Every repetition of prayer…will leave a mark of prayer on the
soul.Uninterrupted practice in the
order described will make it take root in your soul, and patience in this
practice will establish a prayerful spirit.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
Piety and dogma are one identity and
cannot be separated. Wherever there is upright teaching, there will be upright
action. “Orthodox” means:
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
For our needy
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.
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).
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.
next week we sing along with the Resurrection hymn the following:
come to the middle of the fest,
refresh my thirsty soul with the streams of piety;