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…]

Patriarch Bartholomew and Abortion

Patriarch Bartholomew and Abortionby Hieromonk Enoch –
Perhaps this could help clarify why Patriarch Bartholomew has a generally pro-abortion stance. In his book, “Encountering the Mystery”, [emphasis in bold] he says:

I also encounter many and diverse issues related to the sanctity of life from birth through death. Those issues range from sensitive matters of sexuality to highly controversial questions like the death penalty. In all such social and moral issues, it is not one or another position that the Orthodox Church seeks to promote in a defensive spirit. Indeed, we would normally refrain from expounding a single rigidly defined dogma on social and moral challenges. Rather, it is the sacredness of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God, that the Church at all times seeks to underline.

I’m sure many can see the starkness between this muddled statement that can be open to the most radical interpretation, indeed, it lends itself to such, [Read more…]

OCA Bishops: Synodal Affirmation of the Mystery of Marriage

Orthodox Church in Americaby OCA Holy Synod –
At the Tenth All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, held in Miami, Florida in July 1992, the Holy Synod of Bishops issued a document titled, “Synodal Affirmations on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life.” The Affirmations were issued after a lengthy process of study and discernment with the intention of addressing issues that, even in our time, continue to be a source of debate and division within American society.

The first section of the Affirmations, titled, “The Mystery of Marriage,” reads as follows.

“God creates human beings in His own image and likeness, male and female. He declares human life, with all that He makes, to be ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:27-31).

“God wills that men and women marry, becoming husbands and wives. He commands them to increase and multiply in the procreation of children, being joined into ‘one flesh’ by His divine grace and love. He wills that human beings live within families (Genesis 1:27; 2:21-24; Orthodox Marriage Service). [Read more…]

St. John Chrysostom on the Terrible Passion of Homosexuality

St. John Chrysostom virtue of faithby Fr. Sarantis Sarantou –

“Because of this did God give them up to dishonorable passions, for even their females did change their natural function into that which is against nature; and in like manner also the males having left the natural use of the female, did burn in their longing toward one another….” (Romans 1:26-27)

The Apostle Paul, according to the Holy Fathers, is the holy mouth of Christ, and divine Chrysostom is the mouth of the Apostle Paul. Commenting on the very important Epistle to the Romans of the holy Apostle Paul, the divine Father gives a divinely inspired analysis of homosexuality, among other issues.

All the passions are degrading to humanity, but especially the mania of men for men. He summarily characterizes homosexuality as an unforgivable passion, not because it really is, but because the entire male personality becomes so distorted that there is a chronic allegiance to this abomination, which is a difficult passion to restrain by the fallen.

The golden words of Chrysostom are remarkably balanced. His unshakable logic, which he uses to spiritually support his flock, is universally acknowledged to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. [Read more…]

Cultivating Faith in Children

Faith Children Orthodox Christianby Evgeny Poselyanin –
There are children who have strong faith despite their parents’ disbelief in, even hostility towards religion. The beauty and order of the universe awakens faith in them, as it did in Great Martyr Barbara.

The writer and New Martyr Evgeny Poselyanin (his real surname was Pogozhin, 1870–1931) reflects upon the teaching of faith to children in his book, Faith, and the Path to Faith.

Such a mind [as Great Martyr Barbaras’] arrives on its own at an inevitable faith in the Creator and Caring Provider of all that exists.

Then, a person with a lively and deep mind and a nature distinguished by a sense of justice finds it necessary to investigate those strange attacks on religion, of which he has become a witness. He strives to make sense of it all. And it could be said that other people, who would have remained indifferent to nature in times when religion is not persecuted, turn to it with all their souls during times of persecution.

However, the path that I have just mentioned is the path of direct faith, and it is the path of a few chosen souls. [Read more…]

Frank Schaeffer is a ‘Christian Atheist’

Frank Schaeffer Christian Atheist Leftist Progressive Delusionalby Kristin Rudolph –
Usually Frank Schaeffer’s talks follow a predictable pattern in which he describes how he followed in the footsteps of his prominent evangelical father, Francis Schaeffer, became disillusioned with the “Religious Right,” and now learns about God mostly through his relationship with his grandchildren. Recently, however, Schaeffer candidly discussed his personal theological views at Revolution NYC, an emergent congregation in Brooklyn, NY.

Over the past couple decades, Schaeffer has distanced himself from his family’s evangelicalism, and describes himself as Eastern Orthodox. But during his talk, Schaeffer told Jay Bakker, pastor of Revolution NYC and son of former televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker: “I describe myself as a Christian atheist.” [Read more…]

God Recognized and Honored at Texas Graduation

Fr. Seraphim Holland - Orthodox priestby Fr. Seraphim Holland –

Proof that I live in Texas and not Massachusetts:
1. My daughter’s nursing graduation ceremonies began and ended with prayer.
2. Most autobiographies (probably 60 out of 70) thanked God.
3. They recited the Florence Nightingale Pledge at the end.

“I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.” [Read more…]

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…]