The Church of St. Nicholas in ancient Myra (modern Kale or Demre) is a ruined Byzantine church containing the tomb of St. Nicholas of Myra, as well as many fine mosaics and murals. The saint was buried in Myra upon his death, and a church may have been built over his tomb soon after.
On 7 December, we celebrate the memory of Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum, today’s Milan, Born in the 4th century, he was an important man and a great legal expert who became governor of Milan and the surrounding region. He was a just, prudent person and a catechumen, i. e. he was preparing for baptism. The Bishop of Milan died and then the Orthodox quarrelled with the Arians over the succession.
Once, a lady came to my office to talk to me about the sadness she was experiencing for many years; she had had five miscarriages and was mourning the loss of her children. Her biggest difficulty with the issue, she explained, was that her children were condemned to hell because they were never baptized. I asked her how she had come to that conclusion and she answered that she was taught early in her life that all people who die and have never been baptized go to hell, even infants, because of “original sin”.
Habakkuk was the son of Asaphat from the tribe of Simeon. He prophesied six hundred years before Christ, during the time of King Manasseh, and foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, Habakkuk sought refuge in the land of the Ishmaelites. From there he returned to Judea, where he lived as a farmer. One day he was carrying lunch to the workers in the fields, when suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: Go carry the dinner that thou hast into Babylon unto Daniel, who is in the lion’s den (Daniel 14:34).
Saint Philaret was married and a father of three children. He was a farmer by profession, a good father and a man who loved God very much and had a rich spiritual life. Because he was a lover of God, he was also a lover of mankind and very merciful. He had a big heart full of true love and, like Patriarch Abraham, he was a hospitable lover of strangers and always willing to serve his “neighbor”. Besides, it could not be otherwise, for whoever loves Christ very much cannot but truly love those who are “the least” of His brethren.
On Tuesday, November 27, 2013, the Sacred and Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected Bishop Athenagoras of Sinope as the New Metropolitan of Belgium. His Grace Bishop Athenagoras of Sinope, (in the world Yves Peckstadt) was born on the 24th March 1962 in Ghent (Belgium), as a son of Archpriest Ignace Peckstadt (Orthodox parish of Ghent) and Marie-Thérèse Janssens.
On Tuesday, November 27, 2013, the Sacred and Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided the formal inclusion in the List of Saints of the Orthodox Church of elder Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia and of venerable Meletios of Lardos. Feast Day of Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia: December 2nd. Feast Day of Saint Meletios of Lardos: February 12th.
In September 2012, a fragment of a fourth century Coptic manuscript was ‘discovered’. It was unveiled by a Harvard professor, Karen King, who claimed that this is the only early “Christian” manuscript that refers explicitly to Christ’s wife, and identifies this wife as Mary Magdalene. It quickly led to hysteria and ludicrous speculations such as we have not experienced since the discovery of the Gospel of Judas. The claims of Karen King immediately roused my suspicions.
Damaskinos, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, served as the Primate of the Autocephalous Church of Greece during the Second World War. Born in the village of Dorvitsa in Greece in 1890, the nephew of the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Koroni, he served in the Greek Army during the Balkan wars, and was ordained to the holy Priesthood in 1917. He was later elected by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece as Archbishop of Athens in 1941.
Saint Amphilochios lived in the fourth century. He was from Cappadocia and a friend of Basil the Great, which is evidenced by the letters of Basil the Great to him on the occasion of various events. Among the most important letters of Basil the Great to Saint Amphilochios is that which he sent on the occasion of the consecration of the latter as Bishop of Iconium. When one reads the letters of Basil the Great to Saint Amphilochios the greatness of the personality of Saint Amphilochios can be perceived, his struggle to combat heresy and preserve the Orthodox Faith, his respect and love for Basil the Great, as well as the great love Basil the Great had for him.
Like everybody else, people who are religious, who are in touch with the sacramental life of the Church, want continuous improvements in their lives. So they devote themselves to bettering their standard of living and to acquiring material goods for themselves and their nearest and dearest. Most of them, though, don’t want to forget God, and continue to observe the Gospel commandments. But a danger lurks here: people might start thinking that the wealth they have accumulated is a sign of God’s favour towards them. That’s what they thought in the time of the Old Testament.
All too often the “remembrance of the righteous which is accompanied by encomia” is an opportunity to censure the person praising if he falls short of expressing the worth of the person being praised- because the address is not always, nor in all circumstances, equivalent to reality. But how can I speak of the Mistress of all the righteous, the Mother of God Who is the King of Righteousness, or touch very lightly on even a part of her real worth, since it is my intention to praise her memory?
Saint Gennadius lived in the fifth century. He was a Presbyter of the Great Church of Christ and was elected Patriarch of Constantinople-New Rome in 458. He worked zealously to preserve the Orthodox Faith from heresies that threatened to alter it, and he even managed the return of many heretics back to Orthodoxy. Also, due to his office, he helped Patriarch Martyrius, who was evicted improperly and illegally by Peter the Fuller, to regain his throne.
The endeavours and teaching of Saint Gregory Palamas were directed at ensuring that people could enjoy the possibility of participating in God, at demonstrating that God is not merely completely transcendental and beyond involvement but is also here with us in the world and welcomes our involvement with Him. Gregory correctly saw, in Varlaam’s views, the renewal of the theological heresies of the 4th century, those of Evnomios, Areios, and Makedonios, who, by accepting the Son and Holy Spirit as creations, deprived people of the chance of glorification [deification].
On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, His All-Holiness celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in commemoration and celebration of his saintly predecessor on the Archdiocesan Throne of Constantinople. In accordance with tradition, the relics and icon of St. John Chrysostom were placed before the patriarchal throne to symbolize the saint presiding over the service. The sacred relics of St. John were returned to the Phanar from Rome in 2004.
This week – even as the world mourns the tragic loss of life in the unprecedented Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippine Islands – political leaders have converged on Warsaw, Poland, in yet another anticipated meeting on climate change. Concerned citizens throughout the world are hoping and praying for prompt and practical results. The conference follows on the heels of an important report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns of the urgency of immediately addressing the alarming escalation of climate change in order to avoid catastrophic consequences.
The Greek word for fasting, “νηστεία”, is complex. It consists of the particle “νη”, which indicates deprivation, and the verb “εσθίω”, which means “eating”. So the Greek word for fasting means total abstinence from all food. Today, however, fasting means abstaining from certain foods. This led to the creation of two words: νηστήσιμος (pro-fasting) and αρτύσιμος (non-fasting). That is, there are foods we can eat during a fast which are called νηστήσιμες, and there are foods we can’t eat which are called αρτύσιμες.
On the Feast of the Entry of the Most-holy Mother of God into the Temple of Solomon (21st November), we shall sing the Christmas hymn: “Christ is born, give glory! Christ comes from heaven, go to meet Him! Christ is on earth, be exalted!” The Church invites us to praise Christ from the bottom of our hearts, for He “made Himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7); He emptied His divinity to become one with His creation.
The venerable Ioannikios was born in Bithynia in 740 AD by pious parents, Myritriki and Anastaso, who raised him “in the education and admonition of the Lord”. He was enlisted into the army during the struggle of the Iconoclasts against the sacred icons and drifted into the delusion of iconoclasm. When, however, he was dismissed from the ranks of the army he realized his error, repented sincerely, and even became a fervent preacher and confessor of the Orthodox Faith.
The blessed Elder George came from Pontus and was orphaned and left on his own very early in life. After being persecuted and imprisoned by the atheist regime in Georgia, he came to Greece where the humble man lived with such asceticism and zealous faith that he was granted the gifts of discernment, vision, foresight and prophecy. Father George was born in Argyroupolis (Gümüşhane) in the Black Sea region in 1901.