FRANCE OF MY HEART
On two types of love
Saint Maria Skobtsova of Paris (+1945)
In this world there are two kinds of love: one that takes and one that gives. This is common to all types of love — not only love for man. One can love a friend, one’s family, children, scholarship, art, the motherland, one’s own ideas, oneself — and even God — from either of these two points of view. Even those forms of love which by common consent are the highest can exhibit this dual character.
Take, for example, maternal love. A mother can often forget herself, sacrifice herself for her children. Yet this does not as yet warrant recognition as Christian love for her children. One needs to ask the question: what is it that she loves in them? She may love her own reflection, her second youth, an Continue reading “On two types of love – Saint Maria Skobtsova of Paris (+1945)”
EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Eastern Orthodox worship
Eastern Orthodox worship in this article is distinguished from Eastern Orthodox prayer in that “worship” refers to the activity of the Christian Church as a body offering up prayers to God while ‘prayer’ refers to the individual devotional traditions of the Orthodox.
The worship of the Orthodox Church is viewed as the Church’s fundamental activity because the worship of God is the joining of man to God in prayer and that is the essential function of Christ’s Church. The Orthodox view their Church as being the living embodiment of Christ, through the grace of His Holy Spirit, in the people, clergy, monks and all other members of the Church. Thus the Church is viewed as the Body of Christ on earth which is perpetually unified with the Body of Christ in heaven through a common act of worship to God.
This article will deal first with the various characteristics of Orthodox worship, aside from its theological foundations as laid forth above, and will then continue to give the services of worship themselves and their structure.
Characteristics of Orthodox worship
As explained above, the Orthodox draw no distinction between the Body of Christ in heaven and that on earth, viewing both parts of the Church as inseparable and in continuous worship together of God. Orthodox worship therefore expresses this unity of earth and heaven in every possible way so that the earthly worshippers are continually reminded through all their senses of the heavenly state of the Church. The particular methods for doing this are very far from arbitrary but have been passed down from the earliest periods in Christian history through what the Orthodox call “Holy Tradition”.
Probably the most striking aspect of Orthodox worship are its visual characteristics. These are many and varied always conveying in the most striking colors and shapes possible the various phases and moods of the Church both as they change throughout the year and in individual services.
Icons are used to bring the worshippers into the presence of those who are in heaven, that is, Christ, the Saints, the Theotokos and the angels. The Orthodox believe these icons do more than visually remind the viewer of the fact that there are saints in heaven, they believe that these icons act as ‘windows’ into heaven through which we see those saints, Christ and the Theotokos. It is for this reason that God the father is traditionally not Continue reading “Eastern Orthodox worship”
HAVE FAITH – ORTHODOXY
The Jesus Prayer
by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom
Those who have read The way of a Pilgrim are familiar with the expression ‘The Jesus Prayer’. It refers to a short prayer the words of which are: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,’ constantly repeated. The Way of a Pilgrim is the story of a man who wanted to learn to pray constantly (1Thes 5:I7). As the man whose experience is being related is a pilgrim, a great many of his psychological characteristics, and the way in which he learned and applied the prayer, were conditioned by the fact that he lived in a certain way, which makes the book less universally applicable than it could be; and yet it is the best possible introduction to this prayer, which is one of the greatest treasures of the Orthodox Church.
The prayer is profoundly rooted in the spirit of the gospel, and it is not in vain that the great teachers of Orthodoxy have always insisted on the fact that the Jesus Prayer sums up the whole of the gospel. This is why the Jesus Prayer can only be used in its fullest sense if the person who uses it belongs to the gospel, is a member of the Church of Christ.
All the messages of the gospel, and more than the messages, the reality of the gospel, is contained in the name, in the Person of Jesus. If you take the first half of the prayer you will see how it expresses our faith in the Lord: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.’ At the heart we find the name of Jesus; it is the name before whom every knee shall bow (Is 45:3), and when we pronounce it we affirm the historical event of the incarnation. We Continue reading “The Jesus Prayer – Metropolitan Anthony Bloom”
CONVERSIONS TO ORTHODOXY
USA OF MY HEART
Deep Roots In Fresh Soil
Orthodox Christianity comes to Erie, Colorado, USA
250-member St. Luke grew from tiny Lafayette church established nearly two decades ago
By John Aguilar
JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY
The building is brand-new, the land never before scraped, but the site in Erie where St. Luke Orthodox Christian Church now sits has roots going back nearly two millennia.
A vivid, larger than life-size image of the Virgin Mary, accompanied by a young Jesus, stretches her arms out above the altar. The Messiah — surrounded by painted prophets — gazes down from the dome inside the church’s temple, which is adorned with Byzantine arches and columns.
There’s no organ here — all music is chanted or sung a cappella. There are no statues — warm-hued iconography is the rule.
Standing inside St. Luke evokes a different time, a different era.
”It’s the one that was established by the Lord and the apostles,” said the Rev. David Mustian, pastor at St. Luke. ”When people look at the Orthodox Church, it feels new to them, but when they start digging, they see it has old Continue reading “Deep Roots In Fresh Soil – Orthodox Christianity Comes To Erie, Colorado, USA”
IRELAND OF MY HEART
He who does not love his brother dwells in death
Saint Patrick of Ireland (+461)
Saint Patrick of Ireland:
“It would take too long to discuss or argue every single case, or to sift through the whole of the Law for precise witness against such greed. Sufficient to say, greed is a deadly deed. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. You shall not murder. A homicide may not stand beside Christ. Even “He who hates his brother is to be labeled murderer.” Or, “He who does not love his brother dwells in death.” therefore how much more guilty is he, who has stained his own hands in the blood of the sons of God, those very children whom only just now he has won for himself in this distant land by means of our feeble encouragement”.
—Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus (c.450?)
EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Are you Christian? Forget about doing Yoga!
The Church would like people to replace Yoga with Prayer
The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church reacted to the UN’s decision to designate June 21 as International Day of Yoga in 2014. The Holy Synod’s statement says that the practice of yoga has “no place in the lives of Christians” since it is a fundamental aspect of Hinduism and as such is not considered a “form of exercise” but of worship!
Though praised for its calming effect and wellness, Christians are urged to seek the same comfort in God – not hindu practises. After all, the postures of yoga were created as adulation to 330 million Hindu gods. The postures are viewed in the Hindu faith as offerings to gods that in Christianity are considered to be idols.
Furthermore, a third of yoga is concerned with emptying the mind – a contradiction to what Christianity teaches. In the Christian faith, there is free choice and transformation through renewal. Furthermore, astral travel that yoga guides people into is a practise that the church continues to frown upon.
“For this reason, yoga is totally incompatible with our Christian Orthodox faith and it has no place in the life of Christians,” the statement said, even though it added that the the Church respects religious freedom.