Was Christ Really Born on December 25?

Christ Really Born on December 25by Archpriest Panayiotis Papageorgiou, Ph.D. –

The issue of the time of the birth of Christ has been addressed by many people in the past, both scholars and theologians, so what I intend to do here is present an overview trying to bring some clarity to the topic for those who are really concerned that the 25th of December may not be the correct time to celebrate Christmas.

Let me start by saying that there are two pieces of evidence, which people present in support of the position that Christ was not born in December:

The first one is the verse from the Gospel of Luke, “And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2:8) The argument from this is that December is too cold for shepherds to be in the field watching over their flocks! Hence, the proponents of this theory claim that Jesus had to be born in the spring. I read recently on an online website a second claim based on the same reason, which suggests that Jesus was probably born in the fall, before it got cold. I am sure that someone out there must have also claimed that Jesus was born in the summer, instead! [Read more…]

Authority and Moral Life: An Orthodox Christian Perspective

Jesus Christ Moral Authority and Truthby Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou –

I am making the following brief statement as a committed Orthodox Christian and as a priest of the Church. I share with you my personal reflections on the authority for a moral life in accordance with my faith experience.

The teachings of Jesus Christ and His Apostles as well as those of the Fathers of the Church are directly or indirectly related to moral issues and the way a Christian ought to live his or her life. From the Orthodox perspective, Christ is the final or absolute authority of morality in a Christian society. Even though tolerance and respect of other faiths are a necessity within a pluralistic society, Christ is the supreme authority for the particular Christian community.

The expression of Christ’s authority within the world is that of Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition as is manifested in the Church. According to Orthodoxy, the Law of God as applied to the authority for a moral life is manifested in three ways. First, as natural law (the inner conscience), second as the written law (the Old Testament), and third as spiritual, evangelical law (the Gospel of Christ). These three laws are not in conflict with each other, but rather have similar authority because all three have the same source, God, and the same goal, which is to guide man to attain moral perfection. [Read more…]

Climbing Together Towards God: Primary Purpose of a Christian Marriage

Climbing Together Towards God: Primary Purpose of a Christian Marriageby Fr. Vladimir Anderson –

Life is an uphill struggle; the path is narrow and difficult. There are many obstacles, precipices and steep cliff faces along the way. Progress is often slow and seemingly unnoticeable. Like a thick mist, the spirit of the world envelopes the climbers who, losing sight of their goal, turn their thoughts to the easy life in the valley below. Is there any point in all this exertion, they wonder. It is especially difficult for those who climb alone not to become sidetracked or utterly discouraged. For this reason the One Who calls us to the top of the mountain has given to most of us a companion, a fellow-climber, that together we might more easily ascend God’s holy mountain.

This after all, is the primary purpose of a Christian marriage. At the very outset of their journey together, husband and wife must agree mutually to help one another and their children to reach the Kingdom of Heaven. While it is easy to acknowledge this as the goal, in actual practice it is a very difficult and never ending labor. [Read more…]

The Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed Be Thy Name”

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –

What do the words “Hallowed be Thy Name” mean? The Name of God is already holy in itself, bearing within itself the force of holiness, spiritual strength, and the presence of God. Why do we need to pray in these words? Could it really be that the Name of God won’t remain holy if we don’t say “Hallowed be Thy Name”?

When we say “Hallowed be Thy Name,” we primarily have in mind that the Name of God should be hallowed, that is, be revealed as holy through us, Christians, through our spiritual life. The Apostle Paul, addressing the unworthy Christians of his time, said: For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written (Romans 2:24). These are very important words. They speak of our discrepancy with the spiritual-moral norm that is contained in the Gospel and according to which we, Christians, are obliged to live. This discrepancy is, perhaps, one of the main tragedies both for us as Christians and for the entire Christian Church. [Read more…]

Deeply Disturbing Concerns – Homosexual Militancy Threatening the Orthodox Church

Homosexual Militancy Threatening the Orthodox Church by Fr. John Guy Winfrey –
I never imagined in my entire life that I would actually see the day when same sex marriage would be legalized in the United States. But far more troubling, and absolutely beyond my wildest imagination would be that it would be accepted within the Orthodox Church. The acceptance of homosexuality as an acceptable behavior is, of course, one of the reasons that caused me to leave the church of my birth and enter Orthodoxy in the first place. It is tightly tied to women’s ordination to the priesthood and many other things that entirely undoes the historic Catholic (and Orthodox) Faith. Like so many before me, I had honestly assumed that crossing the threshold of Orthodoxy into the “unchanging Church”, I had finally arrived at a place wherein I simply live the historic Christian Faith untroubled by apostasy from within.

That illusion was popped for me a couple of months ago with a web post titled, Never Changing Gospel, Ever Changing Culture, on an official blog of the OCA, Wonder (wonder.oca.org/blog) [since removed by the OCA hierarchy], by the Archpriest Robert Arida, of Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Boston, Massachusetts. In his essay he obliquely proposed the acceptance of same sex marriage as something we Orthodox should embrace. [Read more…]

An Orthodox Perspective on Tolerance

Orthodox Perspective on Tolerance by Rdr. Daniel Manzuk –
We are bombarded with the message that we are to be tolerant of the beliefs and practices of others. “Tolerant,” however, has come to mean “accept and condone without question or reservation”; failure to practice this form of tolerance makes one intolerant and a hater. These assertions are addressed especially to those from traditional Christian backgrounds who acknowledge that the truths in Scripture are absolute, not relative, as secular and liberal society views them.

It must be noted, too, that when entirely secularized people refuse to be tolerant of “traditional values,” they are called progressive, open-minded and enlightened, anything but intolerant; while traditional Christians are considered deluded, superstitious, brain-washed, and ignorant. (This is so despite the fact that – in all ages – living a Christian life requires a concerted effort and personal dedication –a clear choice. Just ask the Virgin Mary and the Martyrs.) [Read more…]

The Lord’s Prayer: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –
We can turn to God with a great variety of petitions. We can ask Him not only for that which is sublime and spiritual, but also for that which is essential for us on the material plane. “Daily bread” is what we live on; it’s our daily nourishment.

Moreover, in the prayer we say: “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, we don’t ask God to provide us with everything necessary for all the subsequent days of our lives. We ask Him for daily food, knowing that if He feeds us today, then He will feed us tomorrow, too. Pronouncing these words, we express our trust in God: we trust Him with our life today, just as we trust Him for tomorrow. [Read more…]

Orthodox Church Categorically Condemns All Homosexual Behavior

Orthodox Church Categorically Condemns Homosexual Behaviorby Editors –
The following information originally appeared in The Word, January 1984, pp. 6-11. The Word is the official news magazine of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Published monthly (with the exception of July and August) the magazine circulates to the households of all members of the Antiochian Archdiocese and other subscribers including libraries and seminaries.

Orthodox Statement on Homosexuality
The position of the Orthodox Church toward homosexuality has been expressed by synodical canons and Patristic pronouncements beginning with the very first centuries of Orthodox ecclesiastical life.

Thus, the Orthodox Church condemns unreservedly all expressions of personal sexual experience which prove contrary to the definite and unalterable function ascribed to sex by God’s ordinance and expressed in man’s experience as a law of nature. [Read more…]

A Cold Age – Eliminating Faith from the Public Square

A Cold Age - Eliminating Faith from the Public Squareby Fr. Lawrence Farley –
One of the benefits of reading history is that it enables one to compare one’s own era with other eras, and so identify the blind spots of former times and as well as the blind spots of one’s own time.  As C.S. Lewis once pointed out (in his essay On the Reading of Old Books), “Not that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes.  They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing, and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us.”

Comparing our own age to those of previous ones (and even our own North American culture to other contemporary cultures) reveals what is perhaps the defining characteristic of our society—its coldness.  Men and women in previous ages sang while they worked, and while they walked down the road.  They greeted strangers in the street, and asked God’s peace upon them.  They retired and rose with the sun—and awoke refreshed.  It was normal even to arise at midnight to pray. [Read more…]

Texas Orthodox Priests Reject Fr. Arida’s Scandalous Teaching on Homosexuality

Texas Orthodox Priests Reject Fr. Arida's False Teachingby Texas Orthodox Priests –
Statement of the Brotherhood of the Orthodox Clergy Association of Houston and Southeast Texas on the Comments of Fr. Robert Arida on Homosexuality

In response to Fr. Robert Arida’s recent article, which was posted on the OCA’s Wonder blog, there have been many eloquent rebuttals.  We do not wish to attempt to reproduce those critiques here, but we do wish to underscore some of the more important points that have been made, and to speak out publically on this controversy.

We find it unacceptable for Orthodox Clergy, who have been given the charge to instruct and guide the laity, to suggest that the moral Tradition of the Orthodox Church needs to change with the times or with the prevalent culture. St. Paul admonishes us to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2). [Read more…]

Let Your Yea Be Yea and Your Nay Be Nay – Clear Christian Preaching on Sin and Homosexuality

Let Your Yes be Yes, and Your No be No by Sergey Khudiev –
There are questions which we cannot avoid and from which we cannot hide in a fog of rhetorical questions and vague allusions. Basically, there is the question of whether single-sex cohabitation is a sin which separates people from the Church, or not.

The article by Archpriest Robert Arrida ‘Response To Myself’ is of interest, but not so much because it shows a certain approach, which is above all characteristic of contemporary liberal Protestantism. Convinced atheists, Muslims and Christians of various confessions have something in common – they all try to set out their views clearly and without ambiguity, so that any reader can clearly grasp what the writer believes and does not believe, what you agree with him about and what you do not agree with him about and what the arguments he puts forward are.

Liberal theologians are not like this. They have a particularity which entails a tendency to explain themselves with rhetorical questions, vague allusions and highly mysterious phrases from which you can with more or less justification guess at their positions, but are unable to explain clearly. [Read more…]

To Be Healed We Must Open Ourselves to God

To Be Healed We Must Open Ourselves to God by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh –
Each of us is in need of physical healing and of the healing of our soul. And yet, only a few are healed — why? What we miss in the reading of the Gospel is that Christ did not heal people indiscriminately.

Again and again we hear in the Gospel the story of men or women who were healed of their illnesses, and it seems so simple in the Gospel: there is a need, and God meets it. Why is it then — we ask ourselves — that it does not happen to each of us? Each of us is in need of physical healing and of the healing of our soul. And yet, only a few are healed — why? What we miss in the reading of the Gospel is that Christ did not heal people indiscriminately. One person in a crowd was healed; many who were also sick in body or soul, were not. That comes from the fact that, in order to receive the Grace of God, so that it acts in us unto the healing of soul or body, or both, we must be open to God — not to the healing, but to God. [Read more…]

Daily Prayers: The Battle with Extraneous Thoughts

Daily Prayers: The Battle with Extraneous Thoughts by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –
Short prayers help in overcoming distractions and extraneous thoughts: “Lord, have mercy,” “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” and others, which do not require a special focus on the words, but incline one to the birth of feelings and the movement of the heart. With the help of such prayers, one can learn to pray attentively and to focus on prayer.

One of the main obstacles to attentive prayer is the appearance of extraneous thoughts. St. John of Kronstadt, the great ascetic of the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, describes in his diaries how, during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, at the most crucial and sacred moments, before his mind’s eye would appear an apple pie or some other reward that he might be given. And with bitter regret he suggests how such extraneous images and thoughts can destroy a prayerful state. If such happened with the saints, then there is nothing surprising if it happens to us, too. To protect ourselves from extraneous thoughts and images, we have to learn, as did the ancient Fathers of the Church, “to guard our minds.” [Read more…]

Orthodox Truth in an Age of Relativism

Orthodox Truth in an Age of Relativism by Gabe Martini –
It is not loving to affirm a person in their sin.

It is not loving to affirm a person in their rebellion against both God and His created, natural order—not “supernatural,” or “unnatural,” but the way nature was always intended to be, revealed most perfectly in Jesus Christ and the Mother of God and all the Saints.

It is not loving to affirm a person in their beliefs or perspectives that run contrary to the blessings offered us in both Christ and His one, holy Church.

It is not compassionate to ignore truth in order to affirm a person in lies.

It is not compassionate to let people live a life contrary to the author of Life.

It is not compassionate to revise, ignore, or trample under foot the essential truths of our Church in order to curry favor with public opinion, the winds and waves of doctrine, cultural trends, the fools—for the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God—of the Academy, and those with the largest checkbooks. [Read more…]

The Lord’s Prayer: Everything Man Needs for Life and Salvation

Christ Praying The Lord's Prayer by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –
The “Our Father” prayer is of special significance, because Jesus Christ Himself gave it to us. It begins with the words: “Our Father, Who art in the heavens.” This prayer is comprehensive in character: in it is concentrated, as it were, everything that man needs both for earthly life and for the salvation of his soul. The Lord gave it to us so that we would know what we should pray for and what to ask of God.

The first words of this prayer, “Our Father, Who art in the heavens,” reveal to us that God is not some distant or abstract being, not some notional good foundation, but our Father. Today very many people, in response to the question of whether they believe in God, reply in the affirmative; but if you ask them how they imagine God and what they think of Him, they respond something like this: “Well, God is good, it is something luminous, some kind of positive energy.” That is, they treat God like some kind of abstraction, as something impersonal.

When we begin our prayer with the words “Our Father,” then we are immediately appealing to the personal, living God, to God as Father – to the Father about Whom Christ spoke in the parable of the prodigal son. [Read more…]