Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy (47)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 20:07

Witness and Revelation

The following article was written by Father Emmanuel in his early years as a Deacon.

The word martyr is often used by people today in a rather loose fashion and conjures up images of a person who has gone to extreme lengths for some ideal or cause usually at great cost and sacrifice to themselves. It is a word that is often used in a joking way to describe people who are perceived to have 'gone over-board' with their public display as 'sufferers'. In the Church we associate the word with persons who have given their life over to Christ even unto death. The origin of this word is Greek, and that helps us explain its literal meaning which is 'witness'. What is it that these people have witnessed and what is it that has transformed their lives to such an extent?
In the most obvious sense, one cannot be a witness without some kind of personal experience. This experience to be sure, is not one which is initiated by the self, because to be a witness of the Divine requires first of all the experience of revelation. God reveals Himself to us continually in our life but our life can at times be so over cast and pre-occupied with vain things that we lose all sense of the invitational light and knowledge of Him who is ever present. Simply put, revelation is the way by which God reveals Himself to man. Revelation can take many different forms but it is God communicating with His creation out of love. Biblical texts are rich with the experience of God's revelation to man culminating in the coming of Christ for our salvation. This revelation is the ultimate expression of God's Love to the world in which all our hope and faith is founded. This Love opened Heaven for us here on earth. As Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." (John 1:51) God allowed it for us to be joined to Him in order for human nature to be raised into Heaven. Jesus is man's access to God.

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Holy and Great Martyr Panteleimon, and the Blind Man, who healed by him, was slain by the sword
Feast Day: July 27

Saint Panteleimon was born in Nicomedia to Eustorgius, a pagan senator, and Euboulia, a Christian, who gave him the name, ‘Pantoleon’. He was educated in medicine under the tutelage of Euphrosynius, a well-known physician. His knowledge and skill in medicine was so great, that the Emperor made him his personal physician.
Everyday, he passed by the abode of Saint Hermolaus, a holy priest who was in hiding. Seeing the quality of Pantoleon’s soul, the holy priest invited him in one day and began to teach of the one true Physician, Christ, who alone can bring salvation. Rejoicing in these words, Pantoleon regularly visited Saint Hermolaus for instruction in the great Mystery of the Faith. One day, he found a dead child in the road that had been bitten by a viper. Seeking to show the truth in Hermolaus’ teachings, he called upon the Name of Christ, reviving the child immediately. Filled with joy, he hastened to his elder’s house and sought to receive Holy Baptism immediately. He stayed with his elder seven days, and on the eighth, departed for home. Keeping the details of his conversion hidden, he explained to his concerned father that he had stayed at the palace to heal a man close to the Emperor. He spent much time trying to convince his father of the futility of idol-worship.

Eustorgius was later sought out by a blind man, who had used up all his money on other physicians, and desired for Pantoleon to heal him. Trusting in the power of Christ, Pantoleon assured his father that he would heal him by the grace of God. Pantoleon marked the man’s eyes with the Sign of the Cross, called on Christ, and brought sight back to the man, both in body and soul. Witnessing the power of God, both the man and Eustorgius were then baptised into the faith by Saint Hermolaus.

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Friday, 15 July 2016 07:27

Knowledge

The following article was written by Father Emmanuel in his early years as a Deacon.

Over the ages human knowledge has increased exponentially, particularly in the present century. Fr Kosmas the Apostle of the poor (born 1714) predicted that “Out of schools will come things which your mind cannot imagine” (Father Kosmas by Nomikos M. Vaporis, pp. 160). There is no doubt that the technological advances of our century have been quite phenomenal particularly when we consider such items as electrical goods, cars, airplanes, space ships, communication systems and so on.

SELF KNOWLEDGE

Knowledge is something which demands application, it is more than a record of information and facts.
Socrates (469-399 BC) identified the importance of self-knowledge by his attention to the quest ‘Know Thyself’. Aristotle (350 BC) extended this idea to focus on self knowledge of the soul. In his essay ‘On the Soul’ he states that “The knowledge of the soul admittedly contributes greatly to the advance of truth in general...” and that “To attain any assured knowledge about the soul is one of the most difficult things in the world.”

The tragedy today is that knowledge has been applied to serve materialistic endeavours that have turned us away from the attention to our souls and true knowledge which is of God. Knowledge is perceived by the world today as a god, beholding the promise of improved life-style, leisure, health, wealth and well being.

ALWAYS LEARNING

The information age has swamped us, confused us, with the myth of progress, whilst diverting us from our real task and endeavour to seek out the knowledge of the truth, which is the knowledge of God. The reaction to this so called knowledge explosion is the delivery of a wide range of education and training courses focusing on skills and personal development.
Today many people attend formal training programs out of necessity to keep up pace with developments in a particular trade or professional field or out of some personal interest to develop higher learning. These programmes however seem to leave little room for self-knowledge, knowledge of the soul and knowledge of God. St Paul (2 Tim. 3:7) refers to those people who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

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Monday, 20 June 2016 21:44

Church, Family and Home

The following article was written by Father Emmanuel in his early years as a Priest.

Governments are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to respond to problems facing families and communities throughout Australia. Some years ago there was a government strategy in place to support the building of strong families and communities. It is widely believed that if we can build strong families and communities this will have a positive effect on people. This view has great merit but the question is, can government programs achieve such a goal?

I believe that the way we treat our children and elderly people, reflects a great deal about the health of our community. It is disturbing to note that child abuse in Australia is at record levels as is the incidence of violence on the elderly. Violence and abuse that preys on the weak is now commonly reported in the media.

Is it stating the obvious to say that faith in God, life in the Church, love in the family, is the making of a good home? The making of such a home is what protects our young and makes for strong families and communities. The Christian home not only builds strong foundations for this life, but also prepares for the promised eternal family and Kingdom of God. It does this by not only being interested in building strong bodies, healthy minds and promoting good behaviour, but by protecting what is pure, what is innocent and what is good by building strong foundations that support spiritual health, the source of all healing and well being. In years gone by, parents were helped to achieve this by the Christian values of schools and the general community.

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Sunday, 29 May 2016 12:47

The Global Village

The following article was written by Father Emmanuel in his early years as a Deacon.

There is much said today about the global village. In the latter part of this century seemingly impenetrable walls that were put up by harsh political ideological regimes that warred with the saints have been torn down. Seemingly timeless memorial effigies of men who led the so called people’s revolutions have been thrown to the ground. In no other time in history has there been such a movement of people between borders for various reasons because they have been displaced as political refugees, engaged in commercial activity or as ordinary travellers. In the last 100 years sovereignty and royalty have virtually vanished. Cultural traditions have been eroded and replaced with a new culture based on commercial opportunism and its demands for homogeneity; its international icons are recognised everywhere. But it is not just the physical and political barriers that have been torn down, social barriers and traditions have also been changed due to this great movement of people and the subsequent cultural mixing that has occurred. To some all of this looks good, particularly if you are a political leader preaching the need for a global community and emphasising the oneness of humanity. Playing the game of war and peace is many an international politician’s road to recognition and fame to make their mark in history. There are leaders of certain countries for instance whose major pre-occupation seems to be more about international peacekeeping and acting as watchdogs over other nations than it is to manage the internal affairs of their own countries.

There is an amazing irony in the recent international events of our time when we compare these with the historical imperialistic pre-occupation of nations for world domination in the past. There is now a new and much more subtle yet much more powerful strategic force emerging which is driving what is a less apparent and covert program for world domination. It comes with its own sense of culture by enforcing the economic submission of nations to open market forces and control. Those nations that do not conform to this new regime are treated as deviant and treated as if they do not have their own countries’ good interest at heart. It is as if the world is being primed for an economic, social and cultural union the kind which has never been seen before. In the construction of such a world, economic advantage is everything. From the forces that seek to unite us into one inter-dependent market and political system lies the inherent foundation of systemic weakness which inadvertently prepares the world for the throne and the enthronement of a powerful world leader – 'the anti-christ'.

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Alexander, Archbishop of Alexandria
Feast Day: May 29

Saint Alexander was born in about 250 AD, and occupied an important position among the clergy of the Egyptian metropolia. He possessed all the qualities of a true Christian, being devout, full of zeal, holding great love for his brethren, and was especially concerned for the poor. In 313, Achillas, who previously occupied the episcopal, died, and Alexander was elected to succeed him. He took on the rebuilding of the Egyptian Church following the persecution, and being concerned for the formation of his clergy, raised those who had been sanctified in ascesis and solitude, to the priesthood and episcopate. He organised the building of the great Church of St Theonas in Alexandria, and organised support for the persecuted faithful.

He stood up to the supporters of Bishop Meletius of Lycopolis, who had ordained priests for the vacant offices of bishops during the persecution, and who, to justify his schism, refused to reconcile those who lapsed in their faith. A priest Arius, formerly a strong supporter of the Meletians, who Alexander helped to restore to the truth, and who he was close with, later began to go against Alexander's teachings. Arius began to teach that the Word of God had not existed from all eternity but instead was pre-eminent among created beings, teaching against the unity of the Three Holy Persons of the Godhead. Alexander tried to bring him back to the truth but could not. His heresy quickly spread all over Egypt, dividing the Orthodox, and the supporters of Arius and the Meletians. Alexander decided to excommunicate Arius and his disciples but not before calling together a council of a hundred bishops in Alexandria to confirm the sentence.

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Sunday, 08 May 2016 22:17

Conversation with a Video Repair Man

The following article was written by Father Emmanuel in his early years as a Priest.

I recently took in my old VHS video machine in for repair. No sooner had I entered the repair shop when the man behind the counter started to engage me in deep discussion. I really had no opportunity to speak other than to offer the odd nod of approval and wear a friendly smile. Presbytera often speaks about the verbosity of middle aged men we would call to our home for the odd repair job. There was no way she was going to get away with simply the job being done and payment being made. Any hint of politeness of course which is well ingrained in us instantly communicates friendliness and approval which inevitably leads to the offer of coffee, tea and biscuits and the opportunity to hear more about life's' meaning. People it seems, particularly middle aged men have a need to philosophize about life – they are continually searching for meaning beyond the immediate task at hand. People can apply themselves remarkably well to menial tasks but there is no way that the human spirit can remain there. Once knowledge is acquired and the skills associated with the use of that knowledge is mastered, the human spirit wants to move on and to rise above it all. It is as if once the brain has learnt its tasks and functions successfully, we arrive at the point (sometime after the challenge has gone) where we ask ourselves 'Is this what life is all about?' It is said that 'familiarity breeds contempt', as a strong desire within us drives us to shift our focus of interest away from the reasoning of the brain to another place which has a different orientation – our heart. This can happen to us when we are young or old and people of all walks of life no matter who they are. Hopefully, at some point in our lives, whether it be a conscious shift or not, whether it be as a result of some crisis in our life or by gradual maturation – we will tend to move from a focus of knowledge and reasoning about the world and the things of the world, to a knowledge of the heart within us, so that, God willing, we may be able to hear God's voice.

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Memory of the Venerable Fathers Massacred at Mount Sinai
Feast Day: January 14

Mount Sinai, the place where God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, is a holy place, and has drawn people to it ever since. A great Monastery (Saint Catherine's Monastery) was later constructed on its slopes, however, long before its construction in 527, many ascetics lived scattered in the wilderness. They were tried and tested and faced many difficulties but praying unceasingly, they left all things in God's hands.

The holy monks would be frequently visited by marauders who roved the desert. On one occasion, a Saracen chief happened to die while his band was encamped by the Church used for Sunday Divine Liturgies. The barbarians, angry at the loss of their chief, vented their rage on the monks, massacring the superior of the community, Doulas, as well as all the Fathers who were living in cells in that area. The desert ground was covered with the blood of these holy men, when a great flame shot up from the summit of the mountain, making the mountain of God appear like a pillar of fire and smoke. At the sight of this great wonder, the barbarians, filled with fear, fled from there, leaving behind the dreadfully mutilated bodies of the holy men.
Thirty-eight venerable ascetics were counted. Some had their heads completely severed, others were barely held on, and some cut in half. Filled with tears, it was up to the few survivors who remained to bury the remains of these holy monks. They found two other monks who survived the attack; one gave up his last breath to God that evening but the other, Sabas, while not badly wounded, wept at not being counted worthy to join his brothers. Sabas prayed, exclaiming, “Woe is me, wretched and unworthy sinner that I am, who am alone excluded from the everlasting blessedness which the holy Martyrs have acquired today!” His prayer was heard, and he too gave up his soul, joining his brothers in Christ. Thus, forty holy Martyrs gave up their souls that day.

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The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Young Men: Ananias, Azarias, and Misael
Feast Day: December 17

Much is written about the greatness of the holy prophet Daniel. His name means, “God is my Judge” or “God is judging,” and there is even a book in the Old Testament written by him. His unwavering faith in the midst of present dangers is a testament to his complete love and trust in God.

Five hundred and ninety-seven years before the birth of Christ, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, captured Jerusalem, and travelling back to his land, took a number of select people, as well as the sacred things from the Temple of God. Amongst those selected was Daniel, only eight years old, and his three companions. They were of royal lineage, and were selected for instruction in the Chaldean language and literature, that they may enter the king's service. They were given new names by their instructor, the chief eunuch.

Daniel kept himself blameless in the eyes of the law. He and his companions practised prayer and fasting, not touching food offered them from the royal table, and seemed to be strengthened by it, appearing more lively and better looking than the other children. From God was given them wisdom and knowledge, and to Daniel also the gift of interpretation of dreams and visions.

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Wednesday, 05 August 2015 00:00

The Life of a Saint: Saint Theodosios of Argos

Saint Theodosios of Argos
Feast Day: August 7

It was during the era of 862, that Theodosios was born. By this time, the Christian Church was firmly established and it's truth shone forth. Theodosios' parents were devout Christians, and they brought him up in the highest tradition of Christian faith. Theodosios decided at an early age to devout himself entirely to the service of Jesus Christ.

He decided to take up his service in the region of Peloponnesos, near the town of Argos. While travelling to this area, he received a vision of St John the Baptist, who directed him to build a chapel in his name. For this, he would receive his blessing in the name of Jesus.
As directed, he sought out the faithful and oversaw the completion of the chapel. Then filled with the heavenly spirit, he desired a life of monasticism, where he could draw nearer to God.

Having joined the monastic life, he spent many years in isolation, after which it became evident that he had been blessed with the ability to heal. The divine grace of his patron, St John the Baptist, and a trace of the serenity of Jesus, was clearly visible by those seeking his comfort and healing. Pilgrims from all the regions of Christianity were drawn to the monastery that he nurtured to great prominence. It was a place that never faced persecution but instead brought comfort. There were, however, those who were envious of him and wanted to bring him down. They brought false accusation of sorcery and witchcraft against him. They branded him a heretic and created trouble that caused Archbishop Petros to consider reprimanding him.

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