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sts. pertpetua and felicity2Having recently received a blessing from His Grace Bishop Irenee of Ottawa and all of Canada, I am pleased to offer – on the feast of the African martyrs – the akathist I wrote for St. Perpetua and her companions quite a few years back. I wrote the akathist in acrostic (in alphabetical order) as the akathists of old were written in Ancient Greek so the faithful could more readily memorize them. (It wasn’t easy finding a word that started with “X”). In any case, I am happy to share it with you all. And so, although you can read a portion of it below, I have created a page for the akathist called “Akathist to the African Martyrs”. The tab is located at the top of the blog; here is a direct link.

If you would be so kind as to remember me in your prayers if or when you read it I would be very grateful.

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african martyrsWhen the Lord deemed it fitting He called His saints out of the African lands: holy Perpetua, Felicity, Saturus, Saturnius, Revocatus and Secundulus, to witness to their faith through suffering death. Thus, we have as an inheritance the flourishing tree of Orthodoxy, for they shed their blood, watering the seedling. Wherefore we cry aloud:

Rejoice, Holy Martyrs Perpetua, Felicity, and your companions

As a catechumen, O holy Perpetua, thou wast taken captive and while in prison thy father besought thee to denounce Christ. But boldly thou didst proclaim that thou couldst be called by no other name but Christian. Wherefore we marvel at thy conviction and cry out to thee thus:

Rejoice, thou who art a shining example for all catechumens

Rejoice, thou who chose the heavenly over thine earthly father

Rejoice, thou who refused to be called anything other than a Christian

Rejoice, being freed from the bondage of sin through baptism while yet in prison

Rejoice, for being informed by the Spirit thou prayed only for endurance of the flesh

Rejoice, Married Matron mother of a son

Rejoice, thou who wast tempted by womanly anxiety for thy suckling child

Rejoice, thou who wast ministered to by the holy deacons Tertius and Pomponius

Rejoice, thou who didst commend thy son to the care of thy mother

Rejoice, thou who didst comfort thy brother, a catechumen in the faith

Rejoice, thou who didst look upon the dungeon as a palace

Rejoice, Bold One asking the Lord whether thou wouldst die a martyr’s death

Rejoice, Holy Martyrs Perpetua, Felicity and your companions

Beholding a heavenly vision, holy Perpetua wast informed of her martyrdom. She was found worthy to see with spiritual eyes the contest of salvation. And looking upon the bronze ladder she didst see holy Saturus going up ahead of her, calling after her to follow. Wherefore we call to her:

Alleluia

Contemplating the narrow ladder holy Perpetua didst understand the struggle to enter Paradise, for as a vile serpent the devil lies waiting to strike. Yet encouraged by her teacher she didst trod on its head and ascended the ladder, her gaze fixed upward. Wherefore we cry to her:

Rejoice, thou who didst declare the serpent powerless in the name of the Lord

Rejoice, thou who didst proclaim the way to Life impossible for the negligent

Rejoice, thou who didst follow holy Saturus’ example in death as in life

Rejoice, thou who didst ascend and enter a vast garden

Rejoice, thou who didst stand in the company of many clothed in white

Rejoice, thou who wast greeted by the venerable Shepherd

Rejoice, thou who wast given to eat food sweeter than honey

Rejoice, thou who didst awake from thy vision at the word ‘amen’

Rejoice, Holy Saturus who wast found worthy to ascend the ladder first

Rejoice, O father who gave thyself up for the sake of the catechumens

Rejoice, Encourager of Perpetua to follow after thee in thine ascent

Rejoice, you who confidently forsook all hope in this world

Rejoice, Holy Martyrs Perpetua, Felicity and your companions

During their meal the martyrs were all called to the tribunal, and once there they all proclaimed themselves Christians. Refusing to offer sacrifice to the idols for the Emperor’s prosperity, they left the procurator Hilarian baffled, who knew not how to chant:

Alleluia

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The Baptism of Christ is a Historical Event of Universal Significance[1]

 Metropolitan Augustinos (Kantiotes) of Florina

            As we all know, there are things called Hertzian waves travelling throughout the air around us, carrying the various signals from all the different radio stations from one place to another. In order to receive these waves, however, and hear the voices carried upon them, one needs a radio with an antenna. Well, just as you need an antenna to hear the different radio stations, so we need antenna here in what we are speaking of here!

We live without an antenna, however: we have broken it! Should the radio antenna at home fall over, we run out immediately in order to set it aright. Why? That we might listen to what? Senseless and foolish things! Whoever turns off his radio and television is indeed fortunate since he prevents his mind from being filled up with garbage; the minds of men have become landfills on account of the garbage spewed out by the radios and televisions of the world. So we need an antenna, but what is this antenna? Faith! O faith! This is the antenna! By means of this antenna we hear unearthly messages which are sent, not from earthly radio and television stations, but rather from the ethereal station of the Holy Trinity.

O Holy Trinity, enlighten us all! Give us faith by means of which we might catch such spiritual waves! It is by means of faith that we rendered able to access great mysteries.

Permit us to add something further: if our spiritual antenna is to be pure, thus rendering us capable of hearing these messages; if we are to be men of the spirit, and not men of the simple five senses, Epicureans, followers of Epicurus,[2] then today we ought to go to the River Jordan. Where are we to go? I do not mean the Jordan found in Palestine where a great mob of men from all over the world will gather over the next few days. No, I am not suggesting that we go there. There is another Jordan, a loftier Jordan. This Jordan of which I speak is not one of normal water; no Jordan, no Axios, no Aliakmonas, not even if we were to pass through every river the world over would it be possible for us to emerge purified if we do not pass through this particular Jordan. Of which Jordan do I speak? The Fathers call it tears; tears for the love for God and of repentance for our sins.

O you who orders this present age, give me a tear! Many tears are shed in the world; were an angel to come down and collect all the tears which have been shed, these could easily make up a river! All these tears are worthless, however. There is one lone tear which matters: the tear shed for the sake of our sin-stained conscience, the tear of repentance such as was shed by Peter when he, “…went out, and wept bitterly.”[3]

Let us too shed tears of repentance! May these tears become for us a Jordan within which we will perceive the Holy Trinity, praising Father, Son and Holy Spirit unto the ages of ages! Amen.

[1]               From the book Εμπνευσμένα Κηρύγματα Ορθοδόξου Ομολογίας και Αγιοπατερικής Πνοής (Orthodoxos Kypseli: Thessaloniki, 2011), 31-32. Translated by Fr John Palmer.

[2]               Epicurus (341-270 BC) was a Greek philosopher who taught that death was the end of both body and soul and thus that attention ought to be focussed on enjoyment of the present life in tranquility and free of pain and suffering.

[3]               Luke 22:62

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unnamedI know that many of you cannot read Modern Greek, but Athonite fathers have released a very important and timely document concerning ecumenism. I have translated the Greek description of the document (rather poorly, for which I apologize, but at least it will give you the gist of the important topics addressed by the document). If you can read Greek you can view the PDF below. If you can’t read Greek you may still want to look through the many photos of the world-wide ecumenical events the fathers have included in this document, as well as icons of confessor saints and Athonite martyrs or even the long list of Athonite signatures. Hopefully a proper English translation will be available in the future.

“With the grace of our All-holy Lady, the Athonite fathers take an opposing position to the impermissible ecumenical actions* of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In a last conscious effort of the Holy Community of the Holy Mountain and the Orthodox group [of] abbots, coenobitic monastics, monks of kellis, monks of sketes and ascetics, they offer their testimony with boldness and a mindset of confession.”

*the Greek word used here literally means “openings”, but for the sake of clarity in the English language I’ve translated it “actions”.

UPDATE: the previous title of this post was “Athonite Fathers Release Important and Timely 70-page Document”. The document is 69 pages as a PDF but it is in fact 127 pages.

Περιοδικό-Αγίου-Όρους-pdf

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iconof_stignatiusbrianchaninov(Source)

Written for a Certain Layman As a Result of His Desire To Live A Vigilant Life In The World by St. Ignaty Brianchaninov

The soul of all practices in the Lord is vigilance. Without vigilance, all these practices are fruitless. He who is desirous of saving himself must so establish himself that he might remain continuously vigilant toward himself, not only in solitude, but also under conditions of distraction, into which he is sometimes unwillingly drawn by circumstances.

Let the fear of God outweigh all other sensations upon the scales of your heart; and then will it be convenient to for you to be vigilant toward yourself, both in the silence of your kellia [cell] and in the midst of the noise that surrounds you from all sides.

A well-reasoned moderation in food, diminishing the passionate heat of his blood, tends greatly to facilitate your being able to attend to yourself; while the impassioning of your blood, stemming, as it does, from an excessive consumption of foodstuffs, from extreme and intensified bodily movements, from the inflammation of wrath, from being heady with vanity, and by reason of other causes, gives rise to a multitude of thoughts and reveries—in other words, to distraction. The Holy Fathers, first of all, ascribe to such a one as is desirous of attending to himself a moderate, evenly-measured, constant abstention from food. (Dobrotoliubiye [Philokalia], Pt. II, Ch. of St. Filofei [Philotheus] of the Sinai)

Upon awakening from sleep—an image of the awakening from the dead, which awaits all men—direct your thoughts to God, offering up to Him the first-thoughts of your mind, which has not yet become imprinted with any vain impressions whatsoever.

Having carefully fulfilled all the needs of the flesh upon arising from sleep, quietly read your customary rule of prayer, taking care not so much for the quantity of your prayerful expression, as for the quality of it; i.e., do it attentively, so that, by reason of your attention, your heart might be enlightened and enlivened through prayerful feeling and consolation. Upon concluding your rule of prayer, do you again, direct all your strength to the attentive reading of the New Testament, primarily the Evangelists. In the course of this reading, intently take note of all the instructions and commandments of Christ, so that you might direct all your actions-both manifest and veiled-in accordance with them.

The quantity of the reading is determined by one’s strength and by one’s circumstances. It is unnecessary to weigh-down one’s mind with an excessive reading of prayers and Scripture; likewise, is it unnecessary to neglect one’s needs in order to practice immoderate prayer and reading. Just as the excessive use of foodstuffs disorders and weakens the belly, so too does the immoderate use of spiritual food weaken the mind and create in it a revulsion to pious practices, leading it to despair. ([St.] Isaak the Syrian, “Sermon 71″)

For the novice, the Holy Fathers suggest frequent—but brief—prayers. When one’s mind matures with spiritual age, becoming stronger and more manly, then shall one be in proper condition to pray without ceasing. It is to such Christians as have attained to maturity in the Lord that the words of the Apostle Paul pertain:

“I desire, therefore, that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without anger and reproach” (I Tim. II, 8) i.e., dispassionately, and without any distraction or inconstancy. For that which is natural to the man is not yet natural to the infant.

Enlightened, through prayer and reading, by our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, one may then go forth to carry out the affairs of one’s daily course, vigilantly taking care that in all one’s deeds and words, in one’s entire being, the All-holy will of God might prevail, as it was revealed and explained to men in the Commandments of the Evangelist.

Should there be any free moments during the course of the day, use them to read attentively some chosen prayers, or some chosen portions of Scripture; and, by means of these, fortify the powers of your soul, which have become exhausted through activity in the midst of a world of vanities.

Should there not be any such golden moments, it is necessary to regret their loss, as though it were the loss of a valuable treasure. What is wasted today should not be lost on the day following, because our heart conveniently gives itself up to negligence and forgetfulness, which lead to that dismal ignorance, so ruinous of Divine activity, of the activity of man’s salvation.

Should you chance to say or to do something that is contrary to God’s commandments, immediately treat your fault with repentance; and, by means of sincere contrition, return to the Way of God, from which you stepped aside through your violation of God’s will. Do not linger outside the Way of God! Respond with faith and humility to sinful thoughts, reveries and sensations by opposing to them the Gospel commandments, and saying, along with the holy patriarch Joseph:

“How shall I speak this evil word and sin before God?” (Gen. XXX, 9)

One who is vigilant toward oneself must refuse himself all reverie, in general—regardless of how attractive and well-appearing it might seem, for all reverie is the wandering of the mind, which flatters and deceives it, while being outside the truth, in the land of non-existent phantoms, and incapable of realization. The consequences of reverie are: loss of vigilance toward oneself, dissipation of the mind, and hardness of heart during prayer, whence comes distress of the soul.

In the evening, departing into slumber—which, in relation to the day just past, is death—examine your actions during the course of that day. Such [self-] examination is not difficult, since, in leading an attentive life, that forgetfulness which is so natural to a distracted man is destroyed through vigilance toward oneself. And so, having recollected all your sins, whether through act, or word, or thought, or sensation, offer your repentance to God for them, with both the disposition and the heart-felt pledge of self-amendment. Later, having read the rule of prayer, conclude the day which was begun by meditating upon God by meditating, once again, upon God. Whither do they depart—all the thoughts and feelings of a sleeping man? What mysterious state of being is this sleep, during which the soul and body are both alive and yet not alive, being alienated from the awareness of their life, as though dead? Sleep is as incomprehensible as death. In the course of it, one’s soul reposes, forgetting the most-cruel earthly afflictions and calamities that have beset it, while it images its eternal repose; while one’s body … if it rises from sleep will also arise, inevitably, from the dead.

The great Agafon said: “It is impossible to succeed in virtue without exerting vigilance toward oneself.” (The Patericon of Skete)

Amen.

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Icon of the Holy Fathers of Seventh Ecumenical Council. “[W]e keep unchanged all the ecclesiastical traditions handed down to us, whether in writing or verbally.” – The Decree of the Holy, Great, Ecumenical Synod, the Second of Nicaea (7th Ecumenical Council).

Synaxis of ORTHODOX
Clergy and Monastics
Thessaloniki, November 19, 2014

Beloved Brethren,

Below you will find a text prepared by the Synaxis of Orthodox Clergy and Monastics and signed by all its members which presents and examines the novel ecclesiological views recently expressed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. You will note that six of the Church of Greece’s hierarchs—Andrew of Dryinoupolis, Seraphim of Piraeus, Paul of Glyfada, Seraphim of Kythira, Kosmas of Aetolia and Akarnanias, and Jeremiah of Gortynos—have already added their signatures to this document and it will certainly be signed by a broader segment of the clergy and laity in the coming days.

The effect of this text will be greatly increased if you, and any other clergyman, monastic or layman whom you may know, add your signatures to the following document and then digitally sign it, below. Your personal information will not be used for any other purposes than for this petition.

With all due respect and honor,
On behalf of the Synaxis of Orthodox Clergy and Monastics

Archimandrite Athanasios Anastasio
Former Abbot of Great Meteora Monastery

Archimandrite Sarantis Saranto
Rector of the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Marousi, Attica, Greece

Archimandrite Gregory Hadjinicolao
Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery, Ano Gatzeas, Volos, Greece

Elder Efstratios, Priestmonk
Great Lavra Monastery, Mount Athos

Protopresbyter. George Metallinos
Professor Emeritus of the Theological Academy at the University of Athens, Greece

Protopresbyter. Theodore Zissis
Professor Emeritus of the Theological Academy at the University of Thessaloniki, Greece

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It was with great sorrow that we all witnessed the events which unfolded in the Holy Land, now a few months ago. Within the context of his meeting with Pope Francis in Jerusalem on 25 May of the present year, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed, amongst other things, a novel ecclesiology, entirely foreign to Orthodoxy. The culmination of years of deviation within the sphere of ecclesiology, and indeed its worst manifestation, this new ecclesiology denies the indissolubility and incorruptibility of the Church, despite the fact that it is, according to the Fathers, “…the Theanthropos (the God-Man) Christ, extended through that ages and unto all eternity. It is for this reason that the Church is without, “…spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Conversely, according to the Patriarch, the Church has been divided, contrary to the will of the Almighty Christ:

1. Various formulations of ‘Divided Church’ ecclesiology.

The One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, founded by the “Word who was in the beginning,” who was “truly with God,” and who “truly was God”, according to the Evangelist of Love, sadly, on account of the dominance of human weakness and of impermanence of the will of the human intellect, was divided in time in the course of her earthly campaign. This brought about a variety of conditions and groups, each of which claiming “authenticity” and “truth” for itself. The Truth is One, however; Christ, and the One Church founded by Him”.

Unfortunately, the human element prevailed, as a result of a build up of “theological,” “practical,” and “social” additions, the Local Churches were led into a division of the unity of the Faith, into isolation, which at times gave rise to hostile polemics.

This position is not entirely new: much earlier, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his view in favour of the equality of the Orthodox Church and the Papal heresy:

A common sacramental conception of the Church has emerged, sustained and passed on in time by the apostolic succession…the Joint Commission has been able to declare that our Churches recognize one another as Sister Churches, jointly responsible for safeguarding the one Church of God, in faithfulness to the divine plan, and in an altogether special way with regard to unity… In this perspective we urge our faithful, Catholics and Orthodox, to reinforce the spirit of brotherhood which stems from the one Baptism and from participation in the sacramental life.

Dialogue is most beneficial, for by means of it we come to recognize the harmful elements of the old leaven, which is a presupposition of true and salvific repentance…Inasmuch as one Church recognizes another Church to be a storehouse of holy grace and a guide leading to salvation, efforts aimed at tearing faithful away from one church in order that they may join another are unacceptable, being inconsistent with the aforementioned recognition. Each local Church is not a competitor of the other local Churches, but rather is one body with them and desires the life of unity in Christ, the restoration of what was disturbed in the past, and not the absorption of the other.

This strange broadening of the Church did not leave the heretical Protestants outside of its bounds. Patriarch Bartholomew had the following to say in 2008 about the 9th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches which took place in Porto Alegre of Brazil in February of 2006:

And so, freed from the tensions of the past and determined to stay together and act together, two years ago at the Ninth Assembly at Porto Alegre, Brazil, we laid down markers for a new stage in the life of the Council, taking account of the present situation in inter-church relations and the changes that are gradually taking place in ecumenical life.

To general astonishment, the final text of that Assembly proclaims about the “churches” of the W.C.C:

Each church is the Church catholic, but not the whole of it. Each church fulfils its catholicity when it is in communion with the other churches…apart from one another we are impoverished.

The Patriarch’s theological advisor, Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, also considers any heretical or schismatic group that employs “baptism” of any kind to be within the church.

Baptism creates a limit to the Church. Now, within this baptismal limit it is conceivable that there may be divisions, but any division within those limits is not the same as the division between the Church and those outside the baptismal limit … within baptism, even if there is a division, one may still speak of the Church.

By arbitrarily widening the boundaries of the Church, Metropolitan John limits the field of heresy. According to him, every heresy that does not expressly contradict Symbol of Faith [the Creed], such as Monophysitism-Monothelitsm (the so-called Pre-Chalcedonians), Iconoclasm, anti-hesychasm, nationalism, etc. is part of the church:

Heresy, meaning the divergence from that which is believed and confessed in the Creed by the Church, automatically sets one outside of the Church. The problem arises, however, from the moment this point of view becomes absolute.

All the above seem to be the extension of an earlier suggestion of Patriarch Athenagoras, the mentor of the subsequent leaders of the pan-heresy of Ecumenism, who said:

The movement toward unity it is not a matter of one Church moving toward the other, but rather let us all re-found the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church together, coexisting in the East and the West as we lived up to 1054 in spite of the theological differences that existed then.

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Please read the complete document, see the footnotes and sign the petition here.

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Our dear friend Peter has graciously shared these beautiful videos of Elder Zacharias speaking at St. John the Compassionate Mission in Toronto in February, 2014. The theme is The Enlargement of the Heart. Enjoy.

Part 1

Part 2

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