Posts on Orthodox subjects such as spirituality, practices, saints, services, and history

Address of St. Mark of Ephesus on the Day of His Death

Icon of St. Mark of EphesusOn the final day of his earthly life, the last thoughts of St. Mark were not for himself, but for Orthodoxy, to which he had devoted his whole life. Appealing to his followers to stand firm in the battle for Orthodoxy, he turned especially to one man in whom he hoped to find a successor to himself as leader in this battle. This hope was richly fulfilled in the person of George Scholarios, who became an ardent champion of Orthodox and, as first Patriarch of Constantinople after the fall of Byzantium, was instrumental in freeing the Church from the yoke of the false Union. He was subsequently canonized under his monastic name of Gennadios and is commemorated on August 31 (Source: Orthodox Christian Information Center).


I WISH TO EXPRESS MY OPINION in more detail, especially now that my death is approaching, so as to be consistent with myself from beginning to end, and lest anyone should think that I have said one thing and concealed (more…)

Before I Close My Eyes: The Last Words of Archbishop Christodoulos

posts-pic-archbishop-christodoulosBefore he reposed on January 28, 2008, Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece composed last words of exhortation to his flock. His words are very moving and full of good instruction as they exemplify the disposition an Orthodox Christians should have not only at death but every day of their lives.


Before I Close My Eyes . . .

By Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece

My brethren, do not forget me when you sing to the Lord, but remember my desire and love and beseech God, that the Lord would grant me to rest among the righteous.

When these lines are read I will not be found in this life. My hope is that I will be found in the mercy of the Lord.

I have no other surety except hope in the Lord. Nothing remains for me but the supplication that the Lord show leniency in His judgment and to forgive me.

I loved my Savior with whatever strength was in my soul. He Who searches the hearts and insides knows. Many times Satan pushed me to actions and plans and to make decisions that I (more…)

The Visit of Christ

This short movie (~25 minutes total) is on YouTube in two parts; the viewer below is set up to play Part 2 automatically when Part 1 finishes.

You can find other Orthodox movies recommendations on our YouTube playlists.

Discourse On the Day of the Baptism of Christ by St. John Chrysostom

posts-icon-theophany2We shall now say something about the present feast. Many celebrate the feastdays and know their designations, but the cause for which they were established they know not. Thus concerning this, that the present feast is called Theophany—everyone knows; but what this is—Theophany, and whether it be one thing or another, they know not. And this is shameful—every year to celebrate the feastday and not know its reason.

First of all therefore, it is necessary to say that there is not one Theophany, but two: the one actual, which already has occurred, and the second in future, which will happen (more…)

Vasilopita Prayers and Cutting Instructions

posts-pic-vasilopitaThe ritual of the cutting of the Vasilopita with the family, begins with the head of the household. Making the sign of the cross, he begins by praying to God that He come and bless the household, guests, and finally the food and drink that will be served.

The blessing of the Vasilopita usually begins with the Apolytikion of St Basil the Great (more…)

The Nativity Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

posts-icon-nativity5BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery.

My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells (more…)

A Sermon by St John of Kronstadt on the Nativity of Christ

posts-icon-nativity3The Word became flesh; that is, the Son of God, co-eternal with God the Father and with the Holy Spirit, became human – having become incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. O, wondrous, awesome and salvific mystery! The One Who had no beginning took on a beginning according to humanity; the One without flesh assumed flesh. God became man – without ceasing to be God. The Unapproachable One became approachable to all, in the aspect of an humble servant. Why, and for what reason, was there such condescension [shown] on the part of the Creator toward His transgressing creatures – toward humanity which, through an act of its own will had fallen away from God, its Creator?

It was by reason of a supreme, inexpressible mercy toward (more…)

Fragments of Orthodoxy in English Popular Tradition

This article explores many ways in which the Orthodox Christian heritage from the first 500 years of Christianity in England has survived to modern times with regards to Christmas and Easter traditions. Read it and find out more about the symbolism and origin of sayings about the weather and various animals and plants as well as customs such as window lights, Christmas pudding, mince-meat pies, mistletoe, hot cross buns, and much more.

Fragments of Orthodoxy in English Popular Tradition

“They were old men with no scholarship. They told me of their thoughts: the things they said within themselves as they sailed with the stars and with the wild waters about and beneath them.
I have never heard fairer things than fell from the lips of those unlettered men. It was the poetry of the grace of God.”

From a letter concerning the fishermen of Leigh in Essex of с 1900
If we take a human lifetime as the Biblical threescore years and ten, only fourteen lifetimes ago the English Church was an integral part of the Orthodox family, belonging to the Universal Church of Christ. For nearly five centuries the English were in communion with the rest of Christendom. There were close contacts with Eastern Christendom. One of England’s sainted Archbishops, Theodore of Tarsus, was a Greek; Greek monks and a bishop lived in England at the end of the 10th century, and Gytha, the daughter of the Old English King, Harold II, married in Kiev. It is clear that during such a long period, a half-millennium, the Christian faith impregnated the way of life of the people and the Old English monarchy. It is clear that traces of the Faith of the first five centuries of English Christianity, a Faith that was Orthodox though not Byzantine, must have remained after the 11th century. . . .

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Orthodox Orphans

About 140 orphans are housed and cared for by the monks of the Monastery of the Holy Ascension in the Ukraine near the Romanian border. Many of the children have disabilities, but they all receive Christ-like love and compassion because all life is precious. The faith of the abbot in God’s provision for their needs is inspiring, and the joy that radiates from the children is amazing!


Sermon of Archbishop Averky (Taushev) of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery on the Feast Day of St Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra the Miracle-Worker

posts-icon-st-nicholasToday we celebrate the memory of one of the greatest saints of the Church of Christ, our holy father Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra the Miracle-Worker, who as no one else has been revered by all at all times and peoples of the world, not only Christians, but even Muslims and pagans.

“I see, brethren, a new sun rising above the earth and bringing sweet consolation to the sorrowful and suffering,” said the Bishop of Patara as he ordained Nicholas to the priesthood. “Joyous is the flock which will be under his ministry; he will strengthen them in faith in the Lord, he will guide them in goodness and piety, he will be an earnest helper to all those in need.”

St Nicholas’ entire life was a brilliant fulfillment of these prophetic words of the visionary bishop. St Nicholas burned with a passionate faith in God since his youth, being a strict, unbending zealot for the purity of Orthodox Christianity; he was a severe ascetic, in constant vigil, fasting and prayer; forgetting himself, he generously helped the (more…)

St. John of Kronstadt on Bearing All Afflictions Courageously

posts-pic-st-john-of-kronstadt2All sorrows, sicknesses, torments, deprivations, are allowed by God in order to drive out the enticement of sin, and to implant true virtue in the heart, that we may learn by experience the falsehood, insolence, tyranny, and deadliness of sin, and may be inspired with a loathing for it; also that we may learn by experience the truth of meekness, wisdom, of gently ruling the hearts of men, and of the life-giving properties of virtue.
Therefore, I will bear all afflictions courageously, with gratitude to the Lord, the Physician of our souls, our Most-loving Savior.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Making Burbara for St. Barbara

IIcon of St. Barbarat is a Palestinian custom to make Burbara for the feast of St. Barbara on December 4/17 in remembrance of the food she had available while imprisoned by her father. Read more about her life here. Holy Great Martyress St. Barbara, pray to God for us!

  • 1 lb. shelled wheat
  • 1 lb. raisins
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. fennel
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • crushed almonds and walnuts, for garnish
  • 1 tsp. anise (optional)

Soak wheat overnight and rinse.

Place wheat in a pot and cover with about an inch of water. Boil until wheat is tender, adding water if necessary to keep a stewy consistency.

When wheat is tender, add about a cup of sugar (to desired sweetness), the raisins, and the spices. Boil for another 10 minutes.

Serve hot, garnishing with nuts to taste.

Serves 12-16