Chief cornerstone, Foundation and Earthquakes

This work is separated in three Units, for the Glory of the Holy Trinity

Dedicated to all the Orthodox Fellow-Citizens with the Apostles

«Therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the Saints, and of the same household/family of God; having been built upon the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner-Stone; In Whom all the Building (The Church) put together grows to a Holy Temple in the Lord: In whom you also are built together for a dwelling of God through the Spirit.» (Eph. 2, 19-22)

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Saint Leo the Great on the Apostles Fast and its Significance

Saint Leo the Great (Sermon 78 – On the Whidsuntide or Pentecost Fast)

I. Since the Apostles’ Day Till Now Self-Restraint is the Best Defence Against the Devil’s Assaults.

Today’s festival, dearly-beloved, hallowed by the descent of the Holy Spirit, is followed, as you know by a solemn fast, which being a salutary institution for the healing of soul and body, we must keep with devout observance. For when the Apostles had been filled with the promised power, and the Spirit of Truth had entered their hearts,

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A History of the Apostle’s Fast

Patristic Testimony Concerning the Fast

The fast of the holy Apostles is very ancient, dating back to the first centuries of Christianity. We have the testimony of St. Athanasius the Great, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Leo the Great and Theodoret of Cyrrhus regarding it. The oldest testimony regarding the Apostles Fast is given to us by St. Athanasius the Great (†373). In his letter to Emperor Constance, in speaking of the persecution by the Arians, he writes: «During the week following Pentecost, the people who observed the fast went out to the cemetery to pray.» «The Lord so ordained it,» says …

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The Resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

The Resurrection of Christ - Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594)

15-01 γνωρίζω δὲ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ὃ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν, ὃ καὶ παρελάβετε, ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἑστήκατε,

1: Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

15-02 δὶ’ οὗ καὶ σῴζεσθε, τίνι λόγῳ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν εἰ κατέχετε, ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ εἰκῇ ἐπιστεύσατε.

2: By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

15-03 παρέδωκα γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν πρώτοις, ὃ καὶ παρέλαβον, ὅτι χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν κατὰ τὰς γραφάς,

3: For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

St. Polycarp of Smyrna (February 23)

Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who was «fruitful in every good work» (Col. 1:10), was born in the first century, and lived in Smyrna in Asia Minor. He was orphaned at an early age, but at the direction of an angel, he was raised by the pious widow Kallista. After the death of his adoptive mother, Polycarp gave away his possessions and began to lead a chaste life, caring for the sick and the infirm. He was very fond of and close to St Bucolus, Bishop of Smyrna (February 6). He ordained Polycarp as deacon, entrusting to him to preach the Word of God in church. He also ordained him to the holy priesthood. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called

The Feast of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First Called is November 30th. Our Community chose Saint Andrew as its patron saint because the first organizational meeting of our Parish was held on his Feast Day, November 30, 1979. The Patron Icon of St. Andrew, enshrined in the narthex of the Church, is a unique composition that exists nowhere else in sacred art. Iconographer Xenia Pokrovsky designed and wrote this sacred icon in egg-tempera. It depicts St. Andrew’s missionary work in the cities of Syria, from which the ancestors of many of our parishioners emigrated. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Do you know how the Apostles died?

1 Matthew

Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia , killed by a sword wound.

2

Mark

Died in Alexandria , Egypt , after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.

3

Luke

Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.

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The Assumption of our Lord

On the Thursday of the sixth week from Pascha, we celebrate the Assumption of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

When he was with his Disciples before his passion, he promised them the coming of the all-holy Spirit, saying, ‘It is right that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Paraclete will not come’. And again, ‘When he comes, he will teach you all truth. Therefore, after rising from the dead, he appeared to them for forty days, not the whole time, but at intervals, eating and drinking with them, proving the resurrection more surely. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

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What Is the Mark of the True Christian?

by St. Anastasius the Sinaite

St. Anastasius was a priest and abbot of Mt. Sinai. His zeal for true faith led him to travel through Egypt, Arabia, and Syria to combat the errors of the Acephalites and Eutychians. His writings show not only a thorough command of Holy Scripture and a wide knowledge of the writing of the Church Fathers and other Christian writers, but also classical erudition and a solid grounding in Aristotelian philosophy. Of his prolific output the most important works are Guide Against the Acephalites and Answers to Questions. It is from the latter that the present passage is translated. St. Anastasius died in great old age in 686. [1] Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Α Sermon for Thomas Sunday (John 20:19-31)

Dearly Beloved Brethren,

Nοbody knows the time or even the place that our Lord is coming again to judge the living and the dead. For this reason, the Fathers of our Church do not tell us to try and outsmart God, by predicting the time that He will appear. On the contrary the Fathers concentrate on teaching us to be constantly ready and watchful, by praying, fasting and doing works of love and faith. We are instructed to expect a sudden if not instant entry of our Lord.

In the final chapter of the Book of Revelations, the Apocalypse of Saint John we are informed that we must fully accept the imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore we are told that our world will suffer terribly before the DEUTERA PAROUSIA (SECOND COMING) of our Lord and that this world will be destroyed. Nevertheless so let it be, in obedience we should pray «Even so come, Lord Jesus [Christ]» (Rev 22:20) and come quickly. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

What Christ Accomplished on the Cross

 by Hieromonk Damascene

A talk delivered at the Annual Lenten Clergy Confession of the New Gracanica Metropolitanate and the Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Jackson, California, March 4/17, 2004.

The topic of today’s talk—what Christ accomplished on the Cross—is of course a prime subject of contemplation during the Lenten season, as we prepare to prayerfully commemorate Christ’s passion, death, and the inevitable consequence of His death: His holy Resurrection. As we call to mind and repent of our sins during the Holy Fast, we also call to mind that which has saved us from the eternal consequences of sin. We call to mind Christ’s life-creating death on the Cross, which He underwent for the salvation of each one of us.

The Orthodox dogma of our redemption—which includes the doctrines concerning Christ’s incarnation, death and Resurrection—is the chief dogma of our Faith, together with the dogma of the Holy Trinity. I have been especially contemplating and reading Patristic writings on this subject for a few years now. It is a vast subject. In this lecture I will try to outline its main points in a linear and chronological fashion. I will speak about the state of man before the Fall and after the Fall, and then speak about how Christ saved us from the consequences of the Fall through His incarnation, death and Resurrection. Finally, I will summarize all the present and future accomplishments of Christ’s redemptive work. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXXVII)

holy sepulcher church praying

Continued from (Part XXXVI)

Mechanics of Prayer.

The Church of Christ teaches us prayers composed by righteous and holy men. The Holy Fathers and Ascetics of the Church, enlightened by the grace of God, have composed many beautiful prayers, filled with holy thoughts and deep feeling for the guidance and admonition of Christians. We hear these prayers in Church during the Divine Services, but for private prayer at home, each Christian must recite the prayers contained in the Prayerbook.

When we begin to pray, we do not immediately break off from our daily tasks and just start praying, but we must prepare ourselves. As the Prayerbook says: “Stand in silence for a few moments until all your senses are calmed.” Furthermore, as Holy Scripture tells us: Before offer-ing a prayer, prepare yourself; and do not be like a man who tempts the Lord (Sirach 18:23). In addition to this, before entering into prayer, one must prepare himself not only inwardly, but also outwardly.

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXXVI)

prayer

Continued from (Part XXXV)

Orthodox Prayer.

The goal of the Christian’s life on earth is salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ and, at the same time, communion with God. The means for this communion is prayer, and through his prayer the Christian is joined in one spirit with the Lord (I Cor. 6:17). Prayer is the focal point and foundation of spiritual life and the source of salvation. Without prayer, as St. John Chrysostom says, there is no life in the spirit. Without prayer man is deprived of communion with God and can be compared to a dry and barren tree, which is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt. 7:19).

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXXV)

The Wedding at Cana

Continued from (Part XXXIV)

Holy Matrimony.

In the theology of the Orthodox Church man is made in the Image of the Most-holy Trinity, and, except in certain special cases (such as monasticism, for example), he is not intended by God to live alone, but in a family situation. Just as God blessed the first humans, Adam and Eve, to live as a family, to be fruitful and multiply, so too the Church blesses the union of a man and a woman. Marriage, however, is not a state of nature, but is rather a state of grace, and married life is a special vocation (no less than the special calling of monasticism), requiring a gift or charism from the Holy Spirit — this gift being conferred in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXXIV)

Πατριαρχική Θεία Λειτουργία (Χριστούγεννα 2002)

Continued from (Part XXXIV)

Holy Orders.

In the Orthodox Church there are to be found three “Major Orders”-Bishop. Priest and Deacon — and two “Minor Orders” — Subdeacon and Reader (although in ancient times there were other “Minor Orders” which have now fallen into disuse). The Holy Apostles appointed seven men (Church Tradition calls them “Deacons”) to perform a special serving ministry (Acts 6:2-6) and in his first Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul speaks of various ministries in the Church (1 Cor. 12:28). Likewise, he addresses his Letter to the Philippians, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philip pi, with the bishops and deacons (Phil. 1:1). In his first Letter to Timothy, the Holy Apostle also speaks of the qualifications of Bishops and Deacons (1 Tim. 3:1-13), as well as in his Letter to Titus (1.5-9).

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXXIII)

St Basil

Fresco of Basil the Great in the cathedral of Ohrid. The saint is shown consecrating the Gifts during the Divine Liturgy which bears his name.

Continued from (Part XXXII)

A Lament for Sin.

St. Basil the Great says, “Weep over your sin: it is a spiritual ailment; it is death to your immortal soul; it deserves ceaseless, unending weeping and crying; let all tears flow for it, and sighing come forth without ceasing from the depths of your heart.”

In profound humility I weep for all my sins, voluntary and involuntary, conscious and unconscious, covert and overt, great and little, committed by word and deed, in thought and intention, day and night, at every hour and minute of my life.

I weep over my pride and my ambition, my self-love and my boastfulness;

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXXII)

Paining by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov

Paining by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov

Continued from (Part XXXI)

Holy Repentance (Penance — Confession).

The Sacrament of Repentance developed early in the Church’s history in the time of the persecutions of the 3rd and 4th Centuries, when many people, giving in to the threats of the persecutors, apostasized and fell away from the Church. Apostasy was considered to be a very serious sin; many held the extreme position that such could not be received back into the Church in their lifetime, while others held that those who had lapsed should be re-baptized — that is, their sins should be washed away by a second baptism. Moderation, in the course of time, prevailed and a penitential discipline — the Sacrament of Repentance — developed, taking on the meaning of Second Baptism; for this reason it was eventually numbered among the Sacraments of the Church.

After the end of the persecutions, the Sacrament of Repentance remained, so that in the event of sins committed after Baptism, forgiveness could be obtained and the sinner reconciled to the Church. This Sacrament acts also as a cure for the healing of a soul, since the Priest also confers spiritual advice to the Penitent.

Since all sin is not only against God, but also against one’s neighbor, confession and the penitential discipline in the early Church were a community affair and took place publicly before the whole local Christian community. In time, however, Confession has developed into a private action between the Priest and the Penitent, and the Priest is forbidden to reveal to any third party what he has learned in Confession.

In ancient times, before the beginning of Confession, it was appointed to read an entire series of Psalms from which Psalm 51 has been preserved in the present rite, being known as the Penitential Psalm. Then the Priest reads certain prayers, the first of which recalls King David who repented before Nathan the Prophet when he had caused the death of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba whom David loved. After being rebuked by Nathan, David confessed, I have sinned against the Lord! Read more…  Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXXI)

Panagia i Vatopaidini 2

Continued from (Part XXX)

 The Holy Icons

One of the first things that strikes a non-Orthodox visitor to an Orthodox church is the promi-nent place assigned to the Holy Icons. The Iconostasis (Icon-screen) dividing the Altar from the rest of the church is covered with them, while others are placed in prominent places throughout the church building. Sometimes even the walls and ceiling are covered with them in fresco or mosaic form. The Orthodox faithful prostrate themselves before them, kiss them, and burn can-dles before them. They are censed by the Priest and carried in processions. Considering the ob-vious importance of the Holy Icons, then, questions may certainly be raised concerning them: What do these gestures and actions mean? What is the significance of these Icons? Are they not idols or the like, prohibited by the Old Testament?

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXX)

burning bush

Theotokos the Burning Bush. An icon from the workshop of the Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopedi.

Continued from (Part XXIX)

The Most-Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

In the theology and piety of the Orthodox Church, a special place of honor is given to the Mother of God — the Most-Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, who is reverenced by the Orthodox as being “more honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious, beyond compare, than the Seraphim.” As Orthodox we style her as the most exalted among God’s creatures; but we do not regard her as some sort of goddess, the 4th Person of the Trinity, as some accuse us; nor do we render her the worship due God alone. Just as with the Holy Icons, the veneration due Mary is expressed in quite different words in the Greek writings of the Fathers than that due God.

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXIX)

Jesus Preaching Sermon on the Mount Gustave Dore

Continued from (Part XXVIII)

4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

The more profoundly we become aware of our sinfulness and spiritual imperfection, the less bearable to our reason and our conscience becomes the idea of being spiritually extinguished — the threat of losing our salvation — and within our soul are born hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness. Just as in life the body periodically hungers for food and thirsts for drink, so in the spiritual life come moments when man yearns for spiritual food.

The good news of the gospel is the Truth that the Savior has come to earth, and His teaching — the righteousness of our salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. This good news of the Truth of Christ enlightens the soul. The Truth of Christ leads to faith in the true righteousness of our salvation. And the stronger the faith in this righteousness, the more fully its depths are re-vealed to the soul possessing it wholly, acting from faith to faith, urging it to lead a life compati-ble with this righteousness.-

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXVIII)

The Sermon On The Mount by Gustav Dore

The Sermon On The Mount by Gustav Dore

Continued from (Part XXVII)

The Foundations of Christian Morals.

The Sermon delivered by our Savior on the Mount was preceded by two significant meet-ings, one with His secret disciple, Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), and the other with the Samaritan Woman (John 4:4-42). In His conversation with Nicodemus, Christ spoke of being born again, born of the Spirit of God, and in Samaria He taught of God as Spirit and of the worship of the Father in spirit and truth.

Nicodemus had not known of spiritual birth before his meeting with the Lord. What in-terested him was the same question that troubled many other men: was this Teacher and Miracle-Worker an ordinary prophet, or was He the Christ, the promised Messiah? His desire to find the answer to this question is evident in the words with which he addressed Christ: Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him (John 3:2).

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXVII)

Moses

Continued from (Part XXVI)

The Ten Commandments.

After the Exodus from Egyptian slavery (Ex. 14), the Children of Israel encamped at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Moses went up onto the mountain and there received from God two tablets of stone, upon which were written by God’s hand the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20,31). The text of these commandments (The Decalogue) is as follows:

1. “I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me (Ex. 20:2-3).

2. “You shall not make for yourselves a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them (20:4-5).

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXVI)

chrsokentito Exapterygo Ieras Monis Osiou Grigoriou

Continued from (Part XXV)

Concerning one Baptism for the Remission of Sins.

Man becomes a child of the Church through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Baptism is the door to Christianity, the beginning of life in God. Baptism restores the image of God in man and bestows the saving power of Christ’s redemptive feat on him. Through Baptism the Christian receives access to all the Holy Sacraments and acts of grace of the Church, which lead him to deification.

Baptism is called the second birth because in it a man dies to his sinful life and is reborn into a new, spiritual, holy life, in which he puts on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24). Through Baptism men are reconciled to God, cleansed from the impurities of sinful acts by the Divine Spirit, and become fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19), and children of God (John 1:12).

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXV)

Fresco from the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi (Mount Athos)

Fresco from the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi (Mount Athos)

Continued from (Part XXIV)

Concerning the Son of God — the Savior of the World.

The teaching of faith in the Son of God — the Savior of the World — is to be found in the third to seventh articles of the Creed.

For the salvation of mankind was accomplished the great mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16), the mystery of His [God’s] will (Eph. 1:9). The Only-begotten Son (John 1:18) of God, descended from Heaven, was made incarnate, was born of the Virgin Mary in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4), and was made flesh (John 1:14). He took a human body without its sin, and a human soul, and became true Man without ceasing to be True God (Rom. 9:5).

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XXIV)

pantocrator

Continued from (Part XXIII)

6. Orthodox Dogmas and Doctrines.

Holy Tradition.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the Holy Orthodox Church is its changelessness, its loyalty to the past, its sense of living continuity with the ancient Church. This idea of living continuity may be summed up in one word: Tradition. As St. John of Damascus says, “We do not change the everlasting boundaries which our fathers have set, but we keep the Tradition, just as we received it” [On the Holy Icons, II, 12]. To an Orthodox Christian, Tradition means the Holy Bible; it means the Creed; it means the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Fathers; it means the Canons, the Service Books, the Holy Icons, etc. In essence, it means the whole system of doctrine, ecclesiastical government, worship and art which Orthodoxy has arti-culated over the ages [Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, p.204].

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