Homily by St John of Kronstadt on the Parable: Sower and the Seed – On the Varying Effects of God’s Word Upon Man’s Heart, Owing to Differences Among Hearts

4TH SUNDAY OF LUKE, Luke 8: 5-15

Today, beloved, the Gospel parable was read about the sower and the seed, about the unequal quality of the land upon which the seed fell, and about the varying fates of the seed. At the end of the Gospel reading the Lord Himself, at the request of His disciples, explained the parable (Luke 8:5-15). Continue reading

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On Sharing Undeserved Mercy: Homily for the Third Sunday of Luke in the Orthodox Church

I have known people who have been troubled by the question of whether God is primarily characterized by human standards of love or justice. Some of them have worried that a God of love would simply overlook evil and hold no one accountable for their actions. Others have reacted against the view that God is primarily a harsh judge Who is out to get us and to make sure that we pay our pound of flesh for our sins. Continue reading

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Coincidental Wrong

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

Whatever’s wrong with people is coincidental. Don’t look down on anybody even if you see how immoral, prone to drink or blasphemous they are. The image of God is in them, somewhere, too, although, of course, they aren’t aware of it.

It’s natural for the enemy to come and besmirch that image. It’s not easy to see the image of God in those who mock you and behave like brutes towards you. You should feel even more sorry for them because their souls have been distorted, to the extent that perhaps they’re beyond correction, which will condemn them to eternal torment.

How difficult is this: Love your enemies!

~ Blessed Gabriel the New Confessor and Fool for Christ, from Georgia

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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.

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2ND SUNDAY OF LUKE, Luke 6: 31-36

Luke 6: 31-36

31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Holy Gospel is only six verses long – but in these six short verses there is an entire universe of meaning and an encapsulation of the Gospels themselves. Continue reading

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History of the Gorgoepikoos Icon

 

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Commemorated 1st October

The best-known miraculous icon of the Holy Mountain Mount Athos, after Panagia Portaitissa, is an ancient wall-painting of the Blessed Virgin on the outside of the eastern wall of the refectory, to the right of the entrance, in the Docheiariou Monastery. Continue reading

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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 Idolatry of Not Taking Up Our Crosses: Homily for the Sunday After the Elevation of the Holy Cross and The Great Martyr Eustathios

SUNDAY AFTER HOLY CROSS, Mark 8: 34-38, 9:1

Galatians 2:16-20; Mark 8:34-9:1

Screen Shot 2021-09-19 at 10.24.42 amAs we continue to celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we do something that would have made no sense to anyone at the time of our Lord’s ministry in first-century Palestine. The cross was then simply the most feared instrument of execution that the Roman Empire used to discourage anyone who thought of rebelling against the military occupation of their homeland. Our Lord’s disciples, along with the rest of the Jews, certainly did not expect a Messiah Who would suffer such a dishonourable fate. They wanted a new King David to liberate their land from the pagans and to bring power and glory to their nation. They wanted a deliverer to gain the whole world on their behalf, but who would have been unable to heal their souls. Continue reading

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The one who knows God…

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

The one who knows God will follow the Lord’s footsteps, bearing the cross of the Saviour.
It is said, “The world is crucified to him and he to the world.”
The Lord says, “He who loses his life will save it.”
We can “lose our lives” in one of two ways. First, we can risk our lives just as the Lord did for us. Secondly, we can separate our lives from the customary things of this world.
Bearing the cross means to separate our souls from the delights and pleasures of this life.
If you do this, you will find your life again – resting in the hope of what is to come.
Dying to ourselves means being content with the necessities of life.
When we want more that these necessities it is easy to sin.

~ St. Clement of Alexandria in ‘The One Who knows God’

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THE POWER OF THE CROSS

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

The mysterious power of the Cross, however inexplicable, is true and indisputable. St John Chrysostom speaks of the custom that obtained in his time, of placing the sign of the Cross ‘on the imperial diadem and the soldiers’ accoutrements, and of making it on parts of the body: the head, the breast and the heart, both at the table of sacrifice and on lying down in bed.’ ‘If’, he says, ‘we are striving to drive out demons, we use the Cross, and it is also of aid in healing sickness.’ St Benedict made the sign of the Cross over a glass containing poison, and the glass shattered as if struck by a stone. St Julian made the sign of the Cross over a cup of poison brought to him, and drank the poison, suffering no bodily harm from it. The holy martyr Vasilissa of Nicomedia protected herself with the sign of the Cross and stood in the midst of the flames, remaining completely untouched. The holy martyrs Audon and Senis crossed themselves when ravening wild animals were let loose on them, and the beasts became docile and meek as lambs. The sign of the Cross has been the most powerful weapon against great temptations from demons, from the early ascetics down to the present day.

The most ferocious of the devil’s devisings are dispersed into nothing, like smoke, when a man signs himself with the Cross. Thus it was the good will of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself that the erstwhile sign of wickedness and shame, the cross, should, after His crucifixion on the wood of the cross, be the vehicle of all-conquering power and might.

~ St Nikolai Velimerovic, The Prologue from Ochrid

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