Reflections by Fr Demos

11th of September, Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Theodora of Vasta in Arkadia, Greece.

I was blessed to have visited this small but wondrous shrine in Greece last year.

It is amazing how nature works with us in glorifying God. This tiny chapel dedicated to Saint Theodora has 17 trees growing from its rooftop. What is more marvellous is that there are no traces of roots anywhere. You see this spectacular sight from outside thinking that once you enter the chapel you will find roots, but there is nothing. Moreso, how is the roof supported by the weight of these trees?

Yet this is not the only wondrous scene, as a spring of fresh water gushes from the bottom of this chapel causing a river of pure fresh water to flow. The taste of this water is nothing like any other water we know!

The life of Saint Theodora tells us that as she was about to be executed her final words were “May my body become a temple of the Lord (Church), my hair trees and my blood a flowing river.”

God is marvellous is His Saints!

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8th of September, We celebrate the Feast Day of The Birth of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

The Dismissal Hymn (below) is a powerful reminder that true spiritual joy can not be taken from us when we hope in the Salvation promised to us.

Our Lady was the beginning of God’s plan to bring us redemption. It was through her that God “borrowed” what He didn’t have, flesh, so He can become one with His Image and raise us up from falleness into glory. Therefore the birth of the Theotokos is the beginning of our hope in joy which leads us only to Christ, our King and God!

How beautiful is the timing of this Feast Day? A time we feel so down because of the state of the world today, Christ comes as another reminder to us through this Feast telling us to Rejoice! He has not forgotten us, be patient, hope for His Salvation is at hand. The Theotokos becomes for us a symbol of hope!

Great is the name of the Holy Trinity, Most Holy Theotokos protect us!

“Your birth, O Theotokos, brought joy to the whole world, for from you dawned the sun of righteousness, Christ our God. Freeing us from the curse, He gave us His blessings. Abolishing death, He granted us eternal life.”

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2nd of September,

As I go through the daily lives of the Saints I came across this page, a list in bold, of names and the way they gave their life back to Christ…this particular page didn’t go into detail, just names and cause of death….It’s no wonder why Christ says in the Gospels “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

No wonder the symbol of our faith is a Cross. A constant reminder that the Christian is crucified in this life. But through the Cross, “joy has come to all the world.”Be of good cheer…the difficulties are there and real.

We know that in this life our path is narrow and paved with thorns. Not because God wants it this way, but because many are the enemies of Christ and His followers. As a Christian, learn to look neither straight or down but up towards God and beyond this life. Even if we are deprived of our physical life, nothing should separate us from the source of Life, the Life-giving Trinity.

Lord, give me the patience and faith of the Saints.

“Through the prayers of the holy Martyrs, Lord Jesus Christ have Mercy on us and Save us. Amen”

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31st of August, The honourable Belt of the Mother of God.

One of the very few relics we have from our Lady the Theotokos is her belt, which today is kept at the Monastery of Vatopethi, Mount Athos. 

Tradition tells us that as our Lady ascended bodily to the Heavens she dropped her belt to the Apostle Thomas as a blessing. 

Since then it has been a most sacred Relic and a refuge for us who run to the Mother of God for help. 

Ribbons from the Monastery are placed on her belt and given to the pilgrams or those who need as a blessing, which have become a source of healing, especially for couples having difficulty conceiving or people suffering from incurable diseases. 

Thus, just as we began the month of August with the Mother of God, we also end the month which is entirely dedicated to her. 

“Most Holy Theotokos, keep us under the shelter of your mighty protection!”

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29th of August, The Beheading of Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist.

Why was Saint John beheaded? Because he spoke the truth, even if some were not willing to hear it. 

Herodias, who unlawfully left her husband to marry his brother thought that she could silence the great Prophet, thus silencing her conscious. 

The result? Herodias remained and remains burdened by her deeds, rather than following the Baptist’s cry of repentance, which is a cry to freedom. 

The echo of Saint John’s cry to repentance can still be heard in the Church today. 

Unfortunately, like Herodias, there are still many who want to silence the truth, who do everything to keep silent the voice of the Church of Christ, which is a call to healing. 

They think by silencing the Church they can satisfy their conscious, not realising that our conscious comes from our soul, from the breath of God and that can not be simply ignored or silenced, since it is Gods desire to bring everyone to the knowledge of truth and be saved. 

“St John the Baptist, teach us repentace through the Holy Spirit!”

*August 29th is a fasting day as a remembrance of our own call to repentace and mourning of our sins. 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

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28th of August, Saint Moses the Ethiopian.

A former robber and murderer he became shining example of Christian repentance and persistence.

A small paragraph from his life….

“On one occasion it came to the point that he could not endure being in his cell (because of temptation). Saint Isidore advised him (Saint Moses) to return to his cell but he refused. Elder Isidore took him up to the roof of his cell, directing Moses to look westward. Moses did and he gazed upon hoards of demons flying about, making a clamor as though readying for an attack. Elder Isidore then told him, “look toward the east.” Moses turned about and saw an innumerable multitude of angels, resplendent with glory. Elder Isidore then said, “Do you see how the angels are sent by the Lord in order to assist the faithful whom the demons fight against? Those who are with us outnumber those who are against us…”

From the life of Saint Moses the Ethiopian. 

“You have proven to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Moses, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer you  obtained heavenly gifts, and you healed the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to you with faith. Glory to Him that has given you strength. Glory to Him that has crowned you. Glory to Him that works healings for all through you”

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27th of August, Saint Phanourios

Saint Phanourios is commonly revered as the patron Saint of the lost or lost items. 

Traditionally people usually bake a cake known as a  “Phanouropita” in thanksgiving to the Saint for his assistance in finding something lost. 

His name “Phanourios” means the revealer. 

I pray Saint Phanourios reveals to us the greatness of Christ’s love and help us find faith in these troubled times. 

A heavenly song of praise is brightly sung on the earth; * the hosts of the Angels keep an earthly festival now in splendor and radiant joy; * from on high, they praise with hymns the suff’rings and struggles; * and below, the Church doth laud the heavenly glory * thou foundest by thy contests and pains, O glorious Phanurius.

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16th of August, Saint Joseph the Hesychast.

The spiritual giant of Orthodox hesychasim of our century. This will be the first time he will be celebrated as a Saint since his official canonisation by the Ecumenical Patriarchate earlier this year.

Enjoy this small documentary in English on his life. 

Saint Joseph, lover of prayer, teach us to pray!

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The “Annunciation of the Dormition of the Theotokos.” 

Three days before our Blessed Lady was to repose, the Archangel Gabriel came to her whilst she was praying in her garden. The Archangel told her the good news, that in three days she would be taken by Her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to Heaven. 

During our Pilgramage last year we were blessed to have visited this Holy place, it is no wonder why our Blessed Mother would go to this garden to pray. 

The feelings you have at this site is indescribable, just an overwhelming joy, being at the place our Theotokos would pray for the world and receiving the news of her Blessed Repose. 

Most Holy Theotokos save us!

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28th of July, Saint Irene Chrysovalandou.

A Saint close to the hearts of many for her countless miracles, especially those having difficulties conceiving children. 

Mother Irene Chrysovalandou, pray for us! 

Saint Irene, who was from Cappadocia, flourished in the ninth century. Because of her great beauty and virtue, she was brought to Constantinople as a prospective bride for the young Emperor Michael (842-867); however, as Saint Joannicius the Great foretold, it was God’s will that she assume the monastic habit instead. She shone forth in great ascetical labours, and suffered many attacks from the demons; while yet a novice, she attained to the practice of Saint Arsenius the Great, of praying the whole night long with arms stretched out towards Heaven (see May 8). God showed forth great signs and wonders in her, and she became the Abbess of the Convent of Chrysovalantou. She was granted the gift of clairvoyance and knew the thoughts of all that came to her. She appeared in a vision to the king and rebuked him for unjustly imprisoning a nobleman who had been falsely accused. Through a sailor from Patmos to whom he had appeared, Saint John the Evangelist sent her fragrant and wondrous apples from Paradise. She reposed at the age of 103, still retaining the youthful beauty of her countenance. After her repose, marvelous healings beyond number have been wrought by her to the present day. 

Apolytikion of Irene Chrysovalantou in the Plagal of the First Tone

Not a temporal kingdom on earth didst thou obtain, but Christ, thy most comely Bridegroom, vouchsafed thee heavenly crowns, and thou reignest as a queen with Him eternally; for thou didst dedicate thyself unto Him with all thy soul, O Irene, our righteous Mother, thou boast of Chrysovalantou, and mighty help of all the Orthodox.

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24th of July, Saint Christina the Great Martyr. 

Happy name day to all who celebrate! 

Saint Christina was from Tyre in Syria, the daughter of a pagan named Urban. Enlightened in her heart to believe in Christ, she broke her father’s idols, made of gold and silver, and distributed the pieces to the poor. When her father learned this, he punished her ruthlessly, then cast her into prison. The rulers subjected her to imprisonments, hunger, torments, the cutting off of her breasts and tongue, and finally impalement, in the year 200, during the reign of the Emperor Septimius Severus. 

Her relics remain incorrupt and are kept in Venice.

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14th of June,

Dear friends, Today our Mother Church remembers and celebrates All Saints, known and unknown to us, but known to God. This is our calling, to receive Holiness from God, to become Saints.

The path to holiness comes with difficulties, struggles, sacrifices, courage and persistence, but at the same time fills the soul with joy, reassurance, clarity and hope. This is the life in Christ.

As from tomorrow, we begin the Apostles fast, a two week fast, more lenient, we can eat fish except Wednesday and Fridays. A reminder to us that we follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, who left everything to follow the One whom they knew was The Way, The Life and The Truth. A blessed fast to you all.

I pray through our love for our Lord Jesus Christ, we make Australia, this land we call home, Holy through the Grace of God and the presence of our own home-grown Saints.