Feast Day 26 September
This Apostle was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James the elder. First a fisherman by trade, he became an Apostle and the beloved Disciple of Christ. Only he of all the Disciples followed Him even to the Cross, and was entrusted with the care of our Saviour’s Mother, as it were another son to her, and a brother of Christ the Teacher. After this, he preached throughout Asia Minor, especially in Ephesus. When the second persecution against the Christians began in the year 96 during the reign of Domitian, he was taken in bonds to Rome, and there was cast into a vat filled to the brim with boiling oil. Continue reading
The first Feast of the Liturgical Year is the Birth of the Virgin Mary
Your Nativity, O Virgin, has proclaimed joy to the whole universe! The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, has shone from you, O Theotokos!
By annulling the curse, He bestowed a blessing. By destroying death, He has granted us eternal life. Troparion of the Feast Continue reading
Panagia of Harou is the name of the unique icon which depicts the Virgin Mary cradling the crucified Christ, rather than the Christ child, hence its name (haros in Greek means “death”). This icon is found in the Church of St. John the Theologian in Leipsi, Greece. The annual commemoration of the icon takes place on August 23 when the island of Leipsi fills with pilgrims from all over the Dodecanese, to witness the procession of the icon around the entire island and see the annual blossoming of the dead bouquet of lilies on the icon. Continue reading
“The Theotokos is the salvation of the whole world, she is the only mother for all Christians… She has much love for the human race, especially for sinners.” ~ St. Anthimos of Chios
Excerpt from the homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos by St. Germanos of Constantinople.
“It is time, my Mother,” says the Lord, “to take you to myself. Just as you have filled the earth and all who dwell in it with joy, O you who enjoy such grace, come, and make the heavens joyful once again. Make my Father’s dwelling-place radiant; be a spiritual guide for the souls of the saints. For when they see your glorious passage here to my side, escorted by angels, they will be convinced in their faith that their own place, too, through you, will be to dwell here in my light. Come, then, in exultation; rejoice now, as you rejoiced at the angel’s greeting. In every way you now have the dignity of your title, ‘full of grace.’ As when you were about to conceive me you were invited to rejoice, so rejoice again in my desire to take you to myself. Do not be disturbed at leaving behind the corruptible world, with all its desires. Forget about its power of corruption. For you will not leave those who live in the world bereft of your protection; but just as I, who am not of the world, watch over those who live in it and take care of them, so your patronage will not be taken away from those who live in the world, until its consummation. Continue reading
“Why did the Lord take only three disciples on Tabor and not all? Because Judas was not worthy to behold the divine glory of the Teacher, Whom he will betray and the Lord did not want to leave him [Judas] alone at the foot of the mountain so that the betrayer would not, by that, justify his betrayal. Continue reading
“Holy Virgin Martyr Paraskeva of Rome was the only daughter of Christian parents, Agathon and Politia, and from her early years she dedicated herself to God. She spent much of her time in prayer and the study of the Holy Scriptures. After the death of her parents St Paraskeva distributed all of her inheritance to the poor, and consecrated her virginity to Christ. Emulating the holy Apostles, she began to preach to the pagans about Christ, converting many to Christianity. Continue reading
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
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.
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.
Pentecost was one of the major feasts of the Jews, the Feast of Weeks, a harvest festival celebrated fifty days after Passover. Pentecost literally means “the fiftieth day.” It was a feast of joy and thanksgiving for God’s protection and His rich provisions. The whole community presented itself before the Lord as a “holy convocation” (see Lev. 23:15-22). The first fruits of the wheat harvest and loaves baked from the new wheat crop were offered to the Lord. The people worshipped God, the source of life. They thanked Him for His great acts of deliverance in history and His gift of the Promised Land. Continue reading