Wednesday, November 23, 2016

General Sharing from ROCA Protodeacon Fr. Basil Yakimov

General Sharing from ROCA Protodeacon Fr. Basil Yakimov in Australia: Holy Cross Day [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

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Dan Everiss

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From: Basil YAKIMOV <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2016 8:16 PM
Subject: Holy Cross Day [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Homily for the Entry of the Holy Theotokos into the Temple
There are many priceless pearls to be found in the spiritual treasury of the Church. They bring joy and light to the one who approaches them with love and faith. But the most precious of them all is the Most-holy and Most-blessed Mother of the Unfathomable Light, the “warm protectress of the cold world,” the Theotokos Virgin Mary.
It is hard to comprehend the Church’s veneration of the Mother of God for someone who is far away from the Church, who belongs to the sheep “not of this fold.” Only within the Church may one see the brilliance of Her Most-pure Visage. Only in the living church Tradition does Her glittering image live and will live forever… And the present feast of the Entry of the Most-Holy Theotokos into the temple is truly a feast of the church Tradition.
A mystery of faith takes place… As a 3-year-old maiden the Virgin Mary is brought by Her pious parents into the holy bounds of the temple of Jerusalem. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the high priest leads Her into the holy of holies, presaging with this entrance the forthcoming incarnation. “The most pure temple of the Saviour, the most precious bridal-chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasury of the glory of God, is on this day brought into the house of the Lord, bringing with Her the grace that is in the Divine Spirit” – joyously sings the holy Church on this day.
And on this same day, for the first time in the cycle of yearly services, it sings the majestic hymn to the coming Christ: “Christ is born – glorify Him! Christ cometh from heaven – meet ye Him! Christ is on earth, be ye exalted!”… Christ and the Theotokos… How inseparably are the Son of Man and the Mother of God joined together in the mind and heart of the church world! He is coming into the world to save the sinners… She is the best and the holiest that the earth could present to its Redeemer. And not only there, in the high blue dome and beyond the bounds of countless worlds, but here, too, in the sorrowful vale of tears, the Blessed One continues to stand at the Cross on Golgotha.
Centuries pass… Empires fall and thrones are destroyed, but She still stands and intercedes for those who come to Her with faith and love. The Theotokos eternally lives in the Church, eternally spreads Her omophorion over the sorrowful and embittered world… Being humble Herself, She seeks true worshippers among the humble, who venerate Her in the Spirit and the truth.
Saint blessed fool-for-Christ Andrew was shown a vision of the luminous paradisiacal dwellings. He was also shown the indescribable glory of the triumphant host of Saints. He saw there the prophets, the apostles, the venerable ones, and the entire multitudinous host of God’s saints. Only the Mother of God he could not find in this shining world… “Where is the Most-pure?” – he asked in bewilderment… “She is there, on earth, among the sorrowing and the suffering,” – replied the heavenly denizen…
Truly, brethren, the Mother of God is not far from us all… She is next to us, right here in the boiling cauldron of earthly worries. We must only distance ourselves from our usual half-belief, we must seek communion with that indescribable world where pure hearts gaze with pure eyes upon the Face of God…
Among our daily busyness and constant earthly vanity, may this present feast, dedicated to the Entrance of the Holy Mother of God into the temple, serve as a joyous and uplifting reminder of the perfect joy of the future life.
In our sorrows, illnesses, and frequent embitterment, may we always keep before our eyes the image of the One Whose heart “was pierced by a sword.”
And may the constant and heartfelt prayer of each one of us be: “Do not spurn me from Thine Visage, O Mother of the Unfathomable Light.” Amen.    (Hieromonk Methody, “Before the eyes of God’s truth”) (Reprinted from “Orthodox Russia, No. 13, 2007)
In Memoriam: Archimandrite Innokenty (Bystrov)
(To the 35th Anniversary of His Repose)
On the night of September 26-27, 1981, the feast day of the Elevation of the Cross of the Lord, after a long, serious illness, Archimandrite Innokenty (Bystrov) reposed in the Lord.
Fr Innokenty was born in Irkutsk on December 4, 1890, and baptized with the name Vasily. His parents were Vasily and Anna Bystrov. His father died early, when young Vasily was only two. He had two brothers, Innokenty and Alexander, and a sister, Varvara. The latter two siblings also died at an early age.
Vasily spent his childhood in Irkutsk, where he sang in the church choir. In 1906, he moved to Vladivostok and studied choir directing, and was then appointed director of a cathedral choir. In 1909, he married, then moved to Nikolo-Ussuriisk, where he began teaching liturgical music.
In 1914, his wife, a teacher by the name of Elizaveta, died. Vasily then dedicated his life to serving the Church. Returning to Vladivostok in 1925, he was ordained to the preisthood and resumed leading the cathedral choir, and also began teaching the Law of God. In 1930, he was arrested and sent to a lumber camp, whence he managed to escape to Harbin, China. He lived there until 1935, taking part in local Church life, after moving to the island of Yavu, where he ministered to Russian refugees.
In 1950, Protopriest Vasily moved to the United States, and lived in San Francisco’s St Tikhon of Zadonsk House. A year later, Fr Vasily moved to New Kursk-Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY. At the time, Bishop Seraphim (Ivanov) was the monastery’s abbot, who tonsured Fr Vasily to monasticism and gave him the name Innokenty. Fr Innokenty was soon elevated to the rank of hegumen, then, in 1958, archimandrite. Upon the appointment of Bishop Seraphim to the Chicago Diocese, Fr Innokenty became the abbot of New Kursk-Root Hermitage. Fr Innokenty labored for 25 long years at the monastery. Through his efforts and prayers, he attracted many worshipers, especially on the feast day of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign.”
In 1977, Archimandrite Innokenty was sent to the Holy Land and served at Mt of Olives Ascension Convent and St Mary Magdalene Convent in Gethsemane. He lived in Ascension Convent and prayed at the great holy sites of Jerusalem, finding consolation and spiritual joy in praying for his many spiritual children.
In the spring of 1981, it was discovered that Fr Innokenty had esophageal cancer. After Holy Pascha, he returned to the USA and his spiritual children had him hospitalized, where he was cured.
After he was discharged from the hospital, he was settled at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, where he frequently communed of the Holy Gifts of Christ. A week before his death, the Queen of Heaven visited him in the form of the Kursk-Root Icon.
Christianity flourished in an­tiquity in the face of seeming­ly insurmountable odds. In de­fiance of odds of a different kind, the odds of chance, a pair of physician brothers came into the service of Christ. Less than five hun­dred years later they were fol­lowed by two different sets of brothers of identical names and purpose in the service of the Lord. The result is that all six have become saints of the Church. Evidence of divine purpose in this succession of saints demon­strates that the precise science of mathematical probabilities has a hand in the spiritual affairs of mankind.
The original pair of brothers were born Cosmas and Damian during the early years of the Christian Church. They were raised in comfortable circumstances in a comparatively wealthy family which saw to their thorough training of mind and body in Asia Minor. Endowed with keen intellect, the brothers be­came inseparable in common pursuit of the science of medi­cine. Both firmly believed that “of the most high cometh heal­ing” and were aided in their work by religious devotion. As students they vowed to supply their medical skill without charge to a suffering Christian community and thereby prince and pauper alike were to feel the balm of their healing art.
Dubbed the “unmercenaries” for their refusal to accept money for their services, they also came to be acknowledged as miracle workers for the remarkable cures they were able to effect. Their parents’ estate had provided for their well being, but it was to last them only through strict austerity; they could not afford any of the comforts which could have been theirs if they had chosen to charge their patients for their services.
As time went on, the brothers’ love of the Savior became more and more evident, subordinating even their great devotion to medical science. The word miracle had a literal meaning for their great work as physicians, for only through the power of the Lord could they have brought about such healing of those afflicted with serious and often terminal illnesses.
Such was the veneration in which the brothers were held in their own lifetime that they remained unchallenged by even the most avowed pagan enemies of Christianity. They carried on their work for God and man all the years of their lives, which were full, and they died peacefully of natural causes quite unlike the saints who were to die for Christ in agony. It is not uncommon for parents to name children for some­one dear to them or for some great figure in the Church. In keeping with this tradition, a pair of brothers of a wealthy Roman family were named Cosmas and Damian in honor of the master physicians and saints of Asia Minor. The lives of this second pair of saints with identical names paralleled those of the original pair. They emulated their predecessors in every de­tail and were also venerated in their own lifetime as miracle ­working physicians and men of God. The similarity ends, how­ever, with the manner of their death, because the hostile Romans did not allow them to lead their lives to the fullest in the service of God, and they suffered martyrdom at the hands of their enemies.
A third pair of physician saints appeared in ancient Arabia, and remarkably enough they were named Cosmas and Damian. The lives of this third pair are not detailed in any extant ac­counts of the saints, but it is known that they also served in the manner of the original saints and that they were mar­tyred in the manner of the second pair. The original saints Cosmas and Damian are honored on the feast day of Nov. I; the second pair of saints on July I, and the third pair on October 17.
And those in Rome: 
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 Saints 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. Saints 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, Saints 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.
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 wonder-working physicians. Hence, by your visitation, cast down the audacity of our enemies, and by your miracles, heal the world.
The Great­ martyr George was the son of wealthy and pious parents, who raised him in the Christian faith. He was born in the city of Beirut (in antiquity ­ Berytos), at the foot of the Lebanese mountains.
Having entered military service, the Great­martyr George stood out among the other soldiers by virtue of his mind, valor, physical strength, military bearing and beauty. Having quickly attained to the rank of millenary [Translator's note: tribunus militum, an officer in the Roman army in charge of a thousand or more soldiers], Saint George became a favorite of the Emperor Diocletian. 
Diocletian was a talented ruler, but a fanatical adherent of the Roman gods. Having set for himself the goal of reviving dying paganism in the Roman Empire, he went down in history as one of the most cruel persecutors of Christians. 
Once, when he heard in a court the inhuman sentence concerning the annihilation of Christians, Saint George became inflamed with compassion for them. Foreseeing that sufferings were also awaiting him, George distributed his property to the poor, freed his slaves, appeared before Diocletian and, having revealed himself as a Christian, denounced him for cruelty and injustice. George's speech was full of powerful and convincing objections against the imperial order to persecute Christians.
 After futile persuasions to deny Christ, the Emperor ordered that the saint be subjected to various tortures. Saint George was confined in a dungeon, where they placed him supine on the ground; his legs they confined in stocks, and on his breast they placed a heavy stone. But Saint George manfully endured the sufferings and glorified the Lord. Then George's torturers began to refine their cruelty. They beat the Saint with ox­hide whips, subjected him to the wheel, threw him into quicklime and forced him to run in shoes with sharp nails inside. The holy Martyr endured everything patiently. Finally, the Emperor ordered the Saint's head to be cut off. Thus, the holy sufferer departed unto Christ in Nicomedia in 303 AD. 
The Great Martyr George, for his manliness and for his spiritual victory over the torturers, who could not force him to renounce Christianity, and likewise for his wonderworking assistance to people in danger is additionally called the "Victory-bearer". The relics of Saint George the Victory-bearer were placed in the Palestinian city of Lydda, in the church that bears his name, while his head was preserved in Rome, in the church that is also dedicated to him.
 On icons, the Great­ Martyr George is depicted sitting on a white horse and smiting a dragon with a spear. This depiction is based on tradition and relates to the posthumous miracles of the holy Great Martyr George. It is said that not far from the place where Saint George was born in the city of Beirut, in a lake lived a dragon which frequently devoured people of that locale. What kind of beast that was, a python, crocodile or large lizard is not known.
 In order to appease the wrath of that dragon, the superstitious inhabitants of that locale began regularly by lot to give up to it a youth or maiden to be eaten. Once the lot fell on the daughter of the ruler of that locale. They took her to the shore of the lake and tied her up where she began to await in terror the appearance of the dragon.
When the beast began to approach her, suddenly a radiant youth appeared on a white horse who smote the dragon with a spear and saved the maiden. This youth was the holy Great­ Martyr George. By such a miraculous appearance he caused the extermination of youths and maidens to cease in the environs of Beirut and converted to Christ the inhabitants of that country, who until then were pagans.
 One may suppose that Saint George's appearance on a horse to defend the inhabitants from a dragon and likewise the description in his life of the miraculous reviving of a farmer's only ox, served as the cause for honoring Saint George as a protector of animal husbandry and as a defender from predatory beasts.
 In pre­revolutionary times, on the day of Saint George's commemoration, the inhabitants of Russian villages, for the first time after the cold winter, would drive their animals out to pasture, after having performed a moleben to the holy Great­ Martyr along with the sprinkling of homes and animals with holy water. 
The Great­ Martyr George is a protector of the army. The depiction of George the Victory-bearer on a horse symbolizes victory over the devil ­ the ancient serpent. This depiction was included in the ancient coat of arms of the city of Moscow.

Archbishop Seraphim, Saint Philaret, Archbishop Averky, Bishop Leonty, and Archimandrite Nektary [of Holy Trinity Monastery Jordanville and Jerusalem]
Dear Protodeacon Basil,    Today(Monday) is the 40th day for Fr. Gregory.  Still no sign that the sjkp will reopen.  Friday is the anniversary of the reposed of Priestmonk Kallistos, reposed in 1992.
    Tomorrow is election day or Armageddon according to rumor. 'You will know them by their fruits'.  The fruits of both parties are poisonous to our morals and the safety of our country and individuals. I don't even want to vote. Yech.
    Yours in Christ,  Mary
The current extensive restoration work on the Tomb of Christ, in the Church of the
Protopresbyter Alexander Kiselev: How the New Martyrs of Russia
Were Glorified (to the 35th Anniversary of the Canonization)
Those who have never been in the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign” in New York, the cathedra of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, should imagine a huge hall belonging at one time to a very wealthy American family, which over twenty years ago became a church. The wondrous three-tiered iconostasis, icons, frames, all infused with prayer and with the presence there of the holy relic of the Russian Church, the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God (before which St Seraphim of Sarov received his first healing)--all this has long ago erased any traces of a hall in a worldly house and gave us a cathedral which can hold almost a thousand people.
From the street, through wrought-iron gates, one can see a spacious flagstone courtyard with two wide, turning staircases rising up to the second floor, where three enormous glass doors lead to the Cathedral.
On Saturday, 31 October, at 5 pm, all this was already overflowing with worshipers who came to the last pannikhida for the New Martyrs of Russia.
All 16 bishops attending the Council emerged from the altar for the pannikhida (only two were absent due to reasons of health), headed by Metropolitan Philaret, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, along with a host of clergymen. A seemingly endless list of names of New Martyrs was read at the litanies: clergymen, headed by His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, members of the Royal Romanoff family, headed by Emperor Nicholas II, names of monastics and laymen, famous and unknown, of various rank and calling, age and sex, including children who accepted a martyric death for Christ. These hundreds of names represent only a small fraction of the millions of sufferers, behind each of whom is a whole story, a human drama, with years of suffering and torture, not to speak of losses, separations, tears, abandonment...
Only a few hundred of those who are being glorified today were commemorated by name. The many thousands who were included to our lists of New Martyrs, but those about whom there was a lack of exact details or testimonies were not named. This does not mean that their martyrdom is questioned. Until there is confirmation, they exist in the continuing process of glorification—we pray for them: “Their names, o Lord, Thy knowest,” in time they will be included. But then “Eternal Memory” was intoned, the singing of which quickly, like fire, swept through the entire temple, and the thousand-strong crowd of worshipers joined the choir and the clergy, so it seemed that the very walls of the church are singing; the final pannikhida was over.
Vigil began. The altar, it seemed, was more crowded than the church. At times during the service, not all the clergymen emerged from the altar, but only some, for it was too difficult to stand in the proper order, to exit the altar, and return to it because of the lack of room. The entire host of clergy only emerged for the actual magnification (polyeleos), which consisted of the opening of the reliquaries of Holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and Novice Barbara, and the removal of the covering from the new icon of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, the grace-filled beseechers of the Lord for our people. I stood in fourth place in accordance with seniority among the priests, on the right side, that is, right near the relics and the icon: but I could not see how the martyrs’ relics were removed over the shoulders of the Metropolitan, the Protodeacon and others. What could those standing farther away have seen? Absolutely nothing. How is it, then, that they stood for 6-7 hours in a row (the anointing and veneration of the relics and icon lasted until after midnight), compressed into a mass of humanity?
Of course, the people did not just stand, they prayed. And of course, they waited for the opportunity to venerate the relics, but one must take another thing into account: the life of the Church is not rational. The Church, as the mystical Body of Christ, possesses a special charisma, whose power exceeds that of all human reasoning. This power can be felt during church gatherings, during especially important church events, processions of the cross, pilgrimages… It was felt among us then, during this great occurrence, the glorification of the New Martyrs of Russia.
The life of the Church is not just preaching the word of truth, but the recreation of it in real life. Where it happens, where prayer unites with deed, the life of the general consciousness of the people is created, an irrational consciousness. During the glorification, the cathedral and surrounding areas did not contain 2000 separate individuals, and not a crowd without inner unity--in the cathedral stood the CHURCH: the holy residents of Heaven, the bishops, Orthodox people, breathing another kind of air, not knowing why and how. That is how they could stand for seven hours, and that is why they uttered to each other: "Christ is Risen!" and "Rejoice!"
That is why it is proper to sing before church meetings: "This day the grace of the Holy Spirit gathers us..."
And so, the holy relics were uncovered. The relics, the portion brought from Jerusalem (the right hand of Holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth and the bone from the forearm of Holy Martyr Novice Barbara), came from our Gethsemane Convent, where they arrived in January 1921. The story of the murder of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the sister of the Empress, along with five other Dukes of the Royal Family, Novice Barbara and F.M. Remeza, the story of who she was and what she did in Russia, and also how her coffin reached Jerusalem, can be found in the book Pamyat' ikh v rod i rod ["Their Memory for Generation Upon Generation"] (published by St Seraphim Foundation).
We cannot stop here on the details of the opening of the coffins in Jerusalem of the Holy Martyrs Elizabeth and Barbara, which would require an entire book: I will speak only of the relics themselves. When they set about to uncovering them, it turned out that there was not one, but five coffins, one inside the other, each containing two martyrs, which was apparently necessary due to the long trek through Siberia and China to Palestine. The first, outer coffin was iron. It had rusted to the point that it crumbled at the touch into separate pieces. The inside of the coffin, however, contained the partially uncorrupted relics of two martyrs of Christ.
What are relics? The Church calls relics the remains of any reposed Orthodox Christian. In the book called the trebnik [Book of Needs], the rite of burial, it says: "having entered the house wherein the relics of the departed one lie..."
The Orthodox East considers it a sign of holiness when the body corrupts quickly, when clean bones remain; we in Russia think the opposite: it even caused consternation when a righteous person's body disintegrated. Such frustration was present, for example, when the coffin of St Seraphim of Sarov was opened, revealing only his bones. In what way to the remains of a holy person differ from that of a regular person? Not in that the former exhibit complete or partial corruption, but that through them (even if they are nothing but bones), help is provided, miraculous help, the power of the saints to whom the bones belong. This power is expressed not only from the surviving portions of the body, but even through their things, their clothing...Even the shadow of the passing Apostle Peter performed miracles and healings. Thanks to this, the glorification of the New Martyrs of Russia occurred through the opening before us of the holy relics and the holy icon of the New Martyrs.
And so the holy relics were opened: the cloth was removed from a very large icon of the New Martyrs. Metropolitan Philaret returned to his cathedra among the other bishops, the censer spread aromatic incense all around, and the choir sang, for the first time on earth, the magnification for those whose life was drained out of them one drop of blood at a time, who traveled that terrible path of martyrdom in our day: “We magnify you, O holy new martyrs and confessors of Russia, and we reverence your honored sufferings, which ye endured for Christ.”
Unfortunately, every word of this prayer can be read without feeling, automatically. But each word can also be spoken from the utter depths of a person, it can overturn everything inside a person, it can perform a miracle. I can barely remember how I sang the magnification, I barely noticed how they sang around me, but it felt like thunder, like some unearthly din. I cannot describe what I felt during those minutes. When I raised my head, I saw tears in the eyes of the people around me. Many faces shone brightly. The truth of the words of the service to the New Martyrs: “Abundantly watered with the sweetness of grace, set forth before us in the fragrance of their holiness, that, edified by their struggle, with compunction we may also offer unto God the fruit of repentance.”
Truly inscrutable are the ways of God. Allowing our country to befall terrible destruction, the Lord preserved, outside its borders, a clump of Russia Abroad. The glorification of the New Martyrs of Russia, impossible under the god-battling communist state, is being performed by the part of the Russian Church that is abroad. Yet there is more. The Lord allowed that the only holy relics known to us to exist to be abroad, having traveled during the Civil War through Siberia, China, the Middle East and end up in Jerusalem, in our Gethsemane Convent. May no one say that the glorification of the New Martyrs was a usurpation of the rights of the Russian Church by the part of the Russian Orthodox Church that is abroad. The holy act of glorification is being performed by the very Hand of the Lord!
“O victims for God who were buried alive, cast down into a well-like pit! First among you the passion-bearer Elizabeth, the merciful princess who strove for the things of heaven, finding the pearl of Orthodoxy in her new homeland, who in accordance with the Gospel forgave the slayer of her husband, and who pleased God with prayer and charity, yet was not spared by the godless! Pray also for us, ye holy princes! Pray for all, O venerable passion-bearer Barbara! Hearken unto us, ye who were buried in the Garden of Gethsemane! Give ear to us, ye whose place of burial is unknown!” (From the new service to the New Martyrs of Russia).  Some photos here:
A description of the Feast of the Protection [Pokrov] of Our Most Holy Virgin-Fri Oct 14
On October 14th (October 1st old calendar) the Church triumphantly and joyfully celebrates the Protection of the Most Holy Virgin. This feast is a favorite of the Russian Orthodox people. It was established in the 12th century by the Russian Church. The historical basis for the feast is the rescue of the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, from attack over 1000 years ago.
It was during an All-Night Vigil in the Blachernae church, overflowing with those at prayer, that at the fourth hour, the Fool-for-Christ St. Andrew beheld our most Holy Lady Theotokos entering the Royal Gates of the temple surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. After praying for a long time she took off her veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies. The most Holy LadyTheotokos was resplendent with heavenly glory and the protecting veil in her hands gleamed “more that the rays of the sun.” While gazing at the miraculous vision with trembling, Saint Andrew asked his disciple Epiphanius, “Do you see the  Mother of God and Queen of Heaven?” Epiphanius answered, “I do see Holy Father, and I am in awe.”
Who was this Blessed Andrew that was chosen to see the Mother of God? Andrew, a Slav by birth, was the slave of a rich man, Theognostus, in Constantinople. Theognostus liked Andrew and saw to his education, teaching him reading and writing. Andrew was a calm and kind-hearted young man. He liked to read the lives of Saints, study the Scriptures and often go to church. Gradually the desire to devote himself to God grew stronger and following a sign from above he left worldly honors behind and took on himself the ascetic feat of being a fool - for - Christ, that is he acted as if he were insane. Andrew lived in the streets, hungry, wearing rags and shunned even by beggars. But for his extreme humility, fasting, unceasing prayer and spiritual purity, he was given by God the gifts of discernment and prophecy.
And so we see that it was not someone of episcopal or other priestly rank, neither patriarch or bishop; nor the emperor or some other royalty, nor someone from the academic world with which Byzantium was so rich, nor any other of the eminent citizens of the capital that was selected to see the mystical vision of the Mother of God in the Blachernae temple. This was granted to the fool – for – Christ Saint Andrew and his disciple Epiphanius to see this great and awe-inspiring vision.
During this feast the Holy Church celebrates the great and joyful revelation of a light of protection for the world and the great love of the Mother of God. For not only on that day more than a thousand years ago in the Blachernae temple did the Virgin pray, but she has continued to pray for the world and will continue until the end of the ages. And not only over those then in the temple did she spread her fair veil. But also over the whole world and all mankind and over us sinners, is spread the radiant and saving Protection of the Mother of God.
The Most Holy Virgin, Mother of God is the mediator between heaven and earth, the intercessor for the world before the throne of the glory of God. The world is not left in sorrow, mankind is not left to grieve alone. The Mother of God grieves and cries for us. We know that we are great sinners, but we also know that we are not forgotten by the Mother of God who is close to every human soul. What is more comforting?. Throughout all the  centuries the hearts of believers have been illumined with the joy of the Protection of the Mother of God, the joy of her prayers for the world. 
October 6, 2016
Please pray for the soul of Fr Gregory Williams and consider donating to our Haiti mission, even more needy now due to the recent hurricane.    for some photos/videos   
Below a lovely short account of the funeral by Fr John Hinton.
Reverend John Hinton on the Funeral of Mitered Protopriest Gregory Williams
The funeral began at 10:00 am on Monday morning, 3 OCT 2016, at the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, a log church that Father Gregory and others built by hand long ago. Vladika Kyrill of Voronezh and South Russia was the senior officiant. He was assisted by Father Dimitry Weaver and me. The church was packed with Father Gregory’s family and his flock. Father Gregory’s body lay in a plain pine coffin that his sons and sons-in-law had been building when I arrived at the church on Saturday afternoon. (It seems to me that all of Father Gregory’s sons and daughters and their spouses are mechanically gifted, and uncommonly good working with their hands, as was the Williams family patriarch — in spite of his Harvard education.) Vladika Kyrill presided over a beautiful and heart-rending service, both sad and hopeful. It is true that nobody who knew him doubts the burning zeal of Father Gregory’s faith — a torchlight on the path that this world seeks to darken. He is dead, and yet he lives. It is equally true that everywhere the sense of loss was palpable, and remains so. Who among us can fill his dilapidated sandals?? At the conclusion of the service, six able-bodied men (including Vladika Kyrill!) carried his coffin three times around the church, preceded by the crucifer and the choir, chanting sacred hymns. At last his coffin was lowered into his grave, right outside the church he had so lovingly built. Friends, family, and spiritual children filled the grave, shovel-full upon shovel-full, while daughters and grandchildren sang the trisagion hymn. A stunning, rugged, eight-point cross was erected at the foot of his resting-place, and the fresh earth was covered with flowers. Then, suddenly, it was over.
In case you have not heard.  We are orphans. Subject: Eternal Memory – Protopriest Gregory Williams
В США, в Гринвилл, Северная Каролина, скоропостижно скончался настоятель прихода Рождества Пресвятой Богородицы, миссионер, окормляющий миссию РПЦЗ в Гаити, издатель
 In the United States, in Greenville, North Carolina, died suddenly the rector of the parish of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, a missionary who ministers to the ROCA mission in Haiti, a publisher
                протоиерей Григорий Вильямс                                           
Protopriest  Gregory Williams
Царство Небесное и Вечная память!  The kingdom of heaven and eternal memory!
The editor of Living Orthodoxy, editor and publisher of sjkp, apostle to Haiti, parish priest of the Church of the Annunciation

In Memory of Archpriest Gregory WilliamsApostle to Haiti reposed on the eve of the Feast of GM Euphemia, 2016 at his home in TN, USA by a spiritual daughter

    On Sunday afternoon, the day before his funeral, I went to the St. John of Kronstadt Press building, seeking books.  I had heard of the Spiritual Psalter but had never read it.  Finding it, I took it down from the shelf and opened it at random.  Below is the psalm that I found.  I cannot improve on the words written by our Holy Father Ephraim who lived in the 4th century.  His words describe our present situation so fittingly -- we are indeed orphans.

    The first edition of this work, printed by sjkp, came out in 1990.  There are still copies there for those who want something by which to remember Fr Gregory, rector of the Church of the Annunciation in Liberty, TN, assuming that the press will reopen which is uncertain.

A Spiritual Psalter or Reflections on God excerpted by Bishop Theophan the Recluse
from the works of our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian p. 90, psalm 53
Lament over the Scarcity of Saints
    My heart is pained, my soul agonized and my inner parts are torn!  Where am I to find the tears, where am I to find the contrition and the sighs to rightly mourn our orphaned state and the paucity of sanctity among us?
     I see, O Master, that Thou takest Thy saints like choice gold, from the vain world to the resting place of life.
    Like a farmer who sees his fruits well ripened and prudently hastens to gather them that they might not be the least bit spoiled, so dost Thou also, O Savior, gather Thy chosen ones who have labored righteously.
    Yet we, who are slothful and weak-willed, remain hardened, and our fruits never ripen; for we have no the resolve to labor without sparing ourselves, in order to ripen in good works and rightly be gathered into the storehouse of life.
    Say: woe is me, alas, O soul, and weep; for thou hast been left an orphan so young by the blameless fathers and righteous ascetics.  Where are our fathers?
    Where are the saints?  Where are the vigilant?  Where are the sober? Where are the humble?  Where are the meek? Where are those who vow silence?  Where are the abstinent?   Where are those who with a contrite heart stood before the Lord in perfect prayer, like angels of God?  They have left here to join our holy God with their lamps brightly burning.
    Woe is us!  What times are these in which we live?  Into what sea of evil have we sailed?  Our fathers have entered the harbor of life, that they might not see the sorrows and seductions that overcome us because of our sins.  They are crowned, yet we slumber; we sleep and indulge in selfish pleasures.
    O Lord, have pity on us!  Make sober our thoughts which whirl about in vain.  Grant us contrition and tears, that they might shed some light on the blindness of our hearts, and we might see that way in which our Fathers walked when they followed Thee. Grant us the desire and strength to follow in this same way, so that we too with them might receive the lot of those who are saved, to the glory of Thy name.
Saint Sofia and her Children Faith, Hope and Love [Friday Sep 30th]
In the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138) there lived a widow called Sofia which in Greek means "wisdom". She was a Christian, and in accordance with her name, she lived her life wisely.  She had three beautiful daughters whom she called by the names of the three Christian virtues: the first was called Faith, the second Hope, and the youngest Love. She taught her daughters to live in a way pleasing to God by prayer, fasting and helping the poor. As the children grew in age, so also they grew in virtue, being obedient to their mother,  They read diligently and knew well the books of the Prophets and Apostles; they were fervent in prayer and housework. Their beauty combined with their virtuous lives attracted the attention of many.
When the fame of their lives reached the pagan Emperor Hadrian, he sent for them to come to him.  The wise mother warned her daughters that the Emperor persecuted Christians and would tempt them to worship the pagan idols by promising them great gifts, riches and honor and all the things of beauty and pleasure in this vain world  She begged them to choose rather their beloved Lord Jesus Christ and the heavenly beauty such as human eyes have never seen and which God has promised to those who love Him. "0 my dear daughters," she said, “to remember my words with which I taught you the fear of God and comfort your mother in her old age by your good and courageous confession of faith in Christ." Encouraging and supporting one another, they promised their mother that with Christ's help they would put into practice all her valuable advice.
When the Emperor's servants came for them, all four-mother and daughters-protected themselves with the sign of the Cross saying: "Help us, O God, our Saviour, for the glory of Thy holy Name."
On reaching the palace, they were presented to the Emperor. Seeing their beauty and their bright and fearless faces, the Emperor began to ask them their names, they answered that they were all Christians and wished to live for Christ alone Who is to be worshipped by all generations.
Hearing this, the Emperor grew angry. Just as the mother had warned he asked the girls to be as his children and worship his gods, promising them glory and honor; but if they would not obey he threatened to torture and kill them. The holy virgins answered him with one voice:
"Our Father is God Who lives in heaven. He takes care of us and our life. We want to be loved by Him and we wish to be called His true children. Worshipping Him and keeping His laws and commandments, we spit on your gods, and we are not afraid of your threats."
The Emperor was very surprised at the courage of these young girls.  At this time Faith was 12 years old, Hope was 10, and Love was just 9
The Emperor again tried to force them to worship his false gods. He commanded Faith to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. When she refused she was beaten and tortured. Faith endured all of this evil bravely by calling upon her Lord, and when she was put in a cauldron of boiling tar and oil she remained unharmed. She sat in it as if it were cool water and sang praises to God. Seeing that no amount of torture could force the girl to give up her faith in Christ, the cruel Emperor ordered her to be beheaded before the very eyes of her mother and younger sisters.
When the second sister Hope also refused to worship the false gods, she was thrown into a fire, but she too remained unharmed and glorified the true God. The torturer was furious that he could not hurt her and ordered her to be thrown into the boiling cauldron, but it at once melted like wax, and the tar and oil poured out and burnt the bystanders. Ashamed that he was unable to shake the faith of such a young girl, the torturer ordered Hope to be beheaded. Knowing that the same cruel torture awaited her younger sister, Hope encouraged her and said, "Do not be left here, sister. Let us stand together before the Holy Trinity." Then she bent her head and was beheaded with a sword.
When the torturer called the youngest sister, Love, to worship the false gods, she also, even after seeing her sisters' tortures, did not hesitate to confess her faith in Jesus Christ.  She was ordered to be thrown into a stove, but just like the three youths in the Old Testament, Love remained in the stove unharmed; walking about as if in a cool place, singing and praising God. The Emperor ordered still more cruel tortures, but the young girl proved true to her name for love "endureth all things" (I Cor 13:7).  Finally, she too was beheaded and went to join her sisters who stood before the throne of their beloved Lord Jesus Christ.
Their mother rejoiced, knowing that each of her daughters had received a heavenly crown.  Soon she too passed on to the Lord and shared with her daughters in the heavenly kingdom. Saint Sofia also received a martyr's crown, for, if not in body, at least in her heart, she too suffered for Christ.
Dear Protodeacon Basil,   The attached file has an explanation of the three bar cross.  The original handout was given to us by Fr. Kallistos many years ago.  You might want to share it in September for Holy Cross Day. Yours in Christ, Mary
Published on Jul 15, 2014
Glorification of St. John the Wonderworker, 3rd of 6 videos.  [All of the videos, in order, are in the following playlist]  Here is the Friday night Vigil portion of the 1994 glorification of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco.
I was concerned by the low quality video of the services that I was  seeing here on youtube, now that we are at the 20th anniversary of his
glorification by the Church Militant. So this is a HQ transfer from  the original VHS cassettes. Since HQ videos can take  a lot of memory,
I am breaking down the 3+ hours of video into smaller segments. 
Troparion, First Tone
Save O Lord, Thy people,* and bless Thine inheritance;* grant Thou unto Orthodox Christians victory over enemies;* and by the power of Thy Cross do Thou preserve Thy commonwealth. 
Kontakion, Fourth Tone
O Thou Who was lifted up willingly on the Cross,* bestow Thy mercies upon the new community named after Thee, O Christ God;* gladden with Thy power the Orthodox Christians,* granting them victory over enemies;* may they have as Thy help the weapon of peace, the invincible trophy. 
From the 'Law of God'-page 399 - published by Holy Trinity Monastery Jordanville, NY 1996 
The persecution of the Christians ceased only in the beginning of the fourth century, under the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.  
The Emperor Constantine himself was conquered by the power and the glory of the sign of the Cross of Christ.  One day, on the eve of a decisive battle, he and all his soldiers saw a cross of light in the sky with the inscription, "By this sign you will conquer (in Greek, NIKA).  The following night the Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared with the Cross in His hand and told him that by this sign he would conquer the enemy and directed that each soldier's shield be monogrammed with the holy Cross.  Constantine fulfilled the command of God and conquered the enemy.  
He placed his empire under the protection of the saving sign of Christ.  He took Christianity under his protection and proclaimed faith in Christ to be the state religion.  He outlawed punishment by crucifixion and issued laws favoring the Church of Christ.  For his merit and zeal in propagating the Christian faith, Constantine the Great with his mother Helen, received the title Holy Rulers, Equal-of-the-Apostles.  
Equal-of-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine desired to build God's churches on the Christian holy places in Palestine, the places of the birth, suffering and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and others, and to find the Cross on which the Saviour was crucified.  His mother, the Equal-of-the-Apostles Saint Helen, took upon herself the task of fulfilling the Emperor's wishes with great joy.  
In 326 A.D. Empress Helen journeyed to Jerusalem.  She devoted much labor to finding the Cross of Christ, since the enemies of Christ had hidden the Cross, burying it in the ground.  Finally, she was directed to an elderly Jew by the name of Judas, who knew where the Cross of the Lord was.  After much questioning and conversation, they induced him to reveal its location.  It seems that the holy Cross had been thrown into a cave and heaped over with debris and dirt, and above it had been built a pagan temple.  Empress Helen ordered the building to be torn down and the cave unearthed.  
When they uncovered the cave, they found three crosses in it and apart from them lay a sign with the inscription, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."  It was necessary to find out which of the three crosses was the Cross of the Saviour.  The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Macarius, and Empress Helen firmly hoped and believed that God would show them the Cross of the Saviour.   
On the advice of the Patriarch, they brought the crosses one at a time to a very sick woman.  From two of the crosses nothing happened, but when they brought the third cross she immediately became well.  It happened, at this moment a dead man was carried by on the way to his burial.  They brought the crosses one at a time to the dead man, and when they brought the third cross, the dead man revived.  By this means they found the Cross of the Lord, through which the Lord worked miracles and showed the life-giving power of His Cross.  
The Empress Helen, the Patriarch Macarius and all the people with them thankfully venerated the Cross of Christ and kissed it with great joy.  Christians, finding out about this great event, gathered in a crowd of innumerable people at the place where the Cross of the Lord had been found.  Everyone wanted to approach the holy life-giving Cross, but because of the size of the crowd, that was impossible.  So all began to ask at least to be able to see it.  Then the Patriarch stood on a high place, and in order to make it visible to all, he lifted it up several times.  The crowd, seeing the Cross of the Saviour, bowed and exclaimed, "Lord have mercy!" 
The holy Equal-of-the Apostles Emperor Constantine and Empress Helen built a vast and splendid church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ.  They also built churches on the Mount of Olives, in Bethlehem, and Hebron at the Oak of Mamre.  
The Empress Helen sent a portion of the Cross of the Lord to her son, Emperor Constantine, and another portion she left in Jerusalem.  This precious remnant of the Cross of Christ is still kept at the present day in the Church of the Resurrection of Christ at the Holy Sepulcher.  
After finding the Life-giving Cross of the Lord, Judas, who had shown the location of the Cross, became a Christian.  Later, for his virtuous life, he was ordained a bishop, with the name Cyriacus, and was raised to the position of Patriarch of Jerusalem.  He suffered for Christ under Julian the Apostate.  The memory of Saint Cyriacus the holy martyr is celebrated November 10th new style (October 28th Julian Calendar).  
In remembrance of the findings of the Cross of Christ and Its elevation, the Holy Orthodox Church established the feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable and Life-giving Cross of the Lord.  This feast is one of the great feastdays and is celebrated on Sep 27 new-style (Sep 14 Julian Calendar).  
During the All-Night Vigil service, at Matins, the Cross is carried out for veneration.  While singing the great doxology, the priest, dressed in full vestments and carrying on his head the Holy Cross decorated with flowers, during the singing of "Holy God..." carries it from the altar to the middle of the church and places it on an analogion.  During the thrice-repeated singing of the festal hymn [troparion-see below] the priest censes the Holy Cross.  Then during the singing of, Before Thy Cross we bow down, O Master, and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify."  everyone venerates and kisses the Holy Cross.  Decorating the Holy Cross with greenery and flowers signifies the conviction that through It, through suffering and death of the Saviour on It, eternal life is given to us.  On this feastday, strict fasting is observed to deepen reverence for the memory of the Saviour's suffering by crucifixion, and to cleanse us from sin.
From: Germain Ivanoff-Trinadtzaty <>
Subject: Mitropolit VITALY Date: 23 September 2016 12:48:13 GMT+01:00
Предлагаем ознакомиться со статьёй по случаю 10-летия кончины Митрополита ВИТАЛИЯ
+ Протод. Герман

"Every  person that does any evil, that gratifies any passion, is sufficiently punished by the evil he has committed, by the passion he serves, but  chiefly by the fact that he withdraws himself from God, and God  withdraws Himself from him: it would therefore be insane and most inhuman to nourish anger against such a man; it would be the same as to drown a sinking man, or to push into the fire a person who is already being devoured by the flame. To such a man, as to one in danger of perishing, we must show double love, and pray fervently to  God for him; not judging him, not rejoicing at his misfortune."  My Life in  Christ, St. John of  Kronstadt, page 147  

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