My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,


The Second Sunday of the Holy and Great Lent: Saint GREGORY
PALAMAS, Archbishop of Thessaloniki.

The Holy Father, who was from Asia Minor, was from his childhood and reared in the royal court of Constantinople, where he was instructed in both religious ad secular wisdom. Later, while still a youth, he left the imperial court and struggled in asceticism on Mount Athos, and in the Skete at Veroia. He spent some time in Thessaloniki being treated for an illness that came from his harsh manner of life. He was present in Constantinople at the Synod that was convened in 1341 against Varlaam of Calabria, and at the Synod of 1347 against Acindynos, who was of like mind with Varlaam; Varlaam and Acindinos claimed that the grace of God is created. At both these Synods, the Saint contended courageously for the True Dogma of the Church of Christ, teaching in particular THAT DIVINE GRACE IS NOT CREATED, BUT IS THE UNCREATED ENERGIES OF GOD WHICH ARE POORED FORTH THROUGHOUT CREATION: OTHERWISE, IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE, IF GRACE WERE CREATED, FOR MAN TO HAVE GENUINE COMMUNION WITH THE UNCREATED GOD. In 1347 he was appointed Metropolitan of Thessaloniki. He tended his flock in an Apostolic manner for some twelve years and wrote many books and treatises on the most exalted Doctrines of our Orthodox Faith; and having lived for a total of sixty-three years, he reposed in the Lord in 1359. His holy relics are kept in the Cathedral of Thessaloniki. A full service was composed for his feast day by the Patriarch Philotheos in 1368 when it was established that his feast is celebrated on this day. Since works without right faith avail nothing, we set Orthodoxy of faith as the foundation of all that we accomplish during the Great Fast. Saint Gregory’s victory over Varlaam and Acindynos and THE OTHER HERETICS OF HIS TIME IS SEEN AS A RENEWED TRIUMPH OF ORTHODOXY. In the earlier period, there was on this day a commemoration of the Great Martyr Polykarpos of Smyrna (155 A.D.), whose feast was transferred from the fixed calendar (23 February). The commemoration, like that of Saint Theodore, underlined the connection BETWEEN LENTEN ASCETICISM AND THE MARTYR’S VOCATION. The Second Sunday also takes up the theme of the Prodigal Son AS A MODEL OF REPENTANCE, with the first of the two Cannons at Orthros (Matins) being devoted to this Parable. We set Orthodoxy of faith as the FOUNDATION OF ALL THAT WE ACCOMPLISH DURING THE GAST, BY CELEBRATING THE TRIUMPH OF ORTHODOXY THE SUNDAY BEFORE, AND THE GREAT DEFENDER OF THE TEACHINGS OF THE HOLY FATHERS ON THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT.

We cannot look at Saint Gregory Palamas apart from the hesychastic tradition of the Holy Mountain. The Holy Mountain is the home of virtue, as the place where the Evangelic life is lived and expressed, which is the essence of our Holy Tradition. It is a holy place where one discovers stillness (hesychia) and quietude. Ascetics, monks and nuns, hermits, and stylites. and countless Saints practiced stillness. Saint Gregory Palamas, truly a guiding light and a messenger of grace, as a teacher and defender of hesychasm, reminds all of us how to pay closer attention by drawing upon words spoken to our ancient ancestors: “Be still,” God told Cain (Genesis 4:7). The Lord God commanded Cain to still HIS HEART (“be still”) THROUGH REPENTANCE, for it was filled with turbulence because of the PASSIONS. Through prayerful stillness of the heart, we become more attentive to God’s word.

HESYCHIA, stillness, is essential for man’s purification and perfection, which means his salvation. Saint Gregory taught that “one must be still in order to have a clear conversation with God and to bring the nous a little away from those wandering in error.” Through hesychia (stillness) a person purifies his heart and nous from passions and thus attains COMMUNION and UNION with God. This communion with God, precisely because it is man’s union with God, also constitutes MAN’S SALVATION.

HESYCHIA is nothing other than “keeping one’s heart away from giving and taking and pleasing people, and the other activities. When a person frees his heart from thoughts (logismoi) and passions, when all the powers of his soul are transformed and turned away from earthly things and towards God, then he is experiencing true stillness (hesychia). Saint John of the Ladder writes that stillness of soul is “THE ACCURATE KNOWLEDGE OF ONE’S THOUGHTS AND IS AN UNASSAILABLE MIND.” Therefore hesychia IS AN INNER STATE; IT IS “DWELLING IN GOD.”

The Holy Fathers of the Church distinguish between EXTERNAL and INTERNAL stillness. External stillness is the liberation of the senses and the body from SIGHTS, particularly from the bondage that the world imposes, while INNER STILLNESS is the liberation of the heart FROM IMAGES, FANTASIES, AND WORRIES. HESYCHIA of the soul implies that the nous is able not to accept any temptations to stray. Thus a person acquires peace in his heart, and there God Himself IS REVEALED.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone

LIGHT of Orthodoxy, pillar and teacher of the Church, adornment of
monastics, invincible champion of theologians. O Gregory thou
wonderworker, boast of Thessaloniki, herald of grace: ever pray that
our souls be saved.

Kontakion Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone

With one accord, we praise thee as the sacred and divine vessel of
wisdom and clear trumpet of theology, O our righteous Father
Gregory of divine speech. As a mind that standeth now before the
Primal Mind, do thou ever guide aright and lead our mind to Him,
that we all may cry: Rejoice, O herald of grace Divine.

[Sources: The Great Horologion and Saint Gregory Palamas as a Hagiorite]


“Glory Be To GOD
All Things!”

– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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