Fr. Jacobse: Christianity and Same-Sex Attraction

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

by Fr. Johannes Jacobse -
This past Sunday (May 20, 2012), Ancient Faith Todayinterviewed Dr. Philip Mamalakis and Andrew Williams who specialize in counseling people with same-sex attraction. It was hands down one of the most illuminating and informed presentations I have heard on this complex and often contentious topic in quite a while.

Without going into particulars (you can listen to the interview below), their grounding in Orthodox anthropology enabled them to avoid the common misconception that the object of a person’s sexual desire forms what I call a “foundational characteristic of personhood.” In practical terms this means that we error when we see a person first and foremost as either “straight” or “gay” believing that “sexual orientation” sums up much of who and what he is.

This way of understanding the human person is taken at face value in the larger culture, but in Orthodox self-understanding it misses the mark completely. We are not to conform our understanding of the human person to whether he prefers men or women because we don’t define a person in terms of his sexual desire. [Read more...]

Same-Sex Marriage: How Did We Get Here? And Where Are We Going?

Fr. Lev Semenov

Fr. Lev Semenov

by Archpriest Lev Semenov -
President Barack Obama recently affirmed his personal support for the legalization of same-sex marriage. For a perspective from Russia on this momentous development, we offer the following commentary by Archpriest Lev Semenov, Dean of the Faculty of Further Education at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University and cleric of the Church of St. Nicholas in Kuznetskaya Sloboda, both in Moscow.

The political heavyweight of the Western world has taken a step towards the abyss. If we are to believe the news report broadcast on the radio, and later confirmed in the press, President Barack Obama has made his first public statement in support of the legalization of same-sex marriages.

One can only sympathize with the citizens of this country who hold the Christian faith, just imagining how they must have felt when they heard this statement from their head of state. [Read more...]

The Necessity of Christian Friendships

Abbot Tryphon by Abbot Tryphon -
In this age where secularism is on the rise, and materialism has become a major distraction from spiritual pursuits, Christian friendship has never been more important. The pursuit of personal fulfill…ment, entertainment, worldly pleasure, and the acquisition of material goods, has become the dominant theme of our age. Families that once placed the life of the Church as the center of their week, have drifted away from God. Having made idols of worldly pleasures and pursuits, their family life has become focused on transitory goals, leaving them in a state of spiritual bankruptcy. Parents who once brought their children to the temple, having lost their own way, watch those children stray far from faith.

Centered on worldly pursuits, we’ve allowed our spiritual life to be displaced by things that are transitory in nature, no longer thinking on the things of God. Our spiritual illness has infected our youth like a virus, leaving them with little to sustain them, when times get tough. The economic, political, and social instability of our age demands that we be spiritually fit, yet we give our youth virtually nothing that will help them through the hardships ahead. [Read more...]

Christian Resurgence in Russia, Patriarch Kirill Leads Day of Prayer

Russian Orthodox Christian Bishops Patriarch Kirill by Deacon Keith Fournier -
There is a growing recognition that there is more that joins theologically faithful Catholics and theologically faithful Orthodox than that which separates us. The cultural decline compels our collaboration in Christ. It is leading us to a growing mutual respect which may pave the way toward some form of restored communion. Patriarch Kirill sees the Orthodox and Catholic Churches as “sister churches”. That is a welcome sign of the work of the Holy Spirit. We ask our readers around the globe to pray for the Patriarch and for Christians in Russia. …

We welcomed the selection of Patriarch Kirill as the 16th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in 2009. It was the first election of a Patriarch since the fall of the atheist Communist regime which governed the former Soviet Union for so many years. We, along with millions the world over, hoped it was a sign of the revitalization of the ancient faith in this critical time in history.

Patriarch Kirill is theologically and doctrinally solid – said to be a man of deep faith and courage. He is a champion of the authentic Orthodox Christian Tradition and a stalwart defender of the doctrine of the ancient Christian Faith of the First Millennium – before the first split in the Church occurred. [Read more...]

Betrayal Then and Now: On Great Wednesday

Judas Iscariot Betrays Jesus by Fr. Alexander Iliashenko -
On Great Wednesday the Church remembers how Judas betrayed Christ the Savior. In the following talk, Archpriest Alexander Iliashenko addresses the betrayal of Judas, how Christ was questioned, and the story of Marshal Rokossovsky’s refusal to name names.

Why was it necessary to have a traitor? After all, it would seem that tracking down the Savior would have been easy, since He neither hid nor concealed Himself. He could have been located without any trouble. They could have just sent a detachment to seize Him. But, for some reason, it was necessary to have a traitor – so that this frightful act would take place from within.

This serves as a warning to us all that we must guard our inner unity, not allowing ourselves even to entertain thoughts against those of like mind with us or against those people who are close to us, which can ruin a great thing. [Read more...]

Bearing the Fruits of the Spirit: On Great Monday

Jesus Christ and the Fig Tree by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia -
Each day of Passion Week is marked by special commemorations. After His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the Lord went every evening with His disciples to the Mount of Olives after spending the day in the Holy City. During these days He turned to them with words that are especially powerful and filled with profound meaning, words that reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom of God and open the curtain to the future of the entire human race.

Monday is associated with particular events. Along the way to Jerusalem, the Lord and His disciples saw a fig tree covered with rich foliage. When the famished travelers approached the tree, the Lord began to look for fruit but did not find a single one. He then cursed the fig tree.

It is well known how critics of the Gospel – people who for various reasons could not and cannot accept the word given to the human race by the Lord Jesus Christ – have criticized this passage. St. Innocent of Kherson responds to this criticism in remarkable manner. According to his words, it was not, of course, as if the Lord was offended by the fig tree and said: “I wanted to taste of the fruit, but there was none – so may you be cursed.” This is not at all what the Savior wanted to say; rather, He cursed the fig tree to give us an example of how barrenness is punishable. [Read more...]

Why Did the Lord Single Out Mary of Egypt?

St Mary of Egypt icon by Fr. Alexander Men -
On the fifth Sunday of Great Lent the Church celebrates the memory of St. Mary of Egypt, the holy ascetic struggler, who is an image of the deep and sincere repentance that brings forth great fruit.

All of you will remember her life. You will recall that her youth was spent in wantonness; that she was a harlot, a courtesan, a fallen woman in a large and depraved city in Egypt; and that she went from being a great sinner to a saint. Yet, regardless of such a manner of life, there was likely some Godly spark in Mary’s heart attracting her to God. She did not understand that she was not living as the Lord’s law or conscience demand. She thought that she was not hurting anyone.

Once a large ship with pilgrims and believers was leaving for the Holy Land, and Mary decided to leave with them. At first it did not even occur to her that this would be a pilgrimage to the holy places. She simply wanted to enjoy herself with the people who were leaving for a journey by ship. [Read more...]

The Meaning of the Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

Archpriest Alexander Men

Archpriest Alexander Men

by Fr. Alexander Men -
Every day of Great Lent, with the exception of Saturdays and Sundays, the prayer “O Lord and Master of my life” is read. According to tradition, this prayer was written in Syria in the fourth century by the ascetic Mar Afrem or, as we have grown accustomed to calling him, Ephraim the Syrian. He was a monk, poet, and theologian, one of the most eminent sons of the Syrian Church, who entered world literature as a remarkable writer.

The words of the prayer, which were quite accurately transmitted by Pushkin [1], sound as follows when translated from the Syrian: “O Lord and Master of my life,” that is: Ruler of my life, Who gave me life, Who is the center and focal point of my life. “Give me not a spirit of idleness,” that is, laziness, which is, according to the old adage, the mother of all vices. Laziness seems like an innocent thing, but it engenders much that is dark and black.

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem (St. Ephraim the Syrian)
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.

Despondency (Despair).” Christianity is a joyful doctrine; joyful, too, is he who is despondent – for it will leave him. [Read more...]

Lent and the Path to Freedom: Doing Battle with the World, the Flesh and the Devil

Jesus Tempted Desert Satan Battle Lent by Deacon Keith Fournier –
Lent invites us to journey in Jesus, into the Desert. It is there, in that pace of struggle, the field of engagement, where we can learn the root causes of our challenges and be equipped with the weapons of our warfare to fight what the Scriptures and Tradition refer to as the “world, the flesh and the devil.” …

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4:1) “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.” (Gaudium et Spes, # 22, Second Vatican Council)

When I was a young man in College I had a priest friend who I now recall every time we begin the Forty Day Observance of Lent. About a week before Ash Wednesday he would say, “I am looking forward to Lent.” The comment would perplex me greatly. In fact, I was dreading Lent, thinking it to be an onerous time with a lot of external practices which I did not really understand. [Read more...]

Cappella Romana CD: Angelic Light – Music from Eastern Cathedrals

Angelic Light - Music from Eastern Cathedrals Cappella Romana by Chris Banescu –
A new Orthodox CD has been released by Cappella Romana titled “Angelic Light – Music from Eastern Cathedrals.” You can experience the otherworldly sounds of Byzantine chant and choral works in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, from ancient hymns from Constantinople to new choral works inspired by that tradition performed by Cappella Romana. The album selections feature both liturgical and para-liturgical works, seamlessly moving from ancient chant melodies to compositions by some of the world’s most notable composers working in the tradition today including Rev. Dr. Ivan Moody, Peter Michaelides and Tikey Zes.

OrthodoxNet has received an advanced copy of this CD and we have listened to it many times. The hymns are magnificent and heavenly, simply amazing! We wholeheartedly recommend the “Angelic Light – Music from Eastern Cathedrals” CD from Cappella Romana. The album is available as MP3 file downloads or a traditional CD from Valley Entertainment’s website: Angelic Light – Music from Eastern Cathedrals. [Read more...]

The Simple Life

Bishop Tikhon (OCA)

Bishop Tikhon (OCA)

by Bishop Tikhon -
When we look around the world we live in, we are often overwhelmed by its complexity and its activity. The world seems never to take a break: businesses, stores and restaurants are open seven days a week, school activities take place at all times, entertainment can be accessed at any hour via the internet and wireless streaming devices and we are often slavishly controlled by all manner of communications: cell phones, emails, text messages and social networking.

All of this worldly activity is supposed to allow us more free time and make our life “easier” and “simpler.” But in reality, it only seems to complicate it by forcing us to devote more money and energy to acquiring those “time-saving” and “lifeenhancing” devices and products. Beyond this, all that worldly activity cuts down on the time we spend together as a family, restricts our ability to go to church services and events and chips away at the time that we devote to the care of our soul through prayer, spiritual reading and repentance. [Read more...]

Orthodox Bishops Protest Government Healthcare Mandate

Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops -
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the sanctity of the Church’s conscience. [Read more...]

Metropolitan Jonah’s Prayer on March for Life 2012

Metropolitan Jonah and Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Metropolitan Jonah and Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Metropolitan Jonah -
As reported earlier on oca.org, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah offered the opening prayer during the program that preceded the March for Life here on Monday, January 23, 2012.

“Roman Catholic Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who is in charge of pro-life activities, invited the Orthodox bishops to stand together with the Roman Bishops, as we are of one mind in regards to Life, and for us to begin to alternate giving the opening prayer for the March,” Metropolitan Jonah said, reflecting on the March. “This year, they gave the honor to me to bless the opening of the March for Life on their behalf, as well as on behalf of the Orthodox. With me at that podium, at my request, was Cardinal-elect Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.

“This is a significant ecumenical event, a strong gesture of unity, and a great symbol of the respect of the Roman Catholic Church for the Orthodox Church in America,” Metropolitan Jonah continued. “We are of one mind in opposition to abortion as a fundamental doctrinal and moral position, in accordance with the ancient Tradition of the undivided orthodox catholic Church.” [Read more...]

Orthodox Christians Take High-Visibility Role in the March for Life

Orthodox Christian bishops hierarchs priests March for Life by The Editors -
At a religious event often dominated by massive presence of Roman Catholics, members of the Eastern Orthodox Church played a more visible role in this year’s March for Life than ever before. For the first time, the opening prayer in front of the Supreme Court was offered by His Eminence Jonah (Paffhausen), Metropolitan of All America and Canada for the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), as well as Roman Catholic prelates Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan.

“We are of one heart and one purpose,” he said as he chanted a litany of life before hundreds of thousands of marchers.

The Metropolitan was joined by several of his brother bishops, including Bp. Melchizedek of Pittsburgh, Bp. Matthias of Chicago, and Bp. Michael of New York. At least 15 priests were in his company alone. Several individual representatives of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Antiochian Orthodox Churches also participated. [Read more...]

Fr. Preble: Religious Freedom Under Attack

Fr. Peter Michael-Preble

Fr. Peter Michael-Preble

by Fr. Peter Michael-Preble –
America has a very long tradition of freedom. We cherish these freedoms like, the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and until recently, freedom of choice. I will admit right up front that I voted for President Obama because, like many, I believed we needed change. Well I now feel I was duped and his brand of change is not what America needs at all.

As an Orthodox priest and an American I believe in traditional family values like marriage, family, saving one’s self for that person we plan to spend the rest of our life with — in other words I believe in Christian values as proscribed not only by my Church’s tradition but by Holy Scripture itself.

On Jan. 20th it was announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the religious exemption on certain parts of the health care plan would not continue and now religious organizations, like the church, would have to supply health insurance that provides coverage for contraception and abortion. The Roman Catholic Church has been carrying most of the water on this fight and as usual our Orthodox Bishops are silent on this. We have an opportunity here to make our voice heard but we are more concerned with territory and language than we are with issues that affect real people! It is time for our bishops to wake up and speak out. Our people are confused and need to hear their voices loud and clear. [Read more...]