Orthodox Thought for the Day

ORTHODOX THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Saturday, May 23, 2015

On the Church

Source:  http://preachersinstitute.com/2010/05/19/on-the-church-fr-john-romanides/

On The Church
May 19, 2010 By Fr. John A. Peck


by Fr. John Romanides
Our father in the faith, John Romanides (1927 – 2001), was a prominent 20th century Orthodox Christian priest, theologian, and writer. He argued for the existence of a “national, cultural and even linguistic unity between Eastern and Western Romans” that existed until the intrusion and takeover of the West Romans (the Roman Catholics) by the Franks and or Goths (German tribes).

The Church is the body of Christ, which is comprised of all those faithful in Christ; of those who participate in the first resurrection and who bear the betrothal of the Spirit or even those who have foretasted theosis (deification).

The Church has existed even before Creation, as the kingdom and the glory that is hidden within God and in which God resides, along with His Logos and His Spirit. By a volition of God, the aeons were created, as were the celestial powers and the incorporeal spirits or angels therein, and thereafter, time and the world within it, in which man was also created, who unites within himself the noetic energy of the angels with the logos-reason and the human body.

The Church is both invisible and visible; in other words, She is comprised of those who are enlisted (in active duty) on earth and those who are in the heavens, that is, those who have triumphed in the glory of God.

Among the Protestants there prevails the opinion that the Church is invisible only – where the sacraments of Baptism and the Divine Eucharist are merely symbolic acts – and that only God knows who the true members of the Church are. The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, also stresses the visible aspect of the Church. Outside the Church, there is no salvation.

The Church, as the body of Christ, is the residence of God’s uncreated glory. It is impossible for us to separate Christ from the Church, as it is to separate the Church from Christ. In Papism and Protestantism there is a clear distinction between the body of Christ and the Church; that is, one can participate in the body of Christ, without being a member of the Papist church.

This is impossible for Orthodoxy.
According to the Calvinists, after His ascension, Christ resides in heaven, and consequently the transformation of bread and wine into the actual Body and Blood of Christ is impossible. A complete absence of Christ. Approximately the same thing is highlighted in the Papist church, because Christ is regarded as absent, and through the minister’s prayer, He descends from the heavens and becomes present. This implies that Christ is absent from the Church.

Members of the Church are – as mentioned previously – those who have received the betrothal of the Spirit and the deified ones.

When the ancient Church referred to the body of Christ as the Church, and Christ as the Head of the Church, they of course did not mean that Christ was spread out bodily all over the world and that He – for example – had His Head in Rome, the one hand in the East and the other in the West, but that the whole of Christ exists in every individual church with all its members, that is, the Saints and the faithful of the universe.

In this way, according to the teaching of the Fathers, when we perform the Divine Eucharist, not only is Christ present, but all His Saints and the Christians of the Universe are present, in Christ. When we receive a tiny morsel of the Holy Bread, we receive all of Christ inside us. When Christians gather together for the same reason, the whole Church is gathering together, and not just a fraction of it. This is the reason that it has become predominant in Patristic Tradition to refer to the church of a monastery as the “Katholikon”.

The destination of all the faithful is theosis (deification). This is everyone’s ultimate objective. This is why a Christian must proceed “from glory to glory”; in other words, the slave must first become a salaried worker, then a son of God and a faithful member of Christ.

There cannot be salvation outside the Church. Christ offers redemptive grace to all people. When one is saved outside the visible Church, it means that Christ Himself has saved him. If he is a heterodox member then he is saved because it was Christ who saved him, and not the religious “offshoot” that he belongs to.

His salvation therefore is not effected by the ‘church’ he belongs to, because One is the Church that saves – and that is Christ.
Wherever the Orthodox dogma does not exist, the Church is in no position to opine on the authority of the sacraments. According to the Fathers, the Orthodox Dogma never separates itself from spirituality. Wherever there is an erroneous dogma, there is an erroneous spirituality and vice-versa.

There are many who separate the dogma from piety. That is a mistake. When Christ says “become ye perfect, as the Father is perfect” it implies that one must be familiar with the meaning of perfection. The criterion for the authority of the sacraments for us Orthodox is the Orthodox dogma, whereas for the heterodox, it is Apostolic Succession.

For the Orthodox Tradition, it is not enough to trace one’s ordination back to the Apostles, but to possess the Orthodox dogma.

Piety and dogma are one identity and cannot be separated. Wherever there is upright teaching, there will be upright action. “Orthodox” means:

a)     Upright glory
b)  Upright action

The terrestrial, actively engaged Church is the Orthodox Church. “Orthodox dogma” and “Scriptural teaching” are one and the same thing, because the dogma exists, and it comes from within the Holy Bible.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Honoring the Holy New Martyrs of Batak

The Holy New Martyrs of Batak, commemorated on May 17:  http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/05/new-martyrs-of-batak-sparks-amidst.html
 

 

Through the prayers of the Holy New Martyrs of Batak,

O Christ our God, save us!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Our mom, the Panagia

In August of 2013, his Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria gave a message referring to “our mom,” the Panagia, as she is celebrated in August each year.  In light of Mother’s Day tomorrow, I would like to share an excerpt of his message here.  The source is Mystagogy:
 

 

The mom of the world celebrates.

The mom who understands, who listens and who rapidly obeys, like the Gorgoypikoos (She Who is Quick to Hear) as she named herself at Docheiariou Monastery on the Holy Mountain.

The mom who covers her children, who wipes the tears of tragedy and suffering.

The mom who calms the hearts from the storms of life, and who pacifies the mind, as Saint Theodore the Studite will write and chant.

The mom who as soon as one stands opposite her icon she fills with joy, which is why they chant together with the sacred hymnographer: "In hymns we thank, glorify and praise your immeasurable mercy and great strength, confessing to all."

The mom who is the protector of all Christians. "The protection of Christians, Virgin Mother of the Lord."

To our mom.

To the mom of the world we leave our hope and our endurance always, especially in these difficult days our homeland is going through.

To our mom we open our heart, as the Venerable Sophia of Kleisoura would say.

We supplicate to the Panagia with the sacred troparia of our Church, as Elder Paisios advised, with the purpose of guiding us to her Son and our God.

The Panagia is supplicated today by persons whom we do not give any importance to repeating daily thousands of times the archangelic greeting of "Rejoice, Theotokos and Virgin".

Along with the entire choir of Saints in the Kingdom of Heaven, together with those also who live today in the trenches of life and with the prayers of those who support the world, we also send her our supplications:

For our Church,

For our nation,

For the ill who suffer,

For our needy brethren,

For those battered by the scourges of our times,

For the blood being spilled in Syria, Egypt, and in other countries,

For every human soul which is to be found with every need.

May the Panagia speak to the hearts of the powerful of the earth.

May she speak to all of our hearts.

May she teach us humility in order to find our lost self.

May she help us to regain again that which we lost, that is, our sustenance together with our life-providing and life-bearing Tradition.

My Panagia, my joy, my consolation, my hope, my breath, save us from every circumstance.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Blessed Feast of Mid-Pentecost

 

We are at the mid-point between Pascha, the Resurrection of Christ and His victory over death, and Pentecost where He sends down the Holy Spirit, the “living water,” so we too can follow Him. In this feast we continue the celebration of the Resurrection that emphasizes the Divine nature of Christ. Simultaneously, we are reminded that  the descent of the Holy Spirit is coming soon. We should become aware of the joy our soul seeks to receive His Grace through the Spirit. It is His grace that enables us to follow His teachings, to make our lives Christ centered, to live united with Him in hope of our Resurrection. We are encouraged to think of the joy in receiving the Holy Spirit so that we too can share with others the love God gives us. We can become His light that shines through us like “rivers of flowing waters” (John 7:38). 

During the feast we can reflect on the nature of our faith and how weak it is in these times, how few follow His teachings. We too often say that it is more important for us to follow our inner feelings and not to be constrained by His teachings. We think this is freedom. But let’s realize when we say this we are admitting we are a slave to the norms of our current secular culture instead of God’s hopes for us.  The way of our times is not true freedom. It will not lead us to eternal life in His kingdom. In this feast we are reminded to thirst for what is beyond earth, beyond our feelings, beyond our self-centered wants and desires, to thirst for the Holy Spirit that is to be sent to us by Christ Himself on Pentecost. This will bring us true joy, true freedom, and the strength to follow Christ. 

For the next week we sing along with the Resurrection hymn the following: 

Having come to the middle of the fest,
refresh my thirsty soul with the streams of piety;
for thou, O Savior, didst say to all:
Let him who thirsts come to Me and drink.
O Christ our God,
Source of Life, glory to Thee. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

How the grace of the Holy Spirit works

The grace of the Holy Spirit which is given mystically to every Christian when he is baptized acts and is manifested in proportion to our obedience to the commandments of the Lord. That is, if a Christian obeys the commandments of the Lord more, grace acts with him more, while if he obeys them less, grace acts within him less.  Just as a spark, when covered in the ashes of fire becomes increasingly manifest as one removes the ashes, and the more fire wood you put the more the fire burns, so the grace that has been given to every Christian through Holy Baptism is hidden in the heart and covered up by the passions and sins, and the more a man acts in accordance with the commandments of Christ, the more he is cleansed of the passions and the more the fire of Divine grace lights in his heart, illumines and deifies him. 
 
 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Behave like a Christian


 

When someone wishes to render evil for evil,
he is able to hurt his brother's conscience even by a single nod.   


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Best of Russia trip coming up


Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky is preparing to take a group of pilgrims on tour in Russia from July 26 – August 8. The tour will visit Moscow, St. Petersburg, Pskov, Novgorod and Valaam.  Fr. Ilya routinely leads Orthodox tours, so this is an unique way to visit Orthodox holy places with a well-informed guide.  Learn about this wonderful Orthodox tour to Holy Russia here: http://orthodoxtours.com/our-tours/136-2015-the-best-of-russia.html  

A couple Ortho Thought readers are participating this time ‘round and I thought I’d let you know that.  And not only that, but there is a lady going on this tour who is hoping for a roommate.  So, if you’re a single woman who wants to participate in this tour, here is an opportunity for you to room with someone of like mind and faith.  Please contact Fr. Ilya for further details.  

God bless you, dear readers.  I am hopeful that someday I can join you on such a tour, along with my sweet daughter, who is Russian born.  

Your sister in Christ,
Presbytera Candace