Saturday, May 13, 2017

Prayers for Physicians and Healthcare Workers, and St. Luke of Simferopol as their protector

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon, Archbishop of Simferopol of Crimea, depicted in his doctor's robes with surgical tools (source)
   
Among the many examples and protectors for Christian physicians and other healthcare workers, is St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon, Archbishop of Simferopol of Crimea (celebrated June 11th). St. Luke's life is a radiant example for Christians of our modern age, as he was a dedicated scientist, hard-working surgeon, loving husband, caring father, pious and reverent pastor of Christ's flock, and fiery confessor of His name amidst persecutions and tortures at the hands of the atheists. And the Saint's many astonishing miracles after his repose bear witness to the grace that the Lord gave to him, and the love that he still shares, especially for those who are suffering, and also for those caring for the suffering.
 
   
Metropolitans Lazar and Nektarios serving Akathist to St. Luke in Simferopol, and blessing the medical robes of the faithful (source)
   
The eve of St. Luke's feast in Crimea, for years, the local Metropolitan has gathered the physicians and healthcare workers to a special akathist to St. Luke, in which they serve an "agismos" service (blessing of the water) to bless their white medical robes, scrubs and coats. This is a beautiful opportunity to reaffirm the dedication of these healers to the True Healer of our souls and bodies, praying that they be strengthened, granted wisdom, discernment and compassion.

Below are two Orthodox prayers for physicians and healthcare workers. May the Lord strengthen them to always to His will!
 
Metropolitan Nektarios blessing medical robes in Argolidos (source)
 

Orthodox Prayer For Doctors and Nurses

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, Lover of Mankind, Physician of our souls and bodies, who didst bear the pain of our infirmities, and by whose wounds we are healed; Who gave sight to the man born blind; Who straightened the woman who was bent over for 18 years; Who gave speech and sight to the mute demoniac; Who not only forgave the paralytic his sins, but healed him to walk; Who restored the withered hand of a troubled man; Who stopped the flow of blood of her who bled for 12 years; Who raised Jairus’ daughter to life; And brought the four-day-dead Lazarus to life; And who heals every infirmity under the sun: Do now, O Lord, grant Thy grace to all those here gathered who have labored and studied hour upon hour, to go into all the world, and also to heal by the talent Thou hast given to each of them. Strengthen them, by Thy strength, to fear no evil or disease. Enlighten them to do no evil by the works of their hands, and preserve them and those they serve in peace, for Thou art our God, and we know no other, and to Thee we ascribe glory together with Thy Father who is from everlasting, and Thy most Holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
(source)
   
Another Orthodox Prayer for Physicians and Healthcare Workers
O Master, Lord our God, the Hope of all the ends of the earth, the Physician of our souls and bodies, hearken unto our entreaties on this auspicious day and hour, and to the pious love and godly fear of Your servants, as a witness to the truth of our faith, for help to all those who entreat Your mercy, and for therapy and complete healing of those who are suffering. Be the fellow worker of the physicians and surgeons, of the nurses and of all those who serve and work in service to the sick, and direct their minds and their hands towards the healing and consolation of our ailing and suffering brethren. Enlighten the physicians with perfect diagnosis, grant successful surgery and the nursing treatment of their diseases and illnesses, that, having been fully healed, Your suffering servants might in health, glorify You, together with their families and relatives, glorifying Your all-honored and magnificent Name, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, through the intercessions of our all-spotless Lady Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary, our Father among the Saints Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol, the Physician, of the Holy wonderworking Unmercenaries Kosmas and Damian, Panteleimon the Great-martyr, and all of Your Saints. Amen.
   
(Note: This prayer was translated and altered from the Greek source here)
 
Please also note that there is a lovely new publication of the brief life of St. Luke, his akathist, and the prayer to him for the sick, by St. Paisios Monastery.
 
Painting depicting St. Luke of Simferopol making rounds with both his medical robe, and his Panagia (source)
 
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Uncovering of the Relics of St. Mardarije of Libertyville

The Uncovering of the Relics of St. Mardarije of Libertyville (source)
  
On Thursday, May 4, 2017, His Grace Bishop Longin served Divine Liturgy at St. Sava Monastery with Sindjel Serafim (Milojkovic), Priest Nikolaj Kostur and Hierodeacon Nektarije (Tesanovic), in preparation for uncovering the relics. Following the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Longin and the other clergy served a Moleban with the Akathist written to St. Mardarije. Upon completion, the crew organized to remove the tombstone and flooring in order to exhume the relics arrived, under the guidance of Mr. Dusan Djordjevic of Sveta Gora Funeral Home in Chicago. After removal of the stone, it was revealed that the casket of St. Mardarije was in a cement vault. This caused the opening to be delayed one additional day in order to organize a team to open the vault.
  
On Friday morning, May 5, 2017, the workers broke the seal of the vault, while Priest Nikolaj Kostur and Heirodeacon Nektarije (Tesanovic) served a Moleban to St. Mardarije at the tomb in the presence of Bishop Longin and Hieromonk Serafim (Milojkovic). Throughout the entire process of exhumation, “Christ is Risen” and other Paschal hymns were sung, both in Serbian and Russian tones, knowing St. Mardarije’s deep love and dedication to both Slavic traditions.
  
Once the seal of the vault was broken, every effort was taken to lift the cover. During this process, the cover of the vault shifted and fell on the casket, breaking its cover. At this moment, a sweet smelling fragrance arose from the tomb, quickly dissipating. However, it became evident that the Saint was buried facing the west instead of east. This in and of itself is miraculous. It manifested the Providence of God. Had St. Mardarije been buried in the proper direction, the vault cover would have fallen on the side of the casket where his holy head rested. It was visible that his feet had decayed and were bones.
  
Frs. Serafim and Nikolaj lifted the relics out of the tomb during the singing of “Christ is Risen.” The relics were light in weight and easily placed in a temporary metal coffin. Hereupon the feet were examined, which at this point were the only visible part of the remains. The bones of the feet were goldish-yellow in color. Then, Fr. Nikolaj Kostur proceeded to examine the mid-section of the body. St. Mardarije's Holy hands were holding the cross which was firmly in place and immovable. As Fr. Nikolaj pulled back the sleeve of the saccos, it was revealed that the hands of St. Mardarije were completely intact. Clearly visible were his skin, fingernails and hair. At this point, it was evident that the relics were more than just bones.
  
The incorrupt relics of St. Mardarije of Libertyville (source)
  
The holy relics of St. Mardarije were lifted out of the metal coffin and placed on two tables which were prepared for the examination and washing of the holy relics.  All of the vestments and clothing were carefully removed, cutting that which could not easily be taken off in order to not disturb the holy relics.   Most reverent and diligent care and utmost attention were given to the work that was being done; the clergy continuously sang the troparion to St. Mardarije and other Paschal hymns.
After all the vestments were removed, it was revealed that the holy relics, from the knee upward, were intact, although very fragile.  The Saint’s anatomy was intact with his skin and hair visible.  When the mitre was removed, his long, dark hair flowed out, confirming his continued monastic struggle until the end of his days.  The hair on his head and beard looked as though he had just reposed; it was very soft.  The eyebrows and eyelashes of his closed eyes were visible.  Also, his ears were still intact.  The body was easily lifted and moved.  There was a great deal of dust which had accumulated in the grave from the nearly eighty-two years since the burial. Upon the removal of the dust from the entire body, the holy relics were washed with warm water and white wine. Hereupon spikenard oil was was used to anoint the body, according to the instructions received from the Holy Monastery of Hilandar. After the anoninting, the color of the skin changed from tan to a dark brown.
After the washing and anointing, the legs, hands and torso were all wrapped in cotton and linen, making the holy relics more easily movable.  Following this process, the holy relics were temporarily vested in a stiharion until his vesting takes place before his Glorification in July 2017.  His face was covered with linen, and he was returned to the temporary metal coffin and covered. 
  
Truly, God is wondrous in His Saints, showing us all His Divine power and that nature is subject to God’s grace.  All of those that partook in this experience, from the clergy to the workers, were moved with the joy and spiritual peace that filled the church during the uncovering of the holy relics.  St. Mardarije lives on, not only in his legacy, but now through his incorrupt relics which will be a renewed rudder for the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, guiding us to move into the future, being directed by the past.  May we follow St. Mardarije on the path of St. Sava, which lead him to sanctity.
  
Our Holy Hierarch, Father Mardarije, pray unto God for us!  Christ is risen!
Priest Nikolaj Kostur
Chairman of the Liturgical Sub-Committee for the Glorification of St. Mardarije
  
Please note that a Pan-Orthodox celebration St. Mardarije of Libertyville is being planned for July 14-16th, 2017 at St. Savas Monastery. (source)
  
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

St. Sophia of Kleisoura (+1974): "Don't say many words..."

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. Sophia of Kleisoura (+1974) (source)
   
"Don't say many words, may they be few and blessed. Love God, and your heart will shine like the sun."
-St. Sophia of Kleisoura

(source)

Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

St. Nikolai Velimirovic: "What does it mean: to take up your cross?"

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Icons of Christ's Passion and Resurrection (source)
   
...What does it mean: to take up your cross? It means the willing acceptance, at the hand of Providence, of every means of healing, bitter though it may be, that is offered.

Do great catastrophes fall on you? Be obedient to God's will, as Noah was.

Is sacrifice demanded of you? Give yourself into God's hands with the same faith as Abram had when he went to sacrifice his son.

Is your property ruined? Do your children die suddenly? Suffer it all with patience, cleaving to God in your heart, as Job did.

Do your friends forsake you, and you find yourself surrounded by enemies? Bear it all without grumbling, and with faith that God's help is at hand, as the apostles did.

Are you condemned to death for Christ? Be thankful to God for such an honor, like thousands of Christian martyrs. Nothing will be sought of you that has not been done before, but you will rather follow the example of many - apostles, saints, confessors and martyrs - who have done Christ's will. We must know, furthermore, that in seeking our crucifixion, The Lord is seeking the crucifixion of the old man, the man made up of evil habits and the service of sin. For, by this crucifixion, the old, animal-like man in us is put to death, and the new man, made in God's image and immortal, is raised to life.
-St. Nikolai Velimirovic: "The Holy Cross",
 
(source)
 
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Invisibly you shine upon those who call upon you..."

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
  
Invisibly you shine upon those who call upon you, and you appear to them while awake and by sleep, granting your grace. Therefore [the world] has been filled with your wonders, O wise one, and it magnifies the Lord.
-from the Orthros Canon to St. Ephraim

(source)
  
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

St. Matrona of Moscow healing family troubles

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. Matrona of Moscow the Wonderworker (source)
 
Evgenia’s parents were communists, sincerely believing in the “bright Communist future,” and her family had a rule: never to be satisfied with what has been achieved, but to always push forward. Evgenia studied for many years, first at the Moscow Aviation Institute, and then at the Institute of Radiotechnology and Electronics. After graduating, she worked as an engineer on secret state projects. She ended her career with forty years of work experience, and was honored as a veteran of labour. She had always been an atheist and was completely self-reliant. Her own strength and abilities seemed boundless. When she was still young, she had done all she wanted, except having children. But that too, she accomplished. Her son Oleg was born when she was 36. She raised him alone, without a husband, but with her blind love she turned her dear boy into a heartless, selfish man.

Now she was retired, but her son was like a stranger to her. He married suddenly and brought his wife, Tatiana, home and things went from bad to worse. About to graduate from college, Oleg unexpectedly stopped his studies, and neither of the young people worked. They just lived in the flat eating and drinking whatever the mother gave them, with barely a word to her. She seemed to live in a silent sepulcher, but no, not even that: how could one call it silent with music thundering from their room from morning until night. Once, when her son was away, she argued with his wife, “I won’t have you here, I’ll drive you out! You are idle yourself and you allow him to sponge on his mother who is a pensioner. He doesn’t even study.” Tatiana replied rudely: “I’m not living with you, but with my husband. It was you who brought him up like this.” They hurled abuse and curses at each other, and that night her son said, “If you scold Tanya again, know that you no longer have a son.” Evgenia was bitter.

A friend suggested that she visit Blessed Matrona’s grave. For a very long time she didn’t go, but  finally, in desperation, she set out. It took half a day to get there: at first she was on the wrong tram, and when she found the right one, it broke down. At the cemetery, people showed her the path to Matrona, but she followed it to the end without finding the grave. A second path led to another dead end, and she wondered if Blessed Matrona wasn’t allowing her to come to her grave: she knew she wasn’t properly dressed – she was wearing pants, lipstick, her fingernails were brightly painted, and she wasn’t wearing a cross. But when she finally approached the grave, she felt enfolded in an otherworldly warmth. She was drawn to the grave as if by a magnet. There was a lump in her throat; tears stood in her eyes… And then, as if she knew all about her, the woman who cared for the grave gave her a little cross saying: “Wear it. Never take it off.” Evgenia went home as if on wings.

But at home things did not improve; they became even worse. Finally, she went to Blessed Matrona’s grave again, simply because she had nowhere else to go and begged with tears: “Matronushka, pray for me, ask God to change something, it cannot stay as it is!” When she returned home, she found a lab report on her son’s desk, confirming that her daughter-in-law was pregnant. She thought bitterly, “There have been two parasites living off me and now there will be a third, their child!”

A few days passed, and one afternoon, to her great surprise, the young people cooked dinner and, for the first time, invited her to eat with them. They said: “We have lived for such a long time at your expense, please forgive us and be patient for just a little longer.” They told her about the baby, and that her son had re-entered his college, passed the graduation exams, and only needed to write his final paper. After this he would find a job. “Forgive us, we do love you and we are grateful for your endurance and patience with us.”

Oleg found a job and Tanya gave birth to a healthy boy. The young family went to live with Tanya’s relatives, but Oleg called his mother each evening after work to ask how she was and if she needed anything. Every Sunday they gathered at Evgenia’s flat for dinner.

And so life went on. Only one thing was lacking: Oleg wanted to enter the university for post-graduate training, but after three years of being out of school, he was no longer able to pass the highly competitive entrance exams. Again Evgenia went to Blessed Matrona begging her to pray that God would help. Oleg passed the exams and entered the university, as Evgenia believes, through the prayers of Blessed Matrona.
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

St. Gregory the Theologian: "Let us become like Christ..."

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Resurrection of Christ (source)
  
Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God’s for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich; (2 Corinthians 8:9) He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours.
-St. Gregory the Theologian, Paschal Homily

Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!

Truly the Lord is risen!