by?


Saint Alban, First Martyr of Britain, c. 304 ( 22 June)

Alban is the earliest Christian in Britain who is known by name and, according to tradition, the first British martyr. He was a soldier in the Roman army stationed at Verulamium, a city about twenty miles northeast of London, now called St. Alban’s. He gave shelter to a Christian priest who was fleeing from persecution, and was converted by him. When officers came to Alban’s house, he dressed himself in the garments of the priest and gave himself up. Alban was tortured and martyred in place of the priest, on the hilltop where the Cathedral of St. Alban’s now stands. The traditional date of his martyrdom is 303 or 304, but recent studies suggest that the year was actually 209, during the persecution under the Emperor Septimius Severus.
The site of Alban’s martyrdom soon became a shrine. King Offa of Mercia established a monastery there about the year 793, and in the high Middle Ages St. Alban’s ranked as the premier Abbey in England. The great Norman abbey church, begun in 1077, now serves as the cathedral of the diocese of St. Alban’s, established in 1877. It is the second longest church in England (Winchester Cathedral is the longest, by six feet), and it is built on higher ground than any other English cathedral. In a chapel east of the choir and high Altar, there are remains of the fourteenth century marble shrine of St. Alban.

The Venerable Bede gives this account of Alban’s trial: “When Alban was brought in, the judge happened to be standing before an altar, offering sacrifice to devils … ‘What is your family and race?’ demanded the judge. ‘How does my family concern you?’ replied Alban; ‘If you wish to know the truth about my religion, know that I am a Christian and am ready to do a Christian’s duty.’ ‘I demand to know your name,’ insisted the judge. ‘Tell me at once.’ ‘My parents named me Alban,’ he answered, ‘and I worship and adore the living and true God, who created all things.’ ”



Julian was of noble and senatorial origin. He lived in Tarsus in Cilicia and suffered during the reign of Diocletian. Even though he was only eighteen years of age when he was subjected to torture for the Faith, St. Julian was sufficiently educated and strengthened in Christian piety. The imperial deputy led him from town to town for an entire year torturing him and all the time trying to persuade him to deny Christ. Julian's mother followed her son from a distance. When the deputy seized Julian's mother and sent her to counsel her son to deny Christ, for three days in prison she spoke the opposite advice, teaching him and encouraging him not to despair in spirit but with thanksgiving and courage go to his death. The torturers then sewed Julian in a sack with sand, scorpions and serpents and tossed the sack into the sea and Julian's mother also died under torture. His relics were tossed by the waves to the shore and the faithful translated them to Alexandria and honorably buried them in the year 290 A.D. Later, St. Julian's relics were translated to Antioch. Later on, St. John Chrysostom, himself, delivered a eulogy [an oration of praise] for the holy martyr Julian. St. John Chrysostom said: "From the mouth of the martyr proceeded a holy voice and, together with the voice, a light emanated brighter than the rays of the sun." Further, he added: "Take anyone, be it a madman or one possessed, and bring him to the grave of this saint where the relics of the martyr repose and you will see how he [the demon] without fail will leap out and flee as from a burning fire." It is obvious from these words how numerous miracles must have taken place at the grave of St. Julian.


St Antony of Optina on the Ancestor’s Saturday of Pentecost.

The Ancestor’s Saturday for the commemoration of the departed on the eve of the celebration of the Holy Trinity at Pentecost is called Trinity Saturday. On the day on which the Church was founded, Holy Trinity Day, the grace of the Holy Spirit penetrated the whole Church on earth and the whole Church in heaven, where dwell ancestors and patriarchs, hieromartyrs, ascetics and saints.

…The commemoration of all departed pious Christians was established on the Saturday before Pentecost because the descent of the Holy Spirit concluded the providential salvation of humanity and those who have fallen asleep take part in this salvation. For this reason the Church, which sends up her prayers for the quickening of all the living through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, asks on the day of the feast itself that the grace of the all-holy and all-hallowing Comforter Spirit, which the departed were already vouchsafed in their earthly life, might also be for them the source of blessedness, since ‘every soul is enlivened’ by the Holy Spirit. This is why the Church dedicates the eve of the feast, Saturday, to the prayerful commemoration of the departed. St Basil the Great, who composed the moving prayers read at the Vespers of Pentecost, says in them that on this day the Lord especially deigns to accept prayers for the departed and even for those ‘who are captive in hell’…

…We pray that the Lord will forgive the departed and we believe that the Spirit of God touches not only the living and those who pray, but also the departed. Our near and dear have passed on to the other world with passions, vices and sins and we pray and ask the Spirit of God, Whom God sent, we pray Christ the Saviour, that He will forgive them. On the eve of Trinity Saturday, Friday evening, our Church serves the Parastasis. Parastasis is the Greek word for intercession; during this service the prayer of the Church intercedes for the departed, and as the Lord Himself said, saves sinners.

We plead from God forgiveness for the departed because they can no longer do anything for themselves, they can pray for us, but not for themselves: ‘O Lord, help and give rest to the souls of Thy departed servants, our forbears, fathers, sisters, brothers, the Orthodox who lie here and everywhere’. Orthodox ask on behalf of the Church that the Lord will have mercy on those who have passed away in the faith and hope of the Resurrection. Through the prayer of the Church, grace abounds to such an extent that it can even help departed souls escape from the bonds of hell.

Many desire to commemorate their departed through lists of names, the priest reads them and says: ‘O Lord, remember him in Thy Kingdom’. Going to visit their graves, giving alms, doing good works, saying kind words are now all acts of mercy for those who have departed in an untimely way.

Trinity Saturday is also called Ancestor’s Saturday because our ancestors are the closest to us in the flesh, which is why we begin by commemorating them. In the list of commemorations we first write the names of our departed parents, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers and all relatives. The concept of an ‘Ancestors’ Saturday’ is linked with bonds of blood, of those near to us.

Ancestors’ Saturdays grant us the joy of prayerful communion in God with those who have passed on from this life. This is why these days when we commemorate our parents, benefactors and relatives, are so loved. We go to the Liturgy, we give in our lists of names at the Proskomidia, we pray at memorial services. What else can we do for our dear departed? We can give alms abundantly, deepen our prayers for them at home and make the special commemorative dish, kutia.

On this day Orthodox Christians may also go to cemeteries in order to honour the graves of their relatives after they have been commemorated in church. For when we pray for the souls of those have departed for the other world, it is considered that at that moment they too are praying for us in heaven.

Translated from Russian by Fr. Andrew Phillips




Father Seraphim was born into a typical white middle class Protestant family in San Diego in 1934. While growing up, he was the proverbial dutiful child and academic achiever. After high school, however, he began to passionately seek the answer to the question "Why?"--and, not finding it in the society in which he had been raised, he began to rebel. He refused to accept the accepted answers. This was at the very beginning of the modern counterculture, the early 1950's. Father Seraphim became a student of one of the counterculture's first pioneers, Alan Watts (whom he realized later was totally pseudo) and became a Buddhist Bohemian in San Francisco. He learned ancient Chinese in order to study the Tao Teh Ching and other ancient Eastern texts in their original language, hoping thereby to tap into the heart of their wisdom. By this time he had wholly rejected the Protestant Christianity of his formative years, which he regarded as worldly, weak, and fake; he mocked its concept of God and that that it "put God in a box." He Read Nietzsche until the Prophets words began to resonate in his soul with an electric, infernal power.

All this time, he had been seeking the Truth with his mind, but the Truth had eluded him. He fell into a state of despair which he described years later as a living hell. He felt he did not fit in the modern world, even his family, who did not understand him. It was as if he had somehow been born out of place, out of time. He loved to roam under the stars, but he felt that there was nothing our there to take him in--no God, nothing. The Buddhist "nothingness" left him empty, just as it did the founder of the Beat movement, Jack Kerouac; and, like Kerouac, Father Seraphim turned to drink. He would drink wine voraciously and then would pound on the floor, screaming to God to leave him alone. Once while drunk, he raised his fist to heaven from a mountaintop and cursed God, daring Him to damn him to Hell. In his despair, it seemed worth being damned forever by God's wrath, if only he could empirically know that God exists--rather than remain in a stagnant state of indifference. If God did damn him to hell, at lest then he would, for that blissful instant, feel God's touch and know for sure He was reachable

"Atheism," Father Seraphim wrote in later years, "true 'existential' atheism, burning with hatred of a seemingly unjust or unmerciful God is a spiritual state; it is a real attempt to grapple with the true God Whose ways are so inexplicable even to the most believing of men, and it has more than once been known to end in a blinding vision of Him Whom the real atheist truly seeks. It is Christ Who works in these souls. The Antichrist is not to be found in the deniers, but in the small affirmers, whose Christ is only on the lips. Nietzsche, in calling himself Antichrist, proved thereby his intense hunger for Christ..."

In searching through various ancient religions and traditions, Father Seraphim once went to visit a Russian Orthodox Church. Later he wrote of his experience.

"For years in my studies I was satisfied with being 'above all traditions' but somehow faithful to them... When I visited an Orthodox Church, it was only in order to view another 'tradition'. However, when I entered an Orthodox Church for the first time (a Russian Church in San Francisco) something happened to me that I had not experienced in any Buddhist or other Eastern temple; something in my heart said this was 'home,' that all my search was over. I didn't really know what this meant, because the service was quite strange to me and in a foreign language. I began to attend Orthodox services more frequently, gradually learning its language and customs... With my exposure to orthodoxy and Orthodox people, a new idea began to enter my awareness: that Truth was not just an abstract idea, sought and known by the mind, but was something personal--even a Person--sought and loved by the heart. And that is how I met Christ."

On becoming Orthodox Father Seraphim continued to despise modern world and hoped for nothing from it; he wanted only to escape it. He felt no less, if not more, estranged from the Christianity he had been raised in, for while that Christianity was at home in the world, his was radically otherworldly. He had finally found the designation of man's existence, and it was this: man is meant for another world.

Father Seraphim's was an ascetic Faith. He wanted a Christianity that emphasized not earthly consolation and beliefs, but rather heavenly redemption through suffering on this earth. No other kind rang true to him who had suffered much. Only a God Who allowed His children to be perfected for heaven through suffering, and Who Himself set the example by coming to a life of suffering--only such a God was capable of drawing the afflicted world to Himself and was worthy to be worshiped by the highest spiritual faculties of man.

In his journal, Father Seraphim wrote: "Let us not, who would be Christians, expect anything else from it than to be crucified. For to be a Christian is to be crucified, in this time and in any time since Christ came for the first time. His life is the example--and warning--to us all. We must be crucified personally, mystically; for through crucifixion is the only path to resurrection. If we would rise with Christ, we must first be humbled with Him--even to the ultimate humiliation, being devoured and spit forth by the uncomprehending world.

"And we must be crucified outwardly, in the eyes of the world; for Christ's Kingdom is not of this world, and the world cannot bear it, even in a single representation of it, even for a single moment. The world can only accept Antichrist, now or at anytime.

"No wonder, then, that it is so hard to be Christian--it is not hard it is impossible. No one can knowingly accept a way of life which, the more truly it is lived, leads more surely to one's own destruction. And that is way we constantly rebel, try to make life easier, try to be half-Christian, try to make the best of both worlds. We must ultimately choose--our felicity lies in one world or the other, not in both.

"God give is the strength to pursue the path of crucifixion; there is not other way to be Christian."

Before he had found the truth, Father Seraphim had suffered for the lack of it. Now, having found it, he suffered for the sake of it. He devoted the rest of his life to living that truth, and killing himself to give it to others. Together with a young Russian man, named Gleb Podmosphnesky, he formed a Brotherhood which practiced the "Do it yourself" philosophy. They opened a bookstore in San Francisco and began printing a small magazine called the Orthodox Word by hand on a small letterpress, translating Ancient Christian texts and bringing Orthodox Literature to America. Later, to avoid the emptiness of the city, they moved their printing operation to the wilderness of Northern California, where they began to live like the ancient desert dwellers, of ancient times. There was not running water on their forested mountain, no telephone, no electric lines. They built their buildings themselves out of old lumber taken from pioneer dwellings and hauled water on their backs up the mountain. They lived with deer, rabbits, bear, foxes, squirrels, bats, mountain lions, scorpions, and rattlesnakes.

In 1970 the became monks, thus dying forever to the world. In the wilderness Father Seraphim's spirit began to soar "The city," he once said, "is for those who are empty, and it pushes away those who are filled and allows them to thrive."

Working by candlelight in his tiny cabin, Father Seraphim created a great number of original writings and translations of ancient ascetic texts. In America his writings have so far reached only select circles but in countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain they have had and incalculable impact on human lives. During the communist era, Father Seraphim's writings were secretly translated into Russian and distributed in the underground press (samizdat) in the form of typewritten manuscripts. By the time the fall of Communist power in 1991, Father Seraphim was known all over Russia. Today his books are on sale everywhere in Russia, including book tables in the Metro (subway) and on the street. The reason that he has made a much greater mark on Russia that on his homeland is because in Russia people knew how to suffer. Father Seraphim's message of underground Christianity, of suffering and persecution in this world for the sake of truth, touches a responsive chord in people who have already been crucified. In America people would rather hear the "nice" messages of preachers like Rev. Robert Schuler (who, by the way, broadcasts his show in Russia, where people can hardly believe how stupid it is). I met Father Seraphim a year and a half before his death in 1982. Like him, I had been seeking reality through Eastern religions, etc., by seeking to escape pseudo-reality through a Zen-like breakdown of logical thought processes. Finally, reduced to despair, I listened to Sid Barrett's two schizophrenic-withdrawal, childhood-regression solo albums over and over, until I had memorized all his word salads. One day Father Seraphim came to the campus where I was going to school. He drove up in an old beat up pick-up truck and emerged in his worn out black robe, his long hair, and his exceedingly long grey beard which had become matted. I was the image of absolute poverty. Next thing I remember I was walking with Father Seraphim through the college. Dinner had just ended and students were milling and hanging around the outside cafeteria. Everyone was staring at Father Seraphim, but he walked through them as naturally as if he had been at home. I the middle of a progressive American college, he seemed like someone who had just stepped out of the 4th century Egyptian desert.

Father Seraphim went to a lecture room and delivered a talk called "Signs of the Coming of the End of the World." He had happened to be sick at the same time and sniffled throughout his lecture. Obviously exhausted, he yet remained clear-headed, cheerful, and ready to answer questions at length. I could see that he was at least as learned and far more wise than any of my professors, and yet he was clearly a man of the wilderness, more at home in the forest than in a classroom.

What struck me most about Father Seraphim was that here was a man who was totally sacrificing himself for God, for the truth. He was not a university Professor receiving a comfortable salary for being a disseminator of knowledge, nor was he a religious leader who hankered after power, influence, or even a bowl of fruit to be placed at his feet, as did the "spiritual masters" who had followings in that area. He was not "into religion" for what could he get out of it; he was not looking for a crutch to "enjoy spiritual life." He was just a simple monk who sought the Truth above all else. And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would die for that Truth, for I could see he was dying for it already.

Monk Damascene



Elder Paisios on Humbleness and Patience

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Jc 4:6)

Father Paisios used to say:

- When we patiently endure our problems and turn to God for help, we notice that He gives us the best possible solution. Unfortunately, in our days, people are very impatient. We do not love patience at all. Christ assured us, however, that only the ones who are patient will inherit the Kingdom of God. (“…they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Lk 8:15- “but he who endures to the end will be saved” Mt 24:13- “by your endurance you will gain your lives” Lk 21:19.)

“Sometimes God allows for a relative or a fellow worker to cause us problems in order to exercise our patience and humbleness; however, instead of being grateful for the chance God gives us, we react and refuse to be cured. It is like refusing to pay the doctor who is giving us a shot when we are ill.”

“The good Christian must also endure his corrupt supervisors; for they are amazed by his good behaviour, while they are being unfair to him.”

“God does not want us, His children, to be pestered. He gives us temptations and hardships in order to become perfect. Temptations will cease to exist in our life, when we reach the level of perfection.”

“We, Christians, ought to love afflictions and not try to get rid of them; afflictions are necessary means leading to our perfection.”

“When people treat us unjustly, we must be happy, because God’s justice, which is superior to human justice, will protect us. We should either seek human justice, or patiently wait for the justice of God. We must be careful, however, not to pursue an unjust treatment, because this would be unfair on our part and would indicate lack of love towards other people.”

“It is for our own benefit to hope for divine justice, when treated unfairly, and not react to the injustice done to us. Not only we will profit from this, but later on our children will be benefited as well. However, the opposite thing happens, when people curse us and the curse is just.”

“When God sees that we are proud and arrogant, He allows for the presence of temptations in our life. He will take them away from us, only when He sees that we humble ourselves.”

When I first went to the monastery, I wondered: “Should I humble myself and obey only the elder, or the fathers as well as the novice monks?”

One day, while discussing with Father Paisios a relevant subject, he said to me:

- My mind tells me that even the animals are better than me; so, I humble myself and obey them. Very early this morning, being tired from praying all night and exhausted because of my illness, I lay down to rest. After a while, I heard a kitten miaowing outside my cell as if she needed something. I really wanted to rest, but I humbled myself and went against my own will. I obeyed the kitten and replied to her calling. I went to open the door. It had started to rain and I let her in so she wouldn’t get wet. What do you think then? Should I obey the animals or not? My thoughts tell me I should.

- Elder, should we practice obedience with discretion, or obey with complete trust without questioning?

He replied:

-After we voluntarily submit ourselves to a good spiritual father who is humble and giving, then we should obey him without questioning. I will give you an example, so that you may understand the way God functions in our lives. Suppose the abbot tells you to go to Iviron Monastery and take the boat to run an errand at Lavra Monastery. And you answer him according to your own logic: “Father, don’t you think it would be of greater spiritual benefit for me to walk through the mountain since I would be alone? The boat is very crowded and I might be involved in useless conversation that would spiritually harm me.” The abbot might tell you to do as you like, because he does not wish to upset you. You, however, must realise that you are acting according to your own will and you are not under his obedience. Thus, God may allow for a mishap while you will be walking through the mountain, i.e. to be bitten by a snake, to fall and hurt your leg or get lost, in order to teach you to be humble and not look selfishly after your own good, but instead let Him do so. On the other hand, if you did not express your own will and obeyed your abbot by taking the boat to Lavra Monastery, then God would have protected you, and He would see that your encounter with the other people wouldn’t have spiritually harmed you.

We should unhesitatingly trust and obey our spiritual fathers. If we think over and examine with our own logic whatever they say to us, then we should know that we are not obedient to our spiritual father, but rather to our judgment and opinion. We must bear in mind that the grace of God is attracted by the simple-hearted people, who humbly trust their spiritual fathers and do not have confidence in their own thoughts.

The aim of complete and trusting obedience of a monk to his Elder is the perfect purification of his mind and the total submission of his own will to divine grace. When a monk is granted this gift then the goal of obedience has been fulfilled and “…against such there is no law” (Gal 5:23).

Father Paisios said that the spiritual work of a Christian should focus on the acquirement of humbleness.

- God loves man very much; He knows very well the problems of each one of us, and wishes to help us before we ask Him to do so. Since God is omnipotent, there are no difficulties which He cannot overcome, except one. The difficulty God faces, and I repeat, it is the only one, is that He “cannot” help us when our soul is not humble. God “feels sad” because, while He sees His creature suffer, He “cannot” offer any help. Whatever help He offers, it will harm the person because he lacks a humble mindset.

Whatever happens to man, depends absolutely on his humbleness. For instance, we see a man striving and finally being subdued by one of his passions. God allows this to happen for only one reason: because his soul is filled with conceited thoughts and pride. Perhaps this man hates this specific passion and fights really hard to get rid of it. He will not achieve anything, however, because God does not help him; and He will not help him unless he humbles himself. Although he hates this specific passion, he is subdued by pride, which is the passion that introduces man to all other passions. “Pride is the cause of every passion,” St. John of the Ladder.

Man wants to progress spiritually and asks God to give him love, prayer, obedience and all virtues. We should be aware that God will not give us what we are asking for, no matter how hard we try, unless we humble ourselves. If our only aim is humility, then God will give us everything for free.

God wants and desires only one thing from us: our humbleness. He does not need anything else; just to humble ourselves, so He can actually make us partakers of His divine grace, which was granted to us through the mystery of Holy Baptism. Although we did not love Him yet, neither had we struggled to acquire His grace, He gave it to us as a gift out of His extreme kindness. He is only asking from us to humble ourselves and respond out of gratefulness and appreciation to His love. Thus, divine grace, which abides in us, will be activated and function accordingly. It will make us love God and get to know Him; it will do everything for us, if we only humble ourselves and allow for it to act. The only obstacle to the energy of God’s grace is our pride, our lack of humility.
St. Peter in chapter 5 of his 1st Epistle helps us clearly understand our fault and tells us what we should do: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.” (1Pt 5: 5-7)

Priestmonk Christodoulos (1998) “Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain”
Holy Mountain.

Biblical Readings June 2011

1 Acts 18:22‐28 Jn 12:36‐47

2 Isa 2:2‐3; Isa 62:10‐63:9 Zec 14:4‐11)

Acts 1:1‐12 Lk 24:36‐53

3 Acts 19:1‐8 Jn 14:1‐11

4 Heb 7:26‐8:2 Jn10:1‐9

5 Acts 20:1618, 2836 Jn 17:113

6 Acts 21:8‐14 Jn 14:27‐15:7

7 Acts 21:26‐32 Jn 16:2‐13

8 Eph 2:4‐10 Mt 10:16‐22

9 Acts 25:13‐19 Jn 16:23‐33

10 1Co 4:9‐16 Mt 5:14‐19

11 1Thess 4:13‐17 Jn 21:15‐25

12 Num 11:1629; Joel 2:233:5; Ezek 36:2428

Acts 2:111 Jn 7:3752, 8:12

13 Eph 5:9‐19 Mt 18:10‐20

14 Rom 1:1‐7, 13‐17 Mt 4:25‐5:13

15 Rom 1:18‐27 Mt 5:20‐26

16 Rom 1:28‐2:9 Mt 5:27‐32

17 Rom 2:14‐29 Mt 5:33‐41

18 Rom 1:7‐12 Mt 5:42‐48

19 Isa 43:914; WSol 3:19; WSol 5:156:3 Heb 11:3312:2 Mt 10:3238, 19:2730

20 Rom 2:28‐3:18 Mt 6:31‐34, 7:9‐11

21 Rom 4:4‐12 Mt 7:15‐21

22 Rom 4:13‐25 Mt 7:21‐23

23 Rom 5:10‐16 Mt 8:23‐27

24 Rom 13:11‐14:4 Lk 1:1‐25 ,57‐68,76,80

25 Rom 3:19‐26 Mt 7:1‐8

26 Rom 2:1016 Mt 4:1823

27 Rom 7:1‐13 Mt 9:36‐10:8

28 Rom 7:14‐8:2 Mt 10:9‐15

29 2Co 11:21‐12:9 Mt 16:13‐19

30 1Co 4:9‐16 Mt 9:36‐10:8


Saint Gregory Palamas

The Holy Family of the palms
This short film is a beautiful presentation of the life of the Holy Family of the palms, and especially St. Gregory Palamas, hand carrier of the monastic tonsure in the name of the saint, Archimandrite. Palama Kyrillidi, Abbot of the Monastery of the Virgin Kallipetras Skiteos Veria. It's version of the Diocese of Veria, Naoussa and Campania.
Warmly thank the Rev. Former long time to permit publication of the evaluation work.
Holy Mary Kallipetras
PO 4 Back Veria

The texts were based on the book "SAINT GREGORY PALAMAS" the life and theology "
the elder Theoklitos Dionysiates.
Alexander gave Trompoukis
The Sound worked Akis Spanidis
The show was curated by
Archim.Palamas Kyrillidis