All posts by o_f


As Orthodox Christians we must carefully examine every aspect of our involvement in the world, its activities, holidays and festivals, to be certain whether or not these involvements are compatible with our Holy Orthodox Faith. For a while now everything in the outside world is reminding us that Halloween is near: at school our children are busy painting pumpkins, cutting and pasting bats, ghosts and witches and planning the ideal costume in which to go trick-or-treating.

Most of our schools, local community organizations and entertainment on television, radio and press will share in and capitalize upon the festival of Halloween. Many of us will participate in this festival by going to costume parties, or by taking our children trick-or-treating in our neighborhood after dark on October 31st. Most of us will take part in the Halloween festivities believing that it has no deeper meaning than fun and excitement for the children. Most of us do not know the historical background of the festival of Halloween and its customs.

The feast of Halloween began in pre-Christian times among the Celtic peoples of Britain, Ireland and Northern France. These pagan peoples believed that physical life was born from death. Therefore, they celebrated the beginning of the “new year” in the fall, on the eve of October 31st and into the day of November 1st, when, as they believed the season of cold, darkness, decay and death began. Instructed by their priests, the Druids, the people extinguished all hearth fires and lights and darkness prevailed.

According to pagan Celtic tradition, the souls of the dead had entered into the world of darkness, decay and death and made total communion with Samhain, the Lord of death, who could be appeased and cajoled by burnt offerings to allow the souls of the dead to return home for a festal visit on this day. The belief led to the ritual practice of wandering about in the dark dressed in costumes indicating witches, hobgoblins, fairies and demons. The living entered into fellowship and communion with the dead by this ritual act of imitation, through costume and the wandering about in the darkness. They also believed that the souls of the dead bore the affliction of great hunger on this festal visit. This belief brought about the practice of begging as another ritual imitation of the activities of the souls of the dead on their festal visit. The implication was that any souls of the dead and their imitators who are not appeased with “treats”, i.e. offerings, will provoke the wrath of Samhain, whose angels and servants could retaliate through a system of “tricks”, or curses.

In the strictly Orthodox early Celtic Church, the Holy Fathers tried to counteract this pagan new year festival by establishing the feast of All Saints on that same day (in the East, this feast is celebrated on another day). The night before the feast (on “All Hallows Eve”), a vigil service was held and a morning celebration of the Eucharist. This custom created the term Halloween. But the remaining pagan and therefore anti-Christian people reacted to the Church’s attempt to supplant their festival by increased fervor on this evening, so that the night before the Christian feast of All Saints became a night of sorcery, witchcraft and other occult practices, many of which involved desecration and mockery of Christian practices and beliefs. Costumes of skeletons, for example, developed as a mockery of the Church’s reverence for holy relics. Holy things were stolen and used in sacrilegious rituals. The practice of begging became a system of persecution of Christians who refused to take part in these festivities. And so the Church’s attempt to counteract this unholy festival failed. This is just a brief explanation of the history and meaning of the festival of Halloween. It is clear that we, as Orthodox Christians, cannot participate in this event at any level (even if we only label it as “fun”), and that our involvement in it is an idolatrous betrayal of our God and our Holy Faith. For if we imitate the dead by dressing up or wandering about in the dark, or by begging with them, then we have willfully sought fellowship with the dead, whose Lord is not a Celtic Samhain, but Satan, the evil one, who stands against God. Further, if we submit to the dialogue of “trick or treat,” our offering does not go to innocent children, but rather to Satan himself.

Let us remember our ancestors, the Holy Christian Martyrs of the early Church, as well as our Serbian New Martyrs, who refused, despite painful penalties and horrendous persecution, to worship, venerate or pay obeisance in any way to idols who are angels of Satan. The foundation of our Holy Church is built upon their very blood. In today’s world of spiritual apathy and listlessness, which are the roots of atheism and turning away from God, one is urged to disregard the spiritual roots and origins of secular practices when their outward forms seem ordinary, entertaining and harmless. The dogma of atheism underlies many of these practices, denying the existence of both God and Satan.

Our Holy Church, through Jesus Christ, teaches that God alone stands in judgment over everything we do and believe and that our actions are either for God or against God. No one can serve two masters. Therefore, let us not, as the pagan Celts did, put out our hearth fires and wander about in the dark imitating dead souls. Let us light vigil lamps in front of our Slava icons, and together with our families, ask God to grant us faith and courage to preserve as Orthodox Christians in these very difficult times, and to deliver us from the Evil One.

-St. Nikolaj (Velimirovic)

The right hand of Saint Spyridon travels to the U.S. from Kerkyra, Greece

Relic of many miracles to visit the U.S.A. for the first time.

In celebration of the 100th year anniversary of St. Spyridon Hellenic Orthodox Church in Palos Heights IL, the holy relic of the right hand of Saint Spyridon will be brought October 11th-15th, 2017.

Fr. Tilemahos of Saint Spyridon Hellenic Orthodox Church welcomes all the faithful to see and venerate the sacred right hand of their patron Saint Spyridon and receive His blessing.

Veneration of the holy relic will be available October 11th-15th, and it will be accompanied by the following Divine Services:

Wednesday, October 11th
Reception of the Relic and Vigil – 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 12th
Supplication in honor of Saint Spyridon – 11:00 a.m.
Vigil in honor of Saint Spyridon – 7:00 p.m.

Friday, October 13th
Supplication in honor of Saint Spyridon – 11:00 a.m.
Vigil in honor of Saint Spyridon – 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 14th
Orthros & Divine Liturgy – 8:00 a.m.
Great Vespers – 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 15th
Orthros & Hierarchical Divine Liturgy – 8:00 a.m.

For more information, please visit the parish website at or call (708) 385-2311.

The Beheading of the Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John


The memory of the righteous is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord’s witness is sufficient for thee, O forerunner. Thou wast truly shown to be more honorable than the prophets, in that thou wast counted worthy to baptize in the streams Him Whom thou didst proclaim. Wherefore, having suffered, rejoicing, for the truth, even unto those in hades thou didst proclaim God, Who had manifested Himself in the flesh, Who taketh away the sin of the world and granteth us great mercy.

Transfiguration 2017


Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God,
Who didst show Thy glory unto Thy disciples as far as they could bear it,
May Thine ever-existing light shine forth also upon us sinners,
Through the prayers of the Theotokos,
O Bestower of light, glory to Thee!



On the mountain wast Thou transfigured, and Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they could bear it, O Christ God;
That when they would see Thee crucified,
They would comprehend that Thy suffering was voluntary,
And proclaim to the world that Thou art of a truth the Effulgence of the Father.


-Photos may only be used with permission.


Annual College Retreat in the Midwest Diocese

The day after Saint Elijah the retreat for college and graduate students started with registration at 2:30 PM.
The first gathering of all the participants was at Vespers in the monastery of the most holy mother of God in third Lake Illinois – New Gracanica.
After dinner and before the first presentation and even the official icebreaker and introduction, everyone had a chance to really get to know each other through the service project at the Monastery itself, much to be done around the property and thanks to these young people much was accomplished in the time they were there.
Before bed we were privileged to have Fr. Mile Subotic come and speak on “Faith and Academics” as well as the participation in the Orthotist Christian Fellowship on campus.

On Friday morning after breakfast, lesson and prayers to the mother of God, everyone went to a ballroom dancing studio for dance lessons. At the end of the session some of our participants showed their instructors the dances we are used to. Everyone had a lot of fun.

In the early evening of the same day, the group visited St Sava monastery and venerated the relics of Saint Mardarije.
For dinner all went to a Chinese restaurant to enjoy Lenten foods with our own Bishop, who spent nearly 2 hours with the students in all kind of discussions – from our faith, to politics, to history, to back to our faith and its practical implications.
Late at night there was another lesson by Protinica Ann Krosnjar on marriage from the wife’s perspective.
Following her presentation it was explain to everyone that in the early hours of the following Day thousands of people (over two decades ago) lost their houses and in a way their lives, and many died, when exiled to Serbia from the Serbian Krajina. Everyone accepted (and participated in) an unplanned prayer service in memory of these much suffering people – our brothers and sisters.

Saturday morning after lessons (by The Monastery lake) on lives of married Saints, another trip – to the Greek monastery in Kenosha Wisconsin. There we were greeted by the head of the Monastery mother Melanija who shared beautiful stories about monastic life and the life of to recent Saints: St. Nektarije and Porfirije. They offered lunch to us and we toured the Monastery grounds.
After receiving spiritual joy, off to (another trip) Lake Geneva. There another lesson on marriage life was offered by Protinica Snezana Novakovic. Walks and talks by the lake, visiting different areas of the old town and watching the sunset followed.
Back at the monastery, thanks to our most wonderful mothers and sisters (KSS), more delicious food was waiting for us.
After settling back in to the Monastery dorm, everyone gathered in the contemplation room to spend some time (as usual) with our dear and much loved Fr Serafim (Baltic). While in contemplation the students had a surprise visit. Bishop Kiril (Serbian Bishop of South America) came to say hello and give thanks to the students for putting together and offering a significant donation for the mission efforts of the Serbian Church in South America. They collected this at the registration of the retreat and were hoping to see him during the retreat but were not sure if it would work out considering the bishops schedule.

On Sunday morning the confession, reading of the Canon before holy Communion, and the crown of the weekend was in entering the kingdom of heaven through the divine liturgy and receiving the body and blood of Christ – Holy Communion.
After the retreat many said they are now more aware of what marriage is and how important it is to pick right person.
Glory and thanks be to God for all things.

From the Youth Department of the Midwest Diocese

PS we found out that only 1% of the participants came from divorced parents. Compare that to the 60% divorce rate in our country today. May God help and save us and may we look back at our ancestors and try to learn from them – how and why did they make sure their marriages were kept intact.