The All Consuming Love of God

Everyone will spend eternity in God’s presence According to Saint Gregory of Nyssa, heaven and hell are not about location, but about relationship. God is everywhere, and He did not create a heaven for some, and a hell for others. If we love God, His fire will be a comforting warmth, but if we choose not to have a relationship with Him, His fire will be as hell fire. We choose how we will experience the presence of God in the afterlife, and since God can not be absent from anywhere, those who have chosen to ignore Him, will, nevertheless, be in His presence for all of eternity. Saint Gregory, tells us that Paradise and Hell do not exist from God’s point of view, but from man’s point of view. It is all about man’s choice and condition. According to him, heaven and hell are not two different locations. They are simply two different experiences of the same place. Everyone will spend eternity in God’s presence, but how we experience the Divine Presence will depend upon the condition of our soul. Those who have been transformed by the action and work of the Holy Spirit, will experience God as light and bliss. Those who have rejected God’s love will experience it as pain and suffering. For the unbeliever and the unrepentant, their sins will not allow them to enjoy the Presence of God. Upon Christ’s Second Coming, everyone who has ever lived will see Him in His uncreated light, forever. For “those who worked good deeds in their lifetime will go towards the resurrection of life, while those who worked evil in their lifetime will go towards the resurrection of judgment (John.5:29)”. All will be separated at the moment of the final judgement, with the good experiencing paradise as exceedingly good, and radiant, while those who have rejected His love, and whose lives ended without repentance, will look upon Christ as hell, the “all-consuming fire” spoken of in Hebrews 12:29. It is from Christ’s Second Coming that the river of fire will flow forth. For the saints this river of fire will be a golden light, encompassing them as an eternal joy. Whereas, for the demons and the unrepentant, it will be as a burning hell fire. For this is the very reason we read in Luke 2:34, that Christ is “as the fall and the resurrection of many”. “Paradise and hell are not two different places.  (This version is an idolatrous concept.) They signify two different situations (ways), which originate from the same uncreated source, and are perceived by man as two, different experiences (Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlochos).” For those who reject the healing that has been offered, Christ will be their hell, their separation from the eternal bliss.  For the saints, Christ will be their resurrection into eternal life. This is why Saint John of the Ladder wrote that the uncreated light of Christ is “an all-consuming fire and an illuminating light”. This is why we say heaven and hell are not about location, they are about relationship. Heaven and Hell are within the same realm, which is in the presence of God. “When in the furnace of the blazing flame, Thy holy and faithful Youths proved to be as in a cool, refreshing dew, then did they mystically portray from before that Thou wast to come from a Virgin whom Thy brightness would not burn. As for Thy coming the second time in Thy dread glory as our God, the wondrous Prophet and righteous man, great Daniel, clearly hath foretold, when he cried out and said: I beheld until the thrones were set in place, and the Judge sat for judgment; and then rushed forth the river of that fire, from the which may we be saved by their entreaties, O our Master Christ” (to the melody “Paradise of Eden”) Love in Christ, Abbot Tryphon

Greatmartyr and Healer Panteleimon

PanteleimonThe Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon was born in the city of Nicomedia into the family of the illustrious pagan Eustorgius, and he was named Pantoleon. His mother St Euboula (March 30) was a Christian. She wanted to raise her son in the Christian Faith, but she died when the future martyr was just a young child. His father sent Pantoleon to a pagan school, after which the young man studied medicine at Nicomedia under the renowned physician Euphrosynus. Pantoleon came to the attention of the emperor Maximian (284-305), who wished to appoint him as royal physician when he finished his schooling. The hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates, survivors of the massacre of 20,000 Christians in 303 (December 28), were living secretly in Nicomedia at that time. St Hermolaus saw Pantoleon time and again when he came to the house where they were hiding. Once, the priest invited the youth to the house and spoke about the Christian Faith. After this Pantoleon visited St Hermolaus every day. One day the saint found a dead child on the street. He had been bitten by a great snake, which was still beside the child’s body. Pantoleon began to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ to revive the dead child and to destroy the venomous reptile. He firmly resolved that if his prayer were fulfilled, he would become a follower of Christ and receive Baptism. The child rose up alive, and the snake died before Pantoleon’s eyes. After this miracle, Pantoleon was baptized by St Hermolaus with the name Panteleimon (meaning “all-merciful”). Speaking with Eustorgius, St Panteleimon prepared him to accept Christianity. When the father saw how his son healed a blind man by invoking Jesus Christ, he then believed in Christ and was baptized by St Hermolaus together with the man whose sight was restored. After the death of his father, St Panteleimon dedicated his life to the suffering, the sick, the unfortunate and the needy. He treated all those who turned to him without charge, healing them in the name of Jesus Christ. He visited those held captive in prison. These were usually Christians, and he healed them of their wounds. In a short time, reports of the charitable physician spread throughout the city. Forsaking the other doctors, the inhabitants began to turn only to St Panteleimon. The envious doctors told the emperor that St Panteleimon was healing Christian prisoners. Maximian urged the saint to refute the charge by offering sacrifice to idols. St Panteleimon confessed himself a Christian, and suggested that a sick person, for whom the doctors held out no hope, should be brought before the emperor. Then the doctors could invoke their gods, and Panteleimon would pray to his God to heal the man. A man paralyzed for many years was brought in, and pagan priests who knew the art of medicine invoked their gods without success. Then, before the very eyes of the emperor, the saint healed the paralytic by calling on the name of Jesus Christ. The ferocious Maximian executed the healed man, and gave St Panteleimon over to fierce torture. The Lord appeared to the saint and strengthened him before his sufferings. They suspended the Great Martyr Panteleimon from a tree and scraped him with iron hooks, burned him with fire and then stretched him on the rack, threw him into a cauldron of boiling tar, and cast him into the sea with a stone around his neck. Throughout these tortures the martyr remained unhurt, and denounced the emperor. At this time the priests Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates were brought before the court of the pagans. All three confessed their faith in the Savior and were beheaded (July 26). By order of the emperor they brought the Great Martyr Panteleimon to the circus to be devoured by wild beasts. The animals, however, came up to him and licked his feet. The spectators began to shout, “Great is the God of the Christians!” The enraged Maximian ordered the soldiers to stab with the sword anyone who glorified Christ, and to cut off the head of the Great Martyr Panteleimon. They led the saint to the place of execution and tied him to an olive tree. While the martyr prayed, one of the soldiers struck him with a sword, but the sword became soft like wax and inflicted no wound. The saint completed his prayer, and a Voice was heard from Heaven, calling the passion-bearer by his new name and summoning him to the heavenly Kingdom. Hearing the Voice, the soldiers fell down on their knees before the holy martyr and begged forgiveness. They refused to continue with the execution, but St Panteleimon told them to fulfill the emperor’s command, because otherwise they would have no share with him in the future life. The soldiers tearfully took their leave of the saint with a kiss. When the saint was beheaded, the olive tree to which the saint was tied became covered with fruit. Many who were present at the execution believed in Christ. The saint’s body was thrown into a fire, but remained unharmed, and was buried by Christians . St Panteleimon’s servants Laurence, Bassos and Probus witnessed his execution and heard the Voice from Heaven. They recorded the life, the sufferings and death of the saint. Portions of the holy relics of the Great Martyr Panteleimon were distributed throughout all the Christian world. His venerable head is now located at the Russian monastery of St Panteleimon on Mt. Athos. The veneration of the holy martyr in the Russian Orthodox Church was already known in the twelfth century. Prince Izyaslav (in Baptism, Panteleimon), the son of St Mstislav the Great, had an image of St Panteleimon on his helmet. Through the intercession of the saint he remained alive during a battle in the year 1151. On the Feast of the Great Martyr Panteleimon, Russian forces won two naval victories over the Swedes (in 1714 near Hanhauze and in 1720 near Grenham). St Panteleimon is venerated in the Orthodox Church as a mighty saint, and the protector of soldiers. This aspect of his veneration is derived from his first name Pantoleon, which means “a lion in everything”. His second name, Panteleimon, given him at Baptism, which means “all-merciful”, is manifest in the veneration of the martyr as a healer. The connection between these two aspects of the saint is readily apparent in that soldiers, receiving wounds more frequently than others, are more in need of a physician-healer. Christians waging spiritual warfare also have recourse to this saint, asking him to heal their spiritual wounds. The holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon is invoked in the Mystery of Anointing the Sick, at the Blessing of Water, and in the Prayers for the Sick. The Feast of the holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon is the patronal Feast of the Russian monastery on Athos. The forefeast starts eight days before the Feast. Each day after Vespers, Moliebens are sung with Canons in each of the eight tones. Thus, each day has its own particular Canon. The second day of the Feast is the monastery feastday. On this day a general Panikhida is served after Vespers in memory of the founders and benefactors of the monastery, and kollyva (kutia: wheat or rice boiled with honey) is blessed and distributed. The verses of the Ninth Ode of the Canon of the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon from the manuscript of the Athonite service are reprinted in the “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate” insert into lives values (0, 1975, No.3, pp. 45-47).

Schedule of Services and Events for the weeks of July 3 – July 24

Tuesday, July 5 8:30 AM – Hours Wednesday, July 6 7 PM – Catechism Class Thursday, July 7 8:30 AM – Akathist 4 PM to 7 PM – Monthly food sale Friday, July 8 9:30 AM – Old Testament Class 4 PM- 6 PM – OYMT drop off luggage Saturday, July 9 7:30 AM – OYMT Meet to leave to West Virginia Sunday, July 10 10 AM – Divine Liturgy with Fr. Sergei Bouteneff Sunday, July 17 10 AM – Divine Liturgy with Fr. Sergei Bouteneff Wednesday, July 20 9 AM – Divine Liturgy for Prophet Elias Thursday, July 21 9 AM – Trinity Golf Tourney Friday, July 22 9:30 AM – Old Testament Class Saturday, July 23 2 PM - Akathist to Icon of the Mother of God of the Inexhaustible Cup 4:30 PM – Meet for Family Outing to Bridgeport Bluefish Game Sunday July 24, 10 AM – Divine Liturgy Readers Schedule 7/10 – Nicholas Fong 7/17 – Paul Sulich 7/24 – Sandi Fong 7/31 – Paul Toaso  

Sunday of the Synaxis of the Carpatho-Rus Saints

Lights From the Carpathians

 The Holy Spirit provides every gift:  He inspires prophecy and perfects the priesthood; He grants wisdom to the illiterate, makes simple fishermen become wise theologians, and establishes perfect order in the assembly of the Church. Therefore, O Comforter, equal in nature and majesty with the Father and the Son,O Lord, glory to You!

- Vespers of Pentecost


Many modern advertisers promote their products by showing a before/after picture of a person who used their cleaning product, diet pills, etc.  The point of the commercial or ad is to show results, that is, proof that the product “works”.  The two Sundays after Pentecost are a meditation and a celebration of the impact of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men and women throughout history.  It is in the lives of holy men and women – the Saints – that we see the fruit of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the reason why He was sent:  for the sanctification and enlightenment of the faithful.  The first Sunday after Pentecost is known as the Sunday of All Saints in which we honor all the known and unknown holy men and women throughout history who were sanctified by the descent Holy Spirit.  The second Sunday after Pentecost is another Sunday of All Saints but more focused:  it honors the holy men and women of a certain nation or region such as All Saints of Russia, All Saints of Mount Athos.  In 2005, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of blessed memory established within our Diocese the commemoration of All Saints of Carpatho-Rus on the second Sunday after Pentecost.  The descent of the Holy Spirit has produced many fruits of holiness and virtue among the people of Carpatho-Russia, even within our own time until the present day.  Along with the holy men and women of more ancient times such as Sts. Cyril and Methodius and St. Moses Uhryn there many modern examples of the work of the Holy Spirit: St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre  was one of the original Greek Catholic priests to arrive in America to minister to the Carpatho-Russian immigrants in the late 19th century.  Finding rejection and ignorance from the Roman Catholic bishops, he embraced the Orthodox Faith in 1891 and began a ministry of freeing the Carpatho-Russians from the domination of Rome.  He suffered lies, slander and violence as he ministered in the steel and mining towns of the United States.  He presented himself to the Lord from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1909. St. Maxym Sandovich served as a missionary priest among the Carpatho-Russians after his ordination in 1911.  After less than a year of ministry, he was arrested by the Catholic Austro-Hungarian authorities spending two years in prison.  Released in 1914, he continued his priestly ministry only to be arrested again within a few months.  This time Father Maxym was dragged before a firing squad, his priestly cross ripped from around his neck and he received the crown of a martyr on August 6, 1914. St. Gorazd Pavlik  Bishop of the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia who worked tirelessly to build up the Orthodox Faith in that nation and among the Carpatho-Russians.  When the German Nazi governor Heydrich was assassinated in 1942 the assassins fled to the Orthodox Cathedral in Prague.  Attempting to end the violence, Bishop Gorazd went to the Nazis and offered himself in exchange for the safety of his priests and his people.  Bishop Gorazd was arrested, tortured and executed by a Nazi firing squad on September 4, 1942. St. Alexis Kabalyuk of Khust, Apostle of Carpatho-Russia  Missionary among the Carpatho-Russian Greek Catholics who desired to return to the Orthodox Faith eventually leading over 14,000 people into Orthodoxy.  For his efforts, the Hungarian authorities arrested Father Alexis and sentenced him to four a half years in prison.  When Tsar Nicholas II heard of the priest’s sufferings, he awarded him a gold pectoral cross for his confession of the Faith.  Upon his release at the end of World War I, Father Alexis helped to establish the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox church.  He presented himself to the Lord peacefully in 1947 and was glorified as a saint in 2001. St. Job Kundria of Ugolka  St. Job was a monk, abbot of the monastery in Mukachevo and later exiled by the Communist authorities to the remote village church in Malaya Ugolka.  Here in the village church, Father Job faithfully served for 23 years, becoming known as a starets or elder as people flocked to him for advice and guidance.  He was known to be clairvoyant and the worker of miracles.  He died peacefully in 1985 and was glorified as a saint in 2007

Holy Saints of Carpatho-Rus, pray to God for us!

Along with these saints who have been officially recognized by the Church, there are many individuals whose light from the Holy Spirit burned brightly in the Carpathians but who have not yet been numbered among the Saints: Other Righteous Lights Joachim Vakarov  This Carpatho-Russian peasant was arrested by the Hungarian authorities in 1904 when he and his fellow villagers of Iza returned to the Orthodox Faith.  Sentenced to fourteen months in prison his land, home and livestock were auctioned to pay fines.  After his release from prison, he and his family were destitute.  Joachim was arrested again and this time tortured to death.  Since no Orthodox priest could legally minister in Carpatho-Russia, the villagers conducted his funeral. Abbess Nina  Born with the name Juliana Prokop she embraced a life of prayer and fasting at a young age.  In 1914 she and her companions were arrested, taken out in the middle of winter, stripped, drenched with water and beaten.  She was arrested again in 1918 and this time beaten almost to the point of death, remaining unconscious for three days.   Despite the torture, Juliana refused to renounced Orthodoxy or her monastic life.  She later becoming the abbess and founder of the Convent of Lipcha and Abbess of the Convent of St. Nicholas in Mukachevo where she lies buried. Father Theophan Sabov  was the administrator of the Mukachovo-Presov Diocese, arrested by the Communists and executed by them in 1945. Father Vasily Pronin  A spiritual son of St. John Maximovitch while living in Serbia, he was a priest-monk who labored in various parishes in Carpatho-Rus.  Clairvoyant elder and Spiritual Father of the Convent of St. Nicholas in Mukachevo.  A highly educated and cultivated man who spoke 14 languages he was described as a pastor who “loved everyone, forgave everyone and warms the hearts of all with his spiritual father’s love.  He died peacefully in 1997, having predicted the day of his death.  He was buried in the cemetery at the Convent of St. Nicholas but his body has since been placed in a shrine inside the church where healings are said to occur.

 Righteous men and women of Carpatho Rus:   Vicnaja jemu pamjat!    Eternal memory!

 To this list of righteous men and women of Carpatho-Rus, can we hope and pray that one day the name of His Eminence, Metropolitan Orestes Chornock can be added?  Confessor of the Faith?  He suffered much in his return to Orthodoxy:  court cases, slander, lies, deprivation.  Apostle?  He led at least 30,000 people in their embrace of the Orthodox Faith.  May his memory be eternal!   Vicnaja jemu pamjat!

- Father Edward Pehanich