Thursday, April 10, 2014

St Lazarus, the Four Days Dead

Church of St Lazarus in Larnaca Cyprus

This church in Larnaca (Kittim), Cyprus was built over the
tomb of Lazarus,
in the Ninth century by Emperor Leo VI
of Byzantium.
 According to Tradition, Lazarus had to flee
Bethany and went to Cyprus where 
he was consecrated
Bishop of Kittim by the Apostles. He died there and wasburied when he was around sixty years old. Some of his
relics are still 
preserved in this church. The fragments of
the relics that were taken to
 Constantinople, were latertaken to Marseilles, France after the sacking of
Constantinople in 
1204. Those relics were lost. 

Lazarus's sarcophagus in the crypt of the Church
of St Lazarus 
This sarcophagus bears the inscription in Greek,
Lazarus four days dead and the friend of Christ

Below the relics still kept in Larnaca.

The place of the tomb in Bethany, near Jerusalem is
also preserved and 
it is a very popular and holy place
of pilgrimage.

Lazarus tomb in Bethany, near Jerusalem Source
It was here where the Lord Jesus Christ, "cried out
with a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come forth.” The man who
had died came forth, 
bound hand and foot with
wrappings, and 
his face was wrapped around with
a cloth. Jesus said to them, 
“Unbind him, and let
him go." John 11:43-44 NASB

The actual tomb in Bethany Source

Troparion to the Raising of Lazarus - Tone 1  Source

By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion, 
You did confirm the universal Resurrection, O Christ God! 
Like the children with the palms of victory, 
We cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death; 
Hosanna in the Highest! 
Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!

Kontakion to the Raising of Lazarus - Tone 2

Christ the Joy, the Truth and the Light of all, 
The Life of the World and the Resurrection 
Has appeared in His goodness, to those on earth. 
He has become the Image of our Resurrection, 
Granting divine forgiveness to all!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Which is Greater, Fasting or Forgiveness?

The Prologue of Ohrid by St Nikolai Velimirovich in 2 vols.
is available from Amazon

Reflection for April 8

"There is heroism above heroism and asceticism above asceticism.
St. Epiphanius of Cyprus invited Hilarion the Great to dinner and
in order to show the greatest hospitality to his distinguished guest,
placed fried chicken on the table and offered it to him.

Hilarion said to him: "Forgive me, but ever since I was tonsured
a monk, I have eaten nothing butchered." To that Epiphanius
replied: "And I, ever since I was tonsured a monk, have never
laid down in bed until I first forgave my enemy."

Amazed, Hilarion said: "Your virtue is greater than mine, Oh holy
master!" This is a great lesson for all of us. Fasting is an
admirable thing but it is more admirable to forgive

Through fasting, man is preparing for charity but, by forgiving
insults, man shows charity. Fasting precedes forgiveness but
fasting alone, does not save without forgiveness." 

Prologue of Ohrid by St Nikolai Velimirovich p.350, Sebastian
Press 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Thou Forgavest the Wickedness of my Heart" by St Cyril of Jerusalem

St Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) A.D. Source

"God is loving to man, and loving in no small measure. For say
not, I have committed fornication and adultery: I have done
things, and not once only, but often: will He forgive?
Will he grant pardon? 
Hear what the Psalmist says: How great
is the multitude of Thy goodness 
O Lord! Thine accumulated
offenses surpass not the multitude of God's 
mercies: thy
wounds surpass not the great Physician's skill.

Only give thyself up in faith: tell the Physician thine ailment:
say thou also, 
like David: I said I will confess me my sin unto
the Lord: and the same shall be done 
in thy case, which he
says forthwith: And Thou forgavest the wickedness of
my heart.
Cathecesis II.6 Source

Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses by Dr Jean Claude-Larchet vol 2 p.24,
Translated by Fr Kilian Sprecher, 3 volume boxed set Copyright
@2012 Alexander Press, Montreal, Quebec, Canada 

Look here

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Life of St Symeon the New Theologian by St Niketas Stethatos

The Life of Saint Symeon the New Theologian by St Niketas
Stethatos is available from Amazon.

What a wonderful biography! I just couldn't stop reading.
God's love for man is beyond measure and indescribable. In
St Symeon's life we see God's eternal plan for man become

a reality.

 " Such a man was this great disciple of Christ, enduring what
was inflicted on him by deceitful people, but repaying with 
good deeds those who maltreated him. And so, since he was
like the Apostles and an imitator of Christ, when he was 
abused he did not return the abuse, when he suffered he 
offered no threats, when he was persecuted he endured,
when he was slandered he encouraged his slanderers, and he
rejoiced with unutterable joy in his tribulations, for he saw 
himself fulfilling Christ's beatitudes. Being like this and living
an apostolic life in accordance with the Gospel, Christ's blessed
disciple Symeon passed beyond the deceptive perception of 
this world. For while in his body he was going about among
people on earth, in his soul he was conversing intellectually 
(noetically- emphasis mine) with God through the Divine
Light and was living with the angels in heaven." p.261-263

The Lord Jesus Christ appears more than once to blessed
Symeon in His Uncreated Light, and he runs to his spiritual
father, Symeon Eulabes (the Pious) to tell him what is
happening. "The elder asks, 'What did you see child?', and
the disciple replies, 'Light, O my father, sweet, sweet!' So 
sweet indeed that the young man declares, 'I was moved to
streams of tears.' The elder then confirms the other's
experience, 'It is He child', and the novice, following the old
man's confirmation, is led to further revelations;

'he sees Him again and, little by little, comes to be completely
purified and, purified, grows bold and asks that One Himself
and says, 'My God is it You?' and He answers and says, Yes
I am He, Who for your sake became man." from St Symeon the
New Theologian On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses Vol. 3 
Life Times and Theology p. 82, Translated by Alexander Golitzin, 
St Vladimir Seminary Press 1997

"The Life was written more than thirty years after Symeon’s
death by his disciple and apologist the theologian Niketas
Stethatos, who also edited all of Symeon’s spiritual writings.

An unusually valuable piece of Byzantine hagiography, it not
only presents compelling descriptions of Symeon’s visions,
mystical inspiration, and role as a monastic founder, but also
provides vivid glimpses into the often bitter and unpleasantly
conflicted politics of monasticism and the construction of
sanctity and orthodoxy at the zenith of the medieval Byzantine

Although the many volumes of Symeon’s spiritual writings
are now readily available in English, the present translation
makes the Life accessible to English readers for the first time.
It is based on an authoritative edition of the Greek."
(from the front flap)
Translated by Richard P. H. Greenfield and Published by

Harvard University Press 2013 ISBN: 978-0-674-05798-2

Friday, March 21, 2014

Orthodox Spirituality: A Practical Guide for the Faithful and a Definitive Manual for the Scholar by Dumitru Staniloae

Recently, I finished reading Empirical Dogmatics (2 vols.)
by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, in which His Eminence 
edits and presents the writings of Fr. Dr. John Romanides. 
Empirical Dogmatics is presented in this blog here and 

In it Fr John highly recommends two books which he
considers to be very faithful to Patristic teaching. They
are, "Orthodox Spirituality" by Fr Dumitru Staniloae,
and "Orthodox Dogmatic Theology" by Fr. Michael
Pomazansky. I happen to own both books 
so I pulled
them off the shelf and discovered I had a 
treasure in my library. 

Please read below for all pertinent information concerning
both books;
Orthodox Spirituality by Dumitru Staniloae is available
from St Tikhon Seminary Press
ISBN: 1-878997-66-1

“Orthodox spirituality has as its goal the deification of man and his union with God, without being merged with Him. It has as a basic conviction the existence of a personal God, who is the supreme source of radiating love. He prizes man and doesn’t want to confuse him with Himself, but maintains and raises him to an eternal dialogue of love. Such a spirituality has no place where an evolutionary progress of man, connected to a divinity conceived as an impersonal essence, is affirmed. This progress can have no result other than man’s disappearance in the impersonal divinity. But the personal God, and thus the supreme source of love, can’t be conceived of as a single person, but as a community of persons in a perfect unity. You see then why the Christian teaching of a Trinity of Persons in a unity of essence is the only one which can constitute the basis of a perfect spirituality for man, understood as a full communion with God in love, without his being lost in it.”
Dumitru Staniloae, Orthodox Spirituality (from the back cover)

A quick look at the contents made me shudder
1. The Goal of Orthodox Spirituality
2. The Meaning and Possibility of Union with God
3. Orthodox Spirituality and Our Neighbor
4. The Holy Trinity - the Basis of Christian Spirituality
5. The Christological, Pneumatological, and Ecclesiastical
     Character of Orthodox Spirituality
6. The Major Steps of the Spiritual Life

A. About the Passions
7. The Essence of the Passions
8. The Natural and Unnatural Passions
9. The Basic Causes of the Passions and their Effects
10. The Passions and the Faculties of the Soul
11. How the Passions are Aroused according to Traditional
      Orthodox Teaching
12. The Passionate State and Care

b. Purification of the Passions by the Virtues
13. The Order of Purification and Patristic Spiritual Methods
14. Faith, the Basic State for Purification
15. The Fear of God and the Thought of Judgment
16. Repentance
17. Self Control
18. The Guarding of the Mind or of Thoughts
19. Longsuffering, the Patient Endurance of Troubles
20. Hope
21. Meekness and Humility
22. Dispassion or Freedom from Passion

23. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
24. The Contemplation of God in Creation
25. The Spiritual Understanding of Scripture
26. The Negative and Apophatic Knowledge of God in General
27.The Steps of Apophaticism
28. Negative and Positive Theology: a Dynamic Relationship
29. Pure Prayer
30. Methods for the Facilitation of Pure Prayer31. To Jesus by what is Deep within Us                                                                    
32. Mental Rest: the First Step of Stillness

33. Love and Dispassion: the Steps of Love
34. Love as a Factor of Perfect Union and as Ecstacy
35. Love, Knowledge and the Divine Light:
        1. The Role of the Mind in the Vision of the Divine Light
36.   2. The Vision of the Divine Light: a Knowledge beyond
37. Deification: Deification in a Broad Sense
38. Deification: Deification in a Strict Sense


Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Fr Michael Pomazansky is
available from St Herman Press
ISBN: 0938635-69-7

“In the writings of Fr. Michael Pomazansky, one may see a characteristic of genuine Orthodox theology that is so often lost sight of in our cold, rationalistic age. Theology is not primarily a matter of arguments, criticisms, proofs and disproofs; it is first of all men’s word about God, in accordance with the Divinely revealed teaching of Orthodoxy. Therefore, its first purpose and intent is always to inspire, to warm the heart, to lift one above the petty preoccupations of earth in order to glimpse the Divine beginning and end of all things and so to give one the energy and encouragement to struggle towards God and our heavenly homeland.…
“Fr. Michael’s theology is in this warm-hearted and inspiring tone. He is not the only one to write Orthodox theology with this intent today, but he is one of the few, in an older generation that is fast vanishing, who can serve as a link between us and the genuine theology of the Holy Fathers.… Orthodox Dogmatic Theology is his masterpiece.”

—Hieromonk Seraphim Rose

"Someone Who has Actually Tasted Truth is not Contentious for Truth" by St Isaac the Syrian

Have Peace in your Heart by St Isaac of Syria

This icon of St Isaac of Syria is available from Uncut Mountain Supply Icons

I found a most amazing passage from the writings of St Isaac of Syria, in a little booklet entitled, "Daily Readings with St Isaac of Syria", Introduced and edited by A. M. Allchin, Translated by Sebastian Brock, Templegate Publishers, Springfield Illinois 1990

It reads, " Someone who has actually tasted truth is not contentious for truth.

Someone who is considered among men to be zealous for truth has not yet learned what truth is really like: once he has truly learnt it, he will cease from zealousness on its behalf.

The gift from God and of knowledge of him is not a cause for turmoil and clamour; rather this gift is entirely filled with a peace in which the Spirit, love and humility reside.

The following is a sign of the coming of the Spirit; the person whom the Spirit has overshadowed is made perfect in these very virtues.

God is reality. The person whose mind has become aware of God does not even possess a tongue with which to speak, but God resides in his heart in great serenity. He experiences no stirring of zeal
or argumentativeness, nor is he stirred by anger. He cannot even be aroused concerning the faith." p.61 translated by Dr. Sebastian Brock.

Of course, reading something like this has to make one wonder, How often do we state the truth with such passion even anger, as if Truth which is Reality Itself, was so fragile it needed our protection? Or even worse, what if all we are doing by affirming Truth (or our 
misunderstanding of it as mere facts) is affirming our egos, our self-image and asserting ourselves in dominance over those around us?

We do well if, before we speak or act, we pause for a moment and make an honest assessment of our emotional and spiritual state. We do even better if, more than anything else, we pursue a first-hand personal experience of this Ultimate Reality, our Triune 
God in a spirit of peace, humility and love.

This longing for the Truth must be first and foremost a longing for the transformation of our own hearts, that the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ be fulfilled in us, when He prayed, 

"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I 
sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth."
John 17:17-19 NASB

Which means;
Sanctify them (Make them holy, preserve them in holiness, restore them to spiritual health)

in the truth (in Me- "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" John 14:6; John 15:15, "apart from Me you can do nothing".)

Your Word is truth ( "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God John 1:1. Again the Lord is saying, "I am the Word of God and I am the Truth")

As you sent Me (the Word of the Father and the Truth) into the worldI also have sent them into the world (we must become, by Grace, the very Word of God to our generation, the Truth of God to our generation, not merely as ideology but in our
very beings, we must become a healing presence 
to those who are broken and ill with the sickness of sin!)

For their sakes I sanctify Myself (I offer Myself on the cross for their healing and restoration )

that they themselves also be sanctified in truth (that they themselves be made holy- be healed- in Me)

This book is available from Amazon

With compunction of heart we must entreat our Lord Jesus Christ and pray,

"Sanctify me by your mysteries, illumine my mind with knowledge of you, cause your hope to shine forth in my heart, deem me worthy to supplicate for it, God my Father and Lord of my life;illumine your lamp within me, place in me what belongs to you so that I may forget what belongs to myself.

Cast upon me the constraint of wonder at you, so that the constraint of nature may be overpowered by it. Stir upon within me the vision of your mysteries so that I may become aware of what was placed in me at holy baptism.

You have placed within me a guide: may he show me your glory at all times. You made me to be light and salt for the world: may I not prove a stumbling-block for my companions.

Seeing that I have left the world, may I never again look back to it and to the things which I renounced when I made my promise to you.

Cast reigns of delight upon my heart, so that my senses may not gaze beyond the paths of your law. Rig together my impulses for the ship of repentance, so that in it I may exult as I travel over the world's sea until I reach the haven of your hope.

When I am tempted, may my mind take courage from the recollection of you. Illumine the dark path before me by the brilliance that comes from awareness of you,"
St Isaac the Syrian, The Prayers of St Isaac the Syrian p.16, Trans. by Sebastian Brock, Divine Ascent Press 2011.
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  • The Philokalia, The Complete Textcompiled by St Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St Makarios of Corinth, Trans. by G.E.H. Palmer, Phillip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware, Vol 1 ISBN: 0-571-13013-5
  • The Philokalia: Master Reference Guide Compiled by Basileios S. Stapakis, Trans by G.E.H. Palmer, Phillip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, ISBN: 1-880971-87-9
  • The Prologue of Ohrid, Trans. by Fr. Timothy Tepsic, vol 1 ISBN: 978-0-9719505-0-4; vol 2 ISBN: 978-0-9719505-1-1
  • The Psalter Trans. by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, ISBN: 0-943405-00-9
  • The Spiritual World of St Isaac the Syrian by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan 2000
  • The Way of A Pilgrim R.M. French, ISBN 345-24254-8-150
  • We Shall See Him As He Is by Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov, ISBN 0-9512786-4-9
  • Wisdom. Let Us Attend: Job, The Fathers, and The Old Testament by Johanna Manley, ISBN: 0-9622536-4-2
  • Words of Life by Archimandrite Sophrony, Trans. by Sister Magdalen, ISBN1-874679-11-8
  • Writings from The Philokalia On Prayer of The Heart, Trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, ISBN: 0-571-16393-9