Monthly Archives: June 2020

We should give thanks to God…

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

“The saints were people like all of us. Many of them came out of great sins, but by repentance they attained the Kingdom of Heaven. And everyone who comes there comes through repentance, which the merciful Lord has given us through His sufferings.”

~ St. Silouan the Athonite

St. Peter of Damaskos: We should give thanks to God . . .

“We should give thanks to Him, as it is said: ‘In everything give thanks’ (I Thess. 5:18). Closely linked to this phrase is another of St. Paul’s injunctions: ‘Pray without ceasing’ (I Thess. 5:17), that is, be mindful of God at all times, in all places, and in every circumstance. For no matter what you do, you should keep in mind the Creator of all things. When you see the light, do not forget Him who gave it to you; when you see the sky, the earth, the sea and all that is in them, marvel at these things and glorify their Creator; when you put on cloth- ing, acknowledge whose gift it is and praise Him who in His providence has given you life. In short, if everything you do becomes for you an occasion for glorifying God, you will be praying unceasingly. And in this way your soul will always rejoice, as St. Paul commends (cf. I Thess. 5:16).”

~ St. Peter of Damaskos, “Book I: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge”

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The Birds of the Air and the Lilies of the Field

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
Today, on this Sunday, the Gospel reading is about what we really need in life, about what our real requirements are. In this Gospel, the Lord offers several images or comparisons, saying: The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thy eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness (Matthew 6:22-23).
Here the Lord offers us three images. Continue reading

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June 29: The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

The divinely-blessed Peter was from Bethsaida of Galilee. He was the son of Jonas and the brother of Andrew the First-called. He was a fisherman by trade, unlearned and poor, and was called Simon; later he was renamed Peter by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who looked at him and said, “Thou art Simon the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter)” (John 1:42). Continue reading

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Having God, fear nothing

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

A man went into the forest to choose a tree from which to make roof-beams. And he saw two trees, one beside the other. One was smooth and tall, but had rotted away inside, and the other was rough on the outside and ugly, but its core was healthy. The man sighed, and said to himself: “What use is this tree to me if it is rotten inside and useless for beams? The other it is rough and ugly, is at least healthy on the inside and so, if I put a bit more effort into it, I can use it for roof-beams for my house.” And, without thinking any more about it, he chose that tree. Continue reading

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The Nativity of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John

The Gospel (Lk. 1: 57-80) relates that the righteous parents of Saint John the Baptist, the Priest Zachariah and Elizabeth, lived in the ancient city of Hebron, and reached old age being childless, since Elizabeth was barren.

One time, Saint Zachariah was making Divine services at the Jerusalem Temple and saw the Archangel Gabriel standing on the right side of the incense offertory. He predicted that Saint Zachariah would father a son, who would announce the Saviour – the Messiah, awaited by the Old Testament Church. Zachariah was troubled, and fear fell upon him. He had doubts that in old age it was possible to have a son, and he asked for a sign. And it was given to him – it appeared at the same time as a chastisement for his unbelief: Zachariah was struck speechless until the time of the fulfilment of the Archangel’s words.



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“Follow Me” Applies to Us All


In some ways, we may envy Peter, Andrew, James, and John for the clarity of their call. On the day that Jesus Christ called them to leave everything behind and follow Him, there was no question what He wanted them to do. The message was clear and they did as they were told. Continue reading

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The Action of God the Holy Spirit…

St Nikolai Velimirovic asks us to ponder on:


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Sunday of All Saints

Matthew 10: 32-33, 37-38, 19: 27-30

Saints are models of transformation. They are people just like all of us, who lived in this world. They show us it is possible to follow Christ, to be a Christian, even fully united to and transformed by Christ in this world, in our lifetime – despite the world and the times we live in! Continue reading

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Revelation of Axion Esti

Feast Day ~ 11 June

It is truly meet and right to bless you, O Theotokos,
Ever-blessed and most-pure mother of our God.
More honourable than the Cherubim,

And beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim,
Who without corruption gave birth to God the Word,
True Theotokos: we magnify you.

Axion Estin is also the name given to the icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God) before which, according to tradition, the hymn was revealed. It stands in the high place of the altar (sanctuary) of the katholikon (main church) of Karyes on Mount Athos.

According to tradition, an Elder and his disciple lived in a cell on Mount Athos. One Saturday night the Elder left to attend the All- Night Vigil in Karyes. He told his disciple to chant the service alone. That evening an unknown monk who called himself Gabriel, came to the cell, and they began the Vigil together. During the Ninth Ode of the Canon, when they began to sing the Magnificat, the disciple sang the original hymn “More honourable than the Cherubim…” and afterwards the visiting monk chanted it again, but with “It is truly meet…” preceding the original Irmos.

As he sang, the icon began to radiate with Uncreated Light. When the disciple asked the visiting monk to write the words of the new hymn down, he took a roof tile and wrote on it with his finger, as though the tile were made of wax. The disciple knew then that this was no ordinary monk, but the Archangel Gabriel. At that moment the Archangel disappeared, but the icon of the Mother of God continued to radiate light for some time afterward.

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The Holy Spirit Comes Down as Fire on All People

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:1-4  Leave-Taking of the Ascension

Many of us are familiar with the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel, as told in Genesis 11. We read in that account that all of the people of the earth had one language and few words. And they decided to come together to build a tower to the heavens. So, God descended on Babel and created languages, in order to confuse the people so that they could not build a tower to heaven. Because the way to heaven was not going to be a man-made tower, it was going to be our Lord Jesus Christ. The Tower of Babel marked the creation of all the languages of the world, and with the diversity of languages also came a division of peoples, for people only associated with those who spoke the same language.

In the time of Christ, there was a great division of languages and cultures. Jews and Samaritans did not like one another. No one liked the Romans. And Gentiles were considered barbarians by the Jews. So, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Disciples on Pentecost, He gave them the ability to speak in all the languages of the earth. And all those who were gathered in Jerusalem heard the Good News of Christ in their own language.

At the time of the Ascension, when Jesus “commissioned” the Disciples to “baptize all nations,” (Matthew 28:16-20) they must have felt very inadequate when thinking about this daunting task. For not only would they need to travel to foreign lands and encounter foreign customs, but they would also have to be able to articulate the Gospel in foreign languages. The grace of the Holy Spirit, again defined as that which heals what is infirm and completes what is lacking, the Godly quality that makes ordinary extraordinary, empowered the simple fishermen to be able to speak in all the languages known to men. Not only were they able to utter words in these languages, they were able to speak with eloquence and conviction. Think about that. These men who had had doubts and fears throughout the earthly ministry of Christ, were not only enabled to speak in all the languages but to speak with such boldness and confidence that three thousand people converted to the faith on that very first day. (Acts 2:41) The Lord, who had once divided the nations at Babel, now through the Holy Spirit, united the world by allowing every person of every nation to hear the Gospel in his or her own language.

The Holy Spirit comes into each of us, as He did for each of the disciples. As the flames came on each disciple, bringing them a specific language to speak and eloquence with which to speak it, the Holy Spirit has come into each of us. The Spirit comes into each of us. He gives to each of us a talent by which to glorify Him and to serve one another. Some are doctors, some are farmers, some are mechanics and others are teachers. There are thousands upon thousands of different and unique talents, all of which are needed for our world to work.

The other thing that the Spirit does is that it gives each of us a unique and special way to proclaim the Gospel. A few are called to be priests and serve the church as their life’s work. But it is not just the priests who are called to share the Gospel. Each of us has a talent to proclaim the Gospel. Some can do it as Sunday school teachers, others can sing in the choir, some can be greeters, and others can visit the sick. Any and all of us should cultivate the ability to pray for others and to pray with them. There are hundreds of way to express the Gospel.

As important as it is to cultivate our talents so that we can maintain a vocation, it is equally as important to cultivate our unique talent by which we further the message of the Gospel. And it is really important that we remember this as we prepare for our careers and as we advance in our careers. It is important that we also continually advance in our knowledge of the Gospel and of spiritual things, and it is important that we strive continually in ways large and small to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit. None of us are likely to see tongues of fire on our heads, the way that the Holy Spirit came on the Apostles. But all of us have tongues of fire in our hearts, the light of the Holy Spirit burning in us. It is up to us to stoke the fire and spread the message.

When the Most High God came down and confused the tongues, He divided the nations. When He distributed the tongues of fire, He called all to unity. And with one voice we glorify the all-Holy Spirit.
(Kontakion, Pentecost, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)

Let the “fire” of the Holy Spirit burn in your heart and inspire your life today!

Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis


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