ORTHODOX HEART SITES
USA OF MY HEART
HEAVEN ON EARTH – ORTHODOXY
An early prayer to the Theotokos,
Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God
This papyrus fragment is a prayer to the Theotokos written about 250 A.D., per papyrologists who have examined the handwriting style. (Theotokos means “God-bearer,” a term for Mary that was formally affirmed at the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in 431.) Some initially placed the papyrus in the fourth or fifth century (the John Rylands Library description below lists it as 3rd – 4th century), perhaps because they didn’t think that Christians would have been praying to the Theotokos that early. If the early dating is correct, this prayer must have already been part of the Church’s services or prayers, showing that petitions and prayers to the Theotokos and the Saints go back to the early days of the Church, perhaps to the second century.
The present form of the prayer in the Greek services and prayer books is:
Υπο την σην ευσπλαγχνιαν
τας ημων ικεσιας μη παριδης εν περιστασει,
αλλ’ εκ κινδυνων λυτρωσαι ημας,
μονη αγνη, μονη ευλογημενη
This roughly translates as (adapted from the Wikipedia entry for “Sub tuum praesidium,” the Latin version):
Beneath your compassion
we take refuge, Theotokos.
Our petitions do not despise in time of trouble,
but from dangers ransom us,
Only Holy, Only Blessed
In uncial (capital) letters this would be:
ΥΠΟ ΤΗΝ ΣΗΝ ΕΥΣΠΛΑΓΧΝΙΑΝ
ΤΑΣ ΗΜΩΝ ΙΚΕΣΙΑΣ ΜΗ ΠΑΡΙΔΗΣ ΕΝ ΠΕΡΙΣΤΑΣΕΙ,
ΑΛΛ’ ΕΚ ΚΙΝΔΥΝΩΝ ΛΥΤΡΩΣΑΙ ΗΜΑΣ,
ΜΟΝΗ ΑΓΝΗ, ΜΟΝΗ ΕΥΛΟΓΗΜΕΝΗ.
ORTHODOX HEART SITES
JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY
The author of the Orthodox Way of Life blog, Fr. Dcn. Charles tells it like it is.
Having recently discovered that throughout much of my Christian life I was involved with “spiritual deception,” I find it necessary now to seek ways to fully understand and totally reject this error.
My deception began with a well meaning pastor at the United Methodist Church where I grew up. I asked him,
“Why are there so many different religions? How can we say that the Christian way the the best way?”
His answer was,
“There are many paths to God. Ours is the most direct and easiest path.”
He did not know how to answer this question from a true Christian perspective and advise me of the struggle that I would necessarily face. I now know that what he taught me was a serious deception. It is very clear now that the other paths will not lead to a God-oriented spiritual life and union with God. They only lead one to a life of self-satisfaction and greater pride.
Jesus Christ came after these early attempts to reach God which were inadequate and showed all mankind how to gain union with God. He showed us the need for extreme humility in our relationship with God. He showed us a path that involves purifying ourselves and continually struggling against many things, yet relying on God’s will. I discovered that the path He opened for us is not an easy path.
It is a difficult one along which we are easily deceived by seeking pleasures though various forms of meditation, yoga and others activities, taught by well meaning teachers from other eastern religions who have not discovered for themselves the way of Jesus Christ.
I now know this from experience, having experimented with Vedanta, a Hindu religion, Buddhism, and Eastern forms of meditation. Regrettably, I even led an effort to find the “universal principles” of all religions and then set up a organization (formally organized as a church under IRS rules, no less) to teach this to others. Oh, how easily we are deceived by psychic level religious experiences which only serve to boost our pride and our sense of self-sufficiency.
Through this experience, I learned that it is essential to recognize that we are engaged in spiritual warfare as Saint Paul so clearly tells us. In my youth I was never prepared for this battle by being properly instructed in the spiritual disciplines.
I didn’t appreciate the power of the Sacraments that Christ initiated for us to help us in this battle. Growing up Methodist, communion was symbolic. It was grape juice and a wafer symbolizing the blood and body of Jesus Christ. Powerless when compared to the actual Blood an Body of Jesus Christ that is offered in the Orthodox Church for remission of sins and eternal life in union with Him. I faced many such deceptions along the path. Fortunately, I have a very strong guardian angel that kept me on a path seeking God and who taught me the Jesus Prayer in the midst of these deceptions.
It was this prayer that protected me and led me back to Orthodoxy.
Seraphim Rose saw this attitude I experienced as one that permeates much of Christianity today. He wrote on this sad condition of “Christians” in his book, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future. Here is an excerpt.
“The life of self-centeredness and self-satisfaction lived by most of today’s “Christians” is so all-pervading that it effectively seals them off from any understanding at all of spiritual life; and when such people do undertake “spiritual life,” it is only as another form of self-satisfaction. This can be seen quite clearly in the totally false religious ideal both of the “charismatic” movement and the various forms of “Christian meditation”: all of them promise (and give very quickly) an experience of “contentment” and “peace.” But this is not the Christian ideal at all, which if anything may be summed up as a fierce battle and struggle. The “contentment” and “peace” described in these contemporary “spiritual” movements are quite manifestly the product of spiritual deception, of spiritual self-satisfaction––which is the absolute death of the God-oriented spiritual life. All these forms of “Christian meditation” operate solely on the psychic level and have nothing whatever in common with Christian spirituality. Christian spirituality is formed in the arduous struggle to acquire the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, which fully begins only with the dissolution of this temporal world, and the true Christian struggler never finds repose even in the foretastes of eternal blessedness which might be vouchsafed to him in this life; but the Eastern religions, to which the Kingdom of Heaven has not been revealed, strive only to acquire psychic states which begin and end in this life” (From Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Seraphim Rose, pp 187-188).
Some of my friends will think this is a bit harsh and it is not my intent to condemn those who sincerely seek union with Jesus Christ no matter what their form of Christianity is. But I can say without a doubt, that we can be deceived as I know I was.
For me, I found the fulness of the Truth in the Orthodox Church where the sacramental life is emphasized and practiced with regularity. It was in the context of the Orthodox Church that I found I could surrender and then seek, not my own way, but instead follow the way the Church sets out for all of us.
HAVE FAITH – ORTHODOXY
How old is the Οrthodox Faith?
If you are a Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk of the Roman Catholic Church, in the year 1517.
If you belong to the Church of England, your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the Pope would not grant him a divorce with the right to re-marry.
If you are a Presbyterian, your religion was founded by John Knox in Scotland in the year 1560.
If you are a Congregationalist, your religion was originated by Robert Brown in Holland in 1582.
If you are Protestant Episcopalian, your religion was an offshoot of the Church of England, founded by Samuel Senbury in the American colonies in the 17th century.
If you are a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1606.
If you are of the Dutch Reformed Church, you recognize Michelis Jones as founder because he originated your religion in New York in 1628.
If you are an Evangelical, your religion was founded in England in 1738.
If you are a Methodist, your religion was founded by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1774.
If you are a Mormon (Latter Day Saints), Joseph Smith started your religion in Palmyra, New York, in 1829.
If you worship with the Salvation Army, your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865.
If you are Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year in which your religion was born and to Mary Baker Eddy as its founder.
If you belong to one of the religious organizations known as “Church of the Nazarene, Pentecostal Gospel,” “Holiness Church,” or “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” your religion is one of the hundreds of new sects founded by men within the past hundred years.
If your religion is the “Workers” who also called “Church Without Name”, “Two by Two Church”, “2×2’s”, “Friends & Workers”, “The Truth”, “Christians”, “The Non-Denominational Church”, “Christian Convention Church”, “The Christian Church”, “No-Name Church”, “The Faith Missioners”, “Nameless House Church”, “The Damnation Army”, “Dippers”, “Go Preachers”, “The Jesus-Way”, “The New Testament Church”, “Pilgrims”, “The Reidites”, “Tramp Preachers”, “The Testimony”, “The Way”, and with at least 20 still concrete names, they was founded in Ireland on 1897 by William Irvine, Edward Cooney and Jack Carroll, for this reason also the are known and as “Cooneyites”, “Irvinites” or “Carrollites”.
If you are Roman Catholic, your church shared the same rich apostolic and doctrinal heritage as the Orthodox Church for the first thousand years of its history, since during the first millennium they were one and the same Church. Lamentably, in 1054, the Pope of Rome broke away from the other four Apostolic Patriarchates (which include Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem), by tampering with the Original Creed of the Church, and considering himself to be infallible. Thus your church is 1,000 years old.
If you are Eastern Orthodox Christian (Eastern Orthodox Church), your religion was founded in the year 33 by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It has not changed since that time. Our church is now almost 2,000 years old. And it is for this reason, that Orthodoxy, the Church of the Apostles and the Fathers is considered the true “one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” This is the greatest legacy that we can pass on to the young people of the new millennium.
ORTHODOX HEART SITES