Prayer for Difficult Times

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By Elder Sophrony of Essex

‘In difficult times, when all my efforts have failed to conform the events of my life towards the Gospel teaching, I would pray in the following manner:
“Come and make Yourself one with my will. Your commandments do not fit within my narrow heart, and my finite nous does not comprehend their content. If You are not well pleased to come and dwell within me Yourself, then I will inevitably be led towards the darkness. I know that You do not work through force, so I entreat You: Come and take charge of my house, and wholly renew me. Transform the hellish darkness of my pride into Your humble love. Transfigure with Your Light my corrupted nature, that no passion might be able to remain within me that would prevent Your coming with Your Father (John 14:21-23). Make me a dwelling place of that holy life which You Yourself have allowed me to taste of here in part…Yes, O Lord, I entreat You, do not deprive from me this sign of Your goodness.” ‘

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Elder Sophronios’ prayer is so ‘Palamite’ ( +St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonika the Wonderworker)

 “The first two years in his monastic habit, he spent with fasting, vigil, concentration of the mind and unceasing prayer. In his prayers he always evoke as intercessor the Mother of God and in every occasion he would ask for Her help. Once, when he was still and wholly surrendered to the thought of God, he saw in front of him a very venerable elder (St. John the Theologian). Turning at him with a gentle look, the elder said: ”I came my child, sent by the Most Holy and Queen of all to ask you, why every hour, day and night, you cry to God ‘…enlighten my darkness, enlighten my darkness …?” In reply, Gregory said: ”And what else shall I ask, me who am full of passion and sin, but to be shown mercy and be enlighten to see and do the Will of God?” Then the Evangelist told him: ”The Mistress of all – through me, her servant – commands that I should be your helper.” Then Gregory asked him: ”When will the mother of my Lord help me, now or after death?” ”Now and at the future life”, said the Theologian and disappeared, filling the heart of Gregory with unspeakable joy in regard to the promises of the mother of God.”

 The life of Saint Gregory Palamas Archbishop of Thessalonika the Wonderworker by Philotheos, Patriarch of Constantinople

 

 

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Theophany Vigil at Mount Athos Monastery Agiou Pavlou

 

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Monastery Agiou Pavlou is situated in the west foot of Athos, 20 min from the sea and is dedicated in the Presentation of Christ to the temple.

The monastery was destroyed many times by various causes, and its buildings belong to different periods. The Katholicon was built shortly before the mid 10th c. The monastery has 12 chapels, the most important of which is that of St George, with frescoes of the Cretan School (1555).

The monastery also possesses the Nea Skete and the Skete of St Demetrius. The monastery is mentioned for the first time, in the mid 10th c., mostly its founder Pavlos Xeropotaminos, and then in 1259. After the Catalan raids, it is degraded into a kellion, only to become a monastery again in the 3rd quarter of the 14th c. In the 15th c. it is financially supported by Serbians rulers and after the fall of Byzantium, by rulers of eastern Europe.

Among the monastery’s possessions, are counted portable icons, heirlooms, holy relics and liturgical vessels. The library contains 494 manuscripts and about 12,500 books. The monastery is inhabited by a brotherhood of 30 monks.

Photos sent  from St. Arsenios’ Monastery (Vatopedi, Chalkidiki) pilgrims; Gerondas Theoklitos is presiding at the Church services.

Pilgrimage to Evia

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Synaxis of All Saints of Euboea (Evia)

Blessed New Year 2019! May He who is the Alpha and Omega Christ our True God grant us every strength and all virtues necessary for our salvation in this year of His grace 2019. May we honour our calling and chosen way as Christians. Soon, I will start uploading lots of stories and photographs from a recent pilgrimage to Euboia.


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St. Iakovos Tsalikis and St. David of Evia

The Remarkable Christmas Homily of Kyros Panopolites

Probably the most laconic ever Christmas homily!

 

In the 440’s a remarkable and unusual sermon was delivered on Christmas Day before a hostile congregation.

 

Kyros, a poet of some repute, came to Constantinople from his native Egypt and used his literary ability and the patronage of the empress Eudokia to become praefectus urbi about 435 and praefectus praetorio by 439. He held both offices simultaneously for about four years, but his career was ruined when Emperor Theodosius II accused him of being a pagan, removed him from power, and confiscated his property. Whether paganism was really the issue is difficult to say, as several sources claimed that the emperor’s real motive was envy of Kyros’ popularity among the people of Constantinople.

 

Stripped of his office, Kyros sought sanctuary in the Church and became a priest. Then, on the emperor’s orders, he was sent as bishop to Kotyaion in Phrygia. The rather unusual choice of an accused pagan as an episcopal appointee was explained by the reputation of the people of Kotyaion. They had killed four of their previous bishops, and Theodosius supposedly hoped that they would do the same to Kyros, thus ridding him once and for all of a dangerous rival.

 

Kyros arrived in Kotyaion at Christmas-time and was officiating in the church when the people, who had learned that he might be a pagan, suddenly called out for him to preach, presumably to test the validity of the report. It was under these circumstances that Kyros delivered his only recorded sermon. He ascended the ambo, gave the greeting of peace, and spoke:

 

“Brethren, let the birth of God our Savior Jesus Christ be honored with silence, because the Word of God was conceived in the holy Virgin through hearing alone. To him be glory for ever. Amen.”

 

The sermon had taken perhaps half a minute, and the reaction of the people was instant and unanimous. Instead of killing Kyros on the spot, they rejoiced and praised him, and he lived on to administer his see piously for many years. Kyros was a figure around whom Christian lore collected (cf. the story of the miraculous icon), and an element of hagiography may be operating in our accounts of this event. But we should remember that the evidence for Kyros’ sermon seems to come originally from Priskos of Panion, a contemporary observer and one not always favorable to Christian luminaries.

 

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Read more here.

A Christmas letter

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My dear sister K.,

I have been thinking of you and wishing you patience and joy in your time away from us. After a difficult time, in as much as it was manic and full of varied temptations, I feel peace is about to descend. On a worldly front, I am sitting in my house alone, having finished my last day of work. Just finished reading the Gospels and will now listen to Christmas Carols. Bliss! So peaceful and such a contrast to my daily noise. The rest of the family have gone to L. on a family visit and are staying overnight. I feel sleep would be a waste. I want to enjoy the peace awake and alert. It was such a blessed idea to read the Gospels. I feel my whole being has never been so awake to the Word. There is still a very long way to go for me, but I feel with every reading it’s like another thin veil is lifted from my brain and my heart so I can be a little step closer to the Word of the Lord. 
I hope you and the family are well and I wish you a very blessed Feast of the Nativity, filled with love and joy! Looking forward to our reunion in flesh and prayer and to our next endeavour in Christ.
Lots of love,
A.