The Challenges of Spiritual Happiness

Children Orthodox Church Christians Candles by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky -
“I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1)

We hear so often, “She’s just like her mother,” or “He’s the spitting image of his father.” Even the old Russian proverb repeats the cliche: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It can mean so much or be inconsequential. Eye color, the stride, the way they deal with traumas, or the faint trace of a smile stamp the child as carrier of the parent’s DNA.

The characteristic with eternal significance is—does the child take pleasure in praying in the temple of the Lord? Watch a child and notice how it’s instantly apparent. Either he enjoys being in God’s house, or he cannot wait until he can defy the parent and stay away. For a time, the believing mother or father will bring the child to church even if it’s against his will. “We are family, you are part of our family, and families pray together.” Good advice, even when imposed against the kid’s will. What to do when the child resists, rebels, and refuses to go to church? [Read more...]

What Time Is It for Your Child?

family time child orthodox christianby Fr. Athanasios Papagiannis -
John weighed seven pounds, seven ounces on the day he was born. His first days of life were highlighted by bouts of crying and long periods of sleeping. On the drive home from the hospital, a few days later, John’s mother glanced down, looked at her new baby, and for a moment she smiled.

Then she looked ahead.

“Honey,” she began, as she stared at her husband, “I know we decided to keep our careers so that we can be financially secure, but now I’m having second thoughts. I want to give our son the most attention we can. I want us to reconsider having me stay at home with him.”

Her husband shook his head in frustration. “We discussed this, remember?” he shot back. “We can’t afford to have one of us at home all the time. It doesn’t make sense.” For the next few minutes the proud new parents shared their thoughts and uneasiness of leaving their child in the care of someone other than his parents. Conversations like the one above are common among new parents. Every parent wants the best for their child, yet mapping out how to exactly deliver that parenting has become more and more difficult. [Read more...]

Orthodox Churches in Russia Rise After Communist Holocaust

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ promised and His word is true: “and on this rock I shall build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

[Read more...]

Take the Children to Church

Orthodox Children church by George Strickland, Ph.D. -
Based on new studies conducted by Baylor University, children from more religious families and from families with higher rates of religious attendance are better behaved and more well adjusted at home and at school. Better educated people generally had parents who attended church services twice or more a month. Among people with graduate level educations, two-thirds had mothers who were from frequent church attenders, compared to just under half of people with only a high school education. The difference is just as significant when looking at the frequency of church attendance by both parents and even larger when looking at fathers’ attendance. This evidence is highly correlated with other studies that show church attendance during adolescence helps reduce a number of the damaging long-term risk factors of disadvantaged children and leads to better education success overall.

There are a number of reasons why parents’ religious attendance might improve children’s educational and developmental outcomes. First, children may be more likely to learn wholesome values and moral commitment if they go to church. [Read more...]

Escalation of Christianophobia in the Middle East is a threat to Orthodoxy

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

Interview with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church -

Q: Recently, reports have spread all over the world about the events in Egypt’s Giza where radical Muslim groups killed people and set on fire two Christians churches. Are there real threats to Christianity in the Middle East?

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (MH): The Middle East is the cradle of Christianity. The history of Orthodoxy is inseparably linked with this region. There are four old Orthodox Patriarchates there, those of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, and the old Archdioceses of Cyprus and Sinai. In history, the eastern Mediterranean repeatedly became an arena of political and religious wars, and Christians were often victims of those conflicts.

Christians and non-Christians managed to achieve peaceful coexistence in some countries of the region, and Egypt was considered one of the examples of such coexistence between the Muslim majority and the Christian minority. However, the tragedy of the last months, beginning from the terrorist attack committed at the Coptic church in Alexandria during the night of January 1, 2011, to the recent arsons in Giza, have stirred up anxiety and pain among millions of believers around the world. [Read more...]

Facebook “Listening” Group Drags Culture Wars into the Orthodox Church

Culture Wars Orthodox Church facebook by Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse -
Progressive fads sweep through the culture like clockwork. Remember the impending global ice age in the 1970s that morphed into global warming today? How about the fight about abortion where anyone who dared criticize it was branded as a hater of women? Remember the Equal Rights Amendment and how convinced its supporters were that it was absolutely necessary for a just society?

None of these movements should be taken lightly of course but that doesn’t disqualify them as fads. There is always a strong strain of self-justification among Progressive Culture Warriors; a posturing that creates a facade of virtue and labels the critic as ignorant. Fellow travelers bask in that warm glow of imputed righteousness that they generously confer on each other. The rest of us can return to our caves.

That kind of arrogance informs the new Facebook group “Listening: Breaking the Silence on Sexuality with the Orthodox Church.” The tendentious title is the first clue something is seriously skewed. What silence needs to be “broken”? Who are the people breaking it? Is the Orthodox Church really silent on sexuality? [Read more...]

A Response to an Open Letter on Homosexuality

Fr. John Whiteford

Fr. John Whiteford

by Fr. John Whiteford
In response to the debate about homosexuality that is currently going on in the OCA, there is now an “Open letter to OCA Holy Synod from college students and young adults” that has been sent to the bishops of the OCA, and is making the rounds on the internet.

This letter is a classic example of the use of politically correct arguments to shut down those whom liberals disagree with, rather then deal with the actual substance of the question. This tactic is not by accident. When you can’t deal with the substance of an issue, complaining about the tone of those you can’t answer will do, in a pinch.

In short, the letter complains about the tone of those who say homosexuality is a sin, without unequivocally stating what the correct teaching of the Church actually is on the subject. There is no acknowledgment that statements that are morally ambiguous might be of any legitimate concern, only condemnation of those who seek to make clear what the teaching of the Church is. [Read more...]

OCA Laity Urges OCA to Adopt “Sanctity of Marriage Sunday”

St. Nicholas Cathedral OCA Washington DC

St. Nicholas Cathedral in DC

From Parishioners of St. Nicholas Cathedral:

“St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington DC has sent five resolutions to the OCA’s Resolution Committee for consideration at the upcoming 16th All American Council. The resolutions can be found at www.OCALaity.com. The resolutions deal with marriage, our OCA youth, monasteries, child sexual abuse, and a deaf outreach.

Of particular interest to most Orthodox Christians is the resolution calling for an annual Sanctity of Marriage Sunday. All are well aware of the continued assault on traditional marriage due to fornication, adultery, divorce, and same-sex unions. Presently six states and DC have passed same-sex marriage laws, and more states plan on taking up the issue. This resolution will hopefully encourage the Faithful to proclaim Holy Tradition’s teaching on sexuality and marriage, both in the church and in the public square.

We hope you view the site (www.OCALaity.com) so an early discussion on the merits of each resolutions can be made before the AAC. Please talk with your priest and parish council concerning your support for particular resolutions.” [Read more...]

Orthodox Bishops Must Speak Out Against the Homosexual Agenda

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

by Fr. Johannes Jacobse -
When the light shines, the darkness is made manifest scripture tells us and nowhere is this clearer than in the debate about the morality of homosexuality in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Most readers know that this debate is heating up, driven in large part by the Facebook group Listening: Breaking the Silence on Sexuality within the Orthodox Church.

True to its tendentious name (there is no “silence” that needs “breaking”), the group follows the playbook of homosexual activism that crippled the Episcopalian Church: Accept the premise that the prohibitions against homosexuality need to be “revisted” (a favorite phrase) and thereby undermine the authority of the moral tradition. Refuse and you will castigated as unloving, uncharitable, closed-minded, ignorant, homophobic, responsible for teen suicides — all the usual pejoratives that are foisted on those who disagree. It’s all done with a smile of course. Call it intimidation through church-speak.

The OCA is hampered with the problem of homosexuality because past leaders were active homosexuals. These leaders did not champion the homosexual agenda, but because they were morally compromised the homosexual behavior in some ranks of Church leadership went unchallenged. [Read more...]

Bishop Matthias Reaffirms Orthodox Teaching on Homosexuality

Bishop Matthias

Bishop Matthias

Beloved Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest,
Christ is in our midst!

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise, also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” (Romans 1:24-27)

In light of the ongoing discussions and debates about “same sex marriage”, I felt the need to address our faithful concerning this issue. Although it would appear to me that the Church doctrine and Scripture has been clear about this issue, there are those who “twist” the Scriptures and the Canons of the Church to fit their own needs. We have always believed that the interpretation of Scripture lies within the framework of “Holy Tradition” and the experience and interpretation of the Holy Fathers before us. Who are we to interpret the Scripture outside of this Sacred Tradition? Only those, who do not have the light of Christ, will interpret Scripture to their own ends.

In the above passage from Romans, St. Paul writes that because of the “lusts of their hearts,” they exchanged the truth of God for the lie. [Read more...]

Met. Jonah: On Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and Moral Living

Metropolitan Jonah

Metropolitan Jonah

Beloved Fathers, brothers and sisters in Christ,

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:6-10)

In our own lifetimes we were blessed by an act of prophetic witness in July 1992, when the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America issued the magnificent “Affirmations on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life.” Two decades later we Orthodox who live in the diocese that includes our nation’s capital city need to be reminded of some of the moral verities contained in the Affirmations. It should be obvious to any attentive observer that those verities are under increasing assault by the intellectual, social, and cultural elites in this country—and even by many of our public officials, particularly in the federal government headquartered here in Washington, DC. More alarming is the erosion of those moral verities within some of our Orthodox congregations. [Read more...]

Islamic Supremacism Trumps Christianity at Ground Zero

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church

by Pamela Geller -

While New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg works in anxious haste to build the cultural obscenity that is the Ground Zero mosque, the iconic St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was built in 1916 and destroyed in the attack on the World Trade Center towers by Muslim terrorists, remains vanquished, unable to rebuild.

Bloomberg is lobbying for 9/11 taxpayer funds for the Islamic supremacist grifters behind the Ground Zero mosque, but St. Nicholas Church is in purgatory ten years after the worst day in modern American history.

Perhaps St. Nicholas Church should claim that it is a mosque — then Bloomberg and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn would probably pour the cement for its foundation. [Read more...]

Northeast Priests Reaffirm Traditional Marriage Teaching of the Orthodox Church

Traditional Marriage Orthodox Church Reaffirms – OCA Priests in NY and NJ
To The Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey

The political and ethical current of contemporary American society has once again been agitated by the recent legislative legalization of so-called “same sex marriages” in the State of New York. While the majority of Orthodox Christians are familiar with the Church’s consistent and constant teaching about same-sex attraction and the nature of marriage, this is an opportune time to repeat the Church’s teaching so that no ambiguity exists in the minds of the faithful.

Therefore, we, the Chancellor and Deans of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, wish to thank His Grace, Bishop Michael for his recent archpastoral letter and join him in reaffirming the teaching of the Orthodox Church in this regard. [Read more...]

Bishop Michael: Affirming the Sanctity of Marriage

Bishop Michael OCA OrthodoxARCHPASTORAL LETTER RE-AFFIRMING THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE

June 24, 2011 Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Beloved Fathers and Mothers, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:

Christ is in our midst! – He is and ever shall be!

On this very day, we have witnessed the successful efforts of public officials in the State of New York to legally re-define the meaning of marriage to include unions between two persons of the same gender. It is important for us, as Christians of the Orthodox Church, preserving the Tradition of teaching the truth handed down by the Lord Himself, “the faith which was once for all delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3), to re-affirm the meaning of marriage given to us in His Sacred Scripture.

In the document, Affirmations on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctify of Life, written and adopted by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America in 1992, we read (in part) the following summary of the teaching of our Faith on this matter:

(1) 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...]

How Russians survived militant atheism to embrace God

St. Basil Cathedral Moscowby Walter Rodgers -
Today, less than 20 years after the collapse of the officially atheistic Soviet Union, Russia has emerged as the most God-believing nation in Europe. That’s a testament to the devotion of babushkas who kept the flames of faith alive in the face of state-sponsored repression.

Sometimes really huge news stories occur that receive almost no notice, but they are seismic just the same. Today, less than 20 years after the collapse of the officially atheistic Soviet Union, Russia has emerged as the most God-believing nation in Europe, more so than Roman Catholic Italy or Protestant Britain. The independent Public Opinion Fund poll discovered this spring that 82 percent of Russians now say they are religious believers.

Given the brutal and ruthless repression by Joseph Stalin of the Russian Orthodox Church and all religion, this is truly a remarkable statistic. It is a testament to the babushkas who would not capitulate to Soviet bullying. Hoorah for the hero grandmothers of the motherland! Against all odds they have won. [Read more...]