Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista (+2019) A Hierarch of Fire

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St. Iakovos of Evia and Metropolitan Pavlos

Suddenly on Sunday 13/1, Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista, reposed in the Lord. He was a very beloved and respected hierarch of the Church of Greece and a spiritual child of St. Iakovos of Evia. His words, example and advice carry great weight and his talks are filled with true love and wisdom. Below are a brief biography and a wonderful recent talk of his with English subtitles. May he have a blessed Paradise, and may we have his blessing!’

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His last night he spent in the Monastery of St. David of Evia and St. Iakovos  [my recent pilgrimage] which he loved so much, and until noon of his last day he was near there in Rovies, serving his final Divine Liturgy on Sunday January 13th next to the Precious Skull of St. David.
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I had the blessing to attend Vigils with this hierarch at Mikrokastro Monastery and I remember his fiery eyes and voice. Even now, three days after his repose, his holy presence is still palpably felt to all. We feel he is alive in our Resurrected Lord. We experience a gladdening sorrow burning our hearts. *”His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14) May he pray for all of us. +Memory Eternal!

 

The video which follows is very important as it reveals Metropolitan Pavlos’ intimate spiritual relationship with Elder Iakovos and relates lots of miracles which he experienced first-hand.
For Metropolitan Pavlos’ life, go here.
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St. Seraphim Sarov and a child’s love for his spiritual father

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This is a story about St Seraphim which Fr. Seraphim from Mull Monastery first heard from one of the sisters at his Monastery in Diveyevo:

“When St Seraphim was living as a hermit in the forest, two young men who were novices at the monastery in Sarov had him as their spiritual father (can you imagine that?). One was called Sasha; I don’t remember the name of the second one.

At one point, St Seraphim gave them an obedience to go and pray to the Saints of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. He had been there as a young man himself, just before entering the monastery in Sarov, and he probably wanted his two spiritual sons to receive the same blessings he had.

Anyway, having received this obedience and a blessing from the Monastery, they left for Kiev. On the way to Kiev though (which would have taken weeks), Sasha grew increasingly sad and weak. He was missing his spiritual father so much that he felt he could not go on without St Seraphim.

 

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As they were travelling further from Sarov, things got increasingly worse, his heart ached so much, his pain cut so deep that he fell physically ill. He suffered for a few days, tormented by the love he felt for the great Saint and the separation from him, until he eventually died.

He died missing his spiritual father. This is a story I’ve struggled with for a long time, until last year, I asked my own spiritual father about it. What happened to the soul of poor Sasha? Was that not spiritual death, to get so attached to a human being that you could not live without that person?

My spiritual father only said: ‘that young man was not missing St Seraphim, but Christ’s image in the great elder’. He may not have had the spiritual maturity to understand this, but the love he felt, that beyond-human need to be united with St Seraphim, was actually the craving, the longing, the love his heart felt for Christ.

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St Seraphim had revealed to him Christ Himself. Sasha had felt Christ’s love in the saint’s love. His soul understood that there is no life apart from his spiritual father, because – unknown to his simplicity – he had learnt that there is no love apart from Christ. So when the young man died, he did not become separated from his spiritual father, but he finally became One with the Lord of his heart.”

 

* Dedicated to my dearly loved spiritual Father

I know how the monk  Sasha ( Alexander) felt. When away on pilgrimages, the break in my heart gets wider and tears begin to fall. I miss him so much, though,  it seems, it has not been to death so far! 

 

 

Ten Orthodox New Years Resolutions

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Making New Years resolutions? Consider the following Ten Points for a better Orthodox way of life. These will nourish your soul and bring you closer to God and an eternal heir to His kingdom.
1. Praying Daily: Have a regular prayer rule that includes morning and evening prayer.
2. Worshiping and Participating in the Sacraments: Attend and participate in the Divine Liturgy receiving Holy Communion regularly as well as regular participation in Confession.
3. Honoring the Liturgical Cycle: Follow the seasons of the church and participate in the fasts and feasts of the Church.
4. Using the Jesus Prayer: Repeat the Holy name whenever possible throughout the day or night.
5. Slowing Down and Ordering Your Life: Set priorities and reduce the stress and friction caused by a hurried life.
6. Being Watchful: Give full attention to what you are doing at the moment.
7. Taming the Passions: Overcome your habits, attachment to your likes and dislikes, and learn to practice the virtues.
8. Putting Others First: Free yourself from your selfishness and find joy in helping others.
9. Spiritual Fellowship: Spend time regularly with other Orthodox Christians for support and inspiration.
10. Reading Scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers.
Link to guidance on these ten points: Ten Points for an Orthodox way of life

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Happy New Year 2019 to all dearly loved in the countries of my heart, and to all the world! This New Year is yet one more plain covered with snow, unspoiled, pure … Let us tread responsibly on this expanse of whiteness still unspoiled. So much depends on the way in which we tread it. Will there be a road cutting through the plain following Light and Love? Or wandering steps that will only soil the whiteness of the snow?

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.

Flowers for Kyra Vassiliki

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There was a woman in a small village in Aitoloakarnania and had three children.
Kyra Vasiliki managed to raise up her family with incredible deprivations and difficulties, but with a unique dignity! She died on Dormition eve in 1998.
The next day, on August 15, the cheap coffin with her corpse, which was on the chassis of the priest’s small van, was headed toward the cemetery.
In the course of the funeral, some of her fellow villagers followed and talked about the sufferings that she had endured when she lived, when suddenly a beautiful fragrance exuded and spread all over the place:
If thousands of flowers were there, no such aroma would be possible !!!

All of them were surprised and could not explain that mystery. Among those who accompanied her was also a spiritual child of the late Elder Ambrosius Lazaris (1912-2006), the charismatic Spiritual Father of the Holy Monastery of Dadi. After a few days of this miraculous, yet incomprehensible event, he went to Elder Ambrosius, reporting to him the whole incident. Very laconically, he told him only that: “A woman died, and the place was full of fragrance.”
Elder Ambrosius, at first, remained silent.
Then, he walked into his room, stayed for a while there, and then returned.
These were his words:
– She has been sanctified! And, do you know why? Because, never in her life, did she ever complain! Such are the people which God ‘wants’! To fill Paradise and make the Second Coming. Do you understand? …

Stop saying “Glory to God for all things!”

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A testimony offered by Hieromonk Synesios.

 

“A few years ago, I was the parish priest of St. Vasileios church (Piraeus) and was called to hear the confession of a young man, Xenophon, 42 years old.

When I arrived, his days were numbered. Cancer with rapid metastases had affected his brain too. He was all alone at the ward, the bed next to him was empty, so we were all alone.

This is what he told me about how he came to Faith, since he was a “hardened atheist” in his own words:

‘I arrived here about 35 days ago, in this ward of two beds. Next to me was another patient, about 80 years old. He was suffering from cancer too, in his bones, and although he was experiencing excruciating pain, he was constantly praising the Lord “Glory to God! Glory to God for all things!” He also recited more prayers which I heard for the first time in my life since I was an atheist who had never set my foot to church.  Often, all those prayers comforted him and he slept for a couple of hours. Then, after 2-3 hours, he woke up again from the excruciating pain, and he would start over “My Christ, I thank you! Glory be to Thy Name! Glory to God! Glory to God for all things!” I was moaning with my pain, and this patient at the next bed to mine was glorifying God. I was blaspheming Christ and the Theotokos, and he was thanking God, thanking him for the cancer which he had given to him, and for all the excruciating pain he was suffering.

I was so rebellious and indignant at this! Not only for the excruciating pain I was suffering, but also for his never-ending Doxology. He was also partaking daily of Holy Communion, while I was throwing up in disgust.

– ‘Will you please shut up! Shut up and stop saying all the time ‘Glory to God’! Can’t you see that this God, Whom you are thanking and glorifying, this same God is torturing us with such cruelty? What kind of God this is? No, He does not exist!’

And the patient on the next bed would meekly answer me: ‘He does exist, my child, and He is also a most loving Father, because with all this illness and pain, He cleanses me from my many sins. If you had worked on some rough task, and your clothes and your body stank, would you not need a rough brush to clean all this dirt? Likewise, God is using this disease as a balm, as a beneficial cleansing for my soul, in order to prepare it for the Kingdom of Heaven’.

His replies got even more on my nerves and I was blaspheming gods and demons. All my reactions were sadly most negative, and all I did was to keep on screaming: ‘There is no God. … I do not believe in anything. … Neither in this God nor in His Kingdom …’

I remember his last words: ‘Wait and you shall see with your own eyes how the soul of a Christian who believes is separated from his body. I am a sinner, but His Mercy will save me. Wait, and you will behold and will believe!’

And that day came. The nurses wanted to place a screen, as is their duty, but I protested against and stopped them. I told them ‘No, don’t do this, because I want to watch how this old man will die!!!’

So I watched him and he was glorifying God all the time. He also said a few ‘Hail, Unwedded Bride’ for the Theotokos, which as I later found out, they are called ‘Salutations’. He would also chant “Theotokos Virgin Mary …”, “From my many sins ..” and “It is truly right to bless you, Theotokos …”, and he would also make the sign of the Cross a number of times.

Then …  he raised both of his hands and said “Welcome, my Angel! Thank you for coming with such a bright synodeia to take my soul. Thank you! Thank you!” He raised his hands a little bit more, he made the sign of the Cross, he crossed his arms on his chest and fell asleep in the Lord. Suddenly, the ward was filled with Light, like ten and more bright suns had risen all together, such was splendour of the light with which this ward was lit!” And not only was this ward lit, but a heavenly fragrance spread around, inside the ward, even outside the corridor, so powerful that those patients in the neighbouring wards who were not asleep and could get out of their beds, they came out and started walking up and down the corridor, trying to discern where this special fragrance was exuded from.

Thus, my Father, I, the hardened atheist did believe and called for you to hear my Confession.’

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Xenophon was firm and merciless with his old self, but the Mercy of our Lord was great, really great! He offered a clear confession, received Holy Communion a couple of times, and departed in deep repentance, in peace, a holy death, himself glorifying God!”

By Protopresbyter Stephanos Anagnostopoulos