Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy (52)

Tuesday, 30 October 2018 07:19

Beyond All Ages, Times and Places

In this disposable age there is an obsession for labelling everything 'new.' The word 'new' has become synonymous with the words 'different', 'better' and 'improved.' But the meaning given to the word 'new' equally and correspondingly devalues what is 'old'. Old is rendered redundant because its commercial opportunity has been exhausted.

'New' is the driving force behind fashion which is forever changing so that people remain dissatisfied with what they have.

It is important to remember however, that what the marketplace appears to be dictating merely mirrors the 'wants' and 'wishes' of the people all be it with strong elements of persuasion and manipulation. We contribute to the madness that is out there because of the values we uphold. Human nature is known for its weaknesses and these are exploited to the limit for monetary gain.

A characteristic of 'new' is the strong held view that we must have it 'now'. An integral part of having what is 'new' is the mentality of having it 'now'. The belief that we should have things now encourages impulsive behaviour which is closely related to greed.

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Friday, 19 October 2018 07:32

The Dog Is Better Than I

Whilst debating the issue of relationships a young woman who was arguing in favour of multiple relationships in place of monogamous relationships stated "We have ascended from the Apes not from fallen Angels." Another woman also defending her pro-multiple relationships stance used evolution to justify her position. In both cases these women used their belief in evolution as the basis to justify their morality in relationships. What we believe in, the way we think shapes the way we live. The early Fathers of the Church warned us about what thoughts we entertain, for these can shape our life and the way we behave.

When people act irrationally in an aggressive and violent manner, their behaviour can become unpredictable and often referred to as ‘animal like.’
As innocent young children we believed that it was the wild beasts of the jungle that posed the greatest threat to our safety. Little did we know that our greatest threat was our own human nature, mankind himself.

It is without question that people/ society both in times of peace and war exhibit such ugliness, such violence and darkness, and with such ferocity, that it defies imagination, reminding us how flimsy and unstable our so called ‘civilised’ society and our own very life can be.

When God created man he appointed him lord and master of the entire visible world (Gen. 1:26). "On this account" wrote St Makarios of Egypt (4th Century Philok. Vol.3, pp. 299,300) "fire had no power over him, water did not drown him, no animal injured him, poisonous snakes had no effect on him. But once he had been deceived, he surrendered his lordship to his deceiver." From the moment Adam and Eve had been deceived by the devil, the natural authority, order and harmony they enjoyed over the visible world had been broken. From this time on comparisons of human nature to animal like nature have become confused.

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Friday, 12 October 2018 07:20

Inquiring and Acquiring Knowledge

People often ask, what will I do with my life?
It is good to ask this question;
But the answer always lies with us, for if we desire a meaningful and fruitful life we must strive to continuously come closer to God.

God provides us with everything that we should have
And because of this, we should have no anxiety about anything, other than to please Him so that through His goodness and mercy we might me saved.

Questions, many questions we ask;
If we do not welcome Christ into our hearts no answers can be found even for the most basic questions in life, as we are diverted from the truth.
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Col.2:6)

Few people think about God in their lives, though God is in their every breath, in every heartbeat, in every leaf, in every grain of sand. At the depths of the deepest ocean, and in the outer reaches of space.
God is in everything and nothing exists that was not created by Him.
There are no boundaries to His presence and no limits to His love.

We strive to understand the mysteries of God’s creation;
and it is good for us to learn.
But it is better to inquire and to acquire knowledge through faith
than to go on searching as if it were possible to discover truth without Christ.
God’s wisdom is opened to us
by a door,
this door is Christ;
But such is our disregard for God,
that we long for good things,
as if these could be attained by our own means.
“I am the door” said Christ, “if anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

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Tuesday, 03 July 2018 07:04

What Is Truth?

"WHAT IS TRUTH"?
(Pilate to Jesus, John 18:37-38)

Jesus taught "I am the way the truth and the life." (John 14:6)

 

True justice cannot be achieved through words. Injustice comes from the failure of man to come to the knowledge of the truth, and then by faith to live by it.
Injustice occurs when the truth is denied. This happens because there are times when the cost of maintaining the truth is high and perceived not to be in keeping with self interest. Under these circumstances the truth is readily abandoned. This occurs among all people and is due to ignorance, indifference or the active defiance of the power and love of God.
Active injustice involves the accusers. The accusers deny the truth; they find blame in others, whilst blind to their own imperfections. Those who accuse others have God to answer to. Those who are the keepers of the Truth have God as their witness. The love of the truth is the love of God. The love of God always includes the love of others, even the unjust accusers.

God’s Church is universal. The truth applies to everyone and everything, all things belong to Him. God’s plan is to see us come closer to the knowledge of the truth, to come closer to Him, to accept His invitation of our own free will, without depersonalisation. God loves every person. The Father sent His Son so that the truth may be revealed to us in the world. The world however, does not want to know God’s Truth. The Christians therefore, though they are in the world, are set apart from it, for the world is subject to corruption whereas Christ is incorruptible. We therefore, the Christians, are dead to the world but alive in Christ.
Our lives are filled with fantasies and delusions about ourselves and others. Worldly preoccupation allows us to live so that we are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:7)
The keepers of the Truth hear God’s Word. The saints hear God’s Word and live it to their death. They "are the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14) who are transported by the Angels to heaven to be with God.

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Wednesday, 30 May 2018 17:16

Heaven On Earth

The Orthodox Church is Truth. The Orthodox Church contains no human innovation, but the Word of God. In her there is no place for opinions, only the active and divine inspiration of God. All that we see of her, visible and invisible, hear and touch, her fragrance and her taste, is filled with the Spirit of God. She is a treasure beyond all human understanding. She is all beautiful and all Holy. She is our freedom and our love. In her lies all Truth. Without her Truth, her love and her freedom, nothing has any meaning.
She is not of this World. She is heaven on earth.

THE CHURCH IS BORN

She was taken from the side of Christ. The soldier pierced His side from which His Blood and Water flowed. "That Water and Blood symbolised Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these two Sacraments the Church is born: from Baptism, the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist. Since the symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His side, it was from His side that Christ fashioned the Church, as He had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam." (Daily readings from the writings of St John Chrysostomos pp. 17, 1988)

The Church sustains us, nourishes us, cleanses us, heals us, and restores us. She unites us to God.
"Nothing is more abiding than the Church; she is your salvation; she is your refuge. She is more lofty than the heavens; she is more far-reaching than the earth. She never grows old; she always stays in bloom. And so Scripture indicates her permanence and stability by calling her a virgin; her magnificence by calling her a queen; her closeness to God by calling her a daughter; her names try to spell out her barrenness turned to fecundity by calling her ‘the mother of seven’. A thousand names try to spell out her nobility. Just as the Lord is called by many names: Treasure, Lord, God, Son, Only-Begotten, Form of God, Image of God…. Since one name could not hope to describe the Omnipotent, and many names give us some small insight into His nature, so the Church goes by many names." (Daily readings of St John Chrysostomos pp. 117)

APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION
THE UNBROKEN GOLDEN CHAIN

Her beauty, her splendour and Her Holiness is never ending. Her tradition is unbroken. She is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. She has retained the faith because she is the True Faith. She has preserved the faith in its fullness because of the Holy Spirit. Her unbroken apostolic succession is an unbroken golden chain.

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Sunday, 08 April 2018 00:00

Easter Encyclical 2018

GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AUSTRALIA

 

STYLIANOS

by the grace of God
Archbishop of Australia
to the Reverend Clergy and the devout Faithful
of our Holy Archdiocese

***********

Brother Concelebrants and Beloved children in the Lord,

Christ is Risen!

"Today a sacred Pascha has been revealed to us;
a Pascha new and holy, a Pascha mystical,
a Pascha all-venerable, Pascha, the Redeemer Christ himself;
a Pascha that is blameless, a Pascha that is great,
a Pascha of believers".

With these triumphal cries, our Church greets the Passions and the Resurrection of the God-Man each year.

As we heard and read, infinite are the adjectives used by the Hymnographer of the Church to express in some way the Mystery of God which is inaccessible to the human mind.

Yet, how many of these adjectives continue to resonate truly within our hearts today, following the radical reassessment that all the values of life have undergone around us?

Who will give back to us the pure feelings necessary for us to taste Pascha once again, as described by the Hymnographer; holy, all-venerable, great, mystical?

Pascha means passage and crossing: From death to life. From grief to joy. From despair to hope. From darkness to light. From the ephemeral to the eternal. From the vain and false to the holy and unwavering. Pascha means that life swallows death every minute, and indeed, through death.

Pascha cannot be understood without the Paschal Lamb who gave to life a different taste. And this Lamb is Christ Himself.

Another "blameless" Pascha does not exist without Him and beyond Him.

That is why our Church chants: "Pascha, the Redeemer Christ Himself".

To Him be the glory and the dominion unto the ages of ages. Amen!

With fervent blessings in the Risen Christ

 

Archbishop STYLIANOS

EASTER 2018

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Tuesday, 06 February 2018 22:29

The Light Shines in the Darkness

Since the beginning of time when God created heaven and earth He commanded that there be light (Genesis 1:3). This light was divided from the sphere of darkness and the day was divided from the sphere of night. This pattern of day and night has continued without fail since Creation. As we know, light is essential for all living things. A “garden of delight” was created to place the man that God had formed from the earth. This garden was to provide for all of man’s needs. According to God’s plan this garden was a place without corruption, without illness or death, it was a perfect place where man was to enjoy full communion with God.

In the garden of delight there was no distinction or awareness of good and evil as there is in the world today, because man had not lost his innocence and was therefore not subject to evil. Adam and Eve however chose to disobey God and ate of the tree of knowledge which brought to them as God had warned, knowledge of good and evil with its full consequence, and that is death. They willingly chose this path because they believed the serpent, who told them that by acquiring the knowledge of good and evil, they would be like gods. To make matters worse, when they disobeyed God and realised their nakedness, God asked Adam and Eve in turn, to account for what had happened. Tragically Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve. Even when asked, they chose not to blame themselves and accept responsibility for their disobedience. From this time on, man lost his communion with God, became mortal and introduced in his heart spiritual darkness. His new destiny was to be returned to the dust from which he was fashioned. He was banished along with Eve from the garden of delight which was specially prepared for him. He was now to live in a land that would consume him and itself be subject to the corruption and spiritual darkness he introduced in his own heart.
The reality and danger of this spiritual darkness exists in all men to the present day. The danger of this spiritual darkness which all humanity inherited from Adam and Eve is its dreadful and fearful consequence, spiritual death. Spiritual death is a consequence of the separation of man from God. This loss of communion with God and its effect is not limited to man’s relationship with God alone, but infects every aspect of his being and his everyday relationships with people. Its consequence is that it trivialises man who was made in God’s image. Self interest and pride dictate fallen man who had everything provided by God’s Grace in the garden of delight; fallen man lost his focus and remembrance of God, and with a darkened spirit became dispersed, fragmented, distracted, inclined towards serving other masters, continuing disobedience and constantly under attack from the demons who took pleasure in his fall and continuing fall from grace.

It is not in God’s plan however to leave man in this miserable fallen state. But as by free will man fell, by free will he is given the opportunity to be re-stored to a state of communion with God. This restoration or healing has been offered to man through Christ. This is why we refer to Christ as being our Saviour. God the Father sent His Son, the New Adam, to offer man an opportunity to return to Him.

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Sunday, 14 January 2018 12:00

Life of the Soul

UNION WITH GOD, HEALING AND THE RESURRECTION

"Life of the soul" said St Gregory Palamas (14th Century) is union with God, "as life of the body is union with the soul." When the body is separated from the soul it ceases to live. In the same way the soul that is separated from God experiences death. This spiritual death is the true everlasting death as life of the soul through union with God is true and authentic everlasting life. "The words that I speak to you are spirit" said the Lord (John 7:63) "and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe".

THE FIRST INVITATION

Our experience and invitation of union with God occurs through the Church at Sacrament of Baptism. The Sacrament of Baptism unites us to the Body of Christ. As we are joined to Christ we become members of the same Body the Head of which is Christ. "For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit". (l Corinth. 12:11)
As our own body is made of many different members serving different purposes they nevertheless function as a whole. The different members of the body cannot disown the body which they draw life from and serve according to their respective and appointed functions. "Now you are the body of Christ" said St Paul (1 Corinth. 12:27) and members individually. As members of the same body, Christians have an obligation to love one another and all of God’s creation.

Whilst Baptism unites us to Christ and the life of Christ, we must also understand that we must first experience death. "Do you not know" said St Paul (Romans 6:3-9) "that as many of us as were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, and just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him."

THE SECOND INVITATION

Having been joined to the Body of Christ we are obliged to keep His Commandments of Love. We must therefore live according His will otherwise we face spiritual death. Our defiance of God’s Commandments separates our soul from Him whereas obedience to His Law unites us to Christ who is the source of all life. "I am the way the truth and the life" said Our Lord. (John 14:6) Sin is the defiance of God and His will by our disobedience. We are obliged to repent and separate ourselves from sin through the Sacrament of Confession which acts as a second renewable Baptism. Christ promised us the forgiveness of sins which is available to us through the Sacrament of Confession. Confession cleanses us of sin so that we might be ever ready to receive Him. This then is God’s second and renewable invitation to us to be cleansed of sin and be united to Him whilst we still enjoy the gift of earthly life.

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Monday, 25 December 2017 00:00

Christmas Encyclical 2017

GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AUSTRALIA

 

CHRISTMAS ENCYCLICAL 2017

STYLIANOS

By the grace of God
Archbishop of Australia
To all the Clergy and devout faithful
of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

"Come believers, let us see the place
where Christ has been born,
let us therefore follow
to where the star is proceeding."

 

Brother concelebrants and children in Christ,

The message of the Gospel of Christ is not vague and cloudy fiction. It is light and life and it comes to shed light, to give life and to renew "those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" (cf. Lk 1:79).

It is for this reason that the proclamation of the Incarnation of God is a knife that enters fully alight into the History of the world. And it inevitably separates humanity into believers and non-believers, into fighters willing to fight until death and those ambivalent of dying.

It is for this reason that the proclamation of Christ comes not without suffering. It cannot go hand in hand and coexist together with old customs and values "as though nothing great had taken place." On the contrary, the Christian message is painful precisely because it is concrete, and it is addressed in a particular context. The proclamation of Christ is therefore definitive and decisive.

It changes not only the appearance of the world. Above all, it changes the future of the world. It is a radical transubstantiation of the postulates and possibilities of History. It does not simply stop people from being animal-like, prudently reinstating them within their proper boundaries and inspiring them with the hope and optimism of deification by grace.

How fictitious, however, do all these things sound, Sisters and Brothers, in the night and in the confusion of the world!
The ploys of the evil one are so misleading that constant re-examination is necessary, our Christian attributes and life are in constant need of verification. For this reason:

"Come believers, let us see the place
where Christ has been born".

Come, let us search! Come, let us see. Come let us no longer verify the facts of the Cave, but those of contemporary life and society which still bear a Christian name. Does Christ exist within us? Does He exist within our life? In our outlook? In our education? In our legislation? In our art? In our sorrow and in our joy?
How much of Christ therefore exists in all these things, if we examine ourselves as individuals, or as a collective, as family, society and as Church?

This spiritual and profound measuring will be our salvation. Because Christ, who in becoming incarnate is a child, did not come to judge, but to save the world.
Wherever we find Christ present in our institutions and in our establishments, in our programs and in our aspirations, there will we be able to say to ourselves and others unreservedly:

"Let us therefore follow
to where the star is proceeding".

Let us hope that, in everything that is at our disposal on each occasion, that we will identify those things that are to our advantage. With Christ, who is alive and remains to the ages, as our only legitimate criterion. Amen!

 

 

With fervent prayers

Archbishop STYLIANOS

 

Christmas 2017

 

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Tuesday, 28 November 2017 06:35

Customised Religion

Some people would like to see changes introduced to Orthodoxy without first understanding or realising its treasure. For these people the Church is seen as ancient, institutionalised, highly ritualised and irrelevant to their experience of the modern age. Orthodoxy for these people is not suitable because it is not custom made or designed for their own individual experience.

In these troubled times of great social turmoil, people gaze out to the universe guided by their perception and personal feelings in an attempt to find an answer to the most important questions facing them in their life. If it were any other field or discipline, commercial endeavour or pursuit, you could be assured that these same individuals would thoroughly research their subject before drawing any conclusions and investing their time and money in ventures that have no proven methodology.

Unknown to many people, Orthodoxy is highly disciplined, and has a clear developed methodology. In contrast to this, the new customised approach to religion demands that we put our own experiences before any established methodology because the individual is regarded as the centre of all experience. The argument here is that the self is the centre of universal experience. With this approach it is no wonder that the expression of one’s own opinions feature highly in contemporary spiritual movements. Consequently many people today make decisions about spirituality on the flimsiest of evidence.
Orthodoxy demands the opposite to this approach in that it is God centred. Its methodology is the Word of God, and is manifested by faith and Truth, which continues as a living experience for all the faithful guided by the Holy Spirit.

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