Orthodox Christian Services Restore the Soul

Orthodox Christian Services Restore the Soulby St. Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) -
Church services, that is, all the daily services, together with the entire arrangement of the church’s icons, candles, censing, singing, chanting, movements of the clergy, as well as the services for various needs; then services in the home, also using ecclesiastical objects such as sanctified icons, holy oil, candles, holy water, the Cross, and incense — all of these holy things together acting upon all the senses — sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste — are the cloths that wipe clean the senses of the deadened soul. They are strongest and only reliable way to do it.

The soul becomes deadened by the spirit of the world, and possessed by sin that lives in the world. The entire structure of our Church services, with their tone, meaning, power of faith, and especially the grace concealed with them, have an invincible power to drive away the spirit of the world. In freeing the soul from the world’s onerous influence, it allows the soul to breathe freely and to taste the sweetness of spiritual freedom. [Read more...]

Conference on Poverty, St. Vlad’s Seminary, May 31-June 1, 2013

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life!”

Jay Richards

Jay Richards

Susan R. Holman

Susan R. Holman

Conference presenters will be Jay Richards, author of Money, Greed, and God and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute; and Susan R. Holman, senior writer at Harvard Global Health Institute, and author of The Hungry are Dying: Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia and God Knows There’s Need: Christian Responses to Poverty, both from Oxford University Press.

View Acton Institute’s engaging videos from “PovertyCure,” an international coalition of organizations and individuals committed to entrepreneurial solutions to poverty that challenge the status quo and champion the creative potential of the human person. [Read more...]

The Lord of Quantum Mechanics and Orthodox Teleportation

The Lord of Quantum Mechanics and Orthodox Teleportationby Dcn. Joseph Gleason -
Jesus is the Lord of quantum mechanics, and He created the space-time continuum. Physical barriers and geographical distances are not obstacles for Him. He can instantly transport people (and their prayers) to any location in the universe, without even breaking a sweat.

With all of our concordances, commentaries, and deep-dives into koine Greek grammar, we sometimes forget to sit back, relax, and revel in how incredibly awesome and cool some of the things in Scripture really are.

Teleportation is “the transfer of matter from one point to another without traversing the physical space between them.” What could be cooler than that? [Read more...]

Pope Francis I, A Promising Christ-like Leader of the Catholic Church

Pope Francis, A Promising Christ-like Leaderby Abbot Tryphon -
In Catholic tradition, Francis of Assisi had a mystical vision in which Christ told him to rebuild his Church. In taking the name Francis, this pope seems to be pledging himself to rebuild the image and integrity of a church that has suffered from widespread allegations of corruption, and the cover-up of the child sex abuse by innumerable members of her clergy.

After becoming archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, he sold the archbishop’s palace, preferring instead to live in an apartment. He was known to cook his own meals, and rejected the services of a chauffeur, preferring instead to ride the bus. As Jesuit Provincial, he put an end to the Liberation Theology being taught among Jesuits under him, demanding they stop their involvement in politics, and place their energies on serving the spiritual needs of their people.

This is the man who went to a hospice during Holy Week, and washed the feet of twelve aids patients. Known for a simple lifestyle and for dedication to social justice, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he had taken a strong stand against the corruption of politicians and business men in Argentina. He has not only been a champion of the poor, but a champion of democracy. [Read more...]

The Blind Faith Needed in Evolution

Evolution is a Myth not Science by Fr. Nikita Grigoriev -
Evolution [also known as macro-evolution] is a philosophical idea and must only be accepted purely on [blind] faith. Evolution is not a science and is not based on a single fact or observation or on any scientific process. It is based on the entirely false idea of Malthus about the perpetual universal shortage of food, and on the completely false idea of Lamarck concerning the inheritance of physical changes by a new generation from a previous generation. These two pillars on which the fantasy of evolution was originally built, in and of themselves, are likewise, in no way scientific, but are purely abstract and philosophical.

Adaptation is often confused with evolution. Adaptation is a fact and it’s quite real. Evolution is a myth and does not exist in reality at all, only in fantasy. There is a fine line separating them. Adaptation is when an individual or a species collectively changes to adapt to their environment. Such changes can be subtle or very striking. [Read more...]

Metropolitan Hilarion Blasts Anglicans for Renouncing the Faith

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev by David W. Virtue -
The future of ecumenism is in great peril with the gap widening between orthodox and progressives, says Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church a noted theologian and church historian.

Speaking before an audience at Villanova University, a Catholic institution on Philadelphia’s historic mainline and one of the oldest in the US, Hilarion said that when the holy fathers of the first millennium abided in unity and while it was subjected to many serious trials, it was the foundation upon which dialogue between Christians was successful and fruitful. “Fidelity to the Christian tradition is the proper means for the restoration of unity among Christ’s disciples.”

The orthodox leader blasted parts of the Anglican Communion for abandoning the faith and said renunciation of the truth by some Protestant denominations makes it difficult for the Orthodox Church to continue co-operation with them.

“I regret this, but dialogues with Protestants and Anglicans which we have had for decades are now under threat because of processes taking place in the Protestant communities of the West and North. I mean the continuing liberalization in the field of theology, ecclesiology and moral teaching. Certain denominations have legitimized the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of people openly declaring their non-traditional sexual orientation.” [Read more...]

Calculating Christmas Not Based on Pagan Festivals

Nativity Christmas Starby William J. Tighe -
Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance. [Read more...]

This Year’s Elections and Moral Choices

Voting and Moral Choicesby Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon -
This year’s elections involve an attempt to usurp an authority that belongs properly to God. Vote wisely, therefore, and in the fear of God. This year—more than any time in my memory—our votes in the election are going to be recorded in eternity.

Since political elections normally deal with matters of policy, I do not normally make them the subject of pastoral concern. This year, however, the national elections in our country are not concerned simply with policies but with principles.

My first comment, I suppose, should address that difference.

About policies—most questions of political concern—we may expect some legitimate disagreements among Christians. Among these we should include questions about the application of civil punishments, the funding of public education, the tax code, the authority of federal agencies, this or that social program, and so forth. These matters, properly governed by prudence, leave much room for legitimate disagreements among Christians. [Read more...]

Going to Heaven, Piece by Piece

Jesus Christ Healing Icon Peters Mother-in-Law by Fr. Steven Belonick -
Over the course of thirty-four years as an Orthodox priest, I have visited countless people with varying degrees of sickness—some with curable ailments and others with grave diseases. Each visit presented me with an opportunity to witness not only human anxiety and frailty but also heroic and steadfast faith. Each visit, as well, magnified my own fear and revealed my own paltry belief in God, teaching me valuable lessons. Two such visits still stand out in my memory: my first trip to a nursing home, and going to see a diabetic named “Alex.”

Impressions of my first visit to local nursing home as a newly assigned pastor in Binghamton, New York, remain fresh. Infirm and abandoned, their own names lost amid their decaying neuro-pathways, the “residents” would continually call out for help—but would receive no response. Confined to wheelchairs and beds, they hungrily sought acknowledgement of their presence, searching for someone to talk to within their shrinking world. [Read more...]

On Consecrating the Entire Economic Order

Consecrating the Entire Economic Order by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon -
St. Luke’s account of Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree (19:1-10) is a story rich in spiritual reflection; preachers and Bible-readers, coming from a variety of backgrounds, have explored the narrative unto great profit for the education of the soul.

A certain liturgical use of the text is particularly instructive; namely, the story of Zacchaeus has long been read in the dedicatory service of a new church building. This liturgical custom—warranted by Jesus’ assertion, “Today, I must stay at your house” indicates a symbolism: The home of Zacchaeus represents the consecrated places where Christians gather to meet, worship, and commune with Jesus.

There is an irony here: Even as we insist that Jesus preached the Gospel to the poor, he sometimes did so in the homes of wealthy. The reason was very simple: the wealthy had larger homes; a greater number of people could actually assemble there. (Some folks, doubtless, will be offended by this consideration, but let me mention that the first complaint [Read more...]

Four Characteristics of Good Orthodox Preaching

Fr. Jonathan Cholcher

Fr. Jonathan Cholcher

by Fr. Jonathan Cholcher -
Orthodox preaching needs to be good preaching. To be good, Orthodox preaching must not only deliver good content, but it must strive to make the hearers good. Therefore, good Orthodox preaching is the Gospel (lit., good news) proclaimed and lived.

Four characteristics mark good Orthodox preaching:

  • Christ crucified and risen;
  • the language, or rationale, of Scripture;
  • plain discourse; and
  • attention to the experience of salvation through the Gospel.

All Orthodox preachers exhibit these traits beginning with Christ Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets. They only preach what they themselves have come to know.

First, Orthodox preaching is the Word, the Logos incarnate Who was crucified and raised to redeem the world from sin, death, and the power of the devil. [Read more...]

Cultivate That Quiet Light, Find Strength in God

Cultivate That Quiet Light, Find Strength in God by Protodeacon Leonid Mickle -
We are all given talents to be used to the glory of God throughout our journey toward salvation. If we exercise them to the best of our ability and to the glory of God, they become part of that light which enlightens the world. The enemy is tireless in his attempts to keep us from performing them. If he cannot sway us from performing the obviously important tasks, he works on the little things, the mundane, seemingly insignificant details of daily life. …

Many are perishing
I have often heard advice similar to that given by St. Seraphim of Sarov: Cultivate the quiet light of Christ within you, and with it you will enlighten those around you. At times, when contemplating the zeal which so many apostles demonstrated in their confession of the Faith before the world, I have wondered about that advice. We know that many are perishing, that many have either never even heard of the Orthodox Church, or are not aware that the Church is not an ethnic clubhouse, but a source of Living Water for all. Why are we not told to advertise, to go out with trumpets, drums, loudspeakers, bright lights, to make the Church more visible? God sometimes provides us with wonderful answers in unexpected settings. [Read more...]

Our Love of God is Tested Beyond the Church Walls

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk by Metropolitan Hilarion -
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

In today’s Reading of the Gospel, we heard the story of how our Lord Jesus Christ, at the request of His disciple, fed up a multitude of people with bread and fish. The Gospel speaks of five thousand men who were fed by the Lord, not counting women and children. So, we do not know the exact number of people. The Lord fed them with five thousand loaves and two fishes.

This miracle of the multiplication of loaves in a desert reminds us that the Lord is the Giver of every blessing, the Giver of both material and spiritual food. It is not accidental that every time before eating we ask the Lord to bless our meal and after the meal we thank Him for satisfying us with His earthly gifts and ask that He may not deprive us of His Heavenly Kingdom.

This miracle of the multiplication of loaves in a desert reminds us that the Lord is the Giver of every blessing, the Giver of both material and spiritual food. [Read more...]

Persecuting Christianity in Europe

Christian persecution, loss of religious liberty by Pravmir -
The case of stewardess of The British Airways Nadia Eweida and nurse Shirley Chaplin is considered to be unprecedented by many people. Ms. Eweida and Ms. Chaplin have appealed to the Strasburg Court, calling their case a violation of freedom of religion.

Earlier, the women tried to defend their rights in a British court. But while their case was being investigated, the UK authorities worked out a draft law which, in fact, allows employers to sack employees who do not conceal that they are Christians. Moreover, the UK authorities are going to defend their position in the European Court of Human Rights.

“It sometimes looks like Europe’s secular authorities are trying to totally expel Christianity from Europe,” a representative of the Russian Patriarch’s Office in the Council of Europe Father Philip Ryabykh said in an interview with the Voice of Russia. “The Russian Orthodox Church cannot watch this without expressing its protest!” [Read more...]

What is the Meaning of Life?

Hieromonk Job (Gumerov)

Hieromonk Job (Gumerov)

by Hieromonk Job Gumerov -
Man has given thought to the meaning and purpose of life since antiquity. The Greeks had the myth of Sisyphus, king of Ephyra (Corinth). As punishment for his deceitfulness, in the underworld he had to roll an enormous rock up a mountain for eternity. But as soon as he reached the peak, an invisible force propelled the rock back down to the bottom – and then the same pointless labor began all over again. This is a striking illustration of the meaninglessness of life.

In the twentieth century, the writer and philosopher Albert Camus applied this image to modern man, judging the central feature of his existence to be absurdity:

“At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which become his fate, created by him, combined under his memory’s eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling.” [Read more...]