Fasting – Orthodox Catechism

Fasting

Orthodox Catechism

Source:

http://stots.edu/about_orthodoxy.html

http://sttikhonsmonastery.org/article.php?id=17

Seeing that bodily disposition is important in worship and spiritual life, in general, great emphasis is placed in the Orthodox Church on fasting; if one should add up all of the fasting seasons and days of the Church calendar, he would find that more than half of the year is devoted to this ascetic labor. The question might rightfully be asked, then, as to why this is so.

According to St. Basil the Great, Adam, the first-created man, loving God of his own free will, dwelt in the heavenly blessedness of communion with God, in the angelic state of prayer and fasting. The cause of this first man’s fall was his free will; by an act of disobedience he violated the vow of abstinence and broke the living union of love with God. That is, he held in scorn the heavenly obligations of prayer and fasting by eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Lack of abstinence, then, was the cause of the Fall and, as a result, because of this original greed, the soul becomes dimmed, and is deprived of Continue reading “Fasting – Orthodox Catechism”

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Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion)

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Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion)

It can doubtlessly be said that the central sacrament of the Church is Holy Eucharist. It is the sacrament of sacraments. It was established by Christ Himself: “When it was evening,” Jesus “took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body, broken on behalf of all for the forgiveness of sins,’ and “He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, `Drink of it, all of you; for this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.'” Christ added, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Matthew, 26:20-9; Mark, 14:17-25; Luke, 22:14-38; John, 6:27-69; 1 Corinthians, 11:23-26).

From these words of Christ we see that the Holy Eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ. It is not a symbol. It is truly the body and truly the blood of Christ. Christ did not say that “this symbolizes My body” and “this symbolizes My blood.” He said, “this is My body” and “this is My blood.” Of course, even after the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, all we see with our human eyes is bread and wine. Even the taste on our tongues is that of bread and wine. In reality and in essence, though, that which we see and that which we taste is truly the body and blood of Christ. How does this happen? How does this change occur? No one can say. It is done in a mysterious way with the intervention of the Continue reading “Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion)”

آیا چیزی به عنوان “زندگی پس از مرگ” وجود دارد؟ – Life after death? ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* Farsi – Persian (Iran)

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آیا چیزی به عنوان “زندگی پس از مرگ” وجود دارد؟

Is there life after death?

جواب: اینکه آیا پس از مرگ زندگی وجود دارد یا نه! یه بحث و سوال عمومی و جهانی است. ایوب این موضوع را اینگونه در کتاب مقدس مطرح می کند: “انسان چقدرناتوان است. عمرش كوتاه و پر از زحمت است. مثل گل، لحظه‌ای می‌شكفد و زود پژمرده می‌شود و همچون سايۀ ابری كه در حركت است بسرعت ناپديد می‌گردد. … وقتی انسان بميرد، آيا دوباره زنده می‌شود؟ من در تمام روزهای سخت زندگی در انتظار مرگ و خلاصی خود خواهم بود. ” ( ایوب فصل 14 آیه های 1،2،14 ).

به مانند ایوب، این سؤال تقریباً ذهن همۀ ما را به خود مشغول کرده است . واقعاً پس از مرگ چه اتفاقی می افتد؟ آیا به همین سادگی از بین خواهیم رفت و دیگر وجود نخواهیم داشت؟ آیا پس از مَرگ به زمین خواهیم برگشت تا به اهداف شخصی عالی تری برسیم؟ آیا پس از مَرگ، همه به یک جا می روند و یا اینکه افراد مختلف به مکان های متفاوت منتقل خواهند شد؟ آیا واقعاً چیزی به نام بهشت و جهنم وجود دارد ؟

کتاب مقدس نه فقط حیات پس از مرگ را تأیید می کند، بلکه آن را جاودانی و بسیار پر جلال توصیف می نماید: “كتاب آسمانی نيز در اين مورد می‌فرمايد كه خدا برای دوستداران خود، چيزهايی تدارک ديده است كه هيچ انسانی هرگز نديده، نشنيده و به فكرش نيز خطور نكرده است. ” (اول قرنتیان فصل 2 آیه 9). عیسی مسیح، خدای مُجَسّم ( خدای مجسم یعنی اینکه عیسی مسیح همان خدا می باشد که در جسم انسان به زمین آمد )، به این جهان خاکی آمد تا حیات جاودانی را همچون یک هدیه به انسان ببخشد. “برای گناهان ما بود كه او مجروح شد و برای شرارت ما بود كه او را زدند. او تنبيه شد تا ما سلامتی كامل داشته باشيم. از زخمهای او ما شفا يافتيم.” (اشعیا فصل 53 آیه 5).

عیسی مسیح، با فدا کردن جان خود، مجازاتی را که ما سزاوار آن بودیم بر دوش خود گرفت. او پس از سه روز، با قیام روحانی و جسمانی خویش از قبر، پیروزی خود را بر مرگ ثابت نمود و دوباره زنده شد. پس از قیام از مردگان، Continue reading “آیا چیزی به عنوان “زندگی پس از مرگ” وجود دارد؟ – Life after death? ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* Farsi – Persian (Iran)”

The Glorification of the Saints in the Orthodox Church – Fr. Joseph Frawley, USA

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The Glorification of the Saints in the Orthodox Church

Fr. Joseph Frawley

Source:

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https://oca.org/fs/glorification-of-saints

ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA

This article was written by Fr. Joseph Frawley, a member of the Orthodox Church in America’s Canonization Commission. It was originally published in the April-May 2000 issue of The Orthodox Church Newspaper.

While the glorification of saints in the Orthodox Church has been taking place for nearly 2000 years, few people today are certain about how this really happens. Does the Church “make” a saint? Are there special panels which decide who can be considered for sainthood? Are saints “elected” by a majority vote? Does a person have to perform a certain number of miracles in order to quality as a saint? The answers to these questions may be surprising to some.

We know that there are several categories of saints: prophets, evangelists, martyrs, ascetics, holy bishops and priests, and those who live a righteous life “in the world.” What they all have in common is holiness of life. Three times in the Book of Leviticus (Ch 11, 19 and 20) God tells us to be holy, because He is holy. We must consecrate ourselves, for we are His people. Saint Peter reiterates this commandment in the new testament, challenging us to obey God’s commandments and submit our will to His will (1 Pet 1:16). Everyone is challenged to manifest holiness in their lives, for we all must become saints! This is our special – and common – calling from God. It is not something reserved for the clergy, monastics, or those who are “more pious.” Everyone who has been baptized into Christ must live in such a way that Christ lives within us. “Do you not know,” Saint Paul asks, “that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16).

So, the glorification of saints in the Orthodox Church is a recognition that God’s holiness is manifested in the Church through these grace-filled men and women whose lives were pleasing to God. Very early on, the Church recognized the righteous ancestors of Christ (Forefathers), those who predicted His coming (Prophets), and those who proclaimed the Gospel (Apostles and Evangelists). Then those who risked their lives and shed their blood to bear witness to Christ (Martyrs and Confessors) were also recognized by the Church as saints. There was no special canonization process, but their relics were treasured and the annual anniversaries of their martyrdoms were celebrated. Later, the ascetics, who followed Christ through self denial, were numbered among the saints. Bishops and priests who proclaimed the True Faith and fought against heresy were added to the list. Finally, those in other walks of life who manifested holiness were recognized as saints.

While the glorification of a saint may be initiated because of miracles, it is not an absolute necessity for canonization. The Roman Catholic Church requires three verified miracles in order to recognize someone as a saint; the Orthodox Church does not require this. There are some saints, including Saint Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain (July 14) and Saint Innocent of Moscow (commemorated March 31), who have not performed any miracles, as far as we know. What is required is a virtuous life of obvious holiness. And a saint’s writings and preaching must be “fully Orthodox,” in agreement with the pure faith that we have received from Christ and the Apostles and taught by the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils.

Can the Church “make” a saint? The answer is no. Only God can do that. We glorify those whom God Himself has glorified, seeing in their lives true love for God and their neighbors. The Church merely recognizes that such a person has cooperated with God’s grace to the extent that his or her holiness is beyond doubt.

Are saints “elected” by special panels or by majority vote? Again, the answer is no. Long before an official inquiry into a person’s life is made, that person is venerated by the people where he or she lived and died. His or her memory is kept alive by the people who pray for his or her soul or who ask him or her for intercession. Sometimes people will visit his or her grave or have icons painted through their love for the person. Then a request is made, usually through the diocesan bishop, for the Church to recognize that person as a saint. A committee, such as the Orthodox Church in America’s Canonization Commission, is formed to research the life of the person who is being considered for glorification and to submit a report to the Holy Synod stating its reasons why the person should or should not be recognized as a saint. Then the Holy Synod decides to number that person among the saints and have icons painted and liturgical services composed.

The formal Rite of Glorification begins with a final Memorial Service for the person about to be canonized, after which Vespers and Matins with special hymns to the saint are chanted and the saint’s icon is unveiled. The saint’s life is published and the date of his or her commemoration is established. The other Orthodox Churches are notified of the glorification so that they can place the new saint’s name on their calendars.

Through the prayers of all the saints, may we be encouraged to follow their example of virtue and holiness.

The Holy Relics of the Saints

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The Holy Relics of the Saints

Holy Relics are portions of the earthly remains of Orthodox believers, usually saints. Relics may also include clothing and vestments worn by saints, or items such as pieces of the True Cross. Particles of relics of saints usually are embedded in altar tables during consecration of churches.

The relics of the saints are venerated because in Orthodox belief the body remains temple of the Holy Spirit even after death.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes:

“Though the soul is not present a power resides in the bodies of the saints because of the righteous soul which has for so many years dwelt in it, or used it as its minister.”

God also performs miracles through the holy relics of saints, in this way revealing his glory and glorifying his saints in whom he is pleased. One example is the relics of Saint Nektarios, which emitted a sweet-smelling sweat after he had passed away and showed no sign of decay until 20 years after his death.

In North America, the Church is blessed to have three complete sets of relics: St. Herman of Alaska, St. John Maximovitch, and St. Alexis Toth.

Source:

Orthodox Wiki

Concerning Angels – Saint John of Damascus (+749)

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Concerning Angels

by Saint John of Damascus (+749)

He is Himself the Maker and Creator of the angels: for He brought them out of nothing into being and created them after His own image, an incorporeal race, a sort of spirit or immaterial fire: in the words of the divine David, He maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire: and He has described their lightness and the ardor, and heat, and keenness and sharpness with which they hunger for God and serve Him, and how they are borne to the regions above and are quite delivered from all material thought.

An angel, then, is an intelligent essence, in perpetual motion, with free-will, incorporeal, ministering to God, having obtained by grace an immortal nature: and the Creator alone knows the form and limitation of its essence. But all that we can understand is, that it is incorporeal and immaterial. For all that is compared with God Who alone is incomparable, we find to be dense and material. For in reality only the Deity is immaterial and incorporeal.

The angel’s nature then is rational, and intelligent, and endowed with free-will, change. able in will, or fickle. For all that is created is changeable, and only that which is uncreated is unchangeable. Also all that is rational is endowed with free-will. As it is, then, rational and intelligent, it is endowed with free-will: and as it is created, it is changeable, having power either to abide or progress in goodness, or to turn towards evil.

It is not susceptible of repentance because it is incorporeal. For it is owing to the weakness of his body that man comes to have repentance.

It is immortal, not by natures but by grace. For all that has had beginning comes also to its natural end. But God alone is eternal, or rather, He is above the Eternal: for He, the Creator of times, is not under the dominion of time, but above time.

They are secondary intelligent lights derived from that first light which is without beginning, for they have the power of illumination; they have no need of tongue or hearing, but without uttering words they communicate to each other their own thoughts and counsels.

Through the Word, therefore, all the angels were created, and through the sanctification by the Holy Spirit were they brought to perfection, sharing each in proportion to his worth and rank in brightness and grace.

They are circumscribed: for when they are in the Heaven they are not on the earth: and when they are sent by God down to the earth they do not remain in the Heaven. They are not hemmed in by walls and doors, and bars and seals, for they are quite unlimited. Unlimited, I repeat, for it is not as they really are that they reveal themselves to the worthy men to whom God wishes them to appear, but in a changed form which the beholders are capable of seeing. For that alone is naturally and strictly unlimited which is uncreated. For every created tiring is limited by God Who created it.

Further, apart from their essence they receive the sanctification from the Spirit: through the divine grace they prophesy: they have no need of marriage for they are immortal.

Seeing that they are minds they are in mental places, and are not circumscribed after the fashion of a body. For they have not a bodily form by nature, nor are they tended in three dimensions. But to whatever post they may be assigned, there they are present after the manner of a mind and energize, and cannot be present and energize in various places at the same time.

Whether they are equals in essence or differ from one another we know not. God, their Creator, Who knoweth all things, alone knoweth. But they differ from each other in brightness and position, whether it is that their position is dependent on their brightness, or their brightness on their position: and they impart brightness to one another, because they excel one another in rank and nature. And clearly the higher share their brightness and knowledge with the lower.

They are mighty and prompt to fulfill the will of the Deity, and their nature is endowed with such celerity that wherever the Divine glance bids them there they are straightway found. They are the guardians of the divisions of the earth: they are set over nations and regions, allotted to them by their Creator: they govern all our affairs and bring us succor. And the reason surely is because they are set over us by the divine will and command and are ever in the vicinity of God.

With difficulty they are moved to evil, yet they are not absolutely immovable: but now they are altogether immovable, not by nature but by grace and by their nearness to the Only Good.

They behold God according to their capacity, and this is their food.

They are above us for they are incorporeal, and are free of all bodily passion, yet are not passionless: for the Deity alone is passionless.

They take different forms at the bidding of their Master, God, and thus reveal themselves to men and unveil the divine mysteries to them.

They have Heaven for their dwelling-place, and have one duty, to sing God’s praise and carry out His divine will.

Moreover, as that most holy, and sacred, and gifted theologian, Dionysius the Areopagite, says, All theology, that is to say, the holy Scripture, has nine different names for the heavenly essences. These essences that divine master in sacred things divides into three groups, each containing three. And the first group, he says, consists of those who are in God’s presence and are said to be directly and immediately one with Him, viz., the Seraphim with their six wings, the many-eyed Cherubim and those that sit in the holiest thrones. The second group is that of the Dominions, and the Powers, and the Authorities; and the third, and last, is that of the Rulers and Archangels and Angels.

Some, indeed, like Gregory the Theologian, say that these were before the creation of other things. He thinks that the angelic and heavenly powers were first and that thought was their function. Others, again, hold that they were created after the first heaven was made.

But all are agreed that it was before the foundation of man. For myself, I am in harmony with the theologian. For it was fitting that the mental essence should be the first created, and then that which can be perceived, and finally man himself, in whose being both parts are united. But those who say that the angels are creators of any kind of essence whatever are the mouth of their father, the devil. For since they are created things they are not creators. But He Who creates and provides for and maintains all things is God, Who alone is uncreate and is praised and glorified in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

From his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book II, Ch. 3.

What is the Orthodox Church? – Saint Sebastian Dabovich of Jackson & San Francisco, CA, USA (+1940)

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What is the Orthodox Church?

Saint Sebastian Dabovich of Jackson & San Francisco, CA, USA (+1940)

WHAT is the Orthodox Church? The Orthodox Church is a body or community of people, who, 1—correctly believe in divine revelation; and 2—who obey a lawful hierarchy instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ himself, through the holy apostles. In order to belong to the Orthodox Church two principal conditions are required: First—to accurately accept, rightly understand and truthfully confess the divine teaching of faith; and secondly— to acknowledge the lawful hierarchy or priesthood, to receive from it the holy mysteries or sacraments, and generally to follow its precepts in matters concerning salvation.

From the Book: +St. Sebastian Dabovich, Preaching in the Orthodox Church: Lectures and Sermons by a Priest of the Holy Orthodox Church

Source:

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