Daily readings from scriptures November 2012

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

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

7th Sunday of St Luke

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

A Pastoral Word on Halloween The Joyous Feast of Pumpkin

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


On Hesychia and the Cleansing of the Mind and Heart

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

6th Sunday of St Luke

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


Sunday of the 7th Ecumenical Synod

By His Eminence Panteleimon Metropolitan of Antinoes

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


3rd Sunday of St Luke

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

His Eminence
Panteleimon Metropolitan of Antinoes

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