Natural and Sacramental Marriage, An Orthodox Christian Perspective

Natural and Sacramental Marriage, An Orthodox Christian Perspectiveby Fr. Alexander Schmemann –
We can now return to the sacrament of matrimony. We can now understand that its true meaning is not that it merely gives a religious “sanction” to marriage and family life, reinforces with supernatural grace the natural family virtues. Its meaning is that by taking the “natural” marriage into “the great mystery of Christ and the Church,” the sacrament of matrimony gives marriage a new meaning; it transforms, in fact, not only marriage as such but all human love.

It is worth mentioning that the early Church apparently did not know of any separate marriage service. The “fulfillment” of marriage by two Christians was their partaking of the Eucharist. As every aspect of life was gathered into the Eucharist, so matrimony received its seal by inclusion into the central act of the community. And this means that, since marriage has always had sociological and legal dimensions, there were simply accepted by the Church.

Yet, like the whole “natural” life of man, marriage had to be taken into the Church, that is, judged, redeemed and transformed into the sacrament of the Kingdom. Only later did the Church receive also the “civil” authority to perform a rite of marriage. This meant, however, together with the recognition of the Church as the “celebrant” of matrimony, a first step in a progressive “desacramentalization.” An obvious sign of this was the divorce of matrimony from the Eucharist. [Read more…]

Children Need Our Marriage Tradition

Children Need Traditional Marriageby John M. Smoot –
In the United States, we were fortunate to inherit a marriage tradition of monogamy with a strong stigma against divorce. Did it work for everyone? No. Did it work for our society as a whole? Yes. Was it beneficial for most children? Yes.

Then the sexual revolution happened. As Yale Professor George Chauncey writes in his article “Gay at Yale: How Things Changed”:

All around them, lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men saw their heterosexual friends decisively rejecting the moral codes of their parents’ generation, which had limited sex to marriage, and forging a new moral code that linked sex to love, pleasure, freedom, self-expression, and common consent. Heterosexuals, in other words, were becoming more like homosexuals, in ways that ultimately would make it harder for them to believe gay people were outsiders from a dangerous, immoral underworld. [Read more…]

It’s a Great Day in America

Duck Dynasty Conservative Values Pro Gun Pro Familyby Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh –
“It’s a great day in America.” The atheist left is rejoicing that an NBA player is out of the closet and Tim Tebow, “the often-polarizing quarterback,” as the Washington Post describes him, is gone. Sport analysts and other NFL teams did not think he was good enough as a pro quarterback but he was a very popular player. His overt Christianity was offensive and annoying to the liberal PC police.

We are living in the “Great Diversion” era, one unresolved real or manufactured crisis after another and a disastrous economy, yet an NBA player’s sexual orientation, which should be nobody’s business, demands accolades and public speeches.

The word “courage,” which MSM uses loosely to describe such public disclosure, has lost its meaning entirely. Courage is fighting in battle when everyone else retreats, saving another human being from peril when the rest are cowards, and sacrificing heroically and bravely to the betterment of mankind.

No wonder people are turning away from the ugly and terrible reality to the “pane et circenses” (bread and circuses) reality TV, not just any reality TV, but Duck Dynasty. [Read more…]

Marriage: The Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty

Marriage is Greatest Weapon Against Child Povertyby Ken McIntyre –
The collapse of marriage, along with a dramatic rise in births to single women, is the most important cause of childhood poverty—but government policy doesn’t reflect that reality, according to a special report released today by The Heritage Foundation.

Nearly three out of four poor families with children in America are headed by single parents. When a child’s father is married to his mother, however, the probability of the child’s living in poverty drops by 82 percent.

Robert Rector, Heritage’s senior research fellow in domestic policy, provides a brief overview of each state with unique data and 14 charts per state, [Read more…]

The Church and Secularism – part 1

Family Under Attack in Americaby Peter Kreft –
I’m told that in medical school they tell you that there are four indispensable steps to any medical analysis of a patient’s condition. And these four steps are the basic logic of all practical problem-solving in every field — medicine, business, detectives, whatever — because, there are two variables: there’s something good or desirable and something bad or undesirable. And then there’s the cause and the effect. So you can have the bad effect, the bad cause, the good effect, or the good cause. So the four steps of a medical analysis are first, an observation of the symptoms, which are the bad effects; then a diagnosis of the disease that is causing the symptoms — that’s the bad cause; then a prognosis of the hope for a healing, which is the good effect; and then a prescription for the treatment, which is the good cause. …

So I’d like to address the problem of the decline of Western Civilization in terms of (1) Symptoms, (2) Diagnosis, (3) Prognosis, and (4) Prescription. [Read more…]

Homosexuality, Marriage, Family, and the Truth: What Would Love Really Do?

What Would Love Really Do - Christ God by Jennifer Hartline –
Just how the heck am I supposed to love someone who demands something I cannot give? How do you love the person who requires you to celebrate their sin or be punished? How do you love the neighbor you must engage in the battle for our culture? How do you love the person whose lifestyle you must actively oppose for the sake of protecting what’s right? What does love have to do with all of this? Everything. Just not what you might think.

There’s such a thing as objective truth and it comes from a perfect and unchanging God. Love tells the objective truth. It does so as patiently and gently as possible, but it does so without flinching. Love does not apologize for the truth. Love will not amend the truth in order to spare someone’s feelings. … [Read more…]

Daddy’s Little Girl – Happy Father’s Day 2012

Father and daughter hold hands by Grace Harley –
Fathers, what are you planting in the hearts and minds of your own little daughter? You have a most sacred calling and we honor your dedication to the task.

This week is the two-year anniversary of the passing from this world of my adored father. The pain is still so excruciating that at times I cannot speak or move. If I had to tell you about my father in one word, it would be “majestic”. It is a word seldom used and mostly reserved for the sacred and the royal. Thus, it is the exact word fit for the man that I call “Daddy”.

My bereavement is a pain that I wish every child to one day know for it indicates the depth of great love known, great character witnessed, and great teaching imparted. This is the grief and the glory known by all females who are called “Daddy’s Little Girl.” Fathers everywhere take heed of what you say, what you do, who you are, and whose you are. Your own little daughter is watching and learning. This is not a conscious or deliberate effort on our part; it is instilled in our hearts by Creator God. Fathers, you are the “picture of God” to that little one who calls you Daddy. Will she learn from watching you just what God looks like? Is your face to her tender heart actually the very face of God? [Read more…]

Defending Marriage and Family is Defending the Common Good

Defend Marriage Orthodox wedding by Deacon Keith Fournier –
True marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. It is a relationship defined by nature itself and protected by the natural law that binds all men and women. It finds its foundation in the order of creation. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they create a “right” to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. …

It seems that almost weekly there is another assault on true marriage. The unrelenting efforts of an activist wing of the homosexual community have nearly succeeded in reframing the issues of the debate. They aim to enforce a Cultural Revolution. They have been joined by eager collaborators in the Judiciary and elected officials who believe they are some kind of new “liberators”. [Read more…]

Uncertain Times and Prayer

St Issac of Syria by Fr. Johannes Jacobse –
We live in very uncertain times. I don’t think I have ever seen such a widespread uncertainty in my lifetime. My parents saw it since they lived through WWII and the wrenching hardship that placed on them, but many of us only knew the prosperity of the post-war boom that lasted through most of our lifetime.

Some of this trouble is of our own making. We have left off God to a degree, thinking that the security and certainty we had was a kind of birthright instead of recognizing that progress and liberty is hard-won, and must be nurtured and preserved from generation to generation. We tend to forget that “every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Lights…” as we say at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy (a verse taken from James 1:17).

When we forget God, morality breaks down, and when morality breaks down then the society we build for ourselves begins to fray and may even unravel. [Read more…]

Motherhood is a Life Given Up in Love

Motherhood  Life Given Up in Love by Randy Sly –
Sacrifice is the great virtue of motherhood
Nothing speaks more highly to me of this self-sacrifice than the witness of a mother, who daily gives of herself for her own. Often depriving herself, she offers to others; often preferring others, she offers herself. Motherhood is a call to stay firm in the face of uncertainty, despair, sickness, poverty, and even danger, where her children are concerned. One could almost say that as the father is the sword, she is the shield. A mother lays down her life by taking it up on behalf of these precious ones entrusted to her care. …

Once upon a time there was a young woman who loved her Lord. There was nothing she withheld from Him. Her life was always “yes” to Him, the proverbial “fiat” – “let it be to me as you have said.” She fell in love and, hearing the “Divine Yes,” married the man whom she loved. They grew in Him as one in the sacramental mystery.

A child was born and she loved the child. The child brought something out of her that had always been a part of her yet never expressed. Like a hidden stream now discovered, rivers of love flowed out of the woman to her child. [Read more…]

Progressive Inhumanity, Part One: The State against the Family

The State against the Family by Anthony Esolen –
The family is that natural society where individual liberty and the common good are most nearly reconciled. To deprive it of its rights is to rob people of a great part of what it is to be human.

The beauty and the divine order of the family is the very soul of his social teaching, because it is there, within the walls of the home, that society begins.  Thus we hear him declare, against the statists of his time, that by the command of God “we have the family; the society of a man’s house — a society limited indeed in numbers, but no less a true society, anterior to every kind of State or nation, invested with rights and duties of its own, totally independent of the civil community.”  This is the doctrine of subsidiarity at its core. 

The Pope does not justify the family on utilitarian grounds.  He does not affirm (what is true in any case) that there are many things the family can do that the State cannot do as well, or cannot do at all.  Instead he founds the rights of the family in nature, and the God of nature.  It is a society both human and divine.  It is within those bonds of love or duty that children and parents both put faces upon law that would otherwise remain abstract, distant, sometimes threatening, sometimes impotent, but always extrinsic, and therefore not quite real.  It is there, and only there, that law and love may be found growing together. [Read more…]

This Christmas, Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

Christmas Nativity of Christ by John Jalsevac –
Christmas isn’t quite what it used to be, is it? And I’m not referring the usual laundry list of grievances that makes us religious fundamentalist extremists (i.e. Christians) seriously ponder setting up a utopian commune on a deserted Mediterranean island: the war on Christmas, the kitschy music, the consumerist madness, the widespread ignorance about even the most basic facts behind the feast.

Forget about all that for now. All I mean is, if you’re old enough to be reading this, somehow Christmas has lost much of the effortless magic with which it was surrounded years ago…in your childhood.

You know what I mean. As a child, it seemed so easy to get swept up into the rich mystery of Christmas: the presents, the smells, the music, the lights glistening on the snow, the tinsel on the tree, the strange guests, the parties, the good food. All these things spoke to you, and without thinking about it you gave yourself into the power of their enchantment. [Read more…]

Equipping Teenagers to Navigate Life

Orthodox Youth Equipping Teenagers to Navigate Life by Dn. Paul Zaharas –
Over the past several decades the external pressures and challenges associated with parenting teenagers have been varied.

Whether it was the introduction of rock and roll music, the “social scourge” of the 1950’s, or the pervasiveness of today’s social networking explosion, parents have faced the challenge of helping their children bridge the chasm that stands between childhood and adulthood. As Christian parents we recognize the importance of raising Godly-minded children and we must take appropriate steps to help them in their journey toward Him. Society today, through media, peer influence, and accepted norms, can convey ideas that do not coincide with the teachings of Orthodox Christianity. In fact, oftentimes, the messages that our teen children receive from the world are in direct contradiction to the saving message of Jesus Christ. [Read more…]

The Challenges of Spiritual Happiness

Children Orthodox Church Christians Candles by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky –
“I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1)

We hear so often, “She’s just like her mother,” or “He’s the spitting image of his father.” Even the old Russian proverb repeats the cliche: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It can mean so much or be inconsequential. Eye color, the stride, the way they deal with traumas, or the faint trace of a smile stamp the child as carrier of the parent’s DNA.

The characteristic with eternal significance is—does the child take pleasure in praying in the temple of the Lord? Watch a child and notice how it’s instantly apparent. Either he enjoys being in God’s house, or he cannot wait until he can defy the parent and stay away. For a time, the believing mother or father will bring the child to church even if it’s against his will. “We are family, you are part of our family, and families pray together.” Good advice, even when imposed against the kid’s will. What to do when the child resists, rebels, and refuses to go to church? [Read more…]