‘Apocalypse’ Averted

Hillary American Apocalypse Avertedby Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster –
In A Christmas Carol, a seasonal favorite that Charles Dickens wrote in 1843, the miserly misanthrope Ebenezer Scrooge is privileged, thanks to the silent, ominous Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come, to glimpse his miserable future and lonely demise. Before he turns to read the tombstone inscribed with his own name, Scrooge asks the specter with great trepidation, “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

In view of the numerous overwrought displays of grief, disbelief, and even violent protests following the unexpected defeat of Hillary Rodham Clinton by President-Elect Donald J. Trump in the November election, I propose that we consider what might have been if the Democrat nominee had prevailed. What are the “shadows of things” that might have been? [Read more…]

Saving the American Republic

Saving the American Republic Orthodox Christian priestby Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster –
Benjamin Franklin, one of our nation’s greatest founding fathers, was asked by a resident of Philadelphia after the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin replied famously, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

In the wee hours of this morning, we learned that God the Holy Trinity had bestowed an extraordinary gift of grace upon our American Republic through the much maligned American electorate—a second chance to reverse the cultural, moral, and political slide that we, the people of the United States, have allowed—and even fostered—during the last few decades, a second chance to keep our Republic alive and to revive the unique American spirit that celebrates faith, family, community, patriotism, and liberty and justice for all as participants in the American experiment in ordered liberty. [Read more…]

Americans for Natural Marriage are ‘Confessors of the Faith’

Patriarch Kirill Traditional Marriage by Fr. Mark Hodges –
Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church met with famous American Evangelical leader Franklin Graham last week, with whom he shared his admiration for American evangelicals’ defense of Christian morals. Kirill called those who suffer for their stand supporting natural marriage modern-day Confessors.

The head of the world’s largest Orthodox church noted tragic changes in Western spiritual life, including turning away from “Christian tradition” and creating societies in which moral values are no longer dominant. Kirill also noted with regret recent legislation and court decisions allowing homosexual “marriage,” “equaling it to natural marriage that the Lord has given us in commandment.” [Read more…]

Culture Wars Threaten the Orthodox Church, Our Freedom, and Our Families

Culture Wars Threaten the Orthodox Church, Our Freedom, and Our Familiesby Fr. John Whiteford –
It would be nice if we could ignore the culture wars, but the culture wars are coming after us, our Church, and our families. You can choose what you are prepared to defend, but you cannot choose who will attack what you wish to defend.

There are those in the Orthodox Church who say that we should have nothing to do with the culture wars that have been raging in our culture since the 60’s. They accuse conservative converts of trying to bring those culture wars into the Orthodox Church. Ironically, those who talk like this are usually the very people who actually are bringing the culture wars into the Orthodox Church by their promotion of the acceptance of homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, women’s ordination, and various other liberal causes.

It is not as if the Orthodox Church was full of people who thought gay marriage was a great idea until converts started showing up. In fact, the Orthodox in traditionally Orthodox countries are very conservative, and though, for example, there are not lots of Protestant converts to Orthodoxy in Russia, the Russian Church has taken a very strong and vocal position on these issues. [Read more…]

Orthodox Church is the Bridge that Can Unite Russian and American People

Orthodox Church Bridge Russia and AmericaPatriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia –
The task of our Churches is to pray and work in order that the Lord would grant His mercy on the peoples of our countries, so that God’s strength would make moral basics stronger, which originate in God’s morals of the Bible, and so that the relations between our countries would strengthen based on common moral values.

His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and the Most Reverend Tikhon, Metropolitan of Canada and All America, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin on December 4, 2014 – the feast day of the Entrance to the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos. Following the divine service, the Primate of the Russian Church delivered a sermon:

I would like to congratulate all of you, dear Reverend Vladyka, Emenences, fathers, and brothers, on the feast day of the Entrance to the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos! [Read more…]

Our Salvation is in the Hands of God

O Plowman of Christ, plow and re-plow your soulSt. Nikolai Velimirovich –
“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but salvation is in the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).

We are obligated to prepare ourselves but our success depends on God. All of our preparation is only a proposal to God but the proposal does not decide, but God decides. That is why people wisely say according to their experience: man proposes and God disposes. O Soldier of Christ, prepare your mind as a good horse, arm your heart with virtues, temper your will with mortifications, but know – that “salvation is in the Lord.”

O Merchant of Christ, practice good trade every day, exchanging the material for the spiritual, the earthly for the heavenly and mortality for immortality, but know – that “salvation is in the Lord.”

O Plowman of Christ, plow and re-plow your soul, sow the good evangelical seed on it every day, weed out the field of your soul from weeds, watch over it, but know that “salvation is in the Lord.” [Read more…]

Putting on the Armor of God: Being a Warrior When It’s Popular to Be a Weaner

Putting on the Armor of GodFr. Thaddaeus Hardenbrook –
Being a warrior for Christ has no minimum age or athletic qualifications. All warriors for Christ, however, must want to “be men” or “be manly”. It means to be what a human is really meant to be: brave, courageous, and authentic in obedience to God.

Saint Nestor was only a teenager when he decided he’d had enough of the local Christians being slaughtered in forced combat against a giant named Lyaeus. The Emperor Maximian had set up a raised platform in the center of Thessaloniki where he forced Christians to fight for their lives against the seemingly unconquerable Vandal mercenary “who was a beast in both appearance and character.”

Nestor was thin and not very tall, but apparently that did not concern him. He visited Saint Demetrios in prison and took his blessing to challenge Lyaeus. The saint made the sign of the cross over his head and heart, prophesying, “You will both be victorious and suffer for Christ.” [Read more…]

Christians Are The World’s Most Persecuted Minority

Christians Are The World's Most Persecuted Minorityby Shawn Schuster –

For those Christians living in Muslim-majority countries, torture and death are an everyday occurrence, according to Ibrahim’s new research. “I’m not talking about ‘War on Christmas’ type harassment,” he said in the new video he produced for Prager University. “I’m talking about, ‘know your place or we’re going to kill you’ persecution.”

Ibrahim says that 20 percent of the population of North Africa and the Middle East followed the Christian faith 100 years ago, but that number has dwindled down to a mere 4 percent over the years with most of the decline occurring in the last decade. “Astonishingly, the Western mainstream media barely acknowledge what is happening,” he continued. [Read more…]

The Dark Ages: Pagans Turned Out the Lights, Not The Church

Dark Ages: Pagans Turned Out the Lights, Not The Churchby Fr. Lawrence Farley –
The Dark Ages, insofar as they were dark, were darkened by the barbarian invasions that inundated the western Roman Empire, and that it was only in the Church and monasteries that any light was preserved.

Among the literature of those who make it their main business to vilify the Christians, perhaps no concept has served a more useful purpose than the idea of “the Dark Ages.” The Dark Ages, according to this reading of history, were those centuries in which the Church was culturally ascendant, with the inevitable result that civilization sunk into superstition, ignorance, obscurantism, and moral decadence. Here everything that was bad about the world is laid at the Church’s door, especially the decline of Science (with a capital “S”), which apparently had been going great guns until the Church took over.

As evidence of the Church’s war against Science, enlightenment, tolerance, and reason in general, the name of Galileo is usually bandied about, along with the notion that everyone in the Dark Ages thought that the world was flat. It was from this ecclesiastical abyss that Science eventually pulled us all out, saving the world from the Church and restoring civilization. But as we talk about the Dark Ages, it is worth asking how the Roman Empire of the west came to be so dark in the first place? [Read more…]

How Are the Passions Born and How We Fight Against Them?

How Are the Passions Bornby Andrei Gorbachev –

Affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground, reasoned one of the friends of Job the Much-Suffering (Job 5:6). Because for the Christian, woe and trouble is first of all sin and the passion that precedes it, it could be said that passion “does not come from the dust”, and sin “does not grow out of the ground”, but rather springs from the soil of the human heart. The Lord Himself warned us when He said, From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man (Mark 7:21-23). That is, according to the Gospel teaching, not only is sin what is committed in deed, but even the longing for sin—which we call passion—is not altogether innocent by itself and is also a sin.

Having achieved victory in the struggle with their passions, the holy fathers of the Church left us a detailed description of this struggle. Part of this was their scrupulous study of the stages of the passions’ formation in the human soul. [Read more…]

Moral Earthquake is Taking Place in America

Archpriest Victor Potapovby Maria Stroganova –

Father Victor, please tell us how the Orthodox of America reacted to the decision of the US Supreme Court recognizing the legitimacy of same-sex marriage throughout the country?

– To tell you the truth, we feel like we are in mourning. Of course, no one was surprised that it happened. We all understood that the majority of the Supreme Court would vote in favor of the decision to register same-sex marriages. It all started a long time ago, and over a year ago, the Supreme Court declared the Marriage Protection Act illegal Now this is the result.

Of course, homosexuals claim that they are looking for equality in civil life and they want gay husbands and wives to have the right to visit each other in the hospital, inherit property, to have children, and the rights which are provided to traditional couples. I think, though, they actually are pursuing other goals. Just this morning, I read an interview with a rather famous Russian emigrant, Masha Gessen, who has long been an activist in the LGBT movement. She, of course is an anarchist, but they listen to her opinion in America, and she said: “Our goal is to destroy marriage as an institution, so that there is no longer the concept of marriage.” Her words need to be taken very seriously.[Read more…]

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…]