From: Basil YAKIMOV <email@example.com> Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2016 8:16 PM Subject: Holy Cross Day [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
MOTHER OF THE UNFATHOMABLE LIGHT
Homily for the Entry of the Holy Theotokos into the Temple
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
our sorrows, illnesses, and frequent embitterment, may we always keep
before our eyes the image of the One Whose heart “was pierced by a
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)
Archimandrite Innokenty (Bystrov) (To the 35th Anniversary of His Repose)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Protopresbyter Alexander Kiselev: How the New Martyrs of Russia
Were Glorified (to the 35th Anniversary of the Canonization)
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.
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
Saturday, 31 October, at 5 pm, all this was already overflowing with
worshipers who came to the last pannikhida for the New Martyrs of
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...
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.
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?
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.
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..."
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
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.
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..."
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
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.”
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.”
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!
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:http://www.synod.com/synod/engdocuments/enart_protopralexanderkiselevnewmartyrs.html
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
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
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.
Below a lovely short account of the funeral by Fr John Hinton.
Reverend John Hinton on the Funeral of Mitered Protopriest Gregory Williams
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
США, в Гринвилл, Северная Каролина, скоропостижно скончался настоятель
прихода Рождества Пресвятой Богородицы, миссионер, окормляющий миссию
РПЦЗ в Гаити, издатель
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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]
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
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
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
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
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.
"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