ecclesiology


Understanding Orthodoxy for Mental Health Practitioners + Part 2

[This is a follow up course to Orthodox Christian Spirituality and Cognitive Psychotherapy: An Online Course, that appeared in four parts over the years 2012-2013. This second course is specifically oriented to explain Orthodoxy to mental health practitioners,and serve as a useful resource for Orthodox Clergy and laity as well. Ethically, mental health practitioners should incorporate the spiritual values of their patients in the therapeutic process. The course would serve as an introduction of the Eastern Orthodox ethos and cultural traditions to these professionals.

One of the most frequently questions I am asked as Chairman of the Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling Department of the Antiochian Archdiocese is for a referral to an Orthodox mental health practitioner. Sadly Orthodoxy is not a majority spiritual tradition in North America and Orthodox practitioners are few. So careful questioning by potential patients, family and clergy of a potential practitioner regarding the practitioner's understanding and respect for the spiritual values of their patients is very important. This course is meant to aid in this inquiry.

It also should be noted that this course is an updating and reworking of a recently published chapter: Psychotherapy with members of Eastern Orthodox Churches, (Morelli, 2014).]

by Fr. George Morelli

The Orthodox Perception of Contemporary Threats to the Church

Chief among these threats is secularism, defined as the marginalization of God and the Church, and, in place of God and His Church, a focus on "earthly things." (Phil. 3,19). This springs from the values of the contemporary Western world, including radical individualism, moral relativism, and religious and political correctness, all of which guide individual and social behavior and inform political/public policy. Secularism rejects God and His Church as the touchstone of truth and meaning. Moreover, when God is rejected, the locus of truth — the place from which truth emanates and where it is found — must necessarily rest in the created order and shifts to man himself, and as pride and an inflated sense of Godless self-sufficiency grow, ideas which find no court of accountability apart from the like-minded are implemented in this quest for a new Jerusalem. (Morelli 2009b)

Healing the Church of the Homogenization of Vocations + A Psycho-Theological Reflection

by Fr. George Morelli

He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me. And the seventy-two returned with joy, saying: Lord, the devils also are subject to us in thy name. (Lk 10 16-17)

A recent report from the Pew Research Organization was entitled: “Majority of U.S. Catholics’ opinions run counter to church on contraception, homosexuality.”[i] While I have not conducted a scientific survey on Eastern Orthodox on these topics, in my pastoral experience I have encountered what I would call a significant number of individuals who consider themselves Orthodox[ii] who would concur with this unfortunate finding.

Understanding Orthodoxy for Mental Health Practitioners + Part 1

[This is a follow up course to Orthodox Christian Spirituality and Cognitive Psychotherapy: An Online Course, that appeared in four parts over the years 2012-2013. This second course is specifically oriented to explain Orthodoxy to mental health practitioners,and serve as a useful resource for Orthodox Clergy and laity as well. Ethically, mental health practitioners should incorporate the spiritual values of their patients in the therapeutic process. The course would serve as an introduction of the Eastern Orthodox ethos and cultural traditions to these professionals.

One of the most frequently questions I am asked as Chairman of the Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling Department of the Antiochian Archdiocese is for a referral to an Orthodox mental health practitioner. Sadly Orthodoxy is not a majority spiritual tradition in North America and Orthodox practitioners are few. So careful questioning by potential patients, family and clergy of a potential practitioner regarding the practitioner's understanding and respect for the spiritual values of their patients is very important. This course is meant to aid in this inquiry.

It also should be noted that this course is an updating and reworking of a recently published chapter: Psychotherapy with members of Eastern Orthodox Churches, (Morelli, 2014).]

by Fr. George Morelli

Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me. Jn 14:6

May 7, 2014 + On Sacred Tradition, Part 2

by Fr. Michael Pomazansky

We find this sacred ancient Tradition

  • in the most ancient record of the Church, the Canons of the Holy Apostles;
  • in the Symbols of Faith of the ancient local churches;
  • in the ancient Liturgies, in the rite of Baptism, and in other ancient prayers;
  • in the ancient Acts of the Christian martyrs. The Acts of the martyrs did not enter into use by the faithful until they had been examined and approved by the local bishops; and they were read at the public gatherings of Christians under the supervision of the leaders of the churches. In them we see the confession of the Most Holy Trinity, the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, examples of the invocation of the saints, of belief in the conscious life of those who had reposed in Christ, and much else;
  • in the ancient records of the history of the Church, especially in the book of Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop of Caesarea, where there are gathered many ancient traditions of rite and dogma-in particular, there is given the canon of the sacred books of the Old and New Testaments;
  • in the works of the ancient Fathers and teachers of the Church;
  • and, finally, in the very spirit of the Church's life, in the preservation of faithfulness to all her foundations which come from the Holy Apostles.

The Apostolic Tradition which has been preserved and guarded by the Church, by the very fact that it has been kept by the Church, becomes the Tradition of the Church herself, it "belongs" to her, it testifies to her; and, in parallel to Sacred Scripture it is called by her, "Sacred Tradition."

April 30, 2014 + On Sacred Tradition, Part 1

by Fr. Michael Pomazansky

IN THE ORIGINAL PRECISE meaning of the word, Sacred Tradition is the tradition which comes from the ancient Church of Apostolic times. In the second to the fourth centuries this was called "the Apostolic Tradition."

... In the following words St. Basil the Great gives us a clear understanding of the Sacred Apostolic Tradition: "Of the dogmas and sermons preserved in the Church, certain ones we have from written instruction, and certain ones we have received from the Apostolic Tradition, handed down in secret. Both the one and the other have one and the same authority for piety, and no one who is even the least informed in the decrees of the Church will contradict this. For if we dare to overthrow the unwritten customs as if they did not have great importance, we shall thereby imperceptively do harm to the Gospel in its most important points. And even more, we shall be left with the empty name of the Apostolic preaching without content. For example, let us especially make note of the first and commonest thing, that those who hope in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ should sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross. Who taught this in Scripture? Which Scripture instructed us that we should turn to the east in prayer? Which of the saints left us in written form the words of invocation during the transformation of the bread of the Eucharist and the Chalice of blessing? For we are not satisfied with the words which are mentioned in the Epistles or the Gospels, but both before them and after them we pronounce others also as having great authority for the Mystery, having received them from the unwritten teaching.

Renewed Possibilities for the Apostolic Churches

SSJC-WRi President's Message 2013 Spring
by Fr. George Morelli

RENEWED POSSIBILITIES FOR THE APOSTOLIC CHURCHES

Archpriest George Morelli, PhD

A number of historically momentous events among the Apostolic Churches have occurred since the last Light of the East President's message. First and foremost were the papal resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first pontiff to resign since Pope Gregory XII during the Middle Ages (1415 AD, to put an end the Great Western Schism), and the election of his successor Pope Francis I. The words of Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on the papal resignation echo the feelings of the many I have talked to about this event, that it is "another sign of his great care for the Church." The cardinal went on to say, "Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism. Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity,"ii This bespeaks the rampant de-Christianization of society.

Apostolic Church Unity: Hope, Prayer and Work

SSJC-WR President's Message 2013 Winter
by Fr. George Morelli

Some recent developments in the world of inter-Apostolic Church relations are encouraging. It should be pointed out that the thaw in the frozen tundra of emotional frigidity among the Churches could be traced back to the lifting of the anathemas between Rome and Constantinople in December 1965 by His Holiness Pope Paul VI of Rome and His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople. This event, although symbolic, initiated a series of exchanges between the Eastern and Western Churches culminating recently in a statement of Holy Spirit-filled hope by the current Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who said: "The uniqueness of the founders of our Churches, of Elder Rome and of New Rome, the Holy Apostles Peter and Andrew, as brothers according to the flesh, constitutes a motivation for both of our Churches to move toward the genuine experience of spiritual brotherhood and the restoration of communion in this same spirit, in truth and in love."i Also on the Orthodox side is the announcement that, under the aegis of the Department External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, a theological commission approved a document on 08 November 2012, entitled The position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the question of primacy in the Universal Church. It is now submitted to the Russian Orthodox synod for approval.ii

November 10, 2010 + The Church

by Rev. Fr. Michael Baroudy
from The Word, October 1967

There are some questions relative to the church to which we want to give proper answers. The first is, how important is the church to the life of the community.

The importance of the church to the life of the community cannot be measured in dollars and cents, because the church is an institution that concerns itself with life’s higher values, deals in matters that are sacred. The primary purpose in building an edifice we call “church” is to express our heartfelt devotion, loyalty and love to a God of love, who made the world and everything in it for the good and the benefit of man. It is important because it represents the highest, holiest and best in life. It is important because it points out to us the proper direction, molds our thoughts in such a manner that we become God-conscious, loving what He loves, hating what He hates, whose primal purpose is to make the will of God the will of men.

We would be in a better position to know the importance of the church to the life of the community if each of us asks himself, “How much does it mean to me? Do we feel a sense of loss if we happen to miss coming to the services? Does it influence me to do good and to shun evil? Do we realize that the church’s first business is to be the light of the world, and the salt of the earth, an institution that treasures the truth of God, a ship whose pilot is the Lord Jesus Christ and whose banner is love?” If we can only give affirmative answers, a ringing yes to these questions, then do we actually understand and appreciate the church’s value to our lives and that of the community.

The Ethos of Orthodox Catechesis: The Mind of the Orthodox Church (Part 6)

By Fr. George Morelli

The New Covenant

Prophet JeremiahProphet JeremiahThe New Covenant was actually foretold by the Prophet Jeremiah (31: 30-34) in the Old Testament:

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

In the book of Psalms, David writing of the priesthood of the New  and Eternal Covenant tells us:

The Ethos of Orthodox Catechesis: The Mind of the Orthodox Church (Part 5)

By Fr. George Morelli

The People of the Old Covenant

Abraham about to Sacrifice IsaacAbraham about to Sacrifice IsaacThe people of the Old Covenant, the Hebrews,  from the time of Abraham up to the present day, take very seriously that they are the "Chosen People". God's words to Abraham were quite specific:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly." Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. (Gen.17: 1-7)

The Ethos of Orthodox Catechesis: The Mind of the Orthodox Church (Part 4)

By Fr. George Morelli

Noah's ArkNoah's Ark

Connections: The Church and the Temple (The Building-Structure)

The Church, the Body of Christ, is related to the Temple (church building). The Temple is a vessel carrying the body of Christ to union with God, that is to say salvation, deification, to becoming partakers of the Divine Nature (2Pt 1:4).

The central part of the Temple is called the nave [Latin: nāvis, ship: from its rectangular appearance], a reference to Noah's Ark which, as recounted in Genesis (6-9), was built by Noah at God's command to save himself, his family, and the earth's animals from devastation.

Noah's ArkNoah's Ark

Also, the temple building is related to St. John's description of the "New Jerusalem," The Kingdom of God, in the Book of Revelation (21: 14-27). The mission of the Church, the Assembly, is to be the ship of our salvation.

The Ethos of Orthodox Catechesis: The Mind of the Orthodox Church (Part 3)

By Fr. George Morelli

Suggestions and Resources for an Interconnected Curriculum Based On 'Connections'

The Four Evangelists: Ss. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on a Russian Gospel BookThe Four Evangelists: Ss. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on a Russian Gospel Book

Some of the material below repeats a few of the points made above. This model catechetical lesson on "The Church" material is meant as a guide and illustration of how the topic can be approached.

The Church

Linking Scripture and the Church Fathers

In Sacred Scripture, (Old and New Testament), reference to: Ekklesia (assembly). In the Old Testament we read of the creation of the assembly of angels. The writer of the book of Job speaks of the creation of the angels: "when the stars were born all the angels in a loud voice sang in praise of me" (Job 38, 7).

Prophet JobProphet Job

The Ethos of Orthodox Catechesis: The Mind of the Orthodox Church (Part 2)

By Fr. George Morelli

Orthodox Church founded by Christ

Christ who is begotten and sent from the Father and sanctified by the Holy Spirit -- can only be known by acquiring and living one's life according to The Mind of the Church. As St. Paul tells us: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2. 5). The Mind of Christ and His Church was sealed by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and has passed down to the Church to the present day.

The Mind of Christ and His Church expressed in Sacred Tradition

Let me recount St. Paul’s words: "I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Corinthians 11:2). St Paul told the Ephesians "you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone . . . “ (2:19,30).

The Ministry of the ApostlesThe Ministry of the Apostles

Must be in continuity with the Apostles and union with their bishop successors

The Ethos of Orthodox Catechesis: The Mind of the Orthodox Church

THE ETHOS OF ORTHODOX CATECHESIS: THE MIND OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

by V. Rev. Fr. George Morelli, Ph.D.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . . ." (Mt 28:19)

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.