Παρασκευή 13 Ιανουαρίου 2023

Επείγουσα ανακοίνωση για βοήθεια προς τον διάκονο της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας στη Σιέρα Λεόνε. Emergency Call for the Deacon Emmanuel Coomber of Orthodox Church in Sierra Leone.

Ορθόδοξη Ιεραποστολή

SOS. Appel d’urgence pour le diacre Emmanuel Coomber de l’Église orthodoxe de Sierra Leone. Imejɛnsi Kɔl fɔ di Dikon Ɛmanuɛl Kumba fɔ di Ɔtodɔks Chɔch na Siera Liɔn.სასწრაფო მოწოდება სიერა ლეონეს მართლმადიდებლური ეკლესიის დიაკონ ემანუელ კუმბერს. Спешно обаждане за дякон Еманюел Кумбър от православната църква в Сиера Леоне.Хитан позив за ђакона Емануела Кумбера из Православне цркве у Сијера Леонеу. Apel de urgență pentru diaconul Emmanuel Coomber al Bisericii Ortodoxe din Sierra Leone. Екстрений виклик для диякона Еммануеля Кумбера Православної Церкви в Сьєрра-Леоне

Deacon Emmanuel Coomber (45) a clergyman of the Holy Orthodox Mission in Sierra Leone is seriously ill in hospital suffering from a heart and kidney condition. His treatment is extremely expensive. For example over the past week and the coming week we have to pay $ (AUD) 375 $ (US) 270 per day for his medicines. If he stabilises he will need to travel to Ghana for surgery ($ 26,000) in addition to travel costs. We need help!!

Είναι τεράστιες οι δαπάνες για τα φάρμακα, το ταξίδι και την εγχείρηση στη Γκάνα.

https://www.facebook.com/realRevThemi

DONATE NOW for Orthodox Christian Church in Sierra Leone, for Deacon Emmanuel. Μπείτε στον παρακάτω σύνδεσμο και κάνετε μια γενναιόδωρη δωρεά για την αποκατάσταση της υγείας του διακόνου Εμμανουήλ. Πρέπει να προσφέρουν Ορθόδοξες Μητροπόλεις, ενορίες, μοναστήρια και απλοί πιστοί.

( https://paradise4kids.org/donate/ )

Προσθήκη της 27.1.23: Ο π. Εμμανουήλ κοιμήθηκε: 

DEACON EMMANUEL PASSED AWAY. ETERNAL BE HIS MEMORY

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Από άθεος ροκάς - > ιεραπόστολος με μεγάλο κοινωνικό έργο (αναλυτικά η ιστορία του π. Θεμιστοκλή)
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2020 - Documentary on the Orthodox Church & Fr Themi in Sierra Leone

Κυριακή 25 Δεκεμβρίου 2022

The Child Who Came Among Us

Few things seem as confusing to our culture as the feast of Christmas. For many, it is the great feast of sentimentality. As such, it is our culture’s feast of feeling. We want to have the “spirit of Christmas.” It is identified with snow, with trees, with family, with giving and receiving of gifts. It is a remembrance, for many, of a magical point within childhood, likely out of reach but still there. It is associated with movies – some of which (like Die Hard) – seem at an odd remove from the feast itself. Gather all of the Christmas movies together and consider them. What are they trying to say? What is this thing that haunts our culture?

The vast majority of these Christmas movies have nothing whatsoever to do with the events described in the gospels. Christmas is thus a reference to itself (as a culture moment) rather than a reference to Christ or the Christian faith. Witness the popularity of Christmas in Japan, a country with only a 1 percent Christian population. Just a peek:

The popular fast-food restaurant, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), is a national favorite in Japan at Christmas. According to the BBC, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families celebrate with KFC on Christmas. During the Christmas period, the average KFC will increase their daily sales by 10 times their usual take. Often, families will have to order weeks in advance, or risk standing in line for hours.

In 1970, the manager of the first KFC in Japan, Takeshi Okawara, dreamt about a new promotional campaign called the “party barrel” to sell on Christmas. After overhearing two out of the country travelers in his store talk about missing turkey on Christmas, he hoped that chicken would suffice, and began marketing his Party Barrel as a way to celebrate Christmas.

In 1974, KFC took the marketing plan national and it became widely popular. Even the company mascot, Colonel Sanders, dresses up as Santa for the occasion. Many families in Japan view KFC on Christmas as a symbol of a family reunion. [This article is found here.]

Of course, the baby Jesus, is nowhere to be found in these cultural appropriations.

The Christmas story, on the level of history, is almost commonplace. Women have given birth to children in difficult circumstances from time immemorial. As poignant as its details might be (“no room in the inn”) they are still somewhat prosaic. Only theology can take us into the depths of that birth.

The mystery of Christ’s birth (just as the mystery of His conception) is the mystery of God’s union of Himself with His creation: God became man. Some reduce this mystery to a necessary step towards the crucifixion, in which Christ “paid for our sins.” This is a thought that says too little, and so diminishes the event itself.

In that the Child born at Christmas is God-made-man, His birth is also the birth into our world of the very meaning of the world itself. The meaning and purpose of everything and everyone, from human beings to the least sub-atomic particle, was already present in God from before creation. In Christ, the whole of that is born and comes among us. To honor Christ is to honor all.

Jesus Christ, the "Immanuel", from the prophecy of Isaiah, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Is. 7:14) which means, "God is with us.". Orthodox holy icon from here

Back in the 50s, the British theologian, J.B. Phillips wrote the book, Your God is too Small. It is a fault of Christians that our Christmas is too small. Sentimentality (some of which is inescapable) essentially reduces Christmas to a set of feelings associated with a particular day. This makes of Christmas a very shallow holiday (rather than one of the greatest Holy Days).

Standing before the Child in that manger, our questions should turn towards what His coming means for all things. Orthodoxy sees in the manager an image of the tomb. Christ in swaddling cloths is an icon of Christ in the burial shroud. Christ in the burial shroud is the image of the whole of suffering: all suffering, everywhere, for all time. It is for us not only to help and comfort those who suffer, but to hold them in true veneration, for they bear in themselves the suffering of Christ.

The Child in the manger is also the self-emptying, self-sacrificial love of God, the love that does not hold the world at arms length, but enfolds it within His very being. It is well-spoken when we call Christmas the “Winter Pascha.”

I do not begrudge the sentiments of the world, nor the enjoyment of the feelings that accompany this feast. God Himself did not begrudge us our sins and refuse to come among us. I simply lament the fact that I myself too often settle for a little Christmas in place of the full feast. May God warm our hearts in the cold dead of winter as He warmed the universe, taking our flesh upon Himself.

 

Παρασκευή 9 Δεκεμβρίου 2022

News from the Orthodox Church in Africa

230 Africans, many former Muslims, baptized in Tanzania (+VIDEO)

75 souls united to Christ in Baptism in Uganda  

81 baptized in African Metropolis of Kananga  

13 children baptized into Christ at Kenyan orphanage (+ VIDEO)

First Orthodox monastery in Tanzania celebrates its first Divine Liturgy

Παρέμβαση του Επισκόπου Μπουκόμπας στην “Σπιναλόγκα” του AIDS στην Τανζανία

Φίλοι Ιεραποστολής Μπουκόμπα Τανζανίας

Στον Ορθόδοξο Αμπελώνα της Αφρικής

Σοβαρή παρέμβαση από την Επισκοπή Μπουκόμπας και Δυτικής Τανζανίας, έγινε στην “Σπιναλόγκα” του AIDS στην Τανζανία, στο παραλιακό χωριό Καλομπέρα της Μπουκόμπας, με αφορμή την Παγκόσμια Ημέρα κατά του AIDS.
Η προσπάθεια βοήθειας προς την κλειστή αυτή κοινότητα ξεκίνησε πριν δύο χρόνια, όταν οι αδελφές από το Μοναστήρι της Αγίας Μακρίνας (*) έκαναν ιεραποστολή και βαπτίσθηκαν 50 νέοι χριστιανοί. 
Πριν δύο μήνες ξεκίνησαν δύο Κατηχητές συστηματική κατήχηση και λειτουργικές συνάξεις, για την συγκέντρωση των βαπτισμένων και την προετοιμασία των νέων κατηχουμένων.
Κτίσθηκε πρόχειρος Ναός προς τιμήν του Αγίου Μηνά και η Ορθοδοξία μπήκε για τα καλά στην κοινότητα αυτή. Με αφορμή τον ερχομό των επισκεπτών από την Ελλάδα, σε συνεργασία με τον πρόεδρο του χωριού και μετά από άδεια από το Κράτος, την Πέμπτη 1 Δεκεμβρίου, ο Επίσκοπος Μπουκόμπας κ. Χρυσόστομος με γιατρούς και κατηχητές επισκέφθηκε την Καλομπέρα.
 
Οι ιθαγενείς αφού υποδέχθηκαν με πολύ χαρά τους επισκέπτες, συγκεντρώθηκαν στην πλατεία κοντά στη λίμνη Βικτώρια και παρακολούθησαν την ενημέρωση που έγινε για την μεγάλη απειλή του AIDS, τις αιτίες εξάπλωσης και τους τρόπους αντιμετώπισης. Η εκδήλωση ξεκίνησε με την υποδοχή από τον πρόεδρο του χωριού κ. Ησαΐα και τον εφημέριο π. Σπυρίδωνα.
Μίλησαν η κ. Βαρβάρα Κορωναίου, γιατρός από την Φλώρινα, και ο Διευθυντής του Νοσοκομείου της Επισκοπής “ΑΝΑΣΤΑΣΙΣ” κ. Ηλίας Habuhabu.
Τις ενημερωτικές ομιλίες έκλεισε ο Θεοφιλέστατος κ. Χρυσόστομος προτρέποντας τους κατοίκους να προσέλθουν στις δωρεάν εξετάσεις, που θα γίνονται από τους γιατρούς του Νοσοκομείου της Επισκοπής. 
Κάλεσε, ακόμη, τους κατοίκους να βάλουν ένα τέλος στους θανάτους από AIDS και να σταματήσουν την εξάπλωση της επιδημίας στην κοινότητά τους.
Η Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία θα τους βοηθήσει αποτελεσματικά, όπως είπε ο Θεοφιλέστατος.
Η συνάντηση ολοκληρώθηκε με δώρα, τραγούδια και παιχνίδια για τα παιδιά από τους επισκέπτες από την Ελλάδα με επικεφαλής...

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100055952163170
 
(*) Πρόκειται για την Ιερά Μονή Αγίας Μακρίνας Κιμπούγιε, για την οποία διαβάζουμε στην ανάρτηση Το μοναστήρι της Αγίας Μακρίνας φροντίζει την «Σπιναλόγκα» της Τανζανίας:

... Αξίζει να σημειωθεί πως το Μοναστήρι της Αγίας Μακρίνας βρίσκεται πάνω από την «Σπιναλόγκα» της Τανζανίας, τρία χωριά τα οποία κατοικούνται αποκλειστικά από ασθενείς του AIDS, την φροντίδα και την μόρφωση των οποίων έχει αναλάβει Ιεραποστολικό κλιμάκιο της Επισκοπής, αποτελούμενο από ιατρούς και εκπαιδευτικούς.

Τρίτη 6 Δεκεμβρίου 2022

Saint Nicholas of Myra (December 6), a brave father of the poor people


Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia

From the feast of Saint Nicholas in the Orthodox Church in Sasamambo, Tanzania (here)

Saint Nicholas is one of the most beloved saints of the Orthodox Church. He is remembered for the miracles he worked, his generosity, and for the love he had for his flock.

Nicholas was born around 270 AD in the village of Patara in Lycia, Asia Minor. His parents were wealthy and raised him to be a good Christian. When his parents died, Nicholas shared his inheritance with the poor, sick, and suffering people of his community. He continued serving in the church, eventually being ordained a priest by his uncle Nicholas who was also a bishop. At the ordination, his uncle said, “I see a new sun rising above the earth. Fr. Nicholas shall comfort and console the afflicted and shall dispatch many souls to the kingdom of God.”

These words came true, such as on the day when divine grace revealed to Fr. Nicholas the situation of a debt-ridden man who had no money to support his daughters nor to offer a dowry for each of them to get married. So, the debt-ridden man planned to sell his daughters into slavery. Fr. Nicholas, not one to let such things occur, took a purse of 300 gold coins and dropped it through an open window at the man’s house.

The debt-ridden man rejoiced upon finding the gift as it would allow his first daughter to get married to a good man. Some time later, the same man found another purse of coins just like the first. He wondered at just who could have given such a gift as it now would allow his second daughter to get married.

Again some time later, Fr. Nicholas returned and threw another purse of coins through the open window. But this time the debt-ridden man saw Fr. Nicholas and, having caught him, fell down at his feet and thanked God and Fr. Nicholas for such generosity as it had saved his daughters. But Fr. Nicholas sought not the praise of men and so he asked him to say nothing of this event during his lifetime.

The Grace of God working through this holy man shone through again when one day, Fr. Nicholas went to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage to visit the sacred sites. On the way there, his ship encountered a terrible storm and was in danger of sinking. Fr. Nicholas prayed, and then suddenly the surrounding sea went calm. Now out of danger, the ship sailed on safely to Jerusalem. All the sailors thanked God for the miracle they received through His servant Fr. Nicholas.

In the Holy Land, Fr. Nicholas lived in a cave near Beit Jala for several years. He wanted to remain as a hermit, but in a dream he learned that God wanted him to return home to serve as a bishop.

Fr. Nicholas returned home and was soon after elected Bishop of Myra when Bishop John died. He served the people of Myra for many years, often being heard to say, “I am the slave of God. I live not for myself but for others.”

In the early fourth century, the great persecution of the Christians began under the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian. Christian gatherings were forbidden and churches and sacred books were destroyed. Bishop Nicholas and many other Christians were arrested, tortured, and cast into prison. He suffered greatly for the faith but remained steadfast, teaching his fellow inmates about Christ. When Constantine finally became the Emperor, Nicholas and all the Christians were released.

But then a new threat emerged, the Arian heresy, which falsely taught that Christ was a created being and not divine. The Emperor Constantine called for a council to be held in Nicea in 325 AD which came to be known as the First Ecumenical Council. Bishop Nicholas was one of the 318 bishops that attended this council where the false teaching was condemned and the first eleven articles of the Creed were confirmed.

St. Nicholas served his flock for many more years until his repose in the mid-fourth century. But even after his death miracles continued to occur when people sought his intercessions. Such a miracle involved a man from Constantinople who went on a voyage across the sea. When the ship he sailed on encountered a storm, the man fell into the sea. He began praying, “St. Nicholas, please save me! St. Nicholas, please save me!” Then suddenly, the man found himself back in his house in Constantinople. He was safe again on dry land but still dripping wet with seawater. He went straight to the Church of St. Nicholas and fell prostrate before the saint’s icon to give thanks to God for such a miracle.

We remember Saint Nicholas every year on his feast day on December 6th. He is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. People still visit the church in his home town of Myra of Asia Minor, which is now in the city of Demre, Turkey.

Although most people think of Santa Claus when they hear the name St. Nicholas, Orthodox Christians remember him as a model for bishops and great defender of the Orthodox Faith. 

St. Nicholas, please pray for us!

 

Κυριακή 4 Δεκεμβρίου 2022

Three Great Orthodox Saints on December 4

Icon from here

The Holy Great Martyr Barbara

Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia & Malawi

The Holy Great Martyr Barbara lived and suffered during the reign of the emperor Maximian (305-311). Her father, the pagan Dioscorus, was a rich and illustrious man in the Syrian city of Heliopolis. After the death of his wife, he devoted himself to his only daughter.
Seeing Barbara’s extraordinary beauty, Dioscorus decided to hide her from the eyes of strangers. Therefore, he built a tower for Barbara, where only her pagan teachers were allowed to see her. From the tower there was a view of hills stretching into the distance. By day, she was able to gaze upon the wooded hills, the swiftly flowing rivers, and the meadows covered with a mottled blanket of flowers; by night the harmonious and majestic vault of the heavens twinkled and provided a spectacle of inexpressible beauty. Soon the virgin began to ask herself questions about the First Cause and Creator of so harmonious and splendid a world.
Gradually, she became convinced that the soulless idols were merely the work of human hands. Although her father and teachers offered them worship, she realized that the idols could not have made the surrounding world. The desire to know the true God so consumed her soul that Barbara decided to devote all her life to this goal, and to spend her life in virginity.

Icon from here
The fame of her beauty spread throughout the city, and many sought her hand in marriage. But despite the entreaties of her father, she refused all of them. Barbara warned her father that his persistence might end tragically and separate them forever. Dioscorus decided that the temperament of his daughter had been affected by her life of seclusion. He therefore permitted her to leave the tower and gave her full freedom in her choice of friends and acquaintances. Thus Barbara met young Christian maidens in the city, and they taught her about the Creator of the world, about the Trinity, and about the Divine Logos. Through the Providence of God, a priest arrived in Heliopolis from Alexandria disguised as a merchant. After instructing her in the mysteries of the Christian Faith, he baptized Barbara, then returned to his own country.
During this time, a luxurious bathhouse was being built at the house of Dioscorus. By his orders, the workers prepared to put two windows on the south side. But Barbara, taking advantage of her father’s absence, asked them to make a third window, thereby forming a Trinity of light. On one of the walls of the bath-house Barbara traced a cross with her finger. The cross was deeply etched into the marble, as if by an iron instrument. Later, her footprints were imprinted on the stone steps of the bathhouse. The water of the bathhouse had great healing power. St. Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9) compared the bathhouse to the stream of Jordan and the Pool of Siloam, because by God’s power, many miracles took place there.

When Dioscorus returned and expressed dissatisfaction about the change in his building plans, his daughter told him about how she had come to know the Triune God, about the saving power of the Son of God, and about the futility of worshipping idols. Dioscorus went into a rage, grabbed a sword and was on the point of striking her with it. The holy virgin fled from her father, and he rushed after her in pursuit. His way became blocked by a hill, which opened up and concealed the saint in a crevice. On the other side of the crevice was an entrance leading upwards. St Barbara managed then to conceal herself in a cave on the opposite slope of the hill.
After a long and fruitless search for his daughter, Dioscorus saw two shepherds on the hill. One of them showed him the cave where the saint had hidden. Dioscorus beat his daughter terribly, and then placed her under guard and tried to wear her down with hunger. Finally he handed her over to the prefect of the city, named Martianus. They beat St. Barbara fiercely: they struck her with rawhide, and rubbed her wounds with a hair cloth to increase her pain. By night, St. Barbara prayed fervently to her Heavenly Bridegroom, and the Savior Himself appeared and healed her wounds. Then they subjected the saint to new, and even more frightful torments.
In the crowd where the martyr was tortured was the virtuous Christian woman Juliana, an inhabitant of Heliopolis. Her heart was filled with sympathy for the voluntary martyrdom of the beautiful and illustrious maiden. Juliana also wanted to suffer for Christ. She began to denounce the torturers in a loud voice, and they seized her.

Both martyrs were tortured for a long time. Their bodies were raked and wounded with hooks, and then they were led naked through the city amidst derision and jeers. Through the prayers of St. Barbara, the Lord sent an angel who covered the nakedness of the holy martyrs with a splendid robe. Then the steadfast confessors of Christ, Ss. Barbara and Juliana, were beheaded. Dioscorus himself executed St. Barbara. The wrath of God was not slow to punish both torturers, Martianus and Dioscorus. They were killed after being struck by lightning.
In the sixth century the relics of the holy Great Martyr Barbara were transferred to Constantinople. Six hundred years later, they were transferred to Kiev (July 11) by Barbara, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenos, who married the Russian prince Michael Izyaslavich. They rest even now at Kiev’s St Vladimir cathedral, where an Akathist to the saint is served each Tuesday.
Many pious Orthodox Christians are in the habit of chanting the troparion of St. Barbara each day, recalling the Savior’s promise to her that those who remembered her and her sufferings would be preserved from a sudden, unexpected death, and would not depart this life without benefit of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. St. Barbara is commemorated on December 4.

Our Fother Saint John of Damaskus

Orthodox Church in America

Icon from here
Saint John of Damascus was born about the year 680 at Damascus, Syria into a Christian family. His father, Sergius Mansur, was a treasurer at the court of the Caliph. John had also a foster brother, the orphaned child Cosmas (October 14), whom Sergius had taken into his own home. When the children were growing up, Sergius saw that they received a good education. At the Damascus slave market he ransomed the learned monk Cosmas of Calabria from captivity and entrusted to him the teaching of his children. The boys displayed uncommon ability and readily mastered their courses of the secular and spiritual sciences. After the death of his father, John occupied ministerial posts at court and became the city prefect.
In Constantinople at that time, the heresy of Iconoclasm had arisen and quickly spread, supported by the emperor Leo III the Isaurian (717-741). Rising up in defense of the Orthodox veneration of icons [Iconodoulia], Saint John wrote three treatises entitled, “Against Those who Revile the Holy Icons.” The wise and God-inspired writings of Saint John enraged the emperor. But since the author was not a Byzantine subject, the emperor was unable to lock him up in prison, or to execute him. The emperor then resorted to slander. A forged letter to the emperor was produced, supposedly from John, in which the Damascus official was supposed to have offered his help to Leo in conquering the Syrian capital.
This letter and another hypocritically flattering note were sent to the Saracen Caliph by Leo the Isaurian. The Caliph immediately ordered that Saint John be removed from his post, that his right hand be cut off, and that he be led through the city in chains.
That same evening, they returned the severed hand to Saint John. The saint pressed it to his wrist and prayed to the Most Holy Theotokos to heal him so that he could defend the Orthodox Faith and write once again in praise of the Most Pure Virgin and Her Son. After a time, he fell asleep before the icon of the Mother of God. He heard Her voice telling him that he had been healed, and commanding him to toil unceasingly with his restored hand. Upon awakening, he found that his hand had been attached to his arm once more. Only a small red mark around his wrist remained as a sign of the miracle.

Later, in thanksgiving for being healed, Saint John had a silver model of his hand attached to the icon, which became known as “Of the Three Hands.” Some unlearned painters have given the Mother of God three hands instead of depicting the silver model of Saint John’s hand. The Icon “Of the Three Hands” is commemorated on June 28 and July 12.

When he learned of the miracle, which demonstrated John’s innocence, the Caliph asked his forgiveness and wanted to restore him to his former office, but the saint refused. He gave away his riches to the poor, and went to Jerusalem with his stepbrother and fellow-student, Cosmas. There he entered the monastery of Saint Sava the Sanctified as a simple novice.
It was not easy for him to find a spiritual guide, because all the monks were daunted by his great learning and by his former rank. Only one very experienced Elder, who had the skill to foster the spirit of obedience and humility in a student, would consent to do this. The Elder forbade John to do anything at all according to his own will. He also instructed him to offer to God all his labors and supplications as a perfect sacrifice, and to shed tears which would wash away the sins of his former life.
Once, he sent the novice to Damascus to sell baskets made at the monastery, and commanded him to sell them at a certain inflated price, far above their actual value. He undertook the long journey under the searing sun, dressed in rags. No one in the city recognized the former official of Damascus, for his appearance had been changed by prolonged fasting and ascetic labors. However, Saint John was recognized by his former house steward, who bought all the baskets at the asking price, showing compassion on him for his apparent poverty.
One of the monks happened to die, and his brother begged Saint John to compose something consoling for the burial service. Saint John refused for a long time, but out of pity he yielded to the petition of the grief-stricken monk, and wrote his renowned funeral troparia (“What earthly delight,” “All human vanity,” and others). For this disobedience the Elder banished him from his cell. John fell at his feet and asked to be forgiven, but the Elder remained unyielding. All the monks began to plead for him to allow John to return, but he refused. Then one of the monks asked the Elder to impose a penance on John, and to forgive him if he fulfilled it. The Elder said, “If John wishes to be forgiven, let him wash out all the chamber pots in the lavra, and clean the monastery latrines with his bare hands.” 

From here
John rejoiced and eagerly ran to accomplish his shameful task. After a certain while, the Elder was commanded in a vision by the All-Pure and Most Holy Theotokos to allow Saint John to write again. When the Patriarch of Jerusalem heard of Saint John, he ordained him priest and made him a preacher at his cathedral. But Saint John soon returned to the Lavra of Saint Sava, where he spent the rest of his life writing spiritual books and church hymns. He left the monastery only to denounce the iconoclasts at the Constantinople Council of 754. They subjected him to imprisonment and torture, but he endured everything, and through the mercy of God he remained alive. He died in about the year 780, more than 100 years old.
Saint John of Damascus was a theologian and a zealous defender of Orthodoxy. His most important book is the Fount of Knowledge. The third section of this work, “On the Orthodox Faith,” is a summary of Orthodox doctrine and a refutation of heresy. Since he was known as a hymnographer, we pray to Saint John for help in the study of church singing. 

St Hieromartyr Seraphim, bishop of Phanarion, Greece

Orthodoxwiki
 
Icon from here
Seraphim was born to Sophronios and Maria in the village of Mpizoula in the Agrapha region of Greece during the mid sixteenth century. His family was pious and reared him in the Orthodox faith. After he came of age, he entered the monastic life at the Monastery of the Theotokos in Korona, receiving the name Seraphim. As he grew in spiritually, he also entered the holy orders being ordained a presbyter. Upon the death of his abbot, he was elected to succeed him as head of the monastery.
In 1587, Fr. Seraphim was elected archbishop of Phanarion and Neochorion, the see thaving become vacant when its incumbent died. As archbishop, Seraphim was a true shepherd to all the Orthodox Christians entrusted to his care, nurturing and caring for them in every possible way.
In 1601, the metropolitan of Larissa named Dionysius the Philosopher mistakenly thought he could expel the Muslim forces in the Ioannina area. After raising an army of ill-equipped and ill-trained villagers, they attacked and killed many Muslims in the area. The rebellion was savagely suppressed when Muslim reinforcements arrived killing those involved in the rebellion and taking revenge on many innocent Christian villagers as well. After a second rebellion Metr. Dionysios himself was captured, tortured, and horribly executed.
In this turbulent atmosphere, Abp. Seraphim was compelled by duty to go to Phanarion to pay the taxes owed to the Ottoman government. Some Muslims, who knew of his good work among the Orthodox Christians and wished him harm, observed him in Phanarion. They began to agitate among themselves, saying Seraphim had been with Dionysios and was a rebel, a subversive, and a traitor. They accosted and threatened him unless he abandoned his faith and become a Muslim.
Abp. Seraphim responded that they knew he was innocent of the accusation and that he would not leave his faith to escape death and thus leave Jesus, his God and Creator, especially now when he suffered unjustly, and that he hoped because of this to receive from his Master more honor. Then, of their honors, he did not even want to hear of them. 

The Muslims then took Seraphim, dragged him before the vali, whose name was Hamuza Bey, and accursed him as being with Dionysios and thus was an enemy and a traitor. Hamuza Bey repeated the offer that Abp. Seraphim become a Muslim. To which Seraphim reiterated that he was innocent and would not be separated from his Master and God Jesus Christ and that he was ready for anything the Bey had within his power.
Hearing this, the Bey ordered Seraphim beaten mercilessly. Seraphim endured everything as though suffering no pain, thanking and blessing God. He was then put into prison where he was given no food or drink in an attempt to break him.
After Abp. Seraphim was again confronted by the Bey, with Seraphim continuing his firm stand against him, Hamuza Bey ordered Abp. Seraphim tortured and then impaled
After his death, Seraphim’s body remained upon the stake longer than usual to serve as an example to the Orthodox Christians in the area, and to frighten them into submission. But Abp. Seraphim’s martyrdom had the opposite effect. It gave Orthodox Christians courage and hope, for they thanked God for strengthening the archbishop to make such a good confession of faith.
Later, Seraphim’s head was cut off and sent to Phanarion together with the heads of other clergymen who were also executed as a result of the activities of Metr. Dionysius.
The Orthodox Christians of Phanarion felt the need to recover the archbishop’s head. They, therefore, found an Albanian Orthodox Christian to whom they promised a reward if he were to recover the head. The Albanian was successful, but before he could escape entirely, he was detected and was pursued by the Muslims. Afraid of being caught at one point, the Albanian threw the head in the Peneios River. Seeing this, the Muslims gave up the pursuit. Days later the head was recovered by fishermen who took it to the Dousikon Monastery. Later, the head was brought to the Monastery of the Theotokos in Korona, Seraphim’s own monastic house.
Abp. Seraphim of Phanarion and Neochorion gave his life in the town of Phanarion for the love of Jesus Christ, on December 4, in the year 1601.