Today From the Prologue

10 July 11

The Precious Robes of Christ and Orthodox Tradition

(Deposition of Christ’s Robe in Moscow and the Robe of Christ in Georgia)

Fresco of the Holy Crucifixion of Christ, also depicting the soldiers casting lots for Christ’s garments (by Theophanes the Cretan, taken from: http://www.eikastikon.gr/xristianika/kris/index.html)

The Placing of the Honorable Robe of the Lord at Moscow – Commemorated on July 10
The Placing of the Precious Robe of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Moscow (1625): The Savior’s precious Robe [ Greek “himatia”, literally “over-garments”] is not identically the same thing as His seamless coat [Greek “khiton”, literally “under-garb tunic”]. They are clearly distinct within Holy Scripture. “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments (ta himatia) and divided them into four parts, to every soldier a part, and the coat (kai ton khitona). Now the coat was without seam, woven whole from the top down. Therefore, they said among themselves, let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it will become. Thus the saying in Scripture was fulfilled: they divided My raiment (ta imatia) among them, and upon My vesture (epi ton himatismon) did they cast lots” (John. 19: 23-24; Ps. 21 [22]: 18-19).

Icon of the Deposition of Christ’s Robe in Moscow (taken from:http://foto.mail.ru/mail/avdey57/25/857.html)
According to the tradition of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Chiton of the Lord was carried by the Hebrew rabbi Elioz from Jerusalem to Mtsket and at present is beneath a crypt in the foundations of the Mtsket Patriarchal cathedral of Svetitskhoveli (the Feast in honor of the Chiton of the Lord is celebrated on October 1 [see below for the full account]). None of the Mohammedan invaders ever ventured to encroach upon this spot, glorified with a sign by the mercy of God, the Life-Creating Pillar.

Icon of the Deposition of Christ’s Robe in Moscow (taken from:http://days.pravoslavie.ru/Images/ii6926&1036.htm)
The Robe of the Lord, actually one of its four parts, the lower portion specifically (other parts of the Robe of the Lord are also known in Western Europe: in the city of Trier in Germany, and in Argenteuil near Paris in France), just like the Chiton of the Lord, came to be in Georgia. In contrast to the Chiton, the Robe portion was not kept underground, but was in the treasury of the Svetitskhoveli cathedral right up to the seventeenth century. Then the Persian Shah Abbas I, in devastating Georgia, along with other treasures also carried off the Robe of the Lord. In order to ingratiate himself with Tsar Michael Feodorovich, the Shah sent the Robe of the Lord as a gift to Patriarch Philaret (1619-1633) and Tsar Michael in 1625. The authenticity of the Robe was attested by Nectarius, Archbishop of Vologda, also by Patriarch Theophanes of Jerusalem, who had come from Byzantium, and by Joannicius the Greek, but especially also by the miraculous signs worked by the Lord through the venerable relic.

Piece of the Holy Robe of Christ in the city of Yaroslavl. According to the image source (and Google Translation), this fragment was given by the Tsar and Patriarch to the city of Yaroslavl in 1650. In the 1920’s it was lost because of the Communists, but in 2003 it was miraculously found again, and following study and verification, it was returned to the Church on April 9th 2004 (on Good Friday) (taken from:http://www.bogolub.narod.ru/gaz_files/cv/c_v4_2005.htm)
Afterwards two parts of the Robe came to be in Peterburg: one in the cathedral at the Winter Palace, and the other in Sts Peter and Paul cathedral. A portion of the Robe was also preserved at the Dormition cathedral in Moscow, and small portions at Kiev’s Sophia cathedral, at the Ipatiev monastery near Kostroma and at certain other old temples. At Moscow annually on July 10 the Robe of the Lord is solemnly brought out of a chapel named for the holy Apostles Peter and Paul at the Dormition cathedral, and it is placed on a stand for veneration during the time of divine services. After Liturgy they carry the Robe to its former place. On this day a service to the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord is proper, since the Placing of the Robe in the Dormition cathedral in 1625 took place on March 29, which happened to be the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross during the Great Fast.”

Picture of the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Moscow (taken from:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/Dormition_%28Kremlin%29.JPG)

Picture of the reliquary with a piece of the Holy Robe of Christ. It was in the Kremlin Museum, and was given to the Russian Patriarch, the Church and the faithful for veneration in honor of the 90th anniversary of the restoration of the Russian Patriarchate (in 2007) (taken from:http://www.pareizticiba.lv/index.php?newid=1239&id=6)

“Commemoration of the apparition of the Pillar with the Robe of the Lord under it at Mtskheta in Georgia – Commemorated on October 1

During the reign of King Aderki of Kartli, the Jewish diaspora in Mtskheta learned that a wondrous Child had been born in Jerusalem. Then, thirty years later, a man came from Jerusalem to deliver this message: “The youth has grown up. He calls Himself the Son of God and preaches to us the New Covenant. We have sent envoys to every Jewish diaspora to urge the scholars of the religion to come to Jerusalem and judge what measures should be taken in regard to this matter.”

In response to the envoy’s request and at the recommendation of the Jewish Sanhedrin, Elioz of Mtskheta and Longinoz of Karsani were chosen to journey to Jerusalem. Elioz of Mtskheta was born to a pious family, and as his mother prepared him for the journey, she tearfully begged him not to take any part in the spilling of the blood of the Messiah.

When the Roman soldiers were nailing our Savior to the Cross on Golgotha, Elioz’s mother miraculously heard each strike of the hammer. She cried out in fear, “Farewell majesty of the Jews! For inasmuch as you have killed your Savior and Redeemer, henceforth you have become your own enemies!” With this she breathed her last.

After the soldiers had cast lots for the Robe of our Lord, it was acquired by Elioz and Longinoz, and with great honor they carried it back with them to Mtskheta. Upon their arrival, Elioz met his sister Sidonia, who took from him the Sacred Robe. With much grief she listened to the story of our Savior’s Crucifixion, clutched the Robe to her breast, and immediately gave up her spirit.

St. Sidonia of Georgia, grasping the Robe of Christ (taken from:http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_oct_sidonia_of_georgia.htm)

Many miracles were worked by the Robe, and news of this flashed like lightning throughout Mtskheta. King Aderki had a great desire to possess the Robe but, frightened by the miracles, he did not attempt to free it from Sidonia’s embrace. Elioz was obliged to bury his sister and the Precious Robe together. A cypress tree grew up on Sidonia’s grave. When the disciples of Christ cast lots after Pentecost, the lot for evangelizing Georgia fell to the Most Holy Theotokos. But Christ revealed to His Mother that it was not His will for her to preach there. “You have been entrusted to protect the Georgian nation,” He said, “but the role of evangelizing that land belongs to My disciple Andrew the First-called. Send him with an image of your face “Not-Made-By- Hands” to protect the Georgian people to the end of the ages!”

According to the will of God and the blessing of the Theotokos, St. Andrew the First-called set off for Georgia to preach the Christian Faith. He entered Georgia from the southwest, in the region of Atchara, and subsequently preached in every region of the nation. He established a hierarchy for the Georgian Church and then returned to Jerusalem for Pascha. When he visited Georgia for the second time, the Apostle Andrew was accompanied by the Apostles Matthias and Simon the Canaanite.

Years passed and, under threat from Persian fire-worshippers and other pagan communities, the memory of Christ faded from the minds of the Georgian people.

Then, at the beginning of the 4th century, according to God’s will and the blessing of the Most Holy Theotokos, the holy virgin Nino arrived in Kartli to preach the Christian Faith. She settled in the outskirts of Mtskheta, in the bramble bushes of the king’s garden. St. Nino inquired as to the whereabouts of our Lord’s Robe, but no one could remember where it had been preserved. In her quest for the Precious Robe, she became acquainted with Elioz’s descendants, the Jewish priest Abiatar and his daughter, Sidonia. St. Nino converted them to Christianity.

St. Nina (Nino) the Enlightener of Georgia and Equal-to-the-Apostles (taken from:http://christopherklitou.com/icon_14_jan_nina_equal_to_the_apostles.htm)

St. Nino was blessed by God with the gift of healing. She healed the afflicted through the name of our crucified Savior and through the grace of the cross formed from grapevines by the Theotokos and bound with strands of St. Nino’s hair.
At that time King Mirian ruled Kartli. Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, he worshiped the idol Armazi, but in the depth of his heart he was drawn to the Faith that the holy virgin was preaching. Mirian’s wife, Queen Nana, was the daughter of a famous military leader of Pontus. Thus, the king had received some prior knowledge of the Faith of the Greeks.

Once Queen Nana fell deeply ill, and only through the prayers of St. Nino was she spared from death. After this miraculous healing, King Mirian became intrigued by the Faith that St. Nino was preaching, and he began asking the newly enlightened Abiatar about the Holy Scriptures.

Once, while he was hunting on Mt. Tkhoti near Mtskheta, King Mirian was suddenly gripped by an evil spirit, and he burned with a desire to destroy the Christian people of his land and—above all others— the virgin Nino. But suddenly the sun was eclipsed, and the king was surrounded by darkness. The frightened Mirian prayed to the pagan gods to save him from this terror, but his prayers went unanswered. Then, in utter despair, he began to pray to the Crucified God-man and a miracle occurred: the darkness scattered and the sun shone as before. Raising his hands to the east, Mirian cried out, “Truly Thou art the God preached by Nino, God of gods and King of kings!”

Having returned to the capital, King Mirian went immediately to the bramble bushes where St. Nino dwelt. He greeted her with great honor and spent several hours seeking her counsel. Upon her recommendation, he sent messengers to Emperor Constantine in Byzantium, requesting that he send priests to baptize the people of Kartli and architects to build churches.

Sts. Mirian and Nana of Georgia, the Equal-to-the-Apostles (taken from:http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_oct_mirian_nana_equal_to_apostles_georgia.htm)
This happened on June 24 of the year 324, which was a Saturday. King Mirian began to construct a church so that the priests arriving from Constantinople would have a place to serve. Seven columns to support the church were formed from the wood of a cypress tree that had grown in the king’s garden. Six of the columns were erected without a problem, but the seventh could not be moved from the place where it had been carved. St. Nino and her disciples prayed through the night, and at dawn they watched as a youth, encompassed by a brilliant light, descended from the heavens and raised the column. The miraculous column began to shine and stopped in mid-air at a height of twelve cubits.

Sweet-smelling myrrh began to flow from under the Holy Pillar’s foundations, and the entire population of Mtskheta flocked to that place to receive its blessing. Approaching the Life-giving Pillar, the sick were healed, the blind received sight, and the paralyzed began to walk.

By that time a certain Bishop John and his suite had arrived from Constantinople. St. Constantine the Great sent a cross, an icon of the Savior, a fragment from the Life-giving Cross of our Lord (from the place where His feet lay), and a nail from His Crucifixion as gifts to the newly enlightened King Mirian and his people.

At the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi Rivers in Mtskheta, the king and queen, the royal court, and all the people of Kartli were baptized into the Christian Faith. After the glorious baptism, Bishop John and his retinue from Constantinople set off toward southern Georgia, for the village of Erusheti. There they built churches and presented the Christian community with the nail from our Lord’s Crucifixion. Soon after, they began to construct Manglisi Church and placed the fragment from the Life-giving Cross inside.

King Mirian wanted to keep some of the newly obtained sacred objects in the capital city, but St.Nino informed him that one of the holiest objects, the Robe of our Savior, was already located in Mtskheta. The king summoned the priest Abiatar and inquired about the Robe, then rejoiced greatly after Abiatar confirmed St. Nino’s words that the Robe of the Lord was held in the embrace of Sidonia, who was buried under the stump of the cypress tree which now served as the pedestal for the Life-giving Pillar.

Icon depicting St. Sidonia grasping Christ’s Robe, the miraculous pillar above, Sts. Mirian and Nana, and another Saint (feast celebrated October 1st, icon taken from:http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102831)

At that time a lush, sweet-smelling, wonder-working tree grew up on a mountain over Mtskheta and, at Bishop John’s suggestion, Prince Revi, the son of King Mirian, ordered that the tree be chopped down and a cross formed from its wood. The tree was chopped down and replanted, without its roots, next to a church that was under construction. For thirty-seven days the tree retained its original appearance—even its leaves did not fade or wither. Then, after thirty-seven days had passed, three crosses were formed from its wood.

Picture of the Holy Life-giving Pillar (Животворящий столп (Светицховели), Svetitskhoveli), above St. Sidonia’s grave and Christ’s Holy Robe at Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta, Georgia(picture taken from:http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/zTFfUMNpi1y3CX5R1cjnAg; for more info on Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svetitskhoveli_Cathedral)

For many days after this miracle the people of Mtskheta saw a vision: during the night a fiery cross shone above the church, surrounded by stars. When morning came, two of the stars had moved away from the cross in opposite directions—one to the west and the other to the east. The fiery cross headed to the north, stopped for some time over the hill on the other side of the River Aragvi, then disappeared.

St. Nino advised King Mirian to erect one of the three crosses in the west, on Tkhoti Mountain, and another in the east, in the village of Ujarma. But it was unclear where the third cross should be erected, so King Mirian prayerfully beseeched the Lord to reveal to him the place.

The Lord heard his prayers and sent an angel to show him the place: a rocky hill to the north of the capital, at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari Rivers. Today this hill is called Jvari (Cross) and upon it towers the magnificent church of Jvari Monastery. At the moment the cross was erected on this hill, all the idols in Mtskheta fell and shattered to pieces.

Prior to his death King Mirian blessed his heir, Prince Bakar, and urged him to dedicate his life to the Holy Trinity and fight ceaselessly against idolaters. Then he peacefully reposed in the Lord.

According to his will, Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles King Mirian was buried in the upper church at Samtavro, where today a convent in honor of St. Nino is located. The king was too modest to be buried in the lower church, the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, in which the Life-giving Pillar had been preserved.

Picture of Svetitskhoveli (or “Living Pillar”) Cathedral (taken from:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ee/Svetitskhoveli1.jpg)

Queen Nana reposed two years later and was buried next to her husband.”
(taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102831)

Icon of Christ healing the woman with an issue of blood (taken from:http://www.srpskoblago.org/Archives/Decani/exhibits/Collections/Miracles/CX4K2321_l.html)

Quote from an article on the Sunday of Orthodoxy by Constantine Zalalas(http://www.saintnicodemos.org/articles/sundayoforthodoxy.php)

“The woman with the issue of blood in the gospel of Saint Mark was healed not by the Word of the Lord, not by His hands, but by the fringes of His cloak. Here then is the theology of the icon, and of the relics of the Saints if you will: the icons are the FRINGES OF THE LORD’S CLOAK and by extension the fringes of all those who kept their baptismal garment pure and became christs by grace! My friends, we are surrounded by fellow citizens, very good people of many Christian denominations accentuating and emphasizing some doctrine of the gospel. Unbeknownst to them, their leaders have divided the garment of the Lord in thousands of pieces. In Orthodoxy we have not only the Lord with his garment intact but all the fringes of the Lord’s Cloak, and His fringes are still miraculous today. In Orthodoxy we preserve all the trimmings of the Lord’s banquet and every year during Great Lent our Holy Church invites us to come and enter the stadium of virtues, to search, touch, and taste the sweetness of its life-giving springs, to discover and see “that the Lord of Orthodoxy is good.” Once we practice and apply our Orthodox faith, and we begin to explode with the love of Christ. It is then that we successfully begin to share this unfathomable treasure with the sixty million unchurched Americans, including the unchurched Orthodox who are waiting for you, the Good Samaritan, to lead them to the hospital called the Orthodox Church.” (taken from:http://www.saintnicodemos.org/articles/sundayoforthodoxy.php)


Icon depicting the Deposition of the Robe of Christ in Dormition Cathedral, Moscow (celebrated July 10th, taken from:http://days.pravoslavie.ru/Images/im188.htm)
Apolytikion of the Deposition of the Precious Robe of Christ in Moscow in the Fourth Tone
On this day let us the faithful run to the divine and healing robe of our Saviour and God, Who was pleased to wear our flesh and pour out His holy Blood on the Cross, whereby He hath redeemed us from slavery to the enemy. Wherefore, we thankfully cry to Him: By Thy precious robe save and defend Orthodox Christians, and bishops, and cities, and all men everywhere, and save our souls, for Thou art the Friend of man.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Thou hast bestowed upon all men, O Master, Thy precious robe as a divine treasure, as a garment of incorruption, healing, and salvation, for thereby wast Thou pleased to clothe the holy and life-giving flesh of Thine Incarnation. Receiving this relic with faith, we joyfully celebrate this glorious occasion, and praising Thee with fear and love as our Benefactor, we cry to Thee, O Christ: In Thy great mercy, keep Orthodox Christians and their pastors and all Thy people in peace.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen
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On Family Love

10 July 11

WHAT IS FAMILY HAPPINESS?

Sts. Peter and Febronia
Sts. Peter and Febronia

On July 8 (June 25 Old Style) the Church commemorates Sts. Peter and Febronia—a married couple who later lived in the monastic rank. It is one of the most touching saint’s lives in the Russian synaxarion. Peter was a prince of Murom; Febronia was a peasant girl who, although of humble social status, was known as a holy woman, and pleasing to God. Peter was healed by her prayers of a serious illness. Although Peter’s noble family was against it, they married, and a chaste love so strong existed between them that they preferred life together over all riches, status, and power. When Peter’s family offered her anything she wished if she would only leave the royal house, she answered, “I want Peter.” In latter years they received the monastic tonsure in Murom monasteries located right next to each other, and reposed in the Lord one right after the other. When Peter knew it was time for him to die, he informed Febronia. Well, she said, then I will go, too. Putting aside her handiwork, she departed to the Lord.

In Russia, this day is presently being celebrated as a day of “Family, Love, and Faithfulness.” What better patrons of such a day could there be? Priest Gleb Grozovsky writes on this theme.

*   *   *

What is family happiness? When you hear the word “happiness,” a bright feeling of the joy of living, of participation, is born in the soul from the word itself. Happiness is harmony of spirit, soul, and body. It is when the body submits to the soul, and the soul to the spirit. Not the swan, the crab, and the fish, as in Krylov’s fable, but when the feelings and movements of the flesh are in submission to the reason. Just look at what catastrophic consequences can come from a bodily movement that is not in submission to the spirit. The body sees a beautiful woman and goes off in answer to the call of lower demands not in submission to the spirit. His reasoning says, “Family happiness is not in this…” But the body does not ask anyone for advice; it just wants something, then goes and does it, without thinking about the consequences.

In Trinity Leaves From the Spiritual Meadow there is a story. One day a woman learned of her husband’s unfaithfulness. She cried bitter tears and asked God to forgive her husband’s sin. When her husband left for work, his wife, not saying anything, with tears in her eyes, blessed her husband as she usually did. When they said good-bye, the husband could not bear it, and fell on his knees asking his wife’s forgiveness—so sincerely, that he never sinned again. This was the true repentance of the husband. Thanks to the wife’s longsuffering, the marriage was saved, and happiness and harmony returned to their relationship.

Oh, how important it is to submit the body to the spirit in order to escape a family break-up. Today in Russia over fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce [and America is not far behind]; every second union of loving couples falls apart. Is this really love? The causes of this may be various, but the meaning is the same. Thoughts draw us in one direction, feelings in another, and the body is off to the side. Every day a sentence is passed on children in the wombs, who never had a chance to be born. Over ten thousand of these helpless infants are being killed ever day in Russia alone! Can happiness be built upon the blood of children? Nevertheless, even amongst those who call themselves Orthodox are people who continue to live with an unrepentant heart, who continue to sin. And how many women are there who have to endure alcoholic husbands, smokers, and adulterers? How much violence and beating?

Many families today are experiencing a state of crisis. However, every person, in the depths of his heart, wants family happiness—this hierarchical, harmonious existence. In order to achieve this state, we have to bind our passions with good thoughts.

Let us suppose that a family has come together, it is functioning well, there were no abortions, and the husband is not an adulterer or a drunk; but there is no happiness… Is there a chance that it could be saved? I recall a story about this.

In one city lived a married couple. They lived together a long time, but always felt that something was missing in their relationship. They tried everything, and after twenty years of marriage, they broke up. They broke up so that they could find a union that would be stronger. It turns out that they had built their lives without a foundation; although they were baptized in childhood, they were not very religious. Finding themselves in an extremely unhappy state, they both went, each to his and her own church, to place a candle. There they met people who invited them to a catechism class. After the classes, they met in order to be wed in the Church, and they never left each other again.

Of course, if this couple had been taken to church from childhood they would never have had to smash their porcelain hearts in order to gather the pieces together again later. It is very important to explain to children in their teenage years the difference between love and being in love. A great example of this is the following story told by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.

A young couple came to Vladyka to ask his blessing upon their marriage. He looked at them and asked the young man, “Do you love your bride-to-be?” The man answered that he loves her very much. Then Vladyka said to him, “Imagine that you now go home, you have received my blessing for marriage, and suddenly you have an accident. Your beloved becomes an invalid for life. Would you be ready to repeat the words you just said?” No words were needed—it was enough to see the young man’s facial expression in reaction. That is how greatly love (sacrifice) differs from superficial “being in love.” It is very important to bring this home to those who want to have family happiness.

One last word. Without mutual love and faithfulness, it is impossible to have family happiness.

Best wishes to you on the holiday, dear Christians!

Priest Gleb Grozovsky

 

07 / 07 / 2011

 


Disconnect

9 July 11

I live in the desert. Isn’t it time that I took that seriously?


St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco

1 July 11

In remembrance of the Feast of this great saint and Wonderworker I post here the life of Vladika John of Shanghai and San Francisco.

St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
St. John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Francisco was born on June 4, 1896, in Adamovka, in Russia’s Kharkov province, and was baptized Michael, in the name of the Archangel. As a child, he was familiar with a local monastery where lay the miracle-working relics of a holy Archbishop, who had been venerated in life for his extreme asceticism, often having gone without sleep at all, spending nights standing motionless in prayer. Like him, St. John also became a great ascetic, and when he died, he had not slept in a bed since he took his monastic vows 40 years previously, only sleeping for an hour or two on the floor. He ate only once a day, at 11 PM. During the first and last full weeks of Lent he did not eat at all, and for the rest of the fast, he ate only prosphora from the altar. He often walked barefoot even on the coldest days.

He was consecrated Bishop on May 28, 1934, by renowned Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, though St. John was so humble that he had been sure up until the last moment that he had been called by mistake, and that surely another hieromonk John was wanted, because he had a speech impediment, and felt he could not serve. The response he received was that the Prophet Moses had, as well.

He was assigned to the Diocese of Shanghai, China. He worked there to restore unity among local Serbian, Greek, and Ukrainian believers, to build a cathedral and numerous other churches and hospitals. He visited the sick and those in prison, and was would go to anyone critically ill at any time of day or night to pray at the bedside, and many reported miraculous healings. He gathered sick and suffering children from the streets of Shanghai and cared for them in an orphanage he established, ultimately serving 1500 children altogether. He was known for his ability to see the future, providing services to people who seemed in excellent health, for example, whom he foresaw were imminently to die. He appeared at the bedside of one who was dying and had prayed for him to come, though the hospital staff had refused to call for him. He served the Holy Mysteries to a woman dying of rabies, and immediately after doing so, she had a fit, foaming at the mouth, and spitting up the Holy Gifts. Knowing that the Holy Gifts cannot be thrown away, St. John immediately picked them up and swallowed them, himself, even though rabies is extremely contagious and routinely fatal. He said, “Nothing with happen; these are the Holy Gifts!” and he spoke the truth.

St. John also served in the Phillipines when the Russians had to flee China, later in Paris and Brussels, and finally San Francisco. His last years included much suffering, with conflicts and slanders, and Vladyka was even subjected to having to testify in court, but in the end, the truth triumphed. He foreknew the time and place of his death, and on June 19, 1966, in the presence of the miraculous Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign, he reposed in the Lord. Many people reported his visitation in dreams and visions, filled with joy and bathed in light. In 1994, a commission of the Church found that his relics were incorrupt, and many people since, praying before his relics, have found healing and consolation.

Holy St. John, pray to God for us.

St. John is commemorated on June 19 on the calendar of the ancient Church (July 2, on the New Style calendar)

Troparion in Tone V:

Lo, thy care for thy flock in its sojourn prefigured the supplications which thou doest ever offer up for the whole world. Thus do we believe, having come to know thy love, O holy hierarch and wonderworker John. Wholly sanctified by God through the ministry of the all-pure Mysteries, and thyself ever strengthened thereby, thou didst hasten unto the suffering, O most gladsome healer. Hasten now also to the aid of us who honor thee with all our heart.

Kontakion in Tone IV:

Thy heart hath gone out to all who entreat thee with love, O holy hierarch John, and who remember the struggle of thy whole industrious life, and thy painless and easy repose, O faithful servant of the all-pure Directress.

For more reading about St. John:

ARCHBISHOP JOHN WONDER-WORKER OF SHANGHAI AND SAN FRANCISCO

Saint John The Wonderworker


Akathist: Glory to God For All Things

1 July 11

Reposted from the Blog of Fr. Stephen Freeman, Glory to God For All Things: I have seen several translations of this hymn. This one comes from the site of St. John the Baptist Cathedral (ROCOR) in Washington, D.C. I have edited it only typographically. It was composed by Metropolitan Tryphon (Prince Boris Petrovich Turkestanov) +1934  – but frequently attributed to Father Gregory Petrov, who died in a Soviet prison camp. It continues to grow in its popularity within the Orthodox Church. In my parish’s usage, we sing it to the Alaskan Akathist Melody, a simple, two-line, tune that can easily be adapted to the unpredictable number of lines in the hymn. With each day, some news of one thing or another reaches me that is cause either for distress or anxiety – but is met far better with prayer and thanksgiving. Either there is a God whom we trust or “we are of most men to be pitied.” I prefer to give thanks.

Audio Files can be found hear for your listening pleasure.

ODE 1

Everlasting King, Your will for our salvation is full of power. Your right arm controls the whole course of human life. We give You thanks for all Your mercies, seen and unseen: For eternal life, for the heavenly joys of the Kingdom which is to be. Grant mercy to us who sing Your praises, both now and in the time to come. Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

IKOS 1

I was born a weak, defenseless child, but Your angel spread his wings over my cradle to defend me. From birth until now, Your love hasillumined my path, and has wondrously guided me towards the light of eternity. From birth until now the generous gifts of Your Providencehave been marvelously showered upon me. I give You thanks, with all who have come to know You, who call upon Your Name:

Glory to You for calling me into being.
Glory to You, showing me the beauty of the universe.
Glory to You, spreading out before me heaven and earth, like the pages in a book of eternal wisdom.
Glory to You for Your eternity in this fleeting world.
Glory to You for Your mercies, seen and unseen.
Glory to You, through every sigh of my sorrow.
Glory to You for every step of my life’s journey,for every moment of glory.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 2

O Lord, how lovely it is to be Your guest. Breeze full of scents — mountains reaching to the skies — waters like a boundless mirror, reflecting the sun’s golden rays and the scudding clouds. All nature murmurs mysteriously, breathing depths of Your tenderness. Birds and beasts of the forest bear the imprint of Your love. Blessed are you, mother earth, in your fleeting loveliness, which wakens our yearning for happiness that will last forever in the land where, amid beauty that grows not old, rings out the cry: Alleluia!

IKOS 2

You have brought me into life as if into an enchanted paradise. We have seen the sky like a chalice of deepest blue, where in the azure heights the birds are singing. We have listened to the soothing murmur of the forest and the melodious music of the streams. We have tasted fruit of fine flavor and the sweet-scented honey. We can live very well on your earth. It is a pleasure to be your guest.
Glory to You for the feast-day of life.
Glory to You for the perfume of lilies and roses.
Glory to You for each different taste of berry and fruit.
Glory to You for the sparkling silver of early morning dew.
Glory to You for the joy of dawn’s awakening.
Glory to You for the new life each day brings.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 3

It is the Holy Spirit Who makes us find joy in each flower–the exquisite scent, the delicate color — the beauty of the Most High in the tiniest of things. Glory and honor to the Spirit, the Giver of Life, Who covers the fields with their carpet of flowers, crowns the harvest with gold, and gives to us the joy of gazing at it with our eyes. O be joyful and sing to Him: Alleluia!

IKOS 3

How glorious You are in the springtime, when every creature awakens to new life and joyfully sings Your praises with a thousand tongues! You are the source of life, the destroyer of death. By the light of the moon, nightingales sing, and the valleys and hills lie like wedding-garments, white as snow. All the earth is Your promised bride awaiting her spotless Husband. If the grass of the field is like this, how gloriously shall we be transfigured in the Second Coming, after the Resurrection! How splendid our bodies, how spotless our souls!

Glory to You for the warmth and tenderness of the world of nature.
Glory to You for the numberless creatures around us.
Glory to you for the depths of Your wisdom–the whole world a living sign of it.
Glory to You: On my knees, I kiss the traces of Your unseen hand.
Glory to You, enlightening us with the clarity of eternal life.
Glory to You for the hope of the unutterable, imperishable beauty of immortality.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 4

How filled with sweetness are those whose thoughts dwell on You: how life-giving Your holy Word. To speak with You is more soothing than anointing with oil, sweeter than the honeycomb. To pray to You lifts the spirit, refreshes the soul. Where You are not, there is only emptiness; hearts are smitten with sadness; nature, and life itself, becomes sorrowful. Where You are, the soul is filled with abundance, and its song resounds like a torrent of life: Alleluia!

IKOS 4

When the sun is setting, when quietness falls, like the peace of eternal sleep, and the silence of the spent day reigns, then in the splendor of its declining rays, filtering through the clouds, I see Your dwelling-place. Firey and purple, gold and blue, they speak prophet-like of the ineffable beauty of Your presence, and call to us in their majesty. We turn to the Father:

Glory to You at the hushed hour of nightfall.
Glory to You, covering the earth with peace.
Glory to You for the last ray of the sun as it sets.
Glory to You for sleep’s repose that restores us.
Glory to You for Your goodness, even in time of darkness, when all the world is hidden from our eyes.
Glory to You for the prayers offered by a trembling soul.
Glory to You for the pledge of our reawakening on the glorious last day, that day which has no evening.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 5

The dark storm-clouds of life bring no terror to those in whose hearts Your fire is burning brightly. Outside is the darkness of the whirlwind, the terror and howling of the storm, but in the heart, in the presence of Christ, there is light and peace, silence. The heart sings: Alleluia!

IKOS 5

I see Your heavens resplendent with stars. How glorious You are, radiant with light! Eternity watches me by the rays of the distant stars. I am small, insignificant, but the Lord is at my side: Your right arm guides me wherever I go.

Glory to You, ceaselessly watching over me.
Glory to You for the encounters You arrange for me.
Glory to You for the love of parents, for the faithfulness of friends.
Glory to You for the humbleness of animals which serve me.
Glory to You for the unforgettable moments of life.
Glory to You for the heart’s innocent joy.
Glory to You for the joy of living, moving, and being able to return Your love.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 6

How great and how close You are in the powerful track of the storm! How mighty Your right arm in the blinding flash of the lightning! How awesome Your majesty! The voice of the Lord fills the fields, It speaks in the rustling of the trees. The voice of the Lord is in the thunder and the downpour. The voice of the Lord is heard above the waters. Praise be to You in the roar of mountains ablaze. You shake the earth like a garment; You pile up to the sky the waves of the sea. Praise be to You, bringing low the pride of man. You bring from his heart a cry of penitence: Alleluia!

IKOS 6

When the lightning flash has lit up the camp dining hall, how feeble seems the light from the lamp. Thus do You, like the lightning, unexpectedly light up my heart with flashes of intense joy. After Your blinding light, how drab, how colorless, how illusory all else seems.

Glory to You, the highest peak of men’s dreaming.
Glory to You for our unquenchable thirst for communion with God.
Glory to You, making us dissatisfied with earthly things.
Glory to You, turning on us Your healing rays.
Glory to You, subduing the power of the spirits of darkness and dooming to death every evil.
Glory to You for the signs of Your presence, for the joy of hearing Your voice and living in Your love.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 7

In the wondrous blending of sounds, it is Your call we hear. In the harmony of many voices, in the sublime beauty of music, in the glory of the works of great composers, You lead us to the threshold of paradise to come, and to the choirs of angels. All true beauty has the power to draw the soul towards You and make it sing in ecstasy: Alleluia!

IKOS 7

The breath of Your Holy Spirit inspires artists, poets, scientists. The power of Your supreme knowledge makes them prophets and interpreters of Your laws, who reveal the depths of Your creative wisdom. Their works speak unwittingly of You. How great are You in Your creation! How great are You in man!

Glory to You, showing Your unsurpassable power in the laws of the universe.
Glory to You, for all nature is filled with Your laws.
Glory to You for what You have revealed to us in Your mercy.
Glory to You for what you have hidden from us in Your wisdom.
Glory to You for the inventiveness of the human mind.
Glory to You for the dignity of man’s labor.
Glory to You for the tongues of fire that bring inspiration.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 8

How near You are in the day of sickness. You Yourself visit the sick. You Yourself bend over the sufferer’s bed; his heart speaks to You. In the throes of sorrow and suffering, You bring peace; You bring unexpected consolation. You are the Comforter. You are the Love which watches over and heals us. To You we sing the song: Alleluia!

IKOS 8

When in my childhood I called upon You consciously for the first time, You heard my prayer; You filled my heart with the blessing of peace. At that moment I knew Your goodness, knew how blessed are those who turn to You. I started to call upon You, night and day, and even now, I call upon Your Name:

Glory to You, satisfying my desires with good things.
Glory to You, watching over me day and night.
Glory to You, curing affliction and emptiness with the healing flow of time.
Glory to You; no loss is irreparable in You, giver of eternal life to all.
Glory to You, making immortal all that is lofty and good.
Glory to You, promising us the longed-for meeting with our loved ones who have died.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 9

Why is it that on a feast-day the whole of nature mysteriously smiles? Why is it that then a heavenly gladness fills our hearts, a gladness far beyond that of earth, and the very air in church and in the altar becomes luminous? It is the breath of Your gracious love; it is the reflection of the glory of Mount Tabor. Then do heaven and earth sing Your praise: Alleluia!

IKOS 9

When You called me to serve my brothers and filed my soul with humility, one of Your deep-piercing rays shone into my heart; it became luminous, full of light, like iron glowing in the furnace. I have seen Your face, face of mystery and of unapproachable glory.

Glory to You, transfiguring our lives with deeds of love.
Glory to You, making wonderfully sweet the keeping of Your commandments.
Glory to You, making Yourself known where man shows mercy on his neighbor.
Glory to You, sending us failure and misfortune, that we may understand the sorrows of others.
Glory to You, rewarding us so well for the good we do.
Glory to You, welcoming the impulse of our heart’s love.
Glory to You, raising to the heights of heaven every act of love in earth and sky.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 10

No one can put together what has crumbled into dust, but You can restore a conscience turned to ashes; You can restore to its former beauty a soul lost and without hope. With You, there is nothing that cannot be redeemed. You are Love; You are Creator and Redeemer. We praise You, singing: Alleluia!

IKOS 10

Remember, my God, the fall of Lucifer, full of pride; keep me safe with the power of Your grace. Save me from falling away from You; save me from doubt. Incline my heart to call upon You, present in everything.

Glory to You for every happening, every condition Your Providence has put me in.
Glory to You for what you speak to me in my heart.
Glory to You for what you reveal to me, asleep or awake.
Glory to You for scattering our vain imaginations.
Glory to You for raising us from the slough of our passions through suffering.
Glory to You for curing our pride of heart by humiliation.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 11

Across the cold chains of the centuries, I feel the warmth of Your breath; I feel Your blood pulsing in my veins. Part of time has already gone, but now You are the present. I stand by Your cross; I was the cause of it. I cast myself down in the dust before it. Here is the triumph of love, the victory of salvation. Here the centuries themselves cannot remain silent, singing Your praises: Alleluia!

IKOS 11

Blessed are they that will share in the King’s banquet; but already on earth You give me a foretaste of this blessedness. How many times with Your own hand have You held out to me Your Body and Your Blood, and I, though a miserable sinner, have received this Sacrament, and have tasted Your love, so ineffable, so heavenly!

Glory to You for the unquenchable fire of Your grace.
Glory to You, building Your Church, a haven of peace in a tortured world.
Glory to You for the life-giving water of baptism in which we find new birth.
Glory to You, restoring to the penitent purity white as the lily.
Glory to you for the Cup of Salvation and the Bread of eternal joy.
Glory to You for exalting us to the highest heaven.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 12

How oft have I seen the reflection of Your glory in the faces of the dead. How resplendent they were, with beauty and heavenly joy; how ethereal, how translucent their faces; how triumphant over suffering and death, their felicity and peace. Even in the silence they were calling upon You. In the hour of my death, enlighten my soul, too, that it may cry out to You: Alleluia!

IKOS 12

What sort of praise can I give You? I have never heard the song of the cherubim, a joy reserved for the spirits above. But I know the praises that nature sings to You. In winter, I have beheld how silently in the moonlight the whole earth offers You prayer, clad in its white mantle of snow, sparkling like diamonds. I have seen how the rising sun rejoices in You, how the song of the birds is a chorus of praise to You. I have heard the mysterious murmurings of the forests about You, and the winds singing Your praise as they stir the waters. I ahve understood how the choirs of stars proclaim Your glory as they move forever in the depths of infinite space. What is my poor worship? All nature obeys You, I do not. Yet while I live, I see Your love, I long to thank You, pray to You, and call upon Your Name:

Glory to You, giving us light.
Glory to You, loving us with love so deep, divine, and infinite.
Glory to You, blessing us with light, and with the host of angels and saints.
Glory to You, Father All-Holy, promising us a share in Your Kingdom.
Glory to You, Holy Spirit, Life-giving Sun of the world to come.
Glory to You for all things, holy and most merciful Trinity.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

ODE 13

Life-giving and merciful Trinity, receive my thanksgiving for all Your goodness. Make us worthy of Your blessings, so that, when we have brought to fruit the talents You have entrusted to us, we may enter into the joy of our Lord, forever exulting in the shout of victory: Alleluia!

(Repeat Ikos 1, Ode 1.)


Going Out On My Own

21 March 11

From Montessori To Being My Own Boss
Cross-posted from Work

Well, I have officially left my position at Montessori Academy. There are a variety of reasons for the change, none of which I will go into in the public sphere of things, that is just not the remembrance I want to leave of one of my favourite jobs.

We all move on to newer and better things, and I am no exception to that. I have decided to make it on my own being my own boss and running my own business. I have been working for a few weeks now on revitalizing my old Web Design and Development company, Theophany Designs. I am working on websites and projects for Orthodox Christian missions, churches, organizations and individuals seeking a reliable, economical alternative to the larger companies out there that offer services for getting a webpage on the internet.

Take a look at the link for Theophany Designs and if you are in need or if you know of anyone else who is in need of web design or development work on a new or existing website, please let me know.

God Bless.


The Journey to Bethlehem

22 December 10
When Joseph and Mary departed to Bethlehem to register for the payment of their taxes, Mary was about to give birth to The Son of God.  Can you imagine this adventure.  The Son of God making such a journey?
The Hymn by Saint Ephraim proclaims:

Blessed art thou, bethlehem, that the towns envy thee––and the fortified cities!

This journey was not a easy one.  An average trip in those days would involve only about 15 miles per day.
There is an icon of their trip in the Monastery of Chora in Constantinople (Istanbul).  In it we see Joseph with a slight stoop and a gate of an elderly man.  He was generally thought to be about 80 years of age at this time.  His eyes are turned toward Mary who has her head turned towards him.  One of Joseph’s sons is leading with his mantle flowing and carrying a bundle of provisions for the trip.
In the Hymn from the ninth hour on the eve of the Nativity we hear the following dialogue,

“O virgin, when Joseph went up to Bethlehem sounded by sorrow, thou didst cry to him: ‘Why art thou downcast and troubled, seeing me great with child? Why art thou wholly ignorant of the fearful mystery that comes to pass in me?  Henceforth, cast every fear aside and understand this strange marvel: for in my womb God now descends upon the earth for mercy’s sake, and He has taken flesh.  thou shalt see Him according to His good pleasure, when He is born; and fill with joy thou shalt worship Him as Thy Creator, Whom the angels praise without ceasing in song and glorify with the father and the Holy Spirit.'”

For this three day journey, they would have carried with them only a few necessities common with a poor family of this time.  The surroundings of His birth was total poverty.  But this is part of His message and inconsistent with His divine nature.  Earthly splendor would not have been fitting for He who came to save the common man from sin and call every person to be renewed and become reunited with God.
In this next icon from the Monastery of Chora we see depicted the scene of registration for their taxes  In it we see Quirinius, the governor of Syria, with a fully armed military guard.  there is a scribe holding an unfurled scroll which has a record of the names.  Mary is see standing tall in a graceful poise with he head bowed with humility toward the officers.  She draws he maphorion modestly around her shoulder.  Joseph is shown with his four sons assisting her.
So, what kind of place did God arrange for this miraculous birth? There was no room for them to stay and they had to find a cave shared with animals, hardly a clean place for the birth of a child. It was in fact the lowest place for a birth yet fitting as a place for the Lord of All to be born.
The Apolytikion of the forefeast is as follows,

“Mary once, with aged Joseph, went to be taxed in Bethlehem, for they were of the linage of David; and she bore in her womb the Fruit that had not been sown.  The time of the birth was at hand and there was no room in the inn; but the cave proved a fair palace for the Queen. Christ is born, that He may raise again the image that before was fallen.”

A Hymn by Saint John of Damascus From the canon of the forefeast, Ode six.

“How shall a small cave receive thee, for Whom the world cannot find a room. O thou Whom none can comprehend! O Thou, Who with the Father are without beginning, how shalt thou appear as a small child?

This humble beginning is a clear message for all of us.  We too must become humble if we are to follow Him.
Saint Gregory Palamas says,

The way to be exaulted and to resemble Him is not arrogance but humility.  Because of this, men are easily set right, as they recognize humility as the road by which they are recalled…

He who defines all things and is limited by none is contained in a small, makeshift manger. He who holds the universe and grasps it in the hollow of his hand, is wrapped in narrow swaddling bands and fastened into ordinary clothes. He who possess the riches fo inehaustable treasures submits Himself voluntarily to such great poverty that He does not even havre aplace at the inn; and so He enters into a cave at the time of His birth, who was brought forth by God tielessly and impassibly and without beginning.  And––how great a wonder!__ not only does He who shares the nature of the Father on high put on our fallen nature through His birth, nor is He subject merely to the utter poverty of being born in a wretched cave, but right fromt he very start, while still in the womb, He accepts the final condemnation of our nature.

From His first days on earth Jesus showed us that the path to union with God was based on humility and detachment from earthly pleasures.

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