Commemorated on 29 August
“The divine Baptist, the Prophet born of a Prophet, the seal of all the Prophets and beginning of the Apostles, the mediator between the Old and New Covenants, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, the God-sent Messenger of the incarnate Messiah, the forerunner of Christ’s coming into the world (Esaias 40: 3; Mal. 3: 1); who by many miracles was both conceived and born; who was filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb; who came forth like another Elias the Zealot, whose life in the wilderness and divine zeal for God’s Law he imitated: this divine Prophet, after he had preached the baptism of repentance according to God’s command; had taught men of low rank and high how they must order their lives; had admonished those whom he baptized and had filled them with the fear of God, teaching them that no one is able to escape the wrath to come if he do not works worthy of repentance; had, through such preaching, prepared their hearts to receive the evangelical teachings of the Saviour; and finally, after he had pointed out to the people the very Saviour, and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world” (Luke 3:2-18; John 1: 29-36), after all this, John sealed with his own blood the truth of his words and was made a sacred victim for the divine Law at the hands of a transgressor. 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.
In 1943, during the Nazi Occupation, a family whose home was adjacent to the church tried faithfully and respectfully to save some of its meagre supply of oil in order to light the Virgin’s vigil light. On the 25th of March 1943, the feast day of the Annunciation, the family’s youngest daughter left six white lilies in front of the Panagia’s icon, together with a prayer for a speedy liberation of the country. The lilies wilted, then in August the flowers started to revive and on the 23rd of August they had sprouted 12 new buds and gave off a beautiful fragrance.
Ever since then, this miracle is repeated every year, except the year of the death of that devout young woman who first brought the flowers to the church. In spring, the devotees put lilies on the icon and the flowers are left there to wither. In an inexplicable way, the withered branches start giving buds and on the day of the celebration, they blossom and become fragrant.
Homily of St. Luke of Simferopol on the Transfiguration of Christ (delivered in 1956, August 6)
The great feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord causes us to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (John 14: 10-11) Continue reading
After Pascha and Pentecost, the Feast of the Theophany (or Epiphany) of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest feast of the Orthodox Church. Here Our Lord Jesus Christ is baptized by John in the waters of the Jordan, this being the first public display of God the Word Incarnate to the world. Continue reading
“Magnify O my soul, the honourable Translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven.”
(Refrain for the 9th Ode of the Canon)
Let us be happy, beloved brothers and sisters that we belong to the Holy Orthodox Church, worthily and rightly glorifying the Most Holy Sovereign Theotokos on this eminent day out of all the days of the year with special solemnity. There exists on earth many societies and entire governments that do not consider the need nor the obligation to call upon and glorify the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, and other saints and angels; to submissively serve Her lovingly, as the true Mother of God. Sadly in Russia nowadays we have heretics (among us) who actively dishonour the Mother of God, the saints, their icons, their relics and their festivals. O, if only they also unanimously with us glorified the worthy Queen of heaven and earth! Continue reading
∼ Words from the Church Fathers ∼
“The Most Holy Mother of God prays for us ceaselessly. She is always visiting us. Whenever we turn to her in our heart, she is there. After the Lord, she is the greatest protection for mankind.
How many churches there are in the world that are dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God! How many healing springs where people are cured of their ailments have sprung up in places where the Most Holy Theotokos appeared and blessed those springs to heal both the sick and the healthy!
She is constantly, by our side, and all too often we forget her.”
+Elder Thaddeus, Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Today we are keeping the Feast of the Holy Spirit. What do we know about Him? We heard wonderful words of prayer about Him yesterday on Trinity Sunday, but let us think of Him, of the name He is given in the Gospel, which is translated ‘The Comforter’ in English, in other translations ‘The Advocate’. He is the One Who is the Comforter indeed, the One Who consoles us for our separation from Christ, Who consoles us who are like orphans, who long to be with Christ our God, our Saviour, and who know that as long as we are in the flesh – and these are the words of St. Paul – we are separated from Him. But for Him to be our Comforter, to be our consolation, we must first be aware of the fact that we are separated and this is the first question we must ask ourselves: are we aware of it, or do we live in the delusion that we are in God and God in us, and that nothing more is needed? How much more is needed! Continue reading