Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
Christ is in our midst! He was and is and ever shall be. Ο Χριστός έν τώ μέσω ημών. Και ήν και έστι και έσται..
HYMNS OF THE HOLY FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn
Today marks the crowning of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery before all ages. For the Son of God becomes the son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaims the grace. Wherefore, we also cry out with him, "Hail, O full of grace, the Lord is with you."
Kontakion (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)
To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: "Hail, unwedded bride!"
ON THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR EXCEEDINGLY PURE LADY, MOTHER OF GOD AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY
by Saint Gregory Palamas
The event which we celebrate today clearly proves that this mystery is beyond the understanding not only of men but of Angels and even Archangels. The Archangel brought the Good Tidings to the Virgin that she would conceive (St. Luke 1:26-38). But when she sought to find out the way it would happen and ask him, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man" (St. Luke 1:34), the Archangel was completely unable to explain how. He took refuge in God, saying, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee" (St. Luke 1:35). He went on to mention that Elizabeth, who was barren, had conceived in her old age, and all he could say was that with God nothing was impossible (St. Luke 1:35-37). So how could he explain how she was to conceive and bear a child in virginity?
Nevertheless, the Archangel's words to the Virgin did contain something more, a reference to a greater mystery. "The Holy Spirit", he said, "shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee" (St. Luke 1:35). Why was this? Because the child to be born was not to be called a prophet or simply a man, like Adam, but the Son of the Highest, Savior, Deliverer of the human race and Eternal King.
God Who made us looked lovingly down on us in His mercy. He bowed the heavens and came down. Having taken our nature upon Him from the Holy Virgin, He renewed and restored it. Or rather, He led it up to divine and heavenly heights. Wishing to achieve this, to bring to fulfillment on this day His pre-Eternal Counsel, He sent the Archangel Gabriel, as Saint Luke the Evangelist tell us, "to Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary" (St. Luke 1:26-27).
God sent the Archangel to a virgin and made her, who continued a virgin, His mother by means of a salutation alone. If He had been conceived from seed, He would not have been a new man, nor sinless, nor the Savior of sinners. So if the conception of God had been from seed, He would not have been a new man, nor the Author of new life which will never grow old. If He were from the old stock and inherited its sin, He would not have been able to bear within Himself the fullness of the incorruptible Godhead or to make His flesh an inexhaustible source of sanctification, able to wash away even the defilement of our First Parents by its abundant power, and sufficient to sanctify all who came after them. That is why neither an Angel nor a man came to save us, but the Lord Himself, who was conceived and took flesh in the womb of a virgin, while remaining unchanged as God.
"And the virgin's name", it says, "was Mary" (St. Luke 1:27), which means "Lady". This shows the Virgin's dignity, how certain was her virginity and set apart was her life, exact in every respect and completely blameless. She properly bores the name of Virgin, and possessed to the full all the attributes of purity. She was a virgin in both body and soul, and kept all the powers of her soul and her bodily senses far above any defilement. This she did authoritatively, steadfastly, decisively and altogether inviolably at all times, as a closed gate preserves the treasures within, and a sealed book keeps hidden from sight what is written inside. The Scriptures say of her, "This is the sealed book" (cf. Rev. 5:1-6:1, Dan. 12:4) and "this gate shall be shut, and no man shall enter in by it" (Ezek. 44:2).
When the Virgin saw the Archangel she was afraid lest he be a deceitful messenger beguiling unwary women like Eve, and she did not accept his greeting unquestioningly. As she did not yet clearly perceive the bond with God which the Archangel was announcing to her, "she was troubled", it says, "at his saying". She was utterly determined to hold fast to her virginity, "and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be" (St. Luke 1:29). So the Archangel dispelled the godly fear of the Virgin full of grace by telling her, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God" (St. Luke 1:30). What favour? "That grace which is only possible for Him Who can do the impossible, and which has been in thy womb" (St. Luke 1:31). "When you hear about conception", he told her, "do not suppose that there will be any deviation from virginity. You must not be anxious or troubled on that account". For these words, "Behold, thou shalt conceive", spoken to her who is a virgin, show that the conception is to accompany virginity.
"Behold, thou shalt conceive", he said, "and bring forth a son" (St. Luke 1:31). Continuing as you are now with your virginity inviolate, you shall conceive a child and bear a son of the Highest. Isaiah foresaw this many years before the prophesied, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son" (Isaiah 7:14), and "I went unto the prophetess" (Isaiah 8:3). In what way did the prophet go to the prophetess? In the same way as the Archangel now came to her. What the Archangel now saw, the prophet foresaw and foretold. That the Virgin was a prophetess with the gift of prophecy, is proved to all by her hymn to God in the Gospel (St. Luke 1:46-55).
As soon as the highly favored Virgin heard those extraordinary divine words addressed to her by the Archangel, "The Lord is with thee" (St. Luke 1:28), and, "Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bring forth a son, the Son of the Highest Who shall reign forever" (St. Luke 1:31-33), she replied, "How shall this be unto me, seeing I know not a man?" (St. Luke 1:34). "Although you bring spiritual tidings far above the passions of the flesh, you speak to me of conception in the womb, being with Christ and childbirth, and you emphasize the mention of conception by adding the word "Behold." "How shall this be unto me", she said, "seeing I know not a man?"
The Virgin did not say this because she disbelieved, but because she wanted to find out as much as possible about the matter. Therefore the Archangels told her, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee be called the Son of God" (St. Luke 1:35). "You are holy", he says, "and full of grace, O Virgin." However, the Holy Spirit shall again come upon you, preparing and completing the work of God within you by the bestowal of a higher sanctification. The power of the Highest shall overshadow you, to strengthen you, and by overshadowing you and uniting you with itself, shall form the humanity of the one to be born of you, that He may be holy, the Son of God and the power of the Highest in the shape of a man.
How did the highly favoured Virgin, with her unrivalled and holy understanding, respond to these words? She ran to God and reached out to Him in prayer, saying to the Archangel, "If, as you tell me, the Holy Spirit shall come upon me, purifying my nature still further and strengthening me to receive the unborn Savior, if the power of the Highest shall overshadow me, forming Him Who is in the form of God as man within me and bringing about a birth without seed; if the Holy Child which shall be born is to be the Son of God and God and the Everlasting King, since with God nothing is impossible", "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" (St. Luke 1:38). And the Angel departed from her, leaving the Maker of all united with a body within her womb. By means of this union, which was the object of his ministry, he had procured salvation for the world.
Surely it is obvious to anyone that the Virgin Mother is both the burning bush and the tongs, She conceived the divine fire within her and was not burnt, and an Archangel ministered at the conception, and though her the Bearer of the sins of the world was united with the human race, purifying us thoroughly by means of this indescribable bond. The Virgin Mother, and she alone, is the frontier between created and uncreated nature. All who know God will recognize her as the one who contained Him Who cannot be contained. All who sing hymns to God will praise her next after Him. She is the cause of the benefits which preceded her, the protectress of those which came after, and through her those good things which are eternal shall be received. She is the theme of the prophets, the first of the Apostles, the support of the martyrs, the dais of the teachers. She is the glory of those on earth, the delight of those in heaven, the adornment of the whole creation. She is the beginning, fount and root of the hope stored up for us in heaven.
To which may we all attain by her prayers for us, to the glory of Him Who was begotten of the Father before all ages, and, in these last times, became incarnate of her, even Jesus Christ our Lord. To Whom belongs all glory, honor and worship, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
GREEK WAR OF INDEPENDENCE OF 1821
400 YEARS OF SLAVERY
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution (Greek: Ελληνική Επανάσταση) was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between 1821 and 1832, with later assistance from several European powers, Russia, United Kingdom and France against the Ottoman Empire, who were assisted by their vassals, the Eyalet of Egypt and partly the Vilayet of Tunisia.
Following the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, most of Greece came under Ottoman Turkish rule. During this time, there were frequent revolts by Greeks attempting to gain independence. In 1814, a secret organization called the Filiki Eteria was founded with the aim of liberating Greece from the Turks. The Filiki Eteria planned to launch revolts in the Peloponnese, the Danubian Principalities and Constantinople. The first of the revolts began on March 6th 1821 in the Danubian Principalities, but it was soon put down by the Ottomans.
The Peloponnese, with its long tradition of resistance to the Ottoman Turks, was to become the heartland of the revolt. In the early months of 1821, with the absence of the Ottoman governor of the Moread and many of his troops, the situation was favourable for the Hellenes to rise against the Turks. As news came of Ypsilantis' march into the Danubian Principalities, the atmosphere in the Peloponnese was tense, and by mid-March, sporadic incidents against Muslims occurred, heralding the start of the uprising. According to history, the Revolution was declared on 25th March 1821 by Metropolitan Germanos who raised the banner with the cross in the Monastery of Aghia Lavra.
The Ottoman Turks took over the Peloponnese once again by 1827. However, a combination Russian, French and British fleet destroyed the Turko-Egyptian fleet in the Bay of Navarino in October 1827. When Sultan Mahmud II defied the odds by proclaiming a holy war, Russia sent troops into the Balkans and engaged in another Russo-Turkish war with the Ottomans. With Russian troops at the gates of Constantinople in 1829, the sultan finally accepted Greek Independence by the Treaty of Adrianople. The Protocol of London formally recognized Greek Independence in 1830. Greece endured many more struggles until 1947, when her current borders were achieved.
The mountains look on Marathon -
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dream'd that Greece might yet be free
For, standing on the Persians' grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.
Must we but weep o'er days more blest?
Must we but blush? - Our fathers bled
Earth! render back from out thy breast
A remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but thee,
To make a new Thermopylae.
Byron, The Isles of Greece
'Ως πότε παλικάρια, να ζούμε στά στενά,
μονάχοι σά λεοντάρια, σταίς ράχαις στά βουνά;
Σπηλιαίς να κατοικούμε, να βλέπωμεν κλαδιά,
να φεύγωμ΄ απ΄ τον κόσμον, γιά την πικρή σκλαβιά;
Νά χάνωμεν αδέλφια, πατρίδα και γονείς,
τούς φίλους, τα παιδιά μας, κι όλους τούσ συγγενείς;
Καλλιώναι μίας ώρας ελεύθερη ζωή,
παρά σαράντα χρόνια, σκλαβιά και φυλακή.
ΖΗΤΩ Η ΕΛΛΑΣ! ΖΗΤΩ ΤΟ ΕΘΝΟΣ!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God