February 19th – Saint Philothei [Άγια Φιλοθέη] 1522 – 1589

Saint Philothei (also known as Philotheia or Philothea)
was a Greek martyr and saint.
She was born in Athens to an illustrious and wealthy family.
Against her will, she was married to a cruel man.
When he died three years later,
the Saint gave away her worldly belongings,
took up the monastic life and established a convent, in
which she became a mother to her disciples.

Many women enslaved and abused by
the Muslim Ottoman Turks in harems also ran to her for refuge.
Because of this, in 1589, the Turkish rulers of Ottoman Greece became enraged and came to her convent and
dragged her by force out of the church.
They beat her cruelly and after a few days, she died.

Saint Philothei is considered a martyr
by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Along with Saints Hierotheus and Dionysius the Areopagite,
Saint Philothei is considered a patron of the city of Athens.
Her relics are interred in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens.
The Philothei district of Athens is named after her.

Apolytikion       Tn 5
The faithful of Athens and all the world
honor Philothei the martyred nun
and rejoice in her holy relics.
For she has exchanged this passing life
for the life that knows no end
through her struggle and martyrdom;
and she begs the Saviour
to have mercy on us all
“.

Kontakion          Tn 3
We all honour Philothei with jubilation of spirit,
as this day we rev’rently worship her ven’rable relics.
For she lived her whole life working kindness and mercy;
and the righteous one, receiving a martyr’s ending,
is deemed worthy to entreat God
that all be granted eternal life with the Saints.

Philanthropy
Certainly philanthropy was one of Saint Philothei’s main motives.
At a time when there were no hospitals, no shelters for the poor,
no homes for the elderly, no asylums, and
no shelters for the protection of women,
their place was taken by monastic institutions.

In addition to her dedication to a virtuous life,
practicing philanthropy by offering protection,
giving alms and ministering to the poor and sick,
providing Christian education by teaching everyone
ecclesiastical letters and liturgical knowledge,
the holy woman contributed the following:
-1.] she founded schools for the children of the Athenians,
to open their eyes to Christianity and renown of their ancestors.
‘Lay hold of instruction, lest at any time the Lord be angry’ (Ps. 2:12).
Philothei brought this scriptural quotation to reality.
Within her flickered the hope of the rebirth of the Byzantine Empire and…
the early deliverance from the bestial yoke of the conquerors.
-2.] Philothei aimed at protecting the daughters of Athens
from the disgrace of conversion to Islam….
The danger of being subjected to conversion existed not only for
the noble daughters who were forcibly abducted by the Turks
because of their beauty and grace, but also for the simple ones,
the peasant girls, who were forced to work in Turkish homes and
farms in order to sustain themselves.
Pressure, necessity and ignorance [the great deceiver]
were causes in forcing the maidens into submission.

What to learn from history
However, Philothei, with her convent of virgins (Παρθενώνα), her schools,
her convent’s metochia, and family ties,
was capable of either strengthening those
under duress or sending them away and hiding them.
This was done until their consciences recovered or the danger subsided; and
until fear was replaced by a spirit of faith and sacrifice for the sake of Christian Faith.

Nowadays we think that everything is organised by the Government,
which cost us a lot of tax-money.
But what is the result:
In schools children only are educated in what they need for Society,
to be a good worker and concumer.
Religious education is left to their parents
– the parents have to make the choice
whether their children any sense of religiosity is imparted.
It is not enough to take to the church, where they just join them,
because especially in ‘nationalistic’ churches
– only incomprehensible rites are dished for them.
When they don’t understand what God is offering man and why
they are just lost for Royal Kingdom;
more worse, they build in time that they are bored rigid in church
a dis-pleasure which they carry with them throughout their lives.
So especially in the western countries
the formal need for children-education
– in a language they understand –
[mostly the language of the region in which they live]
is highly required,
next to:
shelters for the poor,
homes for the elderly, asylums, and
even shelters for women-protection.

Sunday of the Last Judgment – Sunday Meat-fare

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
my Glory and the One
Who lifts up my head“.
Psalm 3: 3

What fear is there in this life,
to the man whose Guardian in
this life is God?
“.
Saint Cyprianos

The previous two Sunday-Parables
– especially that of the Prodigal Son –
have presented to us
God’s extreme Goodness and Love for manhood.
But lest certain persons, putting their confidence in this alone,
live inaccurately, extravagant upon sin the time
given them to work out their salvation, and
death suddenly snatch them away.
Most of the Holy Church-fathers have appointed this day’s feast
commemorating Christ’s impartial Second Coming,
through which we bring to mind that God is not only the Friend of man, but
also the most righteous Judge, Who recompenses to each according to his deeds.
Most of us have the idea that by doing good works, the balance of God’s opinion upon us
will be tilt in the right direction.
But by doing good works humans feelings will be growing but
it’s the questions or God’s opinion upon us will change.
God is a father and not a commercial dealer, so
He is looking for love and not for money or things like that.

It is the aim of the holy Fathers, through bringing to mind that fearful day, to
rouse us from the slumber of carelessness unto the work of virtue, and
to move us to that Love and compassion for Him through our brethren.
Besides this, even as on the coming Sunday of Cheese-fare we commemorate Adam’s exile from the Paradise of delight
– which exile is the beginning of life as
we know it here & now –
it is clear that today’s is reckoned the
last of all feasts, because
on the last day of judgment, truly,
everything of this world will come to an end.

Besides for those
who are grown up and able to do this
all foods, except meat and meat products,
are allowed during the week
that follows this Sunday.

On Last Judgment
The day of the Last Judgement!
That day no one knows – only our Father, our God knows – but
its signs are given in the Gospel and
in the Apocalypse of the holy Apostle John the Theologian.
Revelation speaks of the events at the end of the world and of the Last Judgement primarily in images and in a veiled manner.
However, the Holy Fathers have explained these images, and there is an authentic Church tradition that speaks clearly concerning
the signs of the approach of the end, and concerning the Last Judgement.

Before the end of life on earth
there will be agitation, wars, civil war,
hunger, earthquakes…
Men will suffer from fear, will die from expectation of calamity.
There will be no life, no joy of life but a tormented state of falling away from life.
Nevertheless there will be a falling away not only from life, but from faith also, and
When the Son of Man cometh,
shall He find faith on the earth?
“.
Luc.18: 8

Men will become proud, ungrateful, rejecting Divine law. Together with the falling away from life will be a weakening of moral life.
There will be an exhaustion of good and an increase of evil.
Of these times, the holy Apostle John the Theologian speaks in
his God-inspired work, the Apocalypse.
He says that he “was in the Spirit” when he wrote it;
this means that the Holy Spirit Himself was in him, when
under the form of various images,
the outcome of Church and world was opened to him, and
so this is a Divine Revelation.

The Apocalypse represents the fate of the Church in the image of a woman who hides herself in the wilderness:
she does not show herself in public life, as
today she is hidden not able to show
her real face.
In public life, forces that prepare
the possibility for
the appearance of Antichrist
politicians, journalists, public opinion, backbiting,
will play the leading role.

Antichrist will be a man, and not the devil incarnate.
Anti” means “old” [“from the past“] and
it also signifies “in place of” or
against[“in contrast to the original Icon”].
Antichrist is a man who desires to be
in place of Christ, to occupy His place and
possess what Christ should possess
[“to be the ruler of the world“].
He desires to possess the attraction of Christ and
authority over the whole world
[“in word, deed, and through manipulation“].
Moreover, Antichrist will receive that authority
before man’s destruction and
the destruction of the world,
[in such a way that leaders in Church and world
are not anymore able to find solutions;
everyone is in despair over what he beholds].

What is known of this man — Antichrist?
His precise ancestry [heritage] is unknown:
his father is completely unknown, and
his mother a foul pretended virgin.
He will be a Jew of the tribe of Dan.

According to the Torah,
the tribe consisted of descendants of Dan, a son of Jacob and Bilhah,
Rachel’s maidservant [Gen.30: 4). In the biblical account,
Dan is one of the two children of Bilhah,
the handmaid of Jacob’s wife Rachel,
the other child of Bilhah being Naphtali.
Scholars see this as indicating that the authors saw
Dan and Naphtali as being not of entirely Israelite origin
living in the North & North-west
[being descendants of handmaids rather than of full wives].

This man – the Antichrist – will be very intelligent and
endowed with skill in handling people.
He will be fascinating and kind.
The philosopher Vladimir Soloviev worked a long time at
presenting the advent and person of Antichrist.
He carefully made use of all material on this question,
not only Patristic, but also Muslim, and he worked out a brilliant picture.

Before the advent of Antichrist, there was a preparation in the world,
the possibility of his appearance.
The mystery of iniquity doth already work” [2Thess.2: 7].
The forces preparing for his appearance
fight above all against the lawful Imperial authority.

The holy Apostle Paul says
that Antichrist cannot be manifested until
what with-hold is taken away” [2Thess.2: 6-7].
Saint John Chrysostom explains that the “withholding one” is the lawful pious authority: such an authority fights with evil.
For this reason the “mystery” already at work in the world, fights with this authority; it desires a lawless authority.
When the “mystery” decisively achieves that authority, nothing will hinder the appearance of Antichrist any longer.

Fascinating, intelligent, kind, he will be merciful
– he will act with mercy, fascination  and goodness;
– but not for the sake of mercy and goodness,
– but for the strengthening of his own authority.
When he will have strengthened it to the point
where the whole world acknowledges him,
then he will reveal his face.
We see it around us every day,
sports, magical computer-games, horrible television etc.

For his capital, he will choose Jerusalem, because it was here that the Saviour revealed His Divine teaching and His person.
It was here that the entire world was called to the blessedness of Goodness and Salvation.
The world did not acknowledge Christ and crucified Him in Jerusalem;
whereas, the whole world will acknowledge the Antichrist’s authority and Jerusalem will become the best-known capital of the world.

Having attained the pinnacle of authority,
Antichrist will demand the acknowledgement that
he has attained what no earthly power had ever attained or
could attain and then demand the worship of himself as
a higher being, as a god.

Vladimir Soloviev describes the character of
his activity well,
as “Supreme Ruler“, organizing the country,
using attractive things like
television, sports, money,
without accepting any resistance.
He will do what is pleasing to all –
on the condition of being recognized as
Supreme Authority.
He will allow the Church to exist, permit her Divine services, promise to build magnificent churches…,
on the condition that all recognize him as
“Supreme Being” and worship him; even Churchleaders and priests are trapped!!!
Antichrist will have a personal hatred for Christ; he will visit him in church but
he will see Him as a rival and look upon Him as a personal enemy.
He will live by this hatred and rejoice in men’s apostasy from Christ.

Under Antichrist, there will be an immense falling away from the faith.
Many bishops will change in faith and in justification will point to
the brilliant situation of the Church.
The search for compromise will be the characteristic disposition of men.
Straight-forwardness of confession will disappear.
Men will cleverly justify their fall, and
gracious evil will support such a general disposition.
There will be the habit of apostasy from truth and
the sweetness of compromise and sin in men.

Antichrist will allow men everything,
as long as they “fall down and worship him” and
the whole world will submit to him.
Then there will appear the two righteous men,
who will fearlessly preach the faith and
accuse Antichrist.

According to Church tradition,
they are the two Prophets of the Old Testament,
Elijah and Enoch“,
who did not taste of death, but will taste it now for three days, and in three days they must rise.
Their death will call forth the great rejoicing of Antichrist and his servants.
Their resurrection will plunge them into great confusion and terror.
Then, the end of the world will come.

The Apostle Peter said that the first world was made out of water
– an image of the primordial chaos, and perished by water – in the Flood.
Now the world is reserved unto fire.
The earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up [2Petr.3: 5-7, 10].
All the elements will ignite.
This present world will perish in a single instant.
In an instant all will be changed.

Moreover, the Sign of the Son of God, the Sign of the Cross, will appear.
The whole world, having willingly submitted to Antichrist, will weep.
Everything is finished forever:
– Antichrist killed,
– the end of his awful kingdom of warfare with Christ,
– the end, and one is held accountable;
– one must answer to the true God.

The end of the world” signifies not:
– the annihilation of the world, but its ‘transformation’.
– everything will be transformed suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye.
– the dead will rise in new bodies:
their own, but renewed, just as the Saviour rose in His own body and
traces of wounds from the nails and spear were on it,
yet it possessed new faculties, and in this sense it was a new body.
It is not clear whether this new body will be the same as Adam was made, or
whether it will be an entirely new body.

Afterward, the Lord will appear in Glory on the clouds.
Trumpets will sound, loud, with Power!
They will sound in the soul and conscience!
All will become clear to the human conscience.

The Prophet Daniel, speaking of the Last Judgement,
relates how the Ancient of Days, the Judge sits on His throne, and before Him is a fiery stream [Dan.7: 9-10].
Fire is a purifying element; it burns sin.
Woe to a man if sin has become a part of his nature:
then the fire will burn the man, himself.

This fire will be kindled within man:
– seeing the Cross, some will rejoice
– others will fall into confusion, terror and despair.
Thus, men will be divided instantly.
The very state of a man’s soul casts him to
one side or the other, to right or to left.

The more consciously and persistently
man strives toward God in his life,
the greater will be his joy when he hears:
Come unto Me, you blessed“.

Conversely:
the same words will call the fire of horror and
torture to those who did not desire Him, who
fled and fought or blasphemed Him during their lifetime!

The Last Judgement knows of no witnesses or written protocols!
Everything is inscribed in the souls of men and these records, these “books” are opened at the Judgement.
Everything becomes clear to all and to oneself.

Moreover, some will go to joy, while others — to horror.

When “the books are opened”
it will become clear that the roots of all vices lie in the human soul.
Here is a drunkard or a lecher:
when the body has died, some may think that sin is dead too. No!
There was an inclination to sin in the soul, and
– that sin was sweet to the soul, and
if the soul has not repented and
has not freed itself of the sin;
– it will come to the Last Judgement with
the same desire for sin;
– it will never satisfy that desire and
in that soul there will be the suffering of hatred;
– it will accuse everyone and everything in its tortured condition;
– it will hate everyone and everything.
there will be gnashing of teeth” of powerless malice and
the unquenchable fire of hatred.
A “fiery gehenna” — such is the inner fire.
“There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth”.
Such is the state of hell.
Cf. Saint John [Maximovich] of Shanghai and San Francisco;
one of the greatest Saints of the 20th Century.

Vesperal stichera
Righteous Judge of all mankind!
Every man will stand in fear before Thee,
Trembling at the river of fire flowing past Thy throne,
As each one wait to hear the sentence he deserves.

On that awesome day have mercy on us as well, O Christ;
Count us worthy of salvation,
For, worthless as we are, we turn to Thee in faith,
Compassionate and merciful Lord!

The books will be opened and the works of all men laid bare:
The value of tears will echo with gnashing of teeth;
The sinners will mourn in vain, as they depart to eternal damnation.
Thy judgements are just, O Lord Almighty!

We beg Thee, Master, full of goodness and compassion:
Take pity on us who sing to Thee, most merciful One!

The trumpet shall sound and the graves shall be opened:
All mankind will arise in trembling;
The righteous will rejoice, as they receive their reward,
But the wicked will depart to eternal fire with wailing and horror.

Lord of Glory, have mercy on us!
Number us with those who love Thee, Master,
For Thou alone art good!

I shudder in terror when I think of that dreadful day;
I weep as I consider the darkness that will never see light:
There the worm shall not cease, or the fire be quenched;
The pain of those who reject Thee will never end.

Save me, Thy most worthless servant, Righteous Judge,
For Thy mercy and compassion are my only hope!

When the thrones are set in place and the books are opened,
Then God will take His place on the judgment-seat.
What a fearful sight,
As the angels stand in awe and the river of fire flows by:
What shall we do, who are already condemned by our many sins,

As we hear Christ call the righteous to His Father’s Kingdom,
And send the wicked to eternal damnation?
Who among us can bear that terrible verdict?

Hasten to us, Lover of mankind and
King of the universe:
Grant us the grace of repentance
before the end and
have mercy on us!
“.

Doxastikon of Matins   Tn 1
Let us go before, O brethren, and
cleanse ourselves for the Queen of virtues;
for behold she hath come bringing to us fortune of good deeds,
quenching the uprisings of passion and
reconciling the wicked to the Master.
Let us welcome her, therefore, shouting to Christ God,
You Who arose from the dead, keep us un-condemned, who Glorify You,
You who alone art sinless
“.

Kontakion          Tn 1
When You comes, O God, upon the earth with Glory, the whole world will tremble.
The river of fire will bring men before
Your Judgment Seat,

the books will be opened and the secrets disclosed.
Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire, and count me worthy to
stand on Your right hand,
Judge most righteous
“.

 

Beginning of the Triodion – Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee – Come ‘all’ to me

Two men went up into the temple to pray;
the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,
‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are,
extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or
even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week,
I give tithes of all that I possess
‘.

And the publican, standing afar off,
would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven,
but smote upon his breast, saying,
‘God be merciful to me a sinner‘.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other:
for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted
“.
Luc.18: 10-14

Notice:
This Bible-story of Lucas follows at
the story of the widow who
is searching for Justice!!!
Why?
Because Christ calls us that we should
always pray and not to faint doing this!!
He will give us Justice speedily!!!
Christ Himself spoke these words with
the view to some, who trusted themselves
that they were righteous and despised others.
Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes,
shall He find faith on the earth?
Luc.18: 1-9

Jesus Christ shared the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee with us
to warn us of the great spiritual danger of arrogant self-confidence in our own righteousness, coupled with contempt for those whom we consider to be beneath us.
In this way Jesus sought to protect us from the terrible spiritual sickness of Pharissee-ism.

This disease of the soul first manifests itself as
absolute confidence and trust in the rightness of our own point of view and judgement;
it presupposes our personal superiority over others.
And this twisted expression of self-confidence quickly degenerates into
uncritical self-satisfaction and self-righteousness,
into a kind of mindless self-admiration.
It takes endless pleasure in the self, and
in all that it does.

Let us look at the Pharisee in today’s parable.
He goes into the Temple of God
to offer incense to his own self-idol [Gr. eidōλolatreíα].

He proclaims his saintliness and
enumerates his good works.
He admires and praises himself and
is standing before God in his best clothes;
big crown on his head and a
mozes-staff to show his importance.
He, after all, is not like other people
who are up to their necks in immorality and evil.
In the midst of his supposed prayer
he does not hesitate to spill
the poisonous bile of his hatred
for the Publican [sinner]
whom he sees praying off in a distant corner.

With exaggerated self-satisfaction
he refers to his careful fasting and
his generous support of the temple.
He is indeed, a fastidious observer of
the law of the [New] Covenant.

And even though we feel repulsed
by the attitude and behaviour of the Pharisee,
we need to be honest enough to
admit to ourselves
that there are more than a few times
when we astonishingly resemble him.
After all, who among us
does not want others to think
that we are better people than we actually are?
Which one of us does not suffer from some
lack of respect toward others?
Is there even one of us
who is very lenient in his judgement of others , and sterner in his own self-criticism?
I sincerely doubt it.
Every one of us, more or less, has something of that Pharisee inside of us.
Something of that self-adulation and righteousness.
And so to protect ourselves form infection by this disease
requires nothing less than constant struggle [praying] and
vigilant effort [works] on our part.

A truly Christian heart seeks to do what is just and right as
a simple and natural expression of
our responsibility as persons to the flock around us.
But even then we understand that
our good deeds do not reflect perfection and so
should not be the cause of weaning pride on our part.
That is why Saint Basilios,
who devoted his entire life to the loving service of others wrote,
Even if we were somehow able to do absolutely everything that is required of us,
we would still have to conclude that we are unworthy servants of the Lord.
And this is because after having done all this,
we will only have fulfilled our basic duty and
obligation and nothing more
“.
Even when we have to suffer martyrdom [μαρτύριο].

This condemnation of the smug self-satisfaction of the Pharisee, leads us to the justification of the Publican,
who keenly feels and readily acknowledges his personal inadequacies,
Because each of us has to carry his own human, sinners-status.
The Publican is admittedly burdened by a host of sins.
But he is acutely aware of his sinfulness and spiritual poverty.
And so he stands back, in the farthest corner of the temple.
He does not dare to even lift his eyes toward Heaven.
With heavy sighs, he whispers his short prayer,
God, have mercy on me, a sinner“.

His prayer is a request, a plea actually,
that is filled with contrition.
And this contrition, this acknowledgement and confession of personal imperfection,
is nothing less than the very cornerstone of the entire spiritual life.
And this is because it is inseparably bound with humility of the soul; and
it is humility that allows divine grace to transfigure and sanctify our lives.

Perhaps the attitude that we need to acquire if
we wish to offer prayer that is acceptable before God, is
summed up in the words of Jesus himself who said to us,
Come to Me, all you that are weary and
are carrying heavy burdens and
I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and
in Me you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light
“.
Matth.11: 28

May we too approach the altar of God with
that same gentleness of spirit, and
that same humility of heart and soul.
In that case the Son of man when He comes,
shall find real faith on the earth.

The desert of Zin
At the end of Moses’ song,
he reminds Israel
that these are not just idle words
to pass on to their children.
These words are their life!
In keeping with these words
they will live long in the land
that God is giving them.
As we continue with
the narrative of the Old Covenant
we’ll see that they choose not to hold on to life.

Moses is reminded a number of times
that he will die because he did not uphold
God’s holiness in the Desert of Zin.
Despite not getting to reap the reward of a long journey,
Moses concerns himself with the real needs of the people.
He makes sure that when he is gone
that they will continue to follow God.
This has been striking to me over and over again.
I pray that our Church-leaders will be as concerned with the lives of others.