Thursday, August 29, 2019

"Give Heed To Thyself" (A Homily of St. Basil the Great)

For St. Basil, Know Thyself (Gnothi Seauton) is closely connected with Give Heed to Thyself (Proseche Seauton), for you cannot know yourself unless you guard yourself, and you cannot guard yourself unless you know yourself. The origins of this saying is in Deuteronomy 4:9, which says: "Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life." Know Thyself and Give Heed to Thyself are so closely connected, that some Church Fathers believed the ancient Greek maxim had its origins in Moses and in Solomon, who says: "If thou know not thyself, thou fair one among women, go thou forth by the footsteps of the flocks, and feed thy kids by the shepherd’s tents" (Song of Songs 1:8).

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A Brief Life of Saint Nektarios (1846-1920)

St. Nektarios was born in Selybria of Eastern Thrace to the family of Demos and Maria Kephalas on the 1st of October 1846. He was named Anastasios at his baptism, a name which suited perfectly his early behavior. As a child he was distinguished for his piety and devotion to ecclesiastical literature. He received his first education in Greece and at the age of 14 he went to Constantinople to live with a relative of his. Soon afterwards he joined the school of the Metochion of the Holy Sepulcher as Paidonomos, i.e. teaching the younger and being taught by the elder students. At the age of 16 he went to Chios to become a teacher in the village of Lithion for a period of seven years. It was there that he developed his religious interests through frequent visits to the Sacred Monastery of the Holy Fathers and long conversations with Elder Pachomios, who was renowned for his advanced mystical life and mature Christian perception. On November 7 in the year 1876 he received the tonsure in the New Monastery of Chios and was named Lazaros. Soon afterwards he was elevated to the office of the secretary in the Monastery.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Welcome to Know Thyself!

Dear Reader:

This website is exclusively dedicated to the translation of a book written by St. Nektarios of Aegina titled Know Thyself. Know Thyself was published by St. Nektarios in Athens in 1904. The full title of the work is To Gnothi Sauton, etoi Meletai Threskeutikai kai Ethikai ("Know Thyself, or Religious and Ethical Studies").

Know Thyself is an Aretology, a work concerned with the virtues and the vices opposed to them. The virtues dealt with are: faith, hope, love, justice, truthfulness, the virtues of the cognitive part of the soul, those of the spirited part (the will and emotional power), and those of the appetitive part.

In treating these subjects, St. Nektarios draws from Holy Scripture, the Orthodox Fathers, especially John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa and Cyril of Alexandria, as well as the ancient Greeks, particularly Plato, Aristotle and Plutarch.

At the end he appends a discourse on virginity in the form of a letter addressed to the Nun Eusebia. This discourse is an exaltation of virginity and the monastic life, and at the same time a work of spiritual counsel.

Significantly, the Appendix of Know Thyself, in which the discourse on virginity appears, was written just one day before St. Nektarios went to Aegina - a small island not far from Piraeus - with a view to founding a monastery for nuns. He went to Aegina on September 10, 1904 for this purpose, accompanied by three nuns. The next day he found a suitable site, the ruined Monastery of Zoodochos Pege. There he began the necessary steps to reconstruct it. He renamed it the Holy Trinity Convent. This place would become a haven to put what is written in the book Know Thyself into practice.

The reason I decided to translate this book, never before fully translated into English, is because I consider it to be St. Nektarios' greatest publication of his many writings, his magnum opus, and one that is always timely which should inspire Christians to acquire the virtues in their fullness and put off all vice. It is written beautifully and is simple to understand, based on the wisdom of those who were pinnacles of virtue in both ancient Greece and early Christianity.

The goal is to eventually have this published as a book, when it is completed. Reproduction or copying of this text in any form is prohibited. I am sharing it online at this site only for free for the benefit of all until its completion.

With love in Christ,

John Sanidopoulos