Second Sunday of Great Lent, St. Gregory Palamas

St. Gregory Palamas said the following: “Let no one think that it is the duty only of clergy and monastics to pray with ceasing and not of laypeople. No, absolutely not; it is the duty of all Christians to remain always in prayer.” Using the Jesus prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner) “… this we can always do if we wish. For when we sit down to work with our hands, when we walk, when we eat, etc. we can always pray mentally as this is pleasing to God. Let us work with the body and pray with the soul.”

Our holy Father Gregory was born in Constantinople in 1296 of aristocratic parents who had emigrated from Asia Minor in the face of the Turkish invasion, and were attached to the court of the pious Emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus (1282-1328).

About the year 1316, Gregory decided to abandon the vanities of the world. His mother, two sisters, two brothers and a great many of his servants entered upon the monastic life with him. He and his two brothers went on foot to the holy Mountain of Athos, where they settled near the Monastery of Vatopedi.

After only three years, the early death of his brother Theodosius, followed by that of the Elder Nicodemus, led Gregory and his second brother, Macarius, to attach themselves to the Monastery of the Great Lavra. Gregory was appointed chanter.

The incessant raids of Turkish pirates soon obliged Gregory and his companions to leave their hermitage. Together with twelve monks, he wanted to make the pilgrimage to the Holy Places and to seek refuge at Mount Sinai; but this did not prove feasible. Instead, he spent some time in Thessalonica, where he joined the group around the future Patriarch Isidore, who was endeavoring to spread the practice of the Jesus prayer among the faithful so that they might profit from the experience of the monks. In 1326, Gregory was ordained a priest, having understood in a vision that this was indeed the will of God.

He suffered a long illness and, some time before his death, Saint John Chrysostom appeared to him with the invitation to join the choir of holy hierarchs immediately after his own feast. And, indeed, on November 14, 1359 the Saint gave up his soul to God.

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