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Toward Healing Church Schism

TOWARD HEALING CHURCH SCHISM: OVERVIEW AND PSYCHOTHEOLOGICAL REFLECTION - WHAT CAN WE DO TO ACHIEVE UNITY BETWEEN CATHOLICS AND ORTHODOX

By Fr. George Morelli

“And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (Jn 17:11)

“When Christ asked the one who was to become the first among the apostle, then called Simon Bar-Jona, “. . . who do you say that I am?” (Mt. 16:15). Simon answered: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied: "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”  (Mt 16: 16-18).  The Eastern Orthodox Church has always considered this “profession” of the Divinity of Jesus[i] to be the ‘rock,’ the foundation, of all who are members of His Church. It is noteworthy that Jesus did not speak of plural Churches, i.e., that He would found many Churches, but my Church, singular. He would found one Church.  The Church is one.

Why Fast?

It helps us grasp the truth about what really matters, and it’s a “transferable discipline.”

Why do we fast? According to some Protestants, we believe that we are earning God’s salvation by fasting. That is not the case, however. Fasting does not save us; the God-Man Jesus Christ saves us. But God uses means, including fasting, to do so.

We don’t fast because we despise the body. Extreme dualism, which surfaces regularly throughout history, disparages the physical and the body in an unchristian way. The Incarnation and the Resurrection, however, tell us that God does not despise the body, and neither should we. Fasting is not a punishment of the body, as though the body were the source of sin; it is what comes out of the heart that defiles a person, not his or her natural bodily needs.

Fasting is not a way of proving one’s Orthodoxy or piety, to God or to anyone else; we see this in the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, which comes five Sundays before Lent in order to prepare us for it. According to Proto-Presbyter Alexander Schmemann, “No one can acquire the spirit of repentance without rejecting the attitude of the Pharisee. Here is a man who is always pleased with himself and thinks that he complies with all the requirements of religion. Yet, he has reduced religion to purely formal rules and measures it by the amount of his financial contribution to the temple” (“The Liturgical Structure of Lent”). And, one might add, he measures it by the strictness of his fast.

The Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord

Every male of you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. A child who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised … and my covenant shall be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant (Genesis, 17:10-13).

When our forefather in faith Abraham was ninety-nine years of age, the eternal Son and Word of God came to him and made covenant with him. He commanded that, as the defining “sign” of that covenant, Abraham and his seed be circumcised. Throughout succeeding centuries, Israel dutifully kept this Law and even took it as a cause for boasting (Galatians 6:14).1

It was to fulfill this divine commandment that our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ was circumcised on the eighth day after His birth according to the flesh from His pure and ever-virgin Mother Mary. This event receives but passing notice in the Gospel:

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb (Luke 2:21).

Yet, laden with great significance, Christ’s circumcision proved to be both the fulfillment of God’s commandment in the Law and a prophetic sign of future events.

April 21, 2010 + From Homily XXXIV

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel According to St. John

"Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman which testified, He told me all that ever I did." (John 4:39)

They perceived that the woman would not from favor have admired One who had rebuked her sins, nor to gratify another have paraded her own course of life.

Let us then also imitate this woman, and in the case of our own sins not be ashamed of men, but fear, as is meet, God who now beholdeth what is done, and who hereafter punisheth those who do not now repent. At present we do the opposite of this, for we fear not Him who shall judge us, but shudder at those who do not in anything hurt us, and tremble at the shame which comes from them. Therefore in the very thing which we fear, in this do we incur punishment. For he who now regards only the reproach of men, but when God seeth is not ashamed to do anything unseemly, and who will not repent and be converted, in that day will be made an example, not only before one or two but in the sight of the whole world. For that a vast assembly is seated there to behold righteous actions as well as those which are not such, let the parable of the sheep and the goats teach thee, as also the blessed Paul when He saith "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. v. 10), and again, "Who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness." (1 Cor. iv. 5.) Hast thou done or imagined any evil thing, and dost thou hide it from man? Yet from God thou hidest it not. But for this thou careth nothing; the eyes of men, these are thy fear.

Authentic Church Music

By Rev. John Finley, B.M., M.A., M.S.T. 

2002 Conference on Missions and Evangelism
The Gospel in Song: Music, Missions and Evangelism
August 30-September 02, 2002

Just as an authentic icon makes visible for us, the invisible Kingdom of God, so too, authentic Church music makes audible for us the inaudible song of the angels around the throne of God.

And just as an icon of Christ or the Theotokos differs in style from nation to nation, and from one century to the next, so too, a musical setting of a hymn to Christ or to His mother differs in style from nation to nation and from one century to the next.

Because we respect the tradition of the Church, and because we know that no culture or no era stands in isolation from another in Church History, we seek to develop Church art in a living continuity with the past, realizing however, that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church to which we are united, is not simply the Church of the past, but also of the present and of the future.

Our Patriarch Ignatius IV commenting in his book The Resurrection and Modern Man on the Apocalyptic verse "Behold, I make all things new" emphasizes that God comes into the world from the future.[1] So, too, should our music, and iconography be made new from generation to generation, not in the sense of radical innovation or novelty, but new according to the renewal of the Holy Spirit in the Church. We must trust that the Holy Spirit will reveal the mind of the Church in every generation and in every nation as the faithful apply the great commission not only to the spread of the Orthodox faith in thought, word and deed, but also in Christian art.

The Ministry of Church Singers

The following article is taken from the newsletter PSALM: Pan-Orthodox Society for the Advancement of Liturgical Music, Spring 1996, written by His Grace Bishop BASIL. For more information on PSALM, please go to www.orthodoxpsalm.org .

There are few ministries of the Church that require the devotion and the dedication that church singing does. You who lead the singing as well as you who follow the leader are precious gifts to your parishes. You are as important to the parish as is the holy table itself. As there can be no liturgy without the holy table, there can be no liturgy without you. This is not to compliment you or increase your pride, but rather to put a little fear and awe in you, so you know what your responsibilities are. Church singing is not a hobby. Being a choir director is not something one does for personal fulfillment. It is first and foremost a duty, a duty of those to whom God has given musical talents. It is sinful, in my opinion, for someone not to sing who has been given the gift to sing. Sinful! You join the angels, and do that which the angels do perpetually. That’s not an interest, avocation, or a hobby; it is a duty. Angels were created to serve and to praise, and you have been given voices for that same purpose.

I love to remind our church singers of the fact that we physically jump into something that goes on perpetually. We jump in and join with the angels for a couple of hours, and then we jump back out. The liturgy does not begin with “Blessed is the Kingdom” and your “Amen,” and it doesn’t end with “Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers” and your “Amen.” Those phrases only define the time that we participate in the liturgy which goes on perpetually before the throne of God.

St. Romanos the Melodist

Saint Romanos the Melodist, A Syrian Poet
Michael G. Farrow, Ph.D.
Vice Chairman, Dept. Sacred Music

“The hymnologists of the Orthodox Church are Christians of virtue and great faith, having been endowed with musical talent as well as the power of religious inspiration. Their creations have enriched our worship services and have helped turn our souls towards God. Perhaps the greatest of all hymnologists is St. Romanos the Melodist. Many other hymnologists have written ecclesiastical hymns, but none of them inspired the Christians as much as St. Romanos.” This statement, issued by the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians concisely states the reverence, appreciation and feeling all Orthodox Christians have for St. Romanos.

Romanos’ Background

April 14, 2010 + From Homily XIV

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Acts of the Apostles

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. (Acts 6:1)

So then there was a daily ministration for the widows. And observe how he calls it a "ministration," and not directly alms: extolling by this at once the doers, and those to whom it was done. "Were neglected."  This did not arise from malice, but perhaps from the carelessness of the multitude. And therefore he brought it forward openly, for this was no small evil. Observe, how even in the beginning the evils came not only from without, but also from within. For you must not look to this only, that it was set to rights, but observe that it was a great evil that it existed.

"Then the twelve," etc. (v. 2.) Do you observe how outward concerns succeed to inward? They do not act at their own discretion, but plead for themselves to the congregation. So ought it to be done now. "It is not reason," says he, "that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables." First he puts to them the unreasonableness of the thing; that it is not possible for both things to be done with the same attention: just as when they were about to ordain Matthias, they first show the necessity of the thing, that one was deficient, and there must needs be twelve. And so here they showed the necessity; and they did it not sooner, but waited till the murmuring arose; nor, on the other hand, did they suffer this to spread far. And, lo! they leave the decision to them: those who pleased all, those who of all were honestly reputed, them they present: not now twelve, but "seven, full of the Spirit and of wisdom: well reported of" for their conversation. (v. 3.)

Rising Victorious

by Frederica Mathewes-Green

Jesus is standing on the broken doors of hell. The massive portals lie crossed under his feet, a reminder of the Cross that won this triumph. He stands braced and striding, like a superhero, using his mighty outstretched arms to lift a great weight. That weight is Adam and Eve themselves, our father and mother in the fallen flesh. Jesus grasps Adam's wrist with his right hand and Eve's with his left, as he pulls them forcibly up, out of the carved marble boxes that are their graves.

Expectations for Giving in Christ’s Love

Giving is only truly giving if it is done in the love of Christ. We are told to love the Lord our God with all our heart, to love our neighbor as ourself, and to love one another as Christ has loved us. Giving for any lesser reason (to control others, to get glory for yourself, to escape false guilt) is a perversion of the gospel (see Galatians 1:7). These commands can be called Christ’s law of love. (Note that neither “law,” “rule”, “standard”, nor “precept” is a “dirty word” when rightly used and understood.)

St. Basil the Great said that this life is no accident, but is a training ground so that we rational beings may learn to know God. This is relevant to our stewardship of what we have, and to our giving, especially during the period from September through December, our annual “Giving in Stewardship Emphasis Season.” How shall we apply Christ’s law of love to our giving in Christian stewardship?

Let us review what we have considered together over the years. God’s word written, Holy Scripture, and Holy Patristics, our chief Orthodox sources, address three major topics in giving: motives, methods, and results. If we internalize what our sources have to say on these themes for our lives and our parishes, we will do well!

Before you roll your eyes, be glad that we have largely reviewed motives already. God loves us. For God so loved the world – us – that He gave his only begotten Son to the end that all who believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). This is good news (gospel), and it is good news that motivates us to give!

Confessing Your Financial Sins

By Fr. Michael Tassos

In this article, I want to examine the connection between one of the wonderful tools the Church provides us to work out our salvation—the Sacrament of Confession—and one of the most ordinary, practical dimensions of our lives—our finances.

There are many wonderful books and articles on the subject of confession. However, there are almost none that deal specifically with the connection between confession and our own personal financial sins.

The Emergence of Local Orthodox Christian Societies in America

by His Grace Bishop THOMAS and Sdn. Symeon Dana Kees

Throughout the history of the Orthodox Church, the Church has found a home in every culture within which it has been divinely planted.  As the unchanging Apostolic Tradition becomes the Way of the people, the language and the good aspects of the culture are sanctified and absorbed into the life of the Church. 

Smart Parenting XVIII and Smart Pastoring: A Spiritual Child is a Happy Child

By Fr. George Morelli

From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Lk 12:48).

What makes for a happy child? According to some recent behavioral research, (Holder, Coleman & Wallace,  2008)[i] it is a child who is also ‘spiritual.’  The authors define spiritual in a different way than most Orthodox Christians would comprehend.  This article will attempt to outline the core of Orthodox spirituality and see if this understanding can be integrated with these researchers’ findings.

We know that the Body of Christ which is His Church is the most sublime gift given to us by God. This includes, of course, the Divinity emptying itself. The Father sending, that is to say, giving us His Only Begotten Son, to assume human flesh and, as St. Paul has told us, He,  “…Christ is the head of the church, his [B]ody, and is [H]imself its Savior.”  From the Anaphora prayer of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom we pray (and learn): “[Christ] gave Himself up for the life of the world, ….Take eat: this is my Body which is broken for you….Drink ye all of this: this is my Blood … which is shed for you ….Having in remembrance, therefore this saving commandment and all those things which have come to pass for us: the Cross, the Grave, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into heaven, the Session at the right hand, and the second and glorious Advent…”

Parents and Pastors as head of their church family

The Domestic Church

Call No Man Father?

by Douglas Cramer

The Orthodox Christian Church has since the time of Christ nurtured and raised up a way of understanding the world, of understanding ourselves, and understanding our walk with God that is a unique treasure often unheard, unheralded and unshared. Our's is a living faith, a living Tradition of how to follow Christ. Let's consider an easily-overlooked passage from St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians. It is a crucial reference point in one small tradition of the Church, a tradition with large implications.

The passage, 1 Corinthians 4:14-16, reads: "I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me." The tradition reflected in this passage is one we still practice today - our tradition of calling our deacons and priests "father", and of referring to our Orthodox Christian spiritual elders through the century as "the Fathers of the Church."

Let's think about what we can learn from this tradition of calling our clergy and spiritual elders "Father". The traditional title "Father" points us towards the truth that our faith, like our God, is a living creation and not a mere collection of ancient rituals. We are part of God's living, growing family - and our spiritual elders are called to a special role in that family. And this family's greatest task is to safeguard God's Holy Tradition.

The Great Canon

The Following is an excerpt from Great Lent, by Alexander Schmemann
From Chapter 4: The Lenten Journey

[The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete] can best be described as a penitential lamentation conveying to us the scope and depth of sin, shaking the soul with despair, repentance, and hope. With a unique art, St. Andrew interwove the great biblical themes-- Adam and Eve, Paradise and Fall, the Patriarchs Noah and the Flood, David, the Promised Land, and ultimately Christ and the Church-- with confession of sin and repentance. The events of sacred history are revealed as events of my life, God's acts in the past as acts aimed at me and my salvation, the tragedy of sin and betrayal as my personal tragedy. My life is shown to me as part of the great and all-embracing fight between God and the powers of darkness which rebel against Him.

The Canon begins on this deeply personal note:

Where shall I begin to weep over the cursed deeds of my life?
What foundation shall I lay, Christ, for this lamentation?

On after another, my sins are revealed in their deep connection with the continuous drama of man's relation to God; the story of man's fall is my story:

I have made mine the crime of Adam; I know myself deprived of God, of the eternal Kingdom and of bliss because of my sins....

I have lost all divine gifts:

I have defiled the vestment of my body, obscured the image and likeness of God....
I have darkened the beauty of my soul, I have torn my first vestment woven for me by the Creator and I am naked....

The Boy Who Died and The Boy Who Lived: Reflections on the Annunciation

by Douglas Cramer

Where does the Gospel begin? I like to think that it begins with the Annunciation. It is the beginning of the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, with His holy conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The visitation by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, and his announcement that the Holy Spirit will come upon her, is the beginning of the Gospel story that concludes with the death and glorious Resurrection of Christ that we celebrate at Great and Holy Pascha. In the words of one of our hymns for Annunciation, “Today is the beginning of our salvation.”

I believe, though, that we often forget just how much reason we have to celebrate. With all the worldly blessings we in America often enjoy, it can be easy to forget how much we need salvation, how much our world needs a Savior. This was brought home to me recently by a difficult and painful story of another baby boy.

Mid-Lent: The Holy Cross

The Following is an excerpt from Great Lent, by Alexander Schmemann
From Chapter 4: The Lenten Journey

The third Sunday of Lent is called "The Veneration of the Cross." At the Vigil of that day, after the Great Doxology, the Cross is brought in a solemn procession to the center of the church and remains there for the entire week-- with a special rite of veneration following each service. It is noteworthy that the theme of the Cross which dominates the hymnology of that Sunday is developed in terms not of suffering but of victory and joy. More than that, the theme-songs (hirmoi) of the Sunday Canon are taken from the Paschal Service-- "The Day of the Resurrection"-- and the Canon is a paraphrase of the Easter Canon.

The meaning of all this is clear. We are in Mid-Lent. One the one hand, the physical and spiritual effort, if it is serious and consistent, begins to be felt, its burden becomes more burdensome, our fatigue more evident. We need help and encouragement. On the other hand, having endured this fatigue, having climbed the mountain up to this point, we begin to see the end of our pilgrimage, and the rays of Easter grow in their intensity. Lent is our self-crucifixion, our experience, limited as it is, of Christ's commandment heard in the Gospel lesson of that Sunday: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34). But we cannot take up our cross and follow Christ unless we have His Cross which He took up in order to save us. It is His Cross, not ours, that saves us. It is His Cross that gives not only meaning but also power to others. This is explained to us in the synaxarion of the Sunday of the Cross:

Sundays of Lent

The Following is an excerpt from Great Lent, by Alexander Schmemann
From Chapter 4: The Lenten Journey

Each Sunday in Lent has two themes, two meanings. On the one hand, each belongs to a sequencein which the rhythm and spiritual "dialectics" of Lent are revealed. On the other hand, in the course of the Church's historical development almost each lenten Sunday has acquired a second theme. Thus on the first Sunday the Church celebrates the "Triumph of Orthodoxy"-- commemorating the victory over Iconoclasm and the restoration of the veneration of icons in Constantinople in 843. The connection of this celebration with Lent is purely historical: the first "triumph of Orthodoxy" took place on this particular Sunday. The same is true of the commemoration on the second Sunday of Lent of St. Gregory Palamas. The condemnation of his enemies and the vindication of his teachings by the Church in the 14th Century was acclaimed as a second triumph of Orthodoxy and for this reason its annual celebration was prescribed for the second Sunday of Lent. Meaningful and important as they are in themselves, these commemorations are independent from Lent as such and we can leave them outside the scope of this essay....

Forgiveness (Cheese-Fare Sunday)

The Following is an excerpt from Great Lent, by Alexander Schmemann
From Chapter 2: Preparation for Lent

....

Finally comes the last day [of preparation for Lent], usually called "Forgiveness Sunday," but whose other liturgical name must also be remembered: the "Expulsion of Adam from the Paradise of Bliss." This name summarizes indeed the entire preparation for Lent. By now we know that man was created for paradise, for knowledge of God and communion with Him. Man's sin has deprived him of that blessed life and his existence on earth is exile. Christ, the Savior of the world, opens the door of paradise to everyone who follows Him, and the Church, by revealing to us the beauty of the Kingdom, makes our life a pilgrimage toward our heavenly fatherland. Thus, at the beginning of Lent, we are like Adam:

Adam was expelled form paradise through food;
Sitting, therefore, in front of it he cried:
"Woe to me....
One commandment of God have I transgressed,
depriving myself of all that is good;
Paradise holy! Planted for me,
And now because of Eve closed to me;
Pray to thy Creator and mine that I may be filled again by thy blossom."
Then answered the Savior to him:
"I wish not my creation to perish;
I desire it to be saved and to know the truth;
For I will not turn away him who comes to Me....

The Last Judgement (Meat-Fare Sunday)

The Following is an excerpt from Great Lent, by Alexander Schmemann
From Chapter 2: Preparation for Lent

....

It is love again that constitutes the theme of "Meat-Fare Sunday." The Gospel lesson for the day is Christ's parable of the Last Judgement (Matt. 25:31-46). When Christ comes to judge us, what will be the criterion of His judgement? The parable answers: love-- not a mere humanitarian concern for abstract justice and the anonymous "poor," but concrete and personal love for the human person, any human person, that God makes me encounter in my life....

Christian love is the "possible impossibility" to see Christ in another man, whoever he is, and whom God, in His eternal and mysterious plan, has decided to introduce into my life, be it only for a few moments, not as an occasion for a "good deed" or an exercise in philanthropy, but as the beginning of an eternal companionship in God Himself. For, indeed, what is love if not that mysterious power which transcends the accidental and the external in the "other"-- his physical appearance, social rank, ethnic origin, intellectual capacity-- and reaches the soul, the unique and uniquely personal "root" of a human being, truly the part of God in him? If God loves every man it is because He alone knows the priceless and absolutely unique treasure, the "soul" or "person" He gave every man. Christian love then is the participation in that divine knowledge and the gift of that divine love. There is no "impersonal" love because love is the wonderful discovery of the "person" in "man," of the personal and unique in the common and general. It is the discovery in each man of that which is "lovable" in him, of that which is from God.

Return from Exile (The Sunday of the Prodigal Son)

The Following is an excerpt from Great Lent, by Alexander Schmemann
From Chapter 2: Preparation for Lent

Sunday of the Prodigal SonOn the third Sunday of preparation for Lent, we hear the parable of the Prodigal Son (LK. 15:11-32). Together with the hymns on this day, the parable reveals to us the time of repentance as man's return from exile. The prodigal son, we are told, went to a far country and there spent all that he had. A far country! It is this unique definition of our human condition that we must assume and make ours as we begin our approach to God. A man who has never had that experience, be it only very briefly, who has never felt that he is exiled from God and from real life, will never understand what Christianity is about. And the one who is perfectly "at home" in this world and its life, who has never been wounded by the nostalgic desire for another Reality, will not understand what is repentance.

Humility (Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee)

The Following is an excerpt from Great Lent, by Alexander Schmemann
From Chapter 2: Preparation for Lent

The next Sunday [after Zaccheus Sunday] is called the "Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee." On the eve of this day, on Saturday at Vespers, the liturgical book of the Lenten season-- the Triodion-- makes its first appearance and texts from it are added to the usual hymns and prayers of the weekly resurrection service. The develop the next major aspect of repentance: humility.

The Gospel lesson (Lk. 18:10-4) pictures a man who is always pleased with himself and who thinks that he complies with all the requirements of religion. He is self-assured and proud of himself. In reality, however, he has falsified the meaning of religion. He has reduced it to external observations and he measures his piety by the amount of money he contributes to the temple. As for the Publican, he humbles himself and his humility justifies him before God. If there is a moral quality almost completely disregarded and even denied today, it is indeed humility. The culture in which we live constantly instills in us the sense of pride, of self-glorification, and of self-righteousness. It is built on the assumption that man can achieve anything by himself and it even pictures God as the one who all the time "gives credit" for man's achievements and good deeds. Humility-- be it individual or corporate, ethnic or national-- is viewed as a sign of weakness, as something unbecoming a real man. Even our churches-- are they not imbued with that same spirit as the Pharisee? Do we not want our every contribution, every "good deed," all that we do "for the Church" to be acknowledged, praised, publicized?

November 19, 2008 + Advent

by Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky

 

from The Word, December 1970

 

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase” (Isaiah 9:1)

"I understand the significance of the pre-Easter lent, but why do we keep a Lenten season for Christmas, since it’s such a joyous occasion?” The woman who made the comment spoke sincerely and her reasoning was correct. What she misunderstood was the purpose of Lenten fasting and spiritual preparation.

To so many of our people, fasting and prayers are expressions of sorrow for a rupture in Divine-human relationships, such as was the murder of Jesus Christ.

Primarily, Lent is a time for our concentrated preparing for the Kingdom of God’s manifestation within us. By freeing ourselves from the things of this world we can better live and experience the Spirit of God dwelling in our souls. It is a time of pilgrimage—a spiritual journey to our true native land which the Lord has prepared for us.

Now it is advent, the time of His coming. Christ is on the way to my world, my city, my house and to me. How will He find it: what will He think of us; will He be pleased?

A Culture Obsessed With Food

By Douglas Cramer

I enjoy good food. And our Orthodox Christian faith is a sacramental faith, a faith which teaches us that the earthly joys of this world—including good food—are gifts from God. And certainly, our ancestors—whatever one’s heritage—have known deprivation, and have prayed that their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren would know peace and prosperity, and not go hungry.

Give and Be Glad

By Douglas Cramer

There is a fundamental mistake most of us make—the belief that our possessions are our own. But this is simply not true. Yes, most of us work for everything we have. But we wouldn’t have any of it if it were not given to us by God. If we believe in God, there is no denying the fact that without God we would have nothing, not even our own lives. He is the source of all, and everything returns to Him in the end.