The Meaning of Life: Follow Christ, Seek the Holy Spirit, Desire Salvation

The Meaning of Life: Follow Christ, Seek the Holy Spirit, Desire Salvationby Fr. Gabriel (Hieromonk) –
The answer to the question, the meaning of our life, is the Holy Spirit of God being poured out upon us. It is our calling on the name of the Lord and being saved.

Throughout all the ages of human history, mankind has been ceaselessly occupied with a single question: why? What is the meaning of life, what is the purpose of birth and death, of love and of suffering? Why have we appeared in this world which is so full of both beauty and misery? Men and women of every culture and nation, of every philosophy and religion, have sought for countless centuries to find the answer to this question, and still there are those who seek to find it today despite the modern cacophony of triviality which has all but overwhelmed us. [Read more…]

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How to Seek Inner Peace

Holy-Eucharist_icon_01by Fr Dn Charles Joiner –
In the beginning of our spiritual journey we realize that we lack an inner peace, and realize that the way we are seeking to find it only seems to bring more turmoil. We have a feeling that God is distant from us and that our inner being is seeking a peace it cannot find. This motivates us to renew, or even begin for the first time, our search for God, and a deep inner spiritual peace only He can bring. This effort is brought about by our conscience and engages our will to take actions that will help us change our way life.

We seek spiritual books to read, we seek out a spiritual father to teach us the way, and we begin to attend worship services more regularly. With our sincerity in this effort, we are properly guided and encouraged to also actively participate in the sacramental life of the Church, primarily Confession and Holy Communion. We learn about, and begin, the ascetic disciplines of fasting and daily prayer, and learn how to properly prepare to receive Holy Communion regularly. [Read more…]

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The Church is THE Essential Institution

Orthodox Christian Church Liturgy, communal and sacramental faithby Fr. Abbot Tryphon –
A nation that forbids her people from participating in corporate worship, is a nation that is doomed.

Christianity is a communal faith, one that requires its followers to be actively involved with others. The Church’s worship is communal, and salvation itself is a corporate act, one that necessitates interaction with others. One is not “saved” in a vacuum, but as part of the corporal life of the Church. Your salvation must be as much a concern to me, as is my own salvation. My relationship with Christ is not about me, but about us. Our sins are not just against God, but against the Body of Christ, the Church. Our love of God can not be salvific if we do not love others, for just as the Lord said, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (1 John 4:20)”. [Read more…]

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Orthodox Hierarchy Response to Coronavirus Crisis is Not Orthodoxy

Orthodox Hierarchy Response to Coronavirus Crisis is Not Orthodoxyby Nora Kowalcheck –
If I have “unreasonable faith” as one bishop described it to me back in March, perhaps his grandparents and parents had “unreasonable faith,” too, and perhaps that is what lead him to the priesthood and years of service in our church.

I am an Orthodox mother. I have been Orthodox for the last 30 years and my husband is cradle Orthodox, born and raised in the OCA. We have four children here, and one in Heaven.

In the last three months, I have not heard one bishop, or directive from a bishop, speak about our children. Not one. The ONLY reference to children has been that if they cannot distance themselves properly, they will need to remain home.

I am deeply grieved by this and, quite frankly, angry and I believe rightly so. My husband and I, like many other Orthodox parents, have struggled and done the hard work, week after week, year after year, for twelve years now, to take our children to church and teach them our faith. [Read more…]

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Pascha Celebrations Did Not Spread the Coronavirus in Georgia

Pascha Celebrations Did Not Spread the Coronavirus in GeorgiaThere was no increase in the cases of coronavirus infection following the celebration of Pascha in Georgia, where the churches remained open though observing the necessary sanitary standards, according to a leading infectious diseases expert in Tbilisi.

“At the recommendation of the government, the Church itself has taken a very correct and good position and, in fact, we quietly passed through the period that could have been the basis for the growth of the epidemic,” said Tengiz Tsertsvadze, the Director of the Tbilisi Infectious Diseases Hospital, on
on Adjara Television on May 4.

“There has been no increase in the number of infections due to religious holidays,” the expert said. [Read more…]

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Closing Orthodox Churches is Unjustified Offense Against God

Georgian Church Closing Orthodox Churches is Unjustified Offense Against GodHoly Synod of the Orthodox Church of Georgia –
The Georgian Patriarchate issued a strong statement, both reiterating its call for the faithful to follow necessary sanitary guidelines and responding to those who are attacking the Church’s ancient practices.

In many places where services have continued and the faithful have continued to partake of Holy Communion, those who are ill-disposed to the holy Orthodox faith, including amongst media representatives, are loudly attacking the Church and its hierarchs, accusing them of putting people in danger, such as in Serbia and Ukraine, Romania, and in Georgia as well, as testified to by yesterday’s statement from the Georgian Church.

While calling on the faithful to observe heightened sanitary practices,the Georgian Patriarchate asserts strongly that a ban on Church attendance is an unjustified offense against God, [Read more…]

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Palm Sunday – Homily on Holy Communion

Palm Sunday - Homily on Holy Communion by Bishop Ilias (Miniatis) –
Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord. (John 12:13)

The Destroyer of hell, conqueror of death, Author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ resurrected Lazarus the Four-Days-Dead. When on the next day He entered into Jerusalem, the entire city was shaken by the news of such a great miracle and the arrival of such a Miracle-Worker. “Who is this?” they asked each other. The entire multitude had gathered for the Passover, as if drawn by a divine wave of hand, and now receives Him with great solemnity as the King of Israel.

Some go before Him, others behind; some cut branches, others throw them on the ground; others spread their garments on the path, and all with one voice—even the little children—exclaim, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord! I will mark three circumstances in this light-bearing solemnity: first, the garments that were spread on the ground; second, the palm branches, the signs of victory; and third, the joyful exclamation of: Hosanna, Blessed is He that comes. [Read more…]

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An Orthodox Christian Response to the Coronavirus

Orthodox Christian Response to Coronavirus Bishop Irenei of Londonby Bishop Irenei of London –
No genuinely believing Christian can for one moment accept that the Holy Mysteries might bring or be the source of sickness or ill-health: by no means!

As we enter now fully into this lenten period leading to the bright Resurrection of Christ, we find ourselves also in a period where many are stricken with fear at the spread of a new virus (Coronavirus COVID-19), which is affecting people in many parts of the world — including several countries within the borders of our Diocese. Since many are asking how this situation is to be approached, within our Church consciousness, I write to you in this initial week of the Great Fast to share the comfort and solace of the Church.

The Church of Christ has endured through many centuries — in the course of which she has been confronted with countless illnesses and diseases, small and great — in solid faith and with peaceful hearts, each member of the Church knowing that he or she is part of no worldly or man-made institution, but the Harbour of Life that is Christ’s Body. [Read more…]

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Orthodox Worldview: Orthodox Christianity Not Limited to Church Building

Orthodox Worldview: Orthodox Christianity Not Limited to Church Buildingby Fr. Seraphim Rose –
There exists a false opinion, which unfortunately is all to widespread today, that it is enough to have an Orthodoxy that is limited to the church building and formal “Orthodox” activities, such as praying at certain times or making the sign of the Cross; in everything else, so this opinion goes, one can be like anyone else, participating in the life and culture of our times without any problem, as long as we don’t commit sin.

Anyone who has come to realize how deep Orthodoxy is, and how full is the commitment which is required of the serious Orthodox Christian, and likewise what totalitarian demands the contemporary world makes on us, will easily see how wrong this opinion is.

One is Orthodox all the time every day, in every situation of life, or one is not really Orthodox at all. Our Orthodoxy is revealed not just in our strictly religious views, but in everything we do and say. Most of us are very unaware of the Christian, religious responsibility we have for the seemingly secular part of our lives. [Read more…]

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The Sacraments in the Orthodox Church

The Sacraments in the Orthodox Church by Fr. Thomas Hopko –
The sacraments in the Orthodox Church are officially called the “holy mysteries.” Usually seven sacraments are counted: baptism, chrismation (or confirmation), holy eucharist, penance, matrimony, holy orders and the unction of the sick.

The practice of counting the sacraments was adopted in the Orthodox Church from the Roman Catholics. It is not an ancient practice of the Church and, in many ways, it tends to be misleading since it appears that there are just seven specific rites which are “sacraments” and that all other aspects of the life of the Church are essentially different from these particular actions. The more ancient and traditional practice of the Orthodox Church is to consider everything which is in and of the Church as sacramental or mystical.

The Church may be defined as the new life in Christ. It is man’s life lived by the Holy Spirit in union with God. All aspects of the new life of the Church participate in the mystery of salvation. [Read more…]

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A Priest’s Duty is to Sustain the Flock of the Church

A Priest Duty is to Sustain the Flock of the Churchby Fr. Patrick Viscuso –
When imparting God’s sanctification and doing good, I can also say that there will be obstacles, for, as a 14th century Byzantine hieromonk once wrote, “Where is it necessary not without blood to struggle on behalf of the Truth?” That blood is the joy of the priesthood in its total dedication – mind, heart, soul, and body – to a loving a God, for whom our efforts are persistent and determined.

This struggle, on behalf of Truth, is to sustain the flock of the Church – an apostolic charge of Christ. As a minority, in a sea of disbelief and secularism, as ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων, “fishers of men,” we are continually challenged to work for the spiritual perfection and the salvation of the faithful. The upholding of canonical standards that reflect the strength of our faith and our community will be tested, over whom the “gates of hell” will not prevail. [Read more…]

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Orthodox Liturgy Heals and Properly Orders the Human Soul

Orthodox Liturgy Heals and Properly Orders the Human Soulby Fr. Johannes Jacobse –
People say that the Liturgy is the Kingdom of God entering time and while this definition works I suppose, I have never really understood what it really means. Yes, I understand it abstractly, but abstraction has only a limited usefulness. So I’ve come up with another.

Worship is necessary because it creates the place where the soul can experience a measure of the necessary reordering that fosters healing. The soul has structure, and the healing of the soul, which is also the healing of the person, is one of the concrete, experiential constituents of salvation. Salvation is not metaphorical. It is real which means that it is experiential and affects concrete change and transformation measured as the healing of the person. [Read more…]

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Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian – An Orthodox Explanation

St. Ephrem the Syrian Lenten Prayer Orthodox by St. Luke, Archbishop of Crimea –
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.

The prayer of St. Ephrem (St. Ephraim) the Syrian occupies a special place in the services of the holy Church. It is repeated many times during the services of Great Lent.

This prayer penetrates the heart like none other, mysteriously acts upon it, and you feel a special, exceptional divine power in it. Why is that so? Because it was poured from a heart that was perfectly purified and holy, and from a mind that was enlightened by divine grace and had become a participant in the mind of Christ. [Read more…]

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Moral Lives, Repentance, and Confession Before Holy Communion

Moral Lives, Repentance, and Confession Before Holy Communion Orthodox Churchby Fr. Paul Gassios –
Many times you have to say to your kids “no, you can’t do that” even if it means your child getting angry at you; they might even say they hate you when you need to enforce an admonition with some type of consequence when they defy it.

In a similar fashion our Orthodox Church teaches certain things that at times are not popular concerning the lifestyles we are to live. There are times we as priests and laity need to say to ourselves and others “no we can’t do that” and if we do; there is a consequence we face if we choose to ignore what the Church teaches. I have already stated when it comes to matters of faith such as the Nicene Creed, that if we don’t accept the tenets of the Creed and outright reject the confession of faith found in it, one should not come to communion until they change their thinking and can say “Amen!” to what the Creed professes to be true.

In the moral area, if someone commits certain sins such as murder or adultery, our Church canons (or rules) call for a certain number of years where one cannot go to communion and must do acts of penance (i.e. actions to show you are sorry for what you did) before someone can be restored to communion. [Read more…]

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

Orthodox Church Bridge Russia and America Patriarch 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…]

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