Very few of us realize that the beginning of the Church calendar does not start on January 1st. Actually, our Church calendar begins on September 1st. In our daily living, however, with our friends and neighbours and our society, our year begins on January 1st. This is a very important date in our Church since it marks the Feast Day of one of our greatest saints, St. Basil the Great. Continue reading
Category Archives: Saints
St. Basil the Great – Celebrated January 1st
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St Mary of Egypt
Her feast is set on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. She is the symbol of contrition, conversion and austerity.
The memory of this Saint is celebrated on April 1, where her life is recorded. Since the end of the holy Forty Days is drawing near, it has been appointed for this day also, so that if we think it hard to practice a little abstinence for forty days, we might be roused by the heroism of her who fasted in the wilderness for forty-seven years; and also that the great loving kindness of God, and His readiness to receive the repentant, might be demonstrated. Continue reading
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The Garden of the Holy Spirit: Saint Iakovos of Evia
Holy Elder Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia reposed in the Lord on November 21 on the Feast of Hesychasm in the Entrance of the Theotokos. Commemorated on November 22
The Garden of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual biography describing the life of a contemporary Greek Orthodox Elder, Iakovos Tsalikis, abbot of the Monastery of Saint David in Evia, Greece. The Elder’s biography begins with his family’s flight as refugees from Asia Minor to the island of Evia. It follows with a description of the Elder’s early life, especially his upbringing in the faith by his pious mother, his asceticism, and his love for prayer and the sacred Church services.
From a young age, the spiritual diligence and self-sacrifice of Iakovos was rewarded by God with an abundance of spiritual gifts, and the book recounts miraculous instances of the power of his prayers.
At one time when the children of his village contracted mumps, their parents gathered them all to see Iakovos who was then just a teenager. After reading prayers for them and blessing them, the children instantly became well. After the patient struggles of Iakovos in the world, he entered into the monastery of St David. There, the young monk faced harsh trials as he performed his monastic duties. He endured temptations from the older monks as well as the demons. The author imparts his intimate knowledge of St Iakovos’ ascetic practices which enables the reader to follow his path to sanctity.
Apart from the labours of his monastic obedience and frequent illnesses, St Iakovos undertook the further spiritual exercise of keeping all-night prayer vigils at the hermitage of his predecessor, St David of Evia. His asceticism and patience formed him into a charismatic Elder with spiritual vision. The gifts he was graced with included seeing angels and saints before him when serving at the altar, and seeing the sins of those who came to him during confession before they opened their mouths. Many more examples of St Iakovos’ spiritual gifts are given in the book which acquaints the reader with the life and spiritual journey of this inspirational modern Orthodox saint.
~ Professor Stylianos Papadopoulos
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Saints Eulampius and Eulampia – 10 October
Saints Eulampius and Eulampia were brother and sister. They lived at the beginning of the fourth century in the city of Nicomedia. Eulampius became upset after reading the decree of the emperor Maximian (284-305) sentencing all Christians to execution. Eulampius was horrified that the emperor was taking up arms against his own subjects rather than fighting the enemies of his country. The youth was brought to trial and commanded to renounce the Christian Faith. When he refused, they first raked him with iron hooks, and then placed him upon a red-hot bed of coals. All of a sudden the sufferer expressed a wish to visit the pagan temple. The judges were delighted, supposing that they had turned him from Christianity. In the pagan temple of Mars the saint approached the idol and cried out, “In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command you to fall to the floor and crumble into dust!” The idol immediately crashed down to the floor and was destroyed.
The people exclaimed, “The Supreme God is the Christian God, Who is great and mighty!” Saint Eulampius was again taken away for torture. This time his sister, Eulampia, appeared before the judges and declared that she also was a Christian. Eulampius told her, “Sister, do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul” (Mt.10:28). The martyrs were tortured and thrown into a red-hot furnace, but the Lord protected them from the fire. Finally, they beheaded Eulampius, but Eulampia died from her torments before she could be beheaded.
Two hundred martyrs were converted to Christ after seeing the miracles of Saint Eulampius and Saint Eulampia as they were being tortured. They were also put to death and received the crown of martyrdom.
The Falling Asleep of St John the Theologian
Commemorated 26th September
The Holy and Divine Theologian, John the Evangelist was the son of Zebedee and Salome (one of the daughters of Saint Joseph the Betrothed), and the brother of James the Great. John and his brother were called at the same time to be followers of Christ and became two of the three (the other, Apostle Peter) closest disciples of Christ. They witnessed the healing of many people, the Light of the Transfiguration at Tabor, as well as many other miracles. Saint John, being the youngest of all the disciples, was also the most beloved disciple of Christ, following Him from the beginning of his ministry all the way to his Crucifixion and Burial. In the icon depicted, the Evangelist is shown leaning on the Lord’s chest at the Last Supper, a sign of love between the two. Continue reading
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The Nativity of the Most-Holy Theotokos (September 8)
The first Great Feast to fall in the Church Year is the Nativity of the Most-Holy Theotokos. It is entirely fitting that at the beginning of the new religious year all Orthodox Christians should come before the highest example of human holiness that the Orthodox Church holds precious and venerates that of Mary, the Theotokos and Mother of God. This day is seen as one of universal joy; for on this day the boundary of the Old and New Covenants was born the Most-Blessed Virgin, pre-arranged from the ages by Divine Providence to serve the mystical Incarnation of God the Word. Continue reading
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Holy 40 Virgin-Martyrs and their Teacher the Hieromartyr Ammon the Deacon at Heraclea September 1
The Holy Forty Virgin Martyrs with their teacher, Deacon Ammoun were captured by Baudos the governor, and were tortured because they would not offer sacrifice to idols. The holy martyrs endured many cruel torments, which were intended to force them to renounce Christ and worship idols. Later, they were sent to Heraclea in Thrace to appear before the tyrant Licinius. The valiant martyrs remained unshakeable, however. Saint Ammoun and eight of the virgins were beheaded, ten virgins were burned, six of them died after heated metal balls were put into their mouths, six were stabbed with knives, and the rest were struck in the mouth and stabbed in the heart with swords.
Holy 40 virgin-martyrs and their teacher the Hieromartyr Ammon the Deacon at Heraclea in Thrace: Adamantine, Athena, Akrive, Antigone, Arivea, Aspasia, Aphrodite, Dione, Dodone, Elpinike, Erasmia, Erato, Ermeneia, Evterpe, Thaleia, Theanoe, Theano, Theonymphe, Theophane, Kalliroe, Kalliste, Kleio, Kleonike, Kleopatra, Koralia, Lambro, Margarita, Marianthe, Melpomene, Moscho, Ourania, Pandora, Penelope, Polymnia, Polynike, Sapfo, Terpsichore, Troada, Haido, and Harikleia.
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Men-pleasing and Murder: A Homily for the Beheading of the Forerunner
BEHEADING OF THE FORERUNNER, ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, Mark 6: 14-30
The memory of the righteous is praised, says King Solomon (Proverbs 10:7 LXX); but the Lord’s testimony suffices the righteous one we remember today. What testimony? Among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). What honour can our praises add to one who boasts such an eminent witness? How can the life that today is crowned with a glorious death be fittingly honoured? The life of St. John the Baptist towers so far above the life of ordinary, mortal men as to rival that of the angels. Indeed, the Prophet Malachi calls him such when he speaks of him, saying, Behold, I send my messenger—that is, αγγελος, angel—before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee(Malachi 3:1, Mark 1:2).
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Veneration of the Saints
“Greet one another with a holy kiss…” ~ Romans 16:16
An Orthodox young man was once in Winchester Cathedral near the Shrine of St Swithun. There are icons above the shrine, including one of the saint. When he was sure no one was looking he crept around the rope cordon and venerated the icons. He said a few prayers at the shrine and then went to leave. Unbeknown to him, one of the Cathedral Stewards had seen him kissing the icons and praying. She went up to him afterwards looking rather stern. The young man braced himself for a telling-off. But instead, the Steward asked him very politely why it was important for him to kiss the icons. Continue reading
Saints are people who have faced the evils of this world and through their love of God, and strength of faith have overcome the evils by the grace of God and have become examples for us to do the same. When we are feeling like life is too hard, our troubles are too many or too great a burden, we can look to the saints and the lives they led, the hardships they went through, even to the point of their deaths, and yet see their faith and know that if they can do it, so can we! For this reason we honour them.
Synaxis of the Twelve Holy Apostles
The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew, the First-called; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, who was also the Evangelist and Theologian; Philip, and Bartholomew (see also June 11); Thomas, and Matthew the publican, who was also called Levi and was an Evangelist; James the son of Alphaeus, and Jude (also called Lebbaeus, and surnamed Thaddaeus), the brother of James, the Brother of God; Simon the Cananite (“the Zealot”), and Matthias, who was elected to fill the place of Judas the traitor (see Aug. 9).These men’s lives were changed once having come to know Christ our Lord; they showed us this was a change not out of duty, but of love—by their most precious sacrifice. They left families, jobs, homes, earthly comforts—they gave all, even themselves. By tracing their travels on a map we see the drive within them; their love for Christ Preaches at Pentecost; to share His love and salvation with others. They comforted, helped, freed from fear, guilt and sin, healed from sickness, all, regard-less of danger and obstacles. They opened mankind’s eyes to Truth and Love and bestowed us the Gospel of joy and hope. We remember them especially and honour them through the ages. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God. (Amen.)
Brothers and Sisters, on this day we observe a very meaning-filled celebration, after the many radiant Sundays of Great Lent and of the Season of Pascha, leading up to the glorious feast of Pentecost. Pentecost, as last week’s Gospel reading told us, was “the last and greatest day of the feast,” in Saint John’s words, and, as it was celebrated by the Jewish nation in the time of Christ, it was a very festive holiday celebrating the harvest. Special offerings and sacrifices were prescribed by the Law for this holiday.
Many think that the saints are far from us. But they are far from those who distance themselves from them, and very close to those keep the commandments of Christ and have the grace of the Holy Spirit. In the heavens, all things are moved by the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is on earth too. He lives in our Church. He lives in the Mysteries. He is in the Holy Scriptures. He is in the souls of the faithful. The Holy Spirit unites all things, and therefore the saints are close to us. And when we pray to them, then the Holy Spirit hears our prayers, and our souls feel that they are praying for us.
~ St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XII.3
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