Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy (49)

Wednesday, 05 October 2016 19:57

Different Interests

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

We often hear about people having different interests. Sometimes different interests work well between people to complement each other’s weaknesses and other times causing major problems by allowing people to grow apart. When we think of differing interests we often think of different people to whom contrasting views, beliefs or values belong. Nowhere is this perhaps more obviously personified than in politics.

But it is not just between people that the different interests are evident. We often fail to acknowledge and respond to the contrasting and differing interests that exist within us. These differing interests originate from different sources within our inner person, namely the intellect and the heart. Whilst the intellect is the rational, logical and reasoning centre of our person, the heart is the compassionate, loving and spiritual centre of our being. Can these two work well together?
In a wonderful book on the life of Elder Porphyrios (1906-1991), Testimonies and experiences by Klitos lannidis, Athens 1977, an Archimandrite who was studying theology one day asked Fr Porphyrios whether the intellect has the lead over the heart or the heart over the intellect in our daily lives.
Fr. Porphyrios enlightened with great spiritual wisdom answered accordingly: “The intellect” he said, “wakes up and thinks about what lie it will say to dupe the customer; if he’s a businessman, how he should act there, what he should say to this person, what he should say to that person, how he’ll get hold of more money. The heart on the other hand, sees a small child and pampers it... He puts his hand in his pocket and gives some money to a disabled person. He runs to the hospital and visits someone who is sick… He willingly offers his services or he gives money. When the heart speaks the hand goes into the pocket. When the intellect speaks, the hand stays out of the pocket. Therefore, for me the heart comes first.” (pp. 161)
Fr Porphyrios goes on to say that “the intellect is not interested in prayer, in what the heart pursues. They have different interests.”

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

CONTEMPLATION FOR THE LENTEN PERIOD:

I clearly remember the service of the Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great held on the Saturday morning of Holy Week last year. There were quite a few people in Church that morning but nothing could have prepared me for the crowd that was to appear close to the end of the service. Why such a big crowd? A long and seemingly endless line had formed. How long was this line? The line started from the steps below the Royal Doors at the front of the Church and continued all the way to the rear spilling outside along Parker Street around the corner to Francis Street, past the rear of the Church and beyond. Inside the Church there were two lines where Holy Communion was offered by Father and myself.

SO MANY NOT SEEN BEFORE

So many people we had never seen before and they were present to receive the Holy Body and Blood of Christ…….with little or no preparation at all! The crowd was big but how many of these people should have presented themselves to receive Holy Communion?

If you are not Orthodox, you cannot receive Holy Communion, under any circumstances. You cannot receive Holy Communion even if you have been married in the Orthodox Church. You can only receive Holy Communion if you have been Baptised and Chrismated Orthodox. If you do wish to become Orthodox then you must undergo at least 6 months of Catechism classes (religious instruction) before you can be Baptised and Chrismated. Only by this means do you become a member of the Orthodox Church. Your marriage to someone Baptised Orthodox does not entitle you to receive Holy Communion.

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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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