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”
HOLY VIRGIN MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God (Panagia in greek)
Fr. Nikon of New Scete, Mount Athos, Greece
EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
What is the origin of the different races?
The Bible does not explicitly give us the origin of the different “races” or skin colors in humanity. In actuality, there is only one race—the human race. Within the human race is diversity in skin color and other physical characteristics. Some speculate that when God confused the languages at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), He also created racial diversity. It is possible that God made genetic changes to humanity to better enable people to survive in different ecologies, such as the darker skin of Africans being better equipped genetically to survive the excessive heat in Africa. According to this view, God confused the languages, causing humanity to segregate linguistically, and then created genetic racial differences based on where each racial group would eventually settle. While possible, there is no explicit biblical basis for this view. The races/skin colors of humanity are nowhere mentioned in connection with the tower of Babel.
At the Tower of Babel, when the different languages came into existence, groups that spoke one language moved away with others of the same language. In doing so, the gene pool for a specific group shrank dramatically as the group no longer had the entire human population to mix with. Closer inbreeding took place, and in time certain features were emphasized in these different groups (all of which were present as a possibility in the genetic code). As further inbreeding occurred through the generations, the gene pool grew smaller and smaller, to the point that people of one language family all had the same or similar features.
Another explanation is that Adam and Eve possessed the genes to produce black, brown, and white offspring (and everything else in between). This would be similar to how a mixed-race couple sometimes has children that vary in color. Since God obviously desired humanity to be diverse in appearance, it makes sense that God would have given Adam and Eve the ability to produce children of different skin tones. Later, the only survivors of the flood were Noah and his wife, Noah’s three sons and their wives—eight people in all (Genesis 7:13). Perhaps Noah’s daughters-in-law were of different races. It is also possible that Noah’s wife was of a different race than Noah. Maybe all eight of them were of mixed race, which would mean they possessed the genetics to produce children of different races. Whatever the explanation, the most important aspect of this question is that we are all the same race, all created by the same God, all created for the same purpose—to glorify Him.
Source: Elmer L. Towns, Bible Answers for Almost All Your Questions, THOMAS NELSON / 2003 / PAPERBACK
SAINTS OF MY HEART
The Saint of love, forgiveness & discernment:
Saint Jacob Tsalikis of Evia Island, Greece (+1991)
Our age and today’s culture has, unfortunately moved away from the vision and pursuit of sanctity. The Orthodox faith is based on the presence of the saints. Without these, our Church is on the path towards secularization. Naturally, as we know from Scripture, God alone is holy, and sanctity derives from our relationship with Him, and therefore sanctity is theocentric rather than anthropocentric. Our sanctity depends on the glory and the grace of God and our union with Him, not on our virtues. Sanctification assumes the free will of the person being sanctified. As Saint Maximos the Confessor says, all that we bring is our intentions. Without those, God doesn’t act. And Saint John the Damascan repeats that we render honour to the saints ‘for having become freely unified with God and having Him dwell in them and by this participation having become by grace what He is by nature’. The saints didn’t seek to be glorified, but to glorify God, because sanctity means participation in and communion with the sanctity of God.
The source of sanctity in the Orthodox Church is the Divine Eucharist. By partaking of the Holy One, Jesus Christ, we become holy. The ‘holy things’, the Body and Blood of Christ, are given as communion ‘to the holy’, the members of the Church. Sanctity follows on from Holy Communion. The ascetic struggles of the saints are not an aim but a means which leads to the aim, which is Eucharistic communion, the most perfect and complete union with the Holy One. In the Lord’s prayer, the ‘Our Father’, we see that sanctification is associated with the Kingdom of God. We ask that His Kingdom come into the world so that everyone can praise Him and can partake of His sanctity and His glory, which is what we call ‘deification’.
The Kingdom of God and deification are an eternal extension of the Divine Liturgy within space and time, as Saint Maximos the Confessor writes. By taking part in the Continue reading “The Saint of love, forgiveness & discernment: Saint Jacob Tsalikis of Evia Island, Greece (+1991)”
SAINTS OF MY HEART
What are Seraphim? Are Seraphs Angels?
The seraphim (fiery, burning ones) are angelic beings associated with the prophet Isaiah’s vision of God in the Temple when God called him to his prophetic ministry (Isaiah 6:1-7). Isaiah 6:2-4 records, “Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” Seraphs are angels who worship God continually.
Isaiah chapter 6 is the only place in the Bible that specifically mentions the seraphim. Each seraph had six wings. They used two to fly, two to cover their feet, and two to cover their faces (Isaiah 6:2). The seraphim flew about the throne on which God was seated, singing His praises as they called special attention to God’s glory and majesty. These beings apparently also served as agents of purification for Isaiah as he began his prophetic ministry. One placed a hot coal against Isaiah’s lips with the words, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:7). Similar to the other types of holy angels, the seraphim are perfectly obedient to God. Similar to the cherubim, the seraphim are particularly focused on worshipping God.
C. Fred Dickason, Angels: Elect & Evil, Revised, MOODY PUBLISHERS / 1995 / PAPERBACK
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”