The distortion of Christian equality (Fr. Seraphim Rose) Part 5

We have one particular idea right now that’s taking possession of people: Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

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Message by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for World Environment Day

MESSAGE

By His All Holiness

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

For World Environment Day

(June 5, 2010)

Inasmuch as, at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we have long been concerned about problems related to the preservation of the natural environment, we have ascertained that the fundamental cause of the abuse and destruction of the world’s natural resources is greed and the constant tendency toward unrestrained wealth by citizens in so-called “developed” nations.

The holy Fathers of our Church have taught and lived the words of St. Paul, according to which “if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these” (1 Tim. 6.8), adhering at the same time to the prayer of Solomon: “Grant me neither wealth nor poverty, but simply provide for me what is necessary for sufficiency.” (Prov. 30:8) Everything beyond this, as St. Basil the Great instructs, “borders on forbidden ostentation.” Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Commandment to Love

By Bishop John (Kallos) of Thermon

The first and great commandment of Christ was the commandment to love. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Luke 10:27. This commandment of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ passed through my mind as I read the book “Why Pray” by Fr. Mark Gibbard. In the chapter entitled, ‘Praying is Exploration,’ he says, ‘Seldom in the history of mankind has there been such real concern for our fellow man, than there is today. There are the demands that poverty should be wiped out. There are the protests against the horror of war. There are the struggles against unjust racial discrimination. Concern about man and unconcern about God. Demand for action and disregard for prayer.’ Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Lord, Crown Me!

In his Epistle to Timothy, his beloved spiritual son, St. Paul admonishes him and us as well, that we watch, that we be diligent in all things, that we endure afflictions, that we do the work of an evangelist, the work of those who spread the Good News of the Gospel throughout the world, that we make full proof of our ministry. Each of us Orthodox Christians as disciples of Him Whom we call Lord and Saviour, has a ministry, a special function that we are to fulfill in our lives. If we are truly evangelists of the Lord, if in our lives we bear witness to Him, we testify to Him, if our lives are living sermons for all people to look at and admire and to know that we are His Disciples, then we deserve the name “Christian”, we maintain the citizenship that is granted us in His Kingdom when we are baptized and when we repent, and when we come to the chalice to receive His precious Body and Blood. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

God — the Supreme Being

The first question we wish to deal with is, what proof have we that there is a God? This is the question which all infidels ask. They want you to prove to them in so many words and by reasoning and the power of logic whether God lives. But the burden of the proof falls to the lot of those who doubt or deny that God lives, and they should be asked, what proof have they that there isn’t a God? One of the great proofs of the presence of God is the beauty and unity of this universe in which we live. No one could be so blind as to deny that there is a God at the control of the universe. Who can look up at the sky on a bright, clear night, and, having watched the myriads of stars and planets whirling through space, was not awed with the majesty, the beauty and magnificence of this world, this home of ours. Who would not be impressed without feeling awed by a sense of reverence and join the Sacred Writer in saying, «The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. This is indeed my Father’s world and He made everything for man to enjoy it lawfully.» Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Elder Arsenios Spileotis (1886-1983) [with many pictures]

by Monk Joseph of Dionysiou Monastery

Elder Arsenios Spileotis (1886-1983), fellow struggler for more than 40 years with Saint Elder Joseph the Hesychast ( 1897-1959)

It is not easy to describe in a few pages the life and works of a great ascetic of the might of blessed Elder Arsenios. He was born in Pontos. While still young he was burning with Holy zeal. He decided to leave his country and walk from Russia to Constantinoupole and from there to the Holy Land, where he served at the Holy Sepulchre and at other Holy places for almost ten years.

read more… 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 »

The Weakness of Man

It is counter-intuitive that God saves man through His own weakness. The irony of the Divine Reversal has provided endless material for the hymnographers of the Church through the centuries. The Strong becomes weak, the Sinless takes on our sin, the Rich becomes poor, God becomes man – the whole of the gospel seems to be a Divine irony. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

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The Husband is Head of the Wife?

Under what category shall we summarize the relation between husband and wife? Is it a divine or a legalistic headship right for the man over the woman, as it appears for the first instance after reading St Paul’s: “the husband is head of the wife” (Eph 5:23)?

What we really care for in this context is the Divine Word, therefore we will not go into the perplexity of differentiation between masculinity and femininity: This is all quicksand, and the decisions were never ratified in psychology. I am also afraid that, any discourse in this area is neither precise nor is backed with scientific methodology, but rather is solely based upon the personal experience of each one of us with the woman or based upon her personal experience with the man; an experience, which might be successful or failed and sympathetic or stressful. But the most what I fear, is that the people might embed these experiences within a discourse, which they might disguise under a scientific frame: like their saying that the woman is weaker. In what field is she weaker, since she lives between five to seven years more than the man? Is she less intelligent?  It was proven to all the researchers that the woman is no less talented than the man in studying any of the pedagogic materials including mathematics. The feminist movement likes to relate the women’s failure of excelling in certain domains, to the discrimination that have kept them away from those areas. But whatever the result of this psychological and historical discussion may lead to, I am bound – in this controversy – to what the apostle Paul had to say in his epistle to the Ephesians: that the husband is head of the wife. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Christmas Message of the Ecumenical Patriarch

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Prot. No. 1237 

BARTHOLOMEW

By God’s Grace

Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome

and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church

Grace, peace and mercy from the Savior Christ

Born in Bethlehem

 

Beloved concelebrants and blessed children in the Lord,

Heaven and earth have united

Through the birth of Christ.

Today, God has appeared on earth,

And man has ascended to heaven.

(Christmas Hymn)

The distance and separation between God and humanity resulting from sin has been abolished with the assumption of the entire human nature by the Only-Begotten Son and Pre-eternal Word of God. It was God’s good will – that is to say, His initiative and will – that the incarnation of His Son should abolish all such distance uniting heaven and earth, as well as creation with its Creator. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Message of the day

For if I yet pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Epistle to the Galatians 1:10

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ON DEATH

metropolitan anthony of sourozh

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Death is the touchstone of our attitude to life. People who are afraid of death are afraid of life. It is impossible not to be afraid of life with all its complexity and dangers if one is afraid of death. This means that to solve the problem of death is not a luxury. If we are afraid of death we will never be prepared to take ultimate risks; we will spend our life in a cowardly, careful and timid manner. It is only if we can face death, make sense of it, determine its place and our place in regard to it that we will be able to live in a fearless way and to the fulness of our ability. Too often we wait until the end of our life to face death, whereas we would have lived quite differently if only we had faced death at the outset.  Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

WHAT’S IN THE STARS? A CLOSE LOOK AT ASTROLOGY

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(…For at it they who worshipped the stars, were taught by a star to adore Thee, the Sun of righteousness, and to know Thee the Orient from on high…») (The Christmas Troparion)

Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South

The average person today likes to think of himself as a product of the scientific age. He often flatters himself with the thought that he is superior to his ancestors, not standing in awe of the natural world, having no fear of the unknown, and being free from superstition. He is reluctant to believe anything that cannot be proven logically or scientifically and rejects what he often refers to as “myth” in religion: man’s creation from nothing, his fall, the promise and the coming of the Savior, salvation and life in the world to come. Twentieth-century man has been described as man “come of age”, too sophisticated and knowledgeable to accept these things as literally true, and he takes this description of himself very seriously. He doubts that the Supreme Being, whoever He may be, could have any interest in or plan for man and the rest of creation. For the advocates of twentieth-centuryism, man is entirely on his own and has to work out his own destiny and the meaning of his existence. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

A simple biomedical presentation of the first miracle of Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi (Mount Athos), who smiled 45 minutes after his death.

Part 1. The contemporary situation.

The present contribution describes a miracle that, as far as we know, is almost unheard of in the entire history of Christianity. A dead person (Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi) smiled. Impressive is the fact, that this smile occurred 45 minutes after his death. This is photographically documented. There have been reported a lot of miracles with dead persons (prophets, saints, e.t.c.). But almost never before did occur a miracle like the one that happened on July 1, 2009 in the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopaidi (Mount Athos, Greece)

Since many months, the spiritual family of Elder Joseph (namely the Brotherhood of the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopaidi and especially Abbot Ephraim) suffers a unique, for our days, persecution. The latter consists of all kinds of lies and slander. Every father is sad, when his children are acused. But he is much more sad, when the acusations are faulty. Elder Joseph, being the spiritual father of this family, suffered from this persecution as well. But where sin abounded (in this case the unjust and systematic persecution of the Vatopaidi Brotherhood and of Abbot Ephraim by the pathetic watchdogs of the New World Order), grace did much more aboud (in this case the smile from eternity) (Apostle Paul, Letter to Romans, chapter 5, vers 20). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Becoming «All things to all people in order to save them.» (Elder Porphyrios)

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The holy elder Porphyrios.

Elder Porphyrios throughout his whole life received all those who came to him; becoming, like St. Paul, «All things to all people in order to save them.»

All kinds passed by his humble cell; both holy ascetics and sinful thieves, Orthodox Christians and people of other denominations and religions, insignificant people and famous personalities, rich and poor, illiterate and literate, lay people and clergy of all ranks. To each one he offered the love of Christ for their salvation.

This does not mean that all those who went to the Elder or who knew him, for however long, adopted his message or acquired his virtue, and thus were as worthy of our complete trust as he was. A great deal of care, vigilance and good sense is required, because as the Elder becomes well known, the temptation will come to some people to claim some type of attachment or connection with him. They will want to boast or to create the false impression that they are speaking for him. Apart from pure devotion and true love, apart from humble approach and honest learning, there is also conceit and personal gain. Naivety exists, but so does guile. Ignorance exists but so does error and deception. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

All Saints Sunday

All Saints. Greek icon from the Holy Monastery of Stavroniketa of Mount Athos (late 16th - early 17th cent.)

All Saints. Greek icon from the Holy Monastery of Stavroniketa of Mount Athos (late 16th - early 17th cent.) From "Pemptousia" magazine.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

The Mother of God and the Saints whose memory we keep today, those who are known to us because God has revealed them and because they have been understood and recognised, either by their contemporaries, or years, at times – centuries later, all the Saints are the response of the earth to the love of God. And this response is given by them not only in their own name but in the name of all creation and in our names also; because each of us has the privilege to be called by one name, our Christian name, the name of one of those Saints. And the Saints whose names are ours stand before God and pray that their name should not be made unworthy in the eyes of the Lord. The Saints of God embrace the whole of Creation in their love, in their intercession, in their prayer, in their real, continuous presence. How wonderful it is that we belong to this vast family of men, of women, of children who have understood what the Lord meant when He came, and lived, taught and died for us! They responded with their own heart, they understood with all their mind, and they accepted His message with all their determination, to overcome in themselves all that has been the cause of the crucifixion; because if only one person on earth had strayed, fallen away from God, Christ would have come to save at the cost of His life. This is His own testimony to a Saint of the early centuries who had been praying that the sinners should be confounded; and Christ appeared to him, and said, “Never pray that way! If one sinner have existed, I would have died for him.” Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

DAY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

holyspiritIn the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Today we are keeping the Feast of the Holy Spirit. What do we know about Him? We heard wonderful words of prayer about Him yesterday on Trinity Sunday, but let us think of Him, of the name He is given in the Gospel, which is translated ‘The Comforter’ in English, in other translations ‘The Advocate’. He is the One Who is the Comforter indeed, the One Who consoles us for our separation from Christ, Who consoles us who are like orphans, who long to be with Christ our God, our Saviour, and who know that as long as we are in the flesh – and these are the words of St. Paul – we are separated from Him. But for Him to be our Comforter, to be our consolation, we must first be aware of the fact that we are separated and this is the first question we must ask ourselves: are we aware of it, or do we live in the delusion that we are in God and God in us, and that nothing more is needed? How much more is needed!

He is also the One Who, as the Comforter, gives us strength, strength to live despite the separation, strength to stand fast and to be the doers of the Will, the fulfillers of the Commandments of God, the One Who can give us vigour of soul, determination, power to act. But this, again, only if we turn to Him and say, Come! Come and abide in us! Cleanse us! Be not only our Comforter but our strength also. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

ENCOUNTER

st-herman-of-alaska

St. Herman of Alaska. A beautiful full color children’s book about America’s favorite saint.

 

By Fr. Eric George Tosi
Chairman of the Department of Evangelization
Source: St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church

There is a story from the Russian Philokalia about two monks. The older of the two monks said that they were going to go down into the local village and evangelize. The two monks went to the village and walked around. They meet with people, talked to them, asked about their life. After a few hours the older monk told the younger monk that it was time to go back. As they were walking back, the younger monk turned to the older one and said, “Father when are we going teach the people?” The older monk replied, “We just did.”

So often, missions believe that they have to have some grand plan to bring in the people. There is a need for programs, lecture series a whole host of activities. Yet the actual reality is that the most powerful evangelism tool is simply being with people. Getting to know them and their life. Showing concern and love. Mission is ultimately about an encounter. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Sunday before Pentecost (Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh)

Ο απόστολος Παύλος. Ψηφιδωτό από το αρχιεπισκοπικό παρεκκλήσιο της Ραβέννας (494-495 μΧ).

The apostle Paul (mosaic). Ravenna, Archiepiscopal Chapel, 494-495 A.D. Ο απόστολος Παύλος. Ψηφιδωτό του αρχιεπισκοπικού παρεκκλησίου της Ραβέννας (494-495 μ.Χ.).

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost

We have heard in the Acts of the Apostles how, as the Feast of Pentecost was approaching, Paul the Apostle had started on his journey to Jerusalem to be there together with all those who on that very day received the Holy Spirit. Of all of them he was the only one who had not been present in the High Room where the event took place. And yet, God had given him a true, a perfect conversion of heart, and of mind and of life, and had given him freely the gift of the Holy Spirit in response to his total, ultimate gift of self to Him, the God Whom he did not know but Whom he worshipped.

We also are on our way to the day of Pentecost, next week we will keep this event. When Paul was on his way, he thought of what had happened to himself in the solitude of his journey from Jerusalem to Damascus and in the gift of the Spirit mediated to him by Ananias. And we also, each of us singly and all of us together should reflect on all that God has given us. He has given us existence and breathed life into us, – not only the life of the body, but a life that makes us akin to Him, His life. He has given us to know Him, the Living God, and He has given us to meet, in the Gospel and in life, His Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Baptism, in the Anointment with Holy Chrism, in Communion to the Body and Blood of Christ, in the mysterious, silent communion of prayer, in the moments when God Himself came near, although we were not thinking of Him, He has given us so much. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Sacrament of Confession

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St. Cosmas Aitolos

Perhaps the most misunderstood sacrament of the Christian Church is confession (or repentance). How did it originate? What role does a priest play? Is there a special procedure for confession? The Holy Scriptures hold answers to these questions.

God’s Word promises «If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness» (1 John 1:9). The faithful are to bring their sins to God in repentance and receive cleansing and forgiveness.

The early Christians would stand and confess their sins to God in the presence of the whole congregation. Jesus encouraged His followers to walk in the light together, to confront problems corporately, to «tell it to the church» (Matt. 18:17). Thus James writes, «Confess your trespasses to one another» (James 5:16). But as time went on and the Church grew in numbers, strangers came to visit and public confession became more difficult. Out of mercy, priests began to witness confessions of sin privately on behalf of the Church.

Jesus, giving His disciples the authority to forgive sin, said, «If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained» (John 20:23; c.f. Matt. 16:19, 18:17-19). From the beginning, Christians understood that the grace of ordination endowed the shepherd of the flock with the discernment and compassion to speak the words of remission, on behalf of Christ, regarding the sins of those who confess and turn from sin. For God has promised the removing of sin from us «as far as the east is from the west» (Ps. 103:12). St. John Chrysostom says, «The priests decree below, God confirms above, and the Master agrees with the opinion of His slaves». Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Marriage

Ο Γάμος εν Κανά. Περιοδικό Πεμπτουσία, τεύχος 3, σελίδα 148

The Wedding in Cana. Fresco from the Church of St. Sophia in Trebizond (Pontus), ca. 1250-1270. ("Pemptousia" magazine, issue 3, pg. 148)

The family is the basic unit or ‘cell’ of society, and the Christian family is also a major building block of the Orthodox Church. The Church places greet importance on the family to fulfil its role as a small church, as expressed by the Apostle Paul. When St. Paul greeted Priscilla and Aquila, his «fellow workers in Christ Jesus» he also greeted «the church that is in their house» (Romans 16:3, 5). He also greeted «Nymphas and the church that is in his house» (Col 4:15). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

What Is My Life?

Η Αγία Τριάδα

I have written often on the subject of “personhood,” drawing to a large extent on the writings of the Elder Sophrony, and to a lesser extent on the theology of Met. John Zizioulas. The heart of their thought is to direct us to the reality that to exist as “persons” is precisely the same thing (or similar) when we speak of the “persons” of the Holy Trinity. And further, that this is true existence for human beings.

In our popular speech, we use the word person in a manner that is interchangeable with individual. This is to equate personhood with a word that stand for its near opposite.

We are used to thinking of ourselves in individual terms – terms which emphasize our role as active, choosing agents. A collection of individuals is especially a collection of unique and competing wills. Thus it is always possible that the competing wills with whom I associate will be in direct competition with myself. Their good and my good may not be at all the same thing.

Thus we wind up with various versions of the social contract, in which we agree by various means, to give as much room to other competing wills as possible, while allowing sufficient attention to our own. It is like belonging to a merchant’s organization.

These social contracts exist primarily to keep us from killing each other and to help maximize one another’s profits, whether they be profits of the material kind or otherwise. It is so strong a force in our culture that even Christians, within the “mega church” movement, speak of their “target” congregation as a “market.” We are defined by the market to which we belong. We are the consumers of religious product. This has a way of working and even of prospering, in that a market approach tends to separate Christians from one another before they become “competing agents.” A congregation that is a statistical slice of our culture would argue over music, sermon, reason for existence, etc. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Everyday Spirituality: The Importance of a Thankful Heart

christuserbarmer

Michael Haldas
St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:4, «I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.» The note in our Orthodox Study Bible that corresponds to this passage reads, «Nothing is so acceptable to God as our thankfulness for His grace, both to us and to others.» This explanatory note is profound and is so important to our well-being because having a thankful heart is ultimately what leads us to love as God loves.

Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »