Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Orthodoxy - English Orthodox Web 1



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Fear knocked, faith answered, and no one was there! (Anonymous)


Be the bee and not the fly

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994)

Some people tell me that they are scandalized because they see many things wrong in the Church. I tell them that if you ask a fly, “Are there any flowers in this area?” it will say, “I don’t know about flowers, but over there in that heap of rubbish you can find all the filth you want.” And it will go on to list all the unclean things it has been to.

Now, if you ask a honeybee, “Have you seen any unclean things in this area?” it will reply, “Unclean things? No, I have not seen any; the place here is full of the most fragrant flowers.” And it will go on to name all the flowers of the garden or the meadow.

You see, the fly only knows where the unclean things are, while the honeybee knows where the beautiful iris or hyacinth is.

As I have come to understand, some people resemble the honeybee and some resemble the fly. Those who resemble the fly seek to find evil in every circumstance and are preoccupied with it; they see no good anywhere. But those who resemble the honeybee only see the good in everything they see. The stupid person thinks stupidly and takes everything in the wrong way, whereas the person who has good thoughts, no matter what he sees, no matter what you tell him, maintains a positive and good thought.




Faith and miracles

Blessed Fr. Joel Yannakopoulos
of Kalamata, Greece (+1966)

Once, when Fr. Joel was traveling on a train, a rumor spread at one provincial station that a miracle had occurred in the church in the neighboring village—an icon was weeping! All of the passengers immediately left the train and rushed to see the miracle—everyone, that is, except Fr. Joel, who continued reading his book.

When the passengers returned, touched, the man sitting right across from Fr. Joel couldn’t hold back his indignation at the priest’s calmness and said, “Father, I see you don’t believe!”

“I believe,” Fr. Joel replied, “and therefore I’m not surprised by miracles. But you don’t believe, and so you ran to see the miracle and believe, didn’t you? So tell me—do you believe now?”




Orthodox Mission: Fiji Islands, Oceania


Saint Ia, Missionary and Virgin Martyr in Cornwall, England, from Ireland (+450)

February 3

Saint Ia of Cornwall (also known as Eia, Hia or Hya) was an evangelist and martyr of the 5th century in Cornwall. She was an Irish princess, the sister of Saint Erc of Slane and a student of Saint Baricus.

St Ia went to the seashore to depart for Cornwall from her native Ireland along with other saints. Finding that they had gone without her, fearing that she was too young for such a hazardous journey, she was grief-stricken and began to pray. As she prayed, she noticed a small leaf floating on the water and touched it with a rod to see if it would sink. As she watched, it grew bigger and bigger. Trusting God, she embarked upon the leaf and was carried across the Irish Sea. She reached Cornwall before the others, where she joined Saint Gwinear and Felec of Cornwall. They had up to 777 companions.

She founded an oratory in a clearing in a wood on the site of the existing Parish Church that is dedicated to her. Ia was martyred under “King Teudar” (i.e., Tewdwr Mawr of Penwith) on the River Hayle and buried at what is now St Ives, where St Ia’s Church—of which she is now the patron saint—was erected over her grave. The town built up around it. Her feast day is February 3.





What do we mean by the word “Orthodox”


St John Maximovich 
of San Francisco, USA (+1966)

Shortly after the doctrine of Christ began to be propagated among the Gentiles, the followers of Christ in Antioch began to be called Christians (Acts XI:26). The word “Christian” indicated that those who bore this name belonged to Christ-belonged in the sense of devotion to Christ and his Doctrine. From Antioch the name of Christian was spread everywhere.

The followers of Christ gladly called themselves by the name of their beloved Teacher and Lord; and the enemies of Christ called His followers Christians by carrying over to them the ill-will and hatred which they breathed against Christ.

However, quite soon there appeared people who, while calling themselves Christians, were not of Christ in spirit. Of them Christ had spoken earlier:

“Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven” (St. Matt. VII:5).

Christ prophesied also that many would pass themselves off for Christ Himself: Many shall come in my name, sayings I am Christ (Matt. XXIV:5). The Apostles in their epistles indicated that false bearers of the name of Christ had appeared already in their time:

“As ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists” (I John II:19).

They indicated that those who stepped away from the doctrine of Christ should not be considered their own:

“They went out from us but were not of us” (I John II:19)

Warning against quarrels and disagreements in minor matters (I Cor. I:10-14), at the same time the Apostles strictly commanded their disciples to shun those who do not bring the true doctrine (II John I:10). The Lord, through the Revelation given to the Apostle John the Theologian, sternly accused those who, calling themselves faithful, did not act in accordance with their name; for in such a case it would be false for them.

Of what use was it of old to call oneself a Jew, an Old Testament follower of the true faith, if one was not such in actuality? Such the Holy Scripture calls the synagogue of Satan (Apocalypse II:9).

In the same way a Christian in the strict sense is he only who confesses the true doctrine of Christ and lives in accordance with it. The designation of a Christian consists in glorifying the Heavenly Father by one’s life.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (St. Matt. V:16).

But true glorification of God is possible only if one rightly believes and expresses his right belief in words and deeds.

Therefore true Christianity and it alone may be named “right-glorifying” (Ortho-doxy). By the word “Orthodoxy” we confess our firm conviction that it is precisely our Faith that is the true doctrine of Christ. When we call anyone or anything Orthodox, we by this very fact indicate his or its non-counterfeit and uncorrupted Christianity, rejecting at the same time that which falsely appropriates the name of Christ.

From: Orthodox Heritage, June 2005, Brotherhood of St Poimen




The offering at the Divine Liturgy is more powerful than prayer

Saint John Maximovitch 
of San Francisco, CA, USA (+1966)

Then, having successfully passed through the toll-houses and bowed down before God, the soul for the course of 37 more days visits the heavenly habitations and the abysses of hell, not knowing yet where it will remain, and only on the fortieth day is its place appointed until the resurrection of the dead. Some souls find themselves (after the forty days) in a condition of foretasting eternal joy and blessedness, and others in fear of the eternal torments which will come in full after the Last Judgment. Until then changes are possible in the condition of souls, especially through offering for them the Bloodless Sacrifice (commemoration at the Divine Liturgy), and likewise by other prayers.

How important commemoration at the Divine Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: “I thank you for laboring with me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Divine Liturgy, to commemorate my parents” — and he gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria). “How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God’s mercy?” the priest-monk asked. “Yes, that is true,” replied St. Theodosius, “but the offering at the Divine Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”

+ St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily on Life after Death





Aboriginal Parish in Australia

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) has recently launched an Aboriginal Australian mission in Gunning, New South Wales, near an Aboriginal community north of Canberra, the capital of that Commonwealth.  The parish has been named for one of the Saints who has shined forth here in North America (and around the world, really!), St. John (Maximovitch) the Wonderworker, who was ROCOR’s Archbishop of San Francisco and Shanghai. (He labored in Paris too, a refugee from the Russian Civil War [i.e., Reds vs. Whites].)

I note that the missionary priest, Fr. Seraphim Slade [photo], is himself an Aborigine convert and ordained just last year.  Very cool!  This Indian encourages Aboriginal Orthodox missions here in the Americas too: Let’s not rest on our Alaskan laurels now!  (And yes, Indigenous people come in all shades, there and here.)
This retired broadcaster also likes the idea of Fr. Seraphim’s Aboriginal media work!

The Australia Diocese directory gives contact info as follows:

St John the Wonderworker of San Francisco Chapel
Australian Orthodox Indigenous Mission
All Services in English – phone for Service Times
50 Grovenor Street
Gunning NSW 2581

Postal Address:
P.O. Box 55
Gunning NSW 2581

Priest Seraphim Slade
Phone: (02) 4845 1370
Mobile: 0432 113 858
International Phone: +61 (2) 4845 1370

On Saturday the 4th of July 2009, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion travelled 2 and half hours from Sydney to the township of Gunning. Here, in the home of Father Seraphim and Matushka Helen Slade he served the Divine Liturgy in English and blessed a chapel in honour of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Ordained priest only a year ago and of aboriginal heritage, Father Seraphim’s work with aboriginal media organisations obliges him to travel widely around Australia to many indigenous communities. This provides him with many excellent opportunities to introduce Orthodox Christianity to indigenous Australians in many different locations. The blessing of the home chapel provides Father Seraphim with a base where the Divine Liturgy can be regularly served for a small but growing number of converts to the Orthodox faith in Gunning and surrounding areas.
Father Seraphim requested that the chapel be blessed in honour of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco because of the encouragement St John gave for the establishment of local churches and the evangelisation of non-Russian peoples.

Serving with the Metropolitan were Father Seraphim Slade and Father George Robertson from the St Stephen of Perm mission in Queanbeyan. Over 60 people attended the Divine Liturgy, with many travelling from Sydney , Queanbeyan, Canberra and Yass. The choir from All Saints Church, Kentlyn, under the direction of Sub-deacon Stephen McKay, provided the singing. Following the Liturgy, the Metropolitan, clergy and congregation attended a festive trapeza in the hall of the Gunning fire station. Among the guests were the elders of the local indigenous community.



Holy Confession: Confidentiality

From “Guidelines for Clergy” (Orthodox Church in America):

“The secrecy of the Mystery of Penance is considered an unquestionable rule in the entire Orthodox Church. Theologically, the need to maintain the secrecy of confession comes from the fact that the priest is only a witness before God. One could not expect a sincere and complete confession if the penitent has doubts regarding the practice of confidentiality. Betrayal of the secrecy of confession will lead to canonical punishment of the priest.

St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite exhorts the Spiritual Father to keep confessions confidential, even under strong constraining influence. The author of the Pedalion (the Rudder), states that a priest who betrays the secrecy of confession is to be deposed. The Metropolitan of Kos, Emanuel, mentions in his handbook (Exomologeteke) for confessors that the secrecy of confession is a principle without exception.”

In St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite’s Exomologitarion, he writes:

“Nothing else remains after confession, Spiritual Father, except to keep the sins you hear a secret, and to never reveal them, either by word, or by letter, or by a bodily gesture, or by any other sign, even if you are in danger of death, for that which the wise Sirach says applies to you: “Have you heard a word? Let it die with you” (Sir. 19:8); meaning, if you heard a secret word, let the word also die along with you, and do not tell it to either a friend of yours or an enemy of yours, for as long as you live. And further still, that which the Prophet Micah says: “Trust not in friends… beware of thy wife, so as not to commit anything to her” (Mic. 7:5).

For if you reveal them, firstly, you will be suspended or daresay deposed completely by the Ecclesiastical Canons, and according to political laws you will be thrown in jail for the rest of your life and have your tongue cut out. Secondly, you become a reason for more Christians not to confess, being afraid that you will reveal their sins, just as it happened during the time of Nektarios of Constantinople when the Christians did not want to confess on account of a Spiritual Father who revealed the sin of a woman. The divine Chrysostom both witnessed these things and suffered because of them on account of his trying to convince the people to confess. It is impossible for me to describe in words how much punishment this brings upon you, who are the cause of these things.”

St. John of the Ladder writes:

“At no time do we find God revealing the sins which have been confessed to Him, lest by making these public knowledge, He should impede those who would confess and so make them incurably sick.”

The Byzantine Nomocanon states, in Canon 120:

“”A spiritual father, if he reveals to anyone a sin of one who had confessed receives a penance: he shall be suspended [from serving] for three years, being able to receive Communion only once a month, and must do 100 prostrations every day.”




The Whole Person

We are both soul and body

Abbot Tryphon, 
Vashon Island, WA, USA

Unlike angels, who are entirely spiritual beings, God has made each of us as creatures dwelling in a material world. To be whole, we must worship God both in body and soul. This teaching is central to our Christian faith and is an affirmation of the sacramental nature of this material world. Because of this truth icons have played a central role in Christian history, for they proclaim Jesus Christ’s physical reality as God Incarnate.

Our Lord told his disciples that “he who has seen me, has seen the Father”. Icons depicting the Holy Virgin show the Christ Child with bare feet, reminding us that he walked the earth among us. He (the Logos) through Whom all that is was brought into existence, condescended to take on our flesh and walk among us. He joined His divinity to our humanity, that we might become gods.

The Lord Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and rose from the dead in this material world. He broke bread with disciples, ate fish with his friends, and invited His disciple Thomas to feel the wound in his side, after His holy resurrection. Most of the miracles He performed were in the nature of physical healing.

Because of the Incarnation, our use of icons bring our whole nature, body and soul, into the material world. This physical aspect of prayer is what connects us to our true self, composed of body and soul. This is where God reaches down to embrace us.

Icons are wonderful aides in our communion with God because they serve as bridges to Christ and links with the Holy Virgin and the saints. They are by no means the only means , for sitting on the top of a mountain, or walking on the seashore, eyes open, allows us to behold the beauty of God’s creation, and His love for us. The icons, like the glory of creation, are windows into eternity, and invite us who live in this material world, into an encounter with God.

Icons are necessary and essential because they protect the full and proper doctrine of the Incarnation. While God cannot be represented in His eternal nature (“…no man has seen God”, John 1:18), He can be depicted simply because He “became human and took flesh.” Of Him who took a material body, material images can be made. In so taking a material body, God proved that matter can be redeemed. He deified matter, making it spirit-bearing, and so if flesh can be a medium for the Spirit, so can wood or paint, although in a different fashion.

“I do not worship matter, but the Creator of matter, who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, who through matter effected my salvation… (Saint John of Damascus).” The seventh and last Ecumenical Council upheld the iconodules’ position in AD 787. They proclaimed: “Icons… are to be kept in churches and honored with the same relative veneration as is shown to other material symbols, such as the ‘precious and life-giving Cross’ and the Book of the Gospels. The ‘doctrine of icons’ is tied to the Orthodox teaching that all of God’s creation is to be redeemed and glorified, both spiritual and material.”

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon





Lord Jesus Christ approaches us in order to enter our hearts

Blessed Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery of Holy Mount Athos in Greece (+2019), said:

“Let us consider the way in which the psalmist speaks about the divinity of Christ. He does not try to coerce us into belief. What we believe is a matter of indifference to him. He simply announces a fact: the one addressed in the psalm is a priest, a king, and my God (cf Ps 145:1). There is no need of any further explanation. If you so wish, believe in Him; if not, don’t believe. In either case, He remains the Eternal King, seated upon His throne. If you so wish, offer Him your heart, for we encounter God in faith, in the spacious freedom of the heart. The Lord does not approach us in order to sway us with arguments and theories. He approaches us in order to enter our hearts”.




St John Maximovitch: God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary

Now the Church consists of both her earthly and heavenly parts, for the Son of God came to earth and became man that He might lead man into heaven and make him once again a citizen of Paradise, returning to him his original state of sinlessness and wholeness and uniting him unto Himself.

This is accomplished by the action of Divine grace grated through the Church, but man’s effort is also required. God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary; without it he cannot by saved. Striving towards God and cleaving unto the Lord by its humble love, the human soul obtains power to cleanse itself from sin and to strengthen itself for the struggle to complete victory over sin.

+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “The Church as the Body of Christ,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco




I come before your sight, O Lord

A Celtic Prayer from the Book of Cerne, England, 9th century

I come before your sight, O Lord,
as one accused with my conscience as witness.
I pray, not daring to ask what I am not worthy to receive.
But Lord, you know everything
that drives us to confess to you;
what we are ashamed of,
and the sins we were not afraid to commit.
With these words we yield to you our hearts and minds,
and commend to you what we say,
but not what we have done.
Spare us, O Lord, and forgive the sins we confess.
Have mercy on those who call to you.
And because my senses are weak
in comprehending your mysteries,
grant, Lord, the things we do not ask
because of the hardness of our hearts,
and grant us pardon;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.





A Native American Prayer

We will fly on wings like eagles

Dear God

I bow my head

and ask,

If it be Thy will,

please save this land

from those who seek

to destroy it.


* * *

So we are truly on a wing and prayer. What an incredible symbol. When I was in Alaska as part of Alaska Team 2001 sent by the Orthodox Christian Missionary Center (http://www.ocmc.org) I saw a bald eagle, everyday, and if I saw one, I ALWAYS saw three minimum.

I’ve always loved our national symbol and spending the time that I did in Alaska gave me such a feeling of peace and love for this land in which I was born and for it’s Native Peoples that I can’t even express. Seeing Eagles everyday gave me a feeling like I was sharing my experience with them.

I am aware that such atrocities were committed against the Indigenous Populations here in both North & South America (let’s not forget the Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders as well), by Western Europeans in the name of God and of “Progress”. While Alaskans were not totally exempt from all that, it should be noted that the Orthodox Church in Alaska more often helped and protected the Alaskans (where & when they could).

Anyone who is interested can check out our website at: http://www.NAOCF.org for more information and through that site you can reach out to our Spiritual Adviser Fr. Thomas Andrew who is a Native Yupik Priest. Also, I’ll refer you to a PDF of our Journal (also available on our website) in particular an article written by Fr. Michael Oleksa, another Native Priest living and serving in Alaska. They are just two of the Native clergy serving Our Lord and their People in the North.




The successors to the Apostles

The fact that the Protestant model suddenly appeared in history during the 16th century A.D. - obviously not within the historical continuity of the original Christian world – made them feel free to arbitrarily appoint “elders” and to arbitrarily perform congregational services.  Their claim is that by simply being Christians and hence members of a certain general Priesthood, justifies them as having the authority to do this.

In this study, we shall examine the issue in more detail, by determining exactly how the Apostles’ authority passed down to their successors, thus defining the ecclesiastic order that prevails in Orthodoxy to this day.

* * *

1.  The Protestant objection

The majority of Protestants use the Scriptural references of “Elders”, “Bishops” and “Deacons” to support their view that the current Orthodox ecclesiastical order is not a continuation of the order that the Apostles left us.   They say this, because in the New Testament it is clearly apparent that although the three terms of “Bishop, Elder and Deacon” are mentioned therein, the concepts of “Bishop” and “Elder” are presumed identical and not separate offices, as is the case in the Orthodox Church.  Thus, it is impossible for these people to accept succession in the Church’s Bishops, because they consider succession to be an arbitrary decision.

What Protestant interpretation has overlooked, is how the office of Bishop was established during the late apostolic period, which was around the end of the first century to the beginning of the second century A.D.

It was imperative that ecclesiastic order undergo certain changes, as the head Apostles would eventually be departing from this world.  Someone had to continue their work, and this could not possibly be done, while the head Apostles were still alive and in active duty.

2. The Order of Prophets

Protestants are in general aware that “Prophets” who were gifted with prophetic charisma are mentioned in the New Testament.   What they probably do not realize is that – apart from those prophets - the primeval Church also had certain other “prophets” who obtained this charisma through ordination ( the laying on of the hands ).  These comprised the Order that we refer to as “The Order of Prophets” today.

The Order of Prophets had immense authority in the Church during the first two centuries.  It was actually the second office in authority, after that of the Apostles, as evidenced in the following verses of the New Testament :

Ephesians 4/IV 10 - 1: ΄΄…and He gave (to us) the Apostles on one hand, and on the other, the 
prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and the teachers, for the instruction of the holy flock, for ministerial labours, for the structuring of the body of Christ (the Church).”

Corinthians Α΄ 12/XII 28 - 30: ΄΄…. And there are those whom God had placed within the Church: firstly the Apostles, secondly the prophets, thirdly the teachers, then those with powers, then those with healing charismas, those with discernment, with administration, with various languages.  Are all people apostles ?  Are all people prophets ?  Are all people teachers ? ……..  For you must show zeal towards the superior charismas”.

From these verses, it becomes obvious that the prophetic charisma was the second in importance among the “superior” charismas - after the status of “Apostle” - and it had no relevance to the free prophetic charisma that would manifest itself occasionally; this was a permanent charisma, just like the apostolic charisma, that “God had placed within the Church”.  This therefore is the most ancient and important order in the Church, after the Apostles.

A basic difference between “Prophets” and “Apostles” was that the Apostles had been directly selected by Jesus Christ, while the Prophets were directly selected by the Holy Spirit.

This is made evident in Acts 13/XIII 1 - 3: ΄΄There were in Antioch, in the existing Church, prophets and teachers; (who were) Barnabas and Simeon –the one called Niger- and Lucius the Cyrene, Manaes, the comrade of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  During their ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said:  “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, for the work that I am inviting them to undertake”.  Then, after fasting and praying and placing their hands on these (two), they were discharged”.

It was thus that Saul (Paul) and Barnabas – who at the time belonged to the Order of Prophets – were dispatched to evangelize in Cyprus and Asia Minor.  This was Paul’s first itinerary.  Furthermore, the moment of their “selection” took place while they were “ministering” to the Lord.  This further proves that those comprising the Order of Prophets had the right to perform the Divine Eucharist.

Furthermore, in Acts 14/XIV 23, it is apparent that those Prophets who were selected by the Church of Antioch had the right to ordain elders-clergymen in their local Churches.  The Prophets’ authority over their local Churches’ clergy is therefore a fact.  We can furthermore extract another conclusion: that the office of “Prophets” was not merely a local office; indeed, its range of authority extended to broader territories than that of the prophet’s Church of origin.

We can see this in another verse, in the Acts of the Apostles.   After the end of the Apostolic Synod in 49 A.D., the Apostles and Elders who participated in the Synod of Jerusalem selected “Judas, the one called Barsabbas, and Silas, a man who was a prior amongst his brethren”  (Acts 15/XIV 22).   These were the two prophets who were sent to the Church of Antioch, in order to transfer -along with Paul and Barnabas- the decisions of the Apostolic Synod.

The fact that these two “priors” belonged to the order of Prophets, is mentioned in Acts 15/XV32: ΄΄Judas as well as Silas, both of whom were prophets, consoled and strengthened the brethren through extensive talks.”

All of the above is evidence that the Prophets routinely inspected the Churches with authority, under the supervision of the Apostles.

We can also find this information in the proto-Christian essay, the DIDACHE - “Teachings of the Apostles” - which was written around 70-100 A.D.   The historical value of this essay is huge, given that it is one of the very few texts that has been preserved from that early period, when the Apostles one by one were departing from this life, leaving their successors in their stead.  It is furthermore significant, because it also verifies all the aforementioned references of the Holy Bible.

In this essay, among other things, we find mentions of the order of Prophets: ΄΄And allow the Prophets  to perform the Eucharist as much as they want” . (Didache 10/X 7).

΄΄As regards the Apostles and prophets, in accordance with the dogma of the Gospel, every apostle who comes to you should be welcomed as a Lord; he may not stay  longer than one day, or if necessary, the next day; if he stays for three days, he is a  false prophet.  On his departure, the apostle may not accept anything but bread, for until he is received elsewhere as a guest.  If he requests money, he is a false prophet. And every prophet who utters through the Spirit you may not offend, nor make any distinction; for every sin may be absolved, but this sin (offending the Spirit) will not be absolved.  Not everyone who utters through the Spirit is a prophet, except if he has the manner of the Lord.. (Didache 11/XI 3 - 12).

΄Every true prophet, who wishes the stay with you,  is worthy of his sustenance….. therefore (it  is proper) to offer  everything  firstborn of the fruits of the winepress and the field, and  the firstborn of cattle and of sheep to the prophets, for they are your high priests   (Verse 13).

“Therefore ordain unto yourselves bishops and deacons worthy (in the sight) of the Lord; men of gentle nature and not greedy for money; men tried and true.  They shall also minister to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers, therefore do not overlook them, for they are your valued ones, after the prophets and the teachers.” (Didache 15/XV 1-2).

In the above, we learn that the Prophets, like the Apostles, visited the Churches and were offered hospitality by the Christians.  The Christians therefore had to be careful, because there were also impostors who impersonated the Prophets.

We also learn that the Prophets were a leading Order, after the Apostles, and were bestowed with honours befitting High Priests by the Christians.  In fact, their superiority over the Elders of the Churches is made clearly evident.

Finally, the Prophets could perform the Divine Eucharist: “And allow the Prophets to perform the Eucharist as much as they want”, without the Christians being allowed to hinder them.

Returning to the Holy Bible, let us examine several other “Prophets”  -

Timothy II 1/i 6: ΄΄I would remind you to rekindle the charisma of God that is in you, through the laying on of my hands (upon you)”, writes the Apostle Paul to Timothy, whom he had ordained a Prophet.  This is made apparent, by the fact that Timothy was bestowed the authority to likewise ordain, and also that he was selected by the Holy Spirit and had been ordained “through prophecy”  (Timothy  3/III 6. 4/iv 13,14).

Similar missions were also given to Titus in Dalmatia and Crete (Titus 1/I 5), to Tychicus in Asia, (Timothy II 4/iv 12), to Criscus In Galatia, (Timothy II. 4/iv 10), to Timothy in Macedonia, (Philip. 2/ii 19), to Artemas in Crete, (Titus 3/iii 12) and to Erastus in Achaia (Timothy 4/iv 20).

After the death of the Apostles, the Prophets as their successors, continued the Apostles’ mission, ordaining and preaching to all the people.

As the decades passed on and the Prophets grew old, they could no longer travel about to visit their Churches and so began to settle down in Churches of their choice.  There, they ordained their own successors, who were named “Bishops”  ( Bi-shop  = Epi-skopos (Greek) = Over-seer ), an office that continues, through to this day.

To this day, this continues to be the only office that is inherited through time, from the Apostles !

* * *

You may also refer to the book “ECCLESIASTIC HISTORY” – A’ by Vlasios I. Feidas, page 59…, (2nd edition 1994), from where we have drawn the above information for this study.


Translation by A.N.



An underground Orthodox church
in Coober Pedy, Australia

About 800 kilometers north from Adelaide, in the state of South Australia, there is a unique monument, not only of Serbian but also of world culture and architecture. It is the church of Prophet Elijah, completely situated underground.

The Serbs who migrated to Coober Pedy, had a need for a spiritual, religious life. Our miners who were digging semi-precious stones, opal, dug one of the most beautiful pearls not only of the Serbian Orthodox, but also of  the overall Christian culture. Since it is a desert area where temperatures reach above 40 degrees Celsius, our people found an unique and ingenious solution. They built a church underground, at the depth of 9 meters, 30 meters long. They have now a church, a church hall, a parish house and a church school – everything underground.

This church has unique frescoes, since they are cut in the rocks, not painted. Following the Romanian example, the iconostasis was painted on the glass behind which lights shine. 

His Grace Bishop Irinej of Australia-New Zealand, in his statement to RTS, pointed out particularity of this church: “The Serbian Orthodox Church possesses the most unique Serbian church in the world - in Coober Pedy in South Australia… This is a most unique case because the church is literally underground.”

The Church of Saint Elijah the Prophet celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. The RTS correspondent from Australia Dragan Caran has announced a documentary on this unique cultural monument.




Foolishness for Christ

Foolishness for Christ refers to behavior such as giving up all one’s worldly possessions upon joining a monastic order, or to deliberate flouting of society’s conventions to serve a religious purpose–particularly of Christianity. Such individuals have historically been known as both “holy fools” and “blessed fools”. The term “fool” connotes what is perceived as feeblemindedness, and “blessed” or “holy” refers to innocence in the eyes of God.

The term fools for Christ derives from the writings of Saint Paul. Desert Fathers and other saints acted the part of Holy Fools, as have the yurodivy (or iurodstvo) of Eastern Orthodox asceticism. Fools for Christ often employ shocking and unconventional behavior to challenge accepted norms, deliver prophecies, or to mask their piety.

Certain prophets of the Old Testament who exhibited signs of strange behaviour are considered by some scholars[3] to be predecessors of “Fools for Christ”. The prophet Isaiah walked naked and barefoot for about three years, predicting a forthcoming captivity in Egypt Isaiah 20:2,3; the prophet Ezekiel lay before a stone, which symbolized beleaguered Jerusalem, and though God instructed him to eat bread baked on human waste, ultimately he asked to use cow dung instead Ezekiel 4:9-15; Hosea married a harlot to symbolize the infidelity of Israel before God (Hosea 3).

By the opinion of certain scholars, these prophets were not counted as fools by their contemporaries, as they just carried out separate actions to attract people’s attention and to awake their repentance.

According to Christian ideas, “foolishness” included consistent rejection of worldly cares and imitating Christ, who endured mockery and humiliation from the crowd. The spiritual meaning of “foolishness” from the early ages of Christianity was close to unacceptance of common social rules of hypocrisy, brutality and thirst for power and gains.

By the words of Anthony the Great: “Here comes the time, when people will behave like madmen, and if they see anybody who does not behave like that, they will rebel against him and say: ‘You are mad’, — because he is not like them.”

Part of the Biblical basis for it can be seen in the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:10, which famously says:

“We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised”.

And also:

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).




Russian Orthodox Monastery
is consecrated in Thailand

February 11, 2018

The ceremony of minor consecration of the Holy Assumption Monastery and its opening was held in the Ratchaburi province, Thailand.

The monastery and its church were consecrated by the Russian Orthodox Church representative in Thailand Archimandrite Oleg (Cherepanin). In attendance were Orthodox priests, the officials of the Russian embassy, Thai authorities, Protestant and Catholic communities of the country, and many pilgrims, the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate reported Friday.

“The Orthodox history in Thailand cannot be viewed separately from the Russian Orthodox Church. Now we can evidence the appreciation of and respect to religious and cultural traditions of Thailand shown by Orthodox clergy in their activities,” the secretary of the Parliament Defense Committee Akachai Chintoza said at the ceremony.

He called Father Oleg “a great friend of Thailand” and presented him with a large diamond cross specially made for this occasion as a sign of recognizing his merits to the Thai people.

The construction of Holy Assumption Monastery started in November, 2009 when the Orthodox Church Fund in Thailand purchased the land of 9,000 square meters to construct the church and the Orthodox cemetery.

Currently, the monastery includes a completed church, a chapel, father superior’s quarters, monks’ cells, household premises and a garden. The monastery plans to build a school and a belfry.

Their are currently citizens of Russia, Romania, Thailand and Laos who wish to join the monastery. By the blessing of Patriarch Kirill, the list of brethren will be submitted for the approval of the Moscow Patriarchate department for foreign institutions.





The rites of Baptism and Christmation

The Rites of Baptism and Christmation (known as Confirmation in the Western) are the rites of passage and entry into the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is the Divine Economy of Faith, what brings Life to all Christians that become in Communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, the First Among Equals. For of course,  ”In the beginning God made the Heavens and the Earth. But the Earth was unsightly and unfurnished, and darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the waters.” (Genesis 1:1,2) These are the very first words of Scripture! The “Spirit of God,” the Holy Spirit, was in “the waters.” This is a prefigurement of baptism, of what gives us life, since God used water to make creation, but also uses it to renew creation.

He then did just that, by renewing creation through the flood. “And the flood was upon the Earth forty days and forty nights, and the water greatly abounded and bore up the ark, and it was lifted on high from off the Earth… and the ark was borne upon the water… and (water) covered all the high mountains which were under the Heavens… And there died all flesh that moved upon the Earth, of flying creatures and cattle, and of wild beasts, and of every reptile moving upon the Earth, and every man… (But) Noah was left alone and those with him in the ark… (Genesis 7:17-24) All Christians are “lifted on high from off the Earth,” towards the “Heavens” when they are baptized, since they are renewed as Creation was renewed, and become one with God. Noah’s ark is a type of the Church, and we all must be purified by water and Spirit to enter this Church, and not die like the men and women who laughed at Noah. Indeed, they died because of their wickedness and lack of faith. But Noah was faithful,and was a type of Christ.

And then, in Exodus, there is the crossing of the River Jordan and the Pillars of Cloud and Fire:

“And the Angel of God that went before the camp of the children of Israel removed and went behind, and the pillar of the cloud also removed from before them and stood behind them. And it went behind the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel, and stood; and there was darkness and blackness; and the night passed, and they came not near to one another during the whole night. And Moses stretched forth His hand over the sea, and the Lord carried back the sea… And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry land, and the water of it was a wall on the right hand and a wall on the left. And the Egyptians pursued them and went in after them… (with) Pharaoh… And it came to pass in the morning watch that the Lord looked forth on the camp of the Egyptians, and bound the 
axle-trees of their chariots, and caused them to go with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them… And the Lord said to Moses, ‘stretch forth thine hand over the sea, and let the water be turned back to its place, and let it cover the Egyptians…’ And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea…  and the Lord shook off the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the water returned and covered the chariots and the riders… and there was not left of them even one… So the Lord delivered Israel in that day from the hand of the Egyptians… (and) the Egyptians (were) dead by the shore of the sea.” (Exodus 14:19-30)

This pillar of cloud was a type of the soothing waters of Baptism, and the pillar fire which led them by night was a type of the fire of the Holy Spirit within every follower of Christ. This cloud of Baptism also soothes the fire of our sins. The Egyptians are a type of our sins, and we must flee from them across the Red Sea, and then across the Jordan River to make it to the Land of Promise, Cainaan, the Land of Milk and Honey, the New Jerusalem. We fight against our sins until they are “turned back,” and “dead,” and we do this with “difficulty.” It also prefigures and symbolizes the death of the old man, and the putting on of the new, as well as becoming slaves of “Christ,” instead slaves to “sin.” This is because we must “Act as free men… and… not use (our) freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.” (1 Peter 2:16

And then there is Naaman the leper, who gets cleansed of his leprosy in the River Jordan:

“And the King of Syria said to Naaman, ‘Go to,’… ” He then said, “I have sent to thee my servant Naaman, and thou shalt recover him from his leprosy. And it came to pass, when the King of Israel read the letter, that he rent his garments, and said, ‘Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends to me to recover a man of his leprosy?’ … And it came to pass, when Elisha heard that… he sent to the King of Israel, saying, ‘Wherefore has thou rent thy garments? Let Naaman, I pray thee, come to me, and let him know that there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman came with horse and chariot… And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall return to thee, and thou shalt be clean.’ And Naaman was angry, and departed… and he turned away and went in a rage. And his servants came near and said to him, ‘Suppose the prophet had spoken a great thing to thee, wouldst though not perform it? Yet he has but said to thee, Wash, and be cleansed. ‘ So Naaman went down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of Elisha: and his flesh returned to him as the flesh of a little child, and he has cleansed.” (4 Kings 5:5-14)

Leprosy is a type of the sins of mankind, since God commonly punished people for sin in the Old Testament with leprosy. The people would go out of the camp, and come back after the prescribed amount of days, and, if healed, would be proclaimed clean by the high priest. This was a part of the Mosaic Law’s observances. When the King of Israel said that he is not “God,” he spoke rightly, since man needs to be “cleansed,” by God in baptism, and man cannot make one “alive,” or “recover” one from “leprosy.” Sin can only be cleansed by God. The priest only forgives a catechumen’s sin in the place of God during the Baptism and Chrismation. Also, we are cleansed “seven times” from our seven sins, and our “…flesh (is) returned to… the flesh of a little child.” We become as innocent as when before we sinned, and get cleansed of the consequences of Adam and Eve’s Original Sin, but it does not cleanse the guilt of Adam and Eve, since this guilt was never ours in the first place. Every man is guilty for his own sin only.

This event truly prefigured baptism in the New Testament Church. For, even in the Septuagint, the Greek word baptizein is used for the immersions that heal the Gentile Naaman from his skin infection, which is called tzaraath. His being a Gentile also prefigured the fact that Gentiles would be baptized, and then grafted into the Church with the old olive tree of the Jews. Salvation would be brought to all, and not just to the Jewish people.

And then there is Psalm 22 in the Greek Old Testament known as the Septuagint or LXX: “The Lord Shepherdeth me, and I shall not want. In a place of green pasture, there hath He made me to dwell; he hath nurtured me beside the waters of rest. He hath restored my soul; he hath led me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. For though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou Art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they have comforted me. Thou hast prepared a table before me in the presence of those that trouble me; Tho hast anointed my head with oil; and like the best wine doth Thy cup inebriate me. And thy mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord unto the length of days.” This means that Christ is our Shepherd, and we will “not want.” He makes us “dwell,” among the righteous, he “nurture(s),” us and he brings us to “waters of rest,” or baptism. Our souls and bodies are then “restored,” and we are put to “death” I through Christ. We escape the “shadow(s),” of sin and “evil,” and are “comforted” by the Holy Trinity. His “rod” and His “staff” are His crucifixion, which we have used to put away the old man, and become new men or creatures in Christ. He has “prepared a table,” and has “anointed (our) head(s) with oil,” meaning the holy Myron used for Chrismation, which heals us and purifies us. The table is the table where the sacred oil is prepared for this sacrament. We are also “inebriate(d)” by the “cup” of The Lord, which we can now partake of as a sacrament in “the House of the Lord,” or His Church, for “length of days,” or forever. We are now members of  Christ’s Church.

In Isaiah, we are told that “… though your sins be as crimson, I will make them white as snow; and though they be as scarlet, I will make them white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) This means that our sins will be cleansed, and we shall be made pure by the Holy Trinity. Christ died for us in the likeness of our human nature and flesh, but never sinned, so was as “white as wool,” but became “crimson” in His death for us through His Crucifixion, so that we could be like snow or white wool through baptism, having our previous sins forgiven us. No longer is our baptismal garment bloodied through sin, but is pure white.

In the Book of Ezekiel, we are told that God will “… take (us) from among the nations, and gather (us) out of all the lands, and will bring (us) into (our) own land:

And (He) will sprinkle clean water upon (us), and (we) shall be purged from all (our) uncleanesses, and from all (our) idols, and (He) will cleanse (us). A new heart also (He) will give (us), and a new spirit will (He) put within (us): and (He) will take away the heart of stone out of (our) flesh, and He will give (us) an heart of flesh. And (He) will put (His) Spirit within (us), and cause (us) to walk in (His) ordinances, and keep (His) judgements, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:24-27) When God talks of us being “among the nations,” and brought into our “own land,” wit means that God will save the Gentiles as well, and not just the Jews, and that He will lead is into Heaven, the New Jerusalem.

We will be “clean” because of this “water”, and “purged” from “uncleaness.” This holy water will purge our sins, and make us new creations in God. He makes sure we are not of a “heart of stone” like Pharaoh, but with a “heart of flesh,” like Moses, who follow His “ordinances,” and keep His “judgements.” If we do all this, we shall receive the “Spirit.” This Spirit is imparted to us by Holy Baptism. And this Spirit is the Holy Spirit Himself, who “…proceeds from the Father…” (Nicene Creed)

In the New Testament, St John the Baptist (known as the Forerunner or Prodromos in Greek in the Eastern Orthodox Church) preaches a baptism of penance, but not the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, or of Jesus. He prefigured Christ’s Baptism, which was at first administered by Christ’s Disciples in the times of the early Church. Many churches were built for John the Baptist in the Byzantine Emprein numbering more than 30 just in the Imperial Capital of Constantinople. In Edessa, in 457 A.D, Bishop Nona built a Cathedral named St John the Baptist’s Cathedral from red brick. He made many monasteries in Edessa, as well. “Then went out to (John) Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the country about the Jordan: And were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them: ‘Ye brood of vipers, who hath showed ye to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance. And think not too say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father. For I tell you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees… That doth not yield good fruit, (and will) be cut down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you in the water unto penance, but He that shall come after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire…’ Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him. But John stayed Him, saying: ‘I ought to be baptized by Thee, and comets thou to me?’ And Jesus… said to him: ‘Suffer it to be so now. For so it becometh us to fulfill all justice…’ And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to Him: and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him. And behold, a voice from Heaven, saying: ‘This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:5-17)

Indeed, Saint John Prodromos brought a great message to all, and prepared the people for the reign of “the Lamb who takes away the sins of the World.” John the Baptist became very famous, and many people came to believe in Christ through him. When John the Baptist says that God can “raise up children to Abraham,” from “stones,” not only is this literal, since God can do anything He pleases, but is also a metaphor for something else: that all would become children of Abraham through faith, works, and Grace. The ones who go to Heaven are not like the Pharisees and Sadducees, who are a “brood of vipers,” but innocent children as simple as a “descending… dove.” John’s Baptism was not as great as Christ’s, and he dies before the Crucifixion. Also, he is just a man, where as Christ is God Incanate. He baptizes the people “in the Holy Spirit and fire,” which cleanses us, and prepares us for God’s Kingdom. Even though Christ was truly God and Man, He was baptized as a sign to us, to give us an example, and to sanctify baptism. He did not need to receive the “Spirit of God,” since He was consubstantial with the Father and Holy Spirit since before the beginning of time. He is the “beloved Son,” of God, and He does everything the Father does. But He did submit His Created Human Nature under His Divine Nature, of the Father, for a short time, since He was tempted like us, but never sinned Himself. He was made slightly lower than the angels for a time, but was then glorified. This is His Human Nature and Will receiving the Holy Spirit, after all, and His Human Nature being glorified for the first time in His ministry. Our natures are also glorified in baptism, so we can partake of God’s holy things.

After this, Jesus later has a conversation with Nicodemus about the nature of baptism:

“Nicodemus saith unto Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?’

Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (St John 3:4-6) Nicodemus misunderstood the real nature of baptism, thinking and supposing that Christ was talking about being made young again, and being reborn from one’s mother, which is not correct. Nicodemus judges things by the “flesh,” but God judges them by the “Spirit.” Nicodemus was too carnal-minded to see and perceive this, even though he is a “ruler among the people.” This true nature of this rebirth is baptism by triple immersion, and the cleansing away of our sins like the dust from the outside World. We must be of “the Spirit,” and not of “the flesh,” since “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:50) But we must not understand this as being literal flesh, since both the soul and the body are raised to Heaven. Otherwise, we will be erring like the heretical and dualist Manichees and Gnostics, who declare all matter evil, and that there is a god of darkness and evil in the Old Testament, and a god of light and good in the New Testament, which is not so! No, flesh, which is being sinful and carnally minded, and not filled with the Holy Spirit, is what is meant in this verse. We must savor the heavenly ways of God and His Church. Everything God made was good, after all! For, “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life.” (John 7:63)

Indeed, “Jesus saith… He that is washed, need etch not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.” (John 13:10) This means that baptism is only meant to be administered once, a part from apostates and heretics who return to the Church, who need to be rebaptized to re-enter the Church again. That is why when new members from the Catholic Church, the Church of England, Lutheran, etc, are allowed into our Church with just the use of holy Myron, it is not enough, since they are heretics, and have been baptized the wrong way, and not with the triple immersion, since they favor sprinkling or affusion over thrice immersion, and do not teach rightly on other doctrines on the Church, either. This was done to please the World Council of the Churches, for reunification between all churches, which would gravely compromise our Orthodox Faith. This would be terrible for the Church and Her faithful, and would lead to nothing but disbelief and teachings of wrong doctrines. The faith must be upheld at all times, no matter what. Heretics must be baptized with a baptism of entry or re-entry into the Church. Oikonomia must only be used in extreme matters. I know that this had to be done when the Byzantine Empire was losing power to the Muslims, and the Pope and Western Europe were becoming more and more powerful to the Orthodox people’s detriment, but now we are not under the same threats, nor are we under the threats of Communism, or earliest of all, when the threat of Arianism, Macedonianism, and other heresies were rife, but now we are in a state of relative peace, and can use Akribeia (strict application of the Canons.)

Canon 7 of the First Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D is an example of Oikonomia:

“Those who embrace orthodoxy and join the number of those who are being saved from heretics, we receive in the following regular and customary manner… when they hand in statements and anathematize every heresy which is not of the same mind as the holy, catholic and apostolic church of God. They are first sealed or anointed wi holy chrism on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears. As we seal them we say ‘Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.’ But Eunomians , who are baptized in a single immersion, Montanists, Sabellians, who teach the identity of Father and Son and make certain other difficulties, and all other sects — since there are many here, not least those who originate in the country of the Galatians — we receive all who wish to leave them and embrace orthodoxy as we do Greeks. On the first day we make Christians of them, on the second catechumens, on the third we exorcise me by breathing three times into their faces and their ears, and thus we catechize them and make them spend time in the church and listen to the scriptures; and then we baptize them.”

But Catholics and Protestants do not use triple immersion, but sprinkling, so they should be re-baptized, since they were not properly baptized into Christ. Only the Orthodox baptism is legitimate and true.

So an example of Akribeia is St Cyprian’s Council in Carthage in 257 A.D:

“For if anyone could be baptized among heretics, certainly he could also obtain remission of sins. If he attained remission of sins, he was also sanctified.”

Does this mean that Schismatics and Heretics that are received into the Church do not become truly Orthodox without Baptism, but just anointing with oil? Of course not! It just means it is not as legitimate as Baptism, and is not complete. One feels more purified when one has been baptized properly, which is what should be done now. Pools or baptisteries should be used again, and built at the sides or inside churches as they used to be before. The catechumen was stripped, and lathered in oil, immersed three times behind a screen, and then lifted out of the font by their sponsor and/or godparent. For decency’s sack, a pair of trunks could be worn by a man, and a two piece for a woman, even though it was traditionally done naked, to show that we are like Adam and Eve before the Fall, without sin or shame, and also that we have stripped off the old man, and put on the new. A chiton can be worn too, but is usually quite clingy, and most of the body is seen through the fabric, anyway. The deacon usually helps with the procedure, and a prayer is said for the catechumen later on. The Nicene Creed is also said, as well. Babies are usually put in smaller fonts, usually without wearing clothes. This is the traditional Orthodox baptism.

Baptism and Chrismation, together with the Eucharist, are all given at the same time, since Jesus said “Let the children alone, and do not hinder the, from coming to Me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) This means that one should become like a child in simple faith, without arrogance or being puffed up, and should not doubt anything that God, His saints or Saints, His Church, or the Ecumenical Councils say. One should not be a skeptic, and accept God’s scriptures as Divine Word. Also, a child should be baptized from a young age, since a child brought up being taught about God in a believing home is more likely to grow up as holy and righteous, and knowing about God’s holy Word. It also means that one is less likely to become a heretic, and to be received into the Kingdom of God. Parents always take care of their children, giving them food, water, clothes, shelter, vaccinations, education, love, and everything else for one’s child’s welfare, so why not the child’s salvation, the most important thing of all. For “Jesus took them in His arms and began blessing them.” (Mark 10:16) This included “babies.” (Luke 18:15) We are told to “Believe in The Lord Jesus… And you shall be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) So our whole household requires salvation, not just the adults. The whole household must be Eastern Orthodox, and all are legible to become so, more simply speaking.

This is why Saint Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus (died 457 A.D) said “If the only meaning of baptism were remission of sins, why would we baptize newborn children who have not yet tasted of sin? But the mystery of baptism is not limited to this; it is a promise of greater and more perfect gifts. In it are the promises of future delights; it is a type of the future resurrection, a communion with the Master’s passion, a participation is His Resurrection, a mantle of salvation, a tunic of gladness, a garment of light, or rather it is light itself.” We are given “gifts” by the Holy Spirit, “future delights,” a “mantle of salvation,” to protect us from the Hell fire and lead us into Heaven, a “tunic of gladness,” a “garment of light,” indeed, “light itself.” We are protected by this light in a world of darkness, and so pare our children.

Jesus gives His last salutations to the Apostles with these words: “All power is given to me in Heaven and in Earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you always, even to the consummation of the World.” (Matthew 28:18-20) These words are given by Him to the Apostles to spread the Orthodox Christian Faith, and to baptize people within this Faith.

“After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into Heaven and He sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His words by the signs that accompanies it.” (Mark 16:20) The disciple now begin preaching the Gospel, and baptize everyone who comes to be a part of the Faith.

That’s why St Paul says in Romans 6:3-4, “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death. Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” All that is old and antiquated from sin is put to death, and we are given newness of life.

And then there are writings of the saints written after the times of the Apostles by great Orthodox Saints, when the Faith was no longer persecuted in the Roman Empire:

Saint Athanasius, in his discourse against the Arians in Book III: 33, written in 360 A.D, says, “And with reason; for as we are all from Earth and die in Adam , so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened.” We die in Adam, but are brought to life by Christ.  We also take on a renewed state through baptism.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa, a faithful Orthodox Christian and Bishop, in his On the Baptism of Christ written after 394 A.D, says, “For ‘the Spirit breathes where it wills, and thou headrest His voice, but canst not tell whence He cometh and wither He goeth.’ He blesses the body that is baptized, and the water that baptizes. Despise not, therefore, the Divine lather, nor think lightly of it, as a common thing, on account of the use of water. For the power that operates is mighty, and wonderful are the things that are thereby.” We must not despise our baptism, and we must keep our baptismal promises, and not dirty our baptismal garments through sin. Baptism does not give one permission to be worse, but to be saved through Christ by both Grace and works, as well as Faith, and not just by faith alone. We must believe in this simple fact in all sincerity and truth, and we then shall only be saved. We all need this “Divine lather” from the most holy font, and we all need the most Holy Trinity.

That is why John Chrysostom, faithful Orthodox Christian and Archbishop of Constantinople says, “Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ in nowise from, those who depart hence without the illumination (baptism) , without the seal! They indeed deserve our wailing, they deserve our groans; they are outside the Palace, with the culprits, with the condemned: for, ‘Verily I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not neater into the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Mourn for those who have died in wealth, and did not from their wealth think of any solace for their soul, who had power to wash away their sins and would not.” (Homily on Philippians, 3:24, 404 A.D.) We are indeed illuminated by the Holy Spirit through baptism, like a precious treasure used by only the King, Christ Himself. We glimmer like gold, and receive a “seal” from Christ of the faith from the Divine Seal from His holy ring. All those who refuse baptism are rascally scoundrels and culprits, and shun Christ and His baptism, as well as any chance of Divine assistance, and do not receive true “wealth” from Christ, but only material possessions from their material wealth. The only true wealth is spiritual, not material, since spiritual wealth is treasured up in Heaven, by material wealth is eaten by the Moths, and perishes. We all need the “solace” from the “power to wash away… sins,” that leads us to God’s “Palace” in Heaven, where one rests in repose from all unhappiness and illnesses, and live a life in Christ, forever and ever, and unto ages of ages

Through the Theotokos have mercy on us.





Conclusion of a Homily on Death

Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov, 
Bishop of Caucasus & Black Sea, 
Russia (+1867)

Let us arouse in ourselves the remembrance of death by visiting cemeteries, visiting the sick, being present at the death and burial of our close ones, by frequently examining and renewing in our memories various contemporary deaths which we have heard of or seen.... Having understood the shortness of our earthly life and the vanity of all earthly acquisitions and advantages; having understood the frightful future that awaits those who have disdained the Redeemer and redemption and have offered themselves entirely as a sacrifice to sin and corruption—let us turn our mental eyes away from their steady gazing at the deceptive and enchanting beauty of the world which easily catches the weak human heart and forces it to love and serve it; let us turn them to the fearful but saving spectacle of the death that awaits us. Let us weep over ourselves while there is time; let us wash, let us cleanse with tears and confession our sins which are written in the books of the Sovereign of the world. Let us acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit—this seal, this sign of election and salvation; it is indispensable for a free passage through the spaces of the air and for entrance into the heavenly gates and mansions.... O ye who have been banished from Paradise! It is not for enjoyments, not for festivity, not for playing that we find ourselves on earth—but in order that by faith, repentance, and the Cross we might kill the death which has killed us and restore to ourselves the lost Paradise! May the merciful Lord grant the readers of this Homily, and him who has composed it, to remember death during this earthly life, and by the remembrance of it, by the mortification of oneself to everything vain, and by a life lived for eternity, to banish from oneself the fierceness of death when its hour shall come, and through it to enter into the blessed, eternal, true life. Amen.

From: Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov, Collected Works, Vol. III




The Three Trees – Christian Story

Long ago in the forest, lived three tall tress, the biggest among all trees in the forest. One fine day, the three were having a chat, talking about their dream of the future.

The first tree said, “I want to grow taller and stronger, and I want a man to chop me down and make a beautiful bed of my trunk, so a great king can sleep on me.”

The second tree said, “I want to grow taller and stronger, because I want a man to chop me down and make a big yacht of my trunk, so a king can sail on me and go around the world.”

The third tree said, “If me, I don’t want anyone to chop me down. I want to be the tallest and the biggest tree in this forest, so everyone can come to me and look at me admiring my tall trunk.”

So then – the trees agreed to pray each and every day so God would make their dreams come true.

One day, a man came and chopped the first tree. The first tree was excited. He thought his dream was finally come true. But when the man found the quality of the tree trunk was not very good, he didn’t make him as a bed, he turned the tree trunk into a manger instead, for the cattle to eat grass and hay. The first tree was very disappointed to see what he became of. His dream was shuttered.

Another day, a man came and chopped the second tree. The second tree was excited. He thought his dream was finally come true. But when the man found the quality of the tree trunk was not very good, he didn’t make him as a yacht, instead he turned the tree trunk into a fisherman’s boat, simply for fishing. The boat was having holes everywhere on his body and was always dirty after sailing. The second tree was very disappointed to see what he became of. His dream was shuttered.

Another day, a man came and chopped the thrid tree. The third tree was very disappointed and got terribly sad. He was so sad that his trunk rottened. The man couldn’t make anything from the tree trunk that he just disposed the trunk and it became useless.

Well – was life fair for those trees? They worked hard, they prayed a lot, but this is the end they got.

However, the story is not finished… yet…

Years went by, in the middle of the night, a couple of husband and wife went to the stable where the first tree lived now. The wife was pregnant and they weren’t able to find any room to stay and deliver the baby. So the wife gave birth to her baby in that dirty stable and put their baby inside the manger to keep Him warm. Inside the manger, which was the first tree. We all know who the baby is.

Years after that, a storm came on the sea, and it hit a sailing boat that all the people who was sailing in the boat – which was the second tree – scared and panic. The storm was so heavy that it nearly broke the boat down and sinked everybody inside. But then, a young man came out and stood on the boat bravely. He waved his hands to the sea in front of Him, and when He cried out to the sea, “In the name of My Father, I command you to stop!” And soon after that, the storm stopped, and the sea was calmed. The second tree was amazed. Who was this person – even the sea and the storm obeyed His command? We all know who the man was.

Years gone by, an innocent man was sentenced to death by the trial. He was tortured and beatened, and at the end, He had to die on the cross. He was crucified. Before He died on the cross, the world moaned for Him. And guess what? The wood to make the cross came from the trunk of the third tree. And again, we all know who the man was.

So, here is the conclusion of the story…

The first tree, even though, he didn’t end up as a beautiful bed as he wished for, a king – the king of kings – still slept in him.

The second tree, even though, he didn’t end up as a big yacht as he wished for, again the king of kings had once stood on him and sailed across the seas.

The third tree, the saddest of them all (was), even though at the end, he was chopped down, now look at him. Until now, people will look at him when they have hope and prayers. He stood tall for those who are in need and hopeful.

There are many things I can learn from this story. Everytime I was troubled or disappointed because things don’t go the way I want them to be, I always remember this story. Somehow, it made me believe that there’s always a rainbow waiting for us behind every storm that we have to pass.




Number of Orthodox Christians in Ireland doubled over five years

According to the latest 2011 census there are over 45 thousand Orthodox Christians in Ireland, reports Interfax-Religion.

This figure is two times larger than it was in 2006 and four times larger than in 2002. Thus according to the official data Orthodoxy is the fastest growing religion in Ireland, says the website Russianireland.com.

The largest center of Orthodoxy in the country is Swords, the county town of Fingal, where 1168 Orthodox Christians reside according to the 2011 census data.

The census also showed that the majority of the Orthodox Christians in Ireland are Romanians (26%), followed by Irish (20%) and Latvians (12.5%).

“Orthodoxy is not something new or strange In Ireland; it has always existed here. It is well-known that Irish Christianity before the 11th century was very similar to ours. But after Ireland was conquered by the British this denomination had been intentionally removed by the Pope. That is probably why many Irish perceive Orthodoxy as something special and dear”, said the Rector of the Patriarchal representation of the Russian Orthodox Church in Dublin, priest Michael Nasonov.

According to him, there are seven parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ireland already.

The most common religion in Ireland is Roman Catholicism (3.86 million people, 84.2% of the population), followed by Protestantism (over 134 thousand people) and Islam (over 49 thousand people).





Give your life to Jesus Christ
and begin a new life

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Then at the right time and place He created you.

Christianity is not just a religion; true Christians experience a deep personal relationship with the Creator God of the universe. All the other religions of the world have one thing in common. They are attempting to reach God by their own efforts and traditions. Only the God of the Bible reaches out to people in love. He has provided a way for you to be united with Him. The way is through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus says to you, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) Jesus the Christ is the only true path for unity with God. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

The Gospel (good news) message recorded in the Holy Bible is that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to rescue people and restore their relationship to God, the Father. Jesus was born from a virgin woman and He lived in a human body. Jesus lived a perfect life without sin. When Jesus died a painful death on a cross He did not deserve it. He did not die for Himself, He died for you. Jesus paid the penalty for sin so that whoever believes in Him will have their sins covered by His blood. Jesus rose from the dead and later ascended back into heaven.

Over 2 billion people on earth call themselves Christian, which means to be a follower of Christ. Jesus Christ continues to have a far greater impact upon individuals and the world than any one else who has ever lived. The Bible continues to be the best selling book of all time. There are hundreds of millions of witnesses who testify to having a life changing encounter with Jesus. There is a reason for these facts, the reason is because Jesus is Truth.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:8-11)

When you believe that the blood that Jesus shed on the cross was for you, you then receive the life of Jesus in you. You are now born-again. The God of the Holy Bible offers us His grace; grace is a free gift, a gift that we do not deserve. We do not work to receive God’s gift of salvation, but when we receive salvation by faith then our faith will be proven by doing the works of God which He has prepared for us to do. When you accept God’s grace through faith you then enter into the destiny that God has planned for your life.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The scene of Jesus dying on the cross was the ultimate proof of God’s love for you. Our love for God is proven by believing Him and obeying Him. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:13-14) Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23)

How do I know that Jesus will accept me?

 If you have a desire to come to Jesus then that is the voice of God, the Holy Spirit, calling you to Him.

Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” (John 6:44-45) Jesus promises that He will not reject anyone who comes to Him. “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37)

Here are some other promises that God desires to receive you as His child…

 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)

Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

The LORD is near to all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. (Psalms 145:18-19)

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)




We all get what we ask for

Fr. Andrew Konanos, Greece

There was a young man who asked God to teach him to love the whole world impartially, without seeking his own profit. He wanted to feel selfless love. He wanted to love strange and complex people with all his soul and all his heart.

Years went by, and that same person, aged 45, visited Tinos Island, stood in front of an icon of the Theotokos and wept, complaining about his wife, “My God, why did you sent her to me? Why is this person always with me, and why is our family life so hard? We don’t love one another. We keep quarreling and fighting. We hurt one another. We’ve been on the verge of divorce many times. My Lord Jesus Christ, I’m in trouble. Why does it happen? I can’t find any explanation. Why did God sent all this to me?” The Most Holy Mother of God tried to give that man the answer during that prayer. She reminded the man that at 20, he was praying to have a family, saying to God, “Help me, O God, to love selflessly. Teach me to love properly.” Years were flying by. The young man hit 30, then 35. He got married. He ran into some problems and difficulties. At first, he thought that they were accidental but when he remembered those past events and connected the dots, he was convinced that they are not a punishment or an accident but the answer to his earlier prayer. You see?

Everything that happens to us is the result of our own requests. We need it. Of course, it is helpful. It teaches us to love, to humble ourselves, and to further our knowledge of God. You might object, “Isn’t there a different way to achieve that? When praying, I didn’t ask for it. Naturally, I wanted to know how to love but I didn’t know that suffering and pain will ensue. I wasn’t asking for trouble. Why so much pain? Isn’t there a different way?” I believe that there is no other way. That’s what life is about. Someone asked a holy hermit on Mt. Athos, “Is there a different way—a simpler and more comfortable one?” The hermit, whose name was Makarios, replied, “There is only one way, my dear, and it is called the uphill road. It is painful and you’ve got to shed your blood to get there.” When you climb a mountain, your knees ache and your heart is tired of pumping increased volumes of blood. However, there isn’t another way to get to the mountaintop and to see the rising sun. There is no other way to achieve the salvation of your soul.

That is how one’s soul gets saved. That is how its beauty is preserved and multiplied. That is how it starts to blossom. Flowers bloom thanks to the scorching heat of the sun, thanks to the painful raindrops that hit their leaves, and thanks to the snow that freezes them. That is how nature works. That’s how this world works. That’s how God works. You can get saved only by overcoming sorrows and pain.

Fragment of a book by Archimandrite Andrew Konanos

titled “Marriage and Its Problems…”

Translated by the Catalog of Good Deeds





The Lord’s Prayer from the inside

Blessed Fr. Joel Yannakopoulos
of Kalamata, Greece (+1966)

Fr. Joel advised one man who found it difficult to forgive: “Learn the Lord’s Prayer well.”

“I’ve known the Lord’s Prayer by heart since childhood.”

“You know it by heart, but not from the inside!”

“What do you mean?”

“You don’t know the meaning of this prayer. You recite it mechanically. If you knew it from the inside, you would willingly forgive your neighbor, because otherwise it’s impossible for God to forgive you your trespasses! This is what the words, ‘And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors’ mean. So, you should learn the Lord’s Prayer from the inside.





Liturgy: The Meaning 
and Celebration of the Eucharist

Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald, USA

Hellenic College Holy Cross, Brookline, Massachusetts, USA

“We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere on earth. We cannot describe it to you; we only know that God dwells there among men and that their Service surpasses the worship of all other places…”

In the latter part of the tenth century, Vladimir the Prince of Kiev sent envoys to various Christian centers to study their form of worship. These are the words the envoys uttered when they reported their presence at the celebration of the Eucharist in the Great Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople. The profound experience expressed by the Russian envoys has been one shared by many throughout the centuries who have witnessed for the first time the beautiful and inspiring Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church.

The Holy Eucharist is the oldest experience of Christian Worship as well as the most distinctive. Eucharist comes from the Greek word which means thanksgiving. In a particular sense, the word describes the most important form of the Church’s attitude toward all of life. The origin of the Eucharist is traced to the Last Supper at which Christ instructed His disciples to offer bread and wine in His memory. The Eucharist is the most distinctive event of Orthodox worship because in it the Church gathers to remember and celebrate the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ and, thereby, to participate in the mystery of Salvation.

In the Orthodox Church, the Eucharist is also known as the Divine Liturgy. The word liturgy means people’s work; this description serves to emphasize the corporate character of the Eucharist. When an Orthodox attends the Divine Liturgy, it is not as an isolated person who comes simply to hear a sermon.

Rather, he comes as a member of the Community of Faith who participates in the very purpose of the Church, which is the Worship of the Holy Trinity. Therefore, the Eucharist is truly the center of the life of the Church and the principal means of spiritual development, both for the individual Christian and the Church as a whole. Not only does the Eucharist embody and express the Christian faith in a unique way, but it also enhances and deepens our faith in the Trinity. This sacrament-mystery is the experience toward which all the other activities of the Church are directed and from which they receive their direction.

The Eucharist, the principal sacrament mystery of the Orthodox Church, is not so much a text to be studied, but rather an experience of communion with the Living God in which prayer , music, gestures, the material creation, art and architecture come into full orchestration. The Eucharist is a celebration of faith which touches not only the mind but also the emotions and the senses.

Throughout the centuries, Christians have seen many dimensions in the Eucharist. The various titles which have come to describe the rite bear witness to the richness of its meaning. The Eucharist has been known as the Holy offering, the Holy Mysteries, the Mystic Supper, and the Holy Communion. The Orthodox Church recognizes the many facets of the Eucharist and wisely refuses to over-emphasize one element to the detirement of the others. In so doing, Orthodoxy has clearly avoided reducing the Eucharist to a simple memorial of the Last Supper which is only occasionally observed. Following the teachings of both Scripture and Tradition, the Orthodox Church believes that Christ is truly present with His people in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharistic gifts of bread and wine become for us His Body and His Blood. We affirm that these Holy Gifts are transfigured into the first fruits of the New Creation in which ultimately God will be “all in all”.

As it is celebrated today, the Divine Liturgy is a product of historical development. The fundamental core of the liturgy dates from the time of Christ and the Apostles. To this, prayers, hymns, and gestures have been added throughout the centuries. The liturgy achieved a basic framework by the ninth century.

There are three forms of the Eucharist presently in use in the Orthodox Church:

-The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which is the most frequently celebrated.

-The Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, which is celebrated only ten times a year.

-The Liturgy of St. James which is celebrated on October 23, the feastday of the Saint. While these saints did not compose the entire liturgy which bears their names, it is probable that they did author many of the prayers. The structure and basic elements of the three liturgies are similar, although there are differences in some hymns and prayers.

In addition to these Liturgies, there is also the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts. This is not truly a eucharistic liturgy but rather an evening Vesper Service followed by the distribution of Holy Communion reserved from the previous Sunday. This liturgy is celebrated only on weekday mornings or evenings during Lent, and on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week, when the full Eucharist is not permitted because of its Resurrection spirit. The Eucharist expresses the deep joy which is so central to the Gospel.

The Divine Liturgy is properly celebrated only once a day. This custom serves to emphasize and maintain the unity of the local congregation. The Eucharist is always the principal Service on Sundays and Holy Days and may be celebrated on other weekdays.

However, the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated by the priest privately, without a congregation. The Eucharist is usually celebrated in the morning but, with the Bishop’s blessing, may be offered in the evening. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has recently encouraged the celebration of the Liturgy in the evening after Vespers, on the vigil of major Feast and Saints Days.

The Actions of the Liturgy

The Divine Liturgy may be divided into two major parts: the Liturgy of the Catechumens and the Liturgy of the Faithful, which are preceded by the Service of Preparation.

Although there are many symbolic interpretations of the Divine Liturgy, the most fundamental meaning is found in the actions and prayers.

The Service of Preparation

Prior to the beginning of the Liturgy, the priest prepares himself with prayer and then precedes to vest himself. The vestments express his priestly ministry as well as his office. Next, the priest goes to the Proskomide Table which is on the left side of the Altar Table in the Sanctuary. There, he prepares the offering of bread and wine for the Liturgy. Ideally, the leavened loaves of bread, and the wine from which the offering is taken, are prepared by members of the congregation. The elements are presented to the priest before the service, together with the names of those persons, living and dead, who are to be remembered during the Divine Liturgy. The offering symbolically represents the entire Church gathered about Christ, the Lamb of God.

The Liturgy of the Catechumens

The Divine Liturgy begins with the solemn declaration: “Blessed be the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit now and for ever more.” With these words we are reminded that in the Divine Liturgy the Church becomes a real manifestation of God’s Kingdom on earth.

Since the first part of the Liturgy was designed originally for the Catechumens, those being schooled in the faith, had a very instructive quality. The Eucharist also has elements which are in common with other Services. We gather as Christians who share a common faith in the Holy Trinity. We sing and pray as a people united in Christ, who are not bound by time, space, or social barriers.

The Little Entrance is the central action of the first part of the Liturgy. A procession takes place in which the priest carries the Book of Gospels from the sanctuary into the nave. The procession directs our attention to the Scripture and to the presence of Christ in the Gospel. The entrance leads to the Epistle lesson, the Gospel, and the Sermon.

The Liturgy of the Faithful

In the early Church, only those who were baptized and not in a state of sin were permitted to remain for this most solemn part of the Liturgy. With the Great Entrance marking the beginning of this part of the Liturgy, the offering of bread and wine is brought by the priest from the Preparation Table, through the nave, and to the Altar Table. Before the offering can proceed, however, we are called upon to love one another so that we may perfectly confess our faith. In the early Church, the Kiss of Peace was exchanged at this point. After the symbolic kiss of Peace, we join together in professing our Faith through the words of the Creed.

Only now can we properly offer our gifts of bread and wine to the Father as our Lord directed us to do in His memory. This offering is one of great joy, for through it we remember the mighty actions of God through which we have received the gift of salvation, and especially the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. We invoke the Holy Spirit upon ourselves and upon our offering, asking the Father that they become for us the Body and Blood of Christ. Through our thanking and remembering the Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Risen Christ in our midst.

The priest comes from the altar with the Holy Gifts, inviting the congregation to draw near with reverence of God, with faith, and with love.” Our sharing in the Eucharist Gifts not only expresses our fellowship with one another, but also our unity with the Father in His Kingdom. Individuals approach the Holy Gifts and receive the Eucharistic bread and wine from the common chalice. The priest distributes the Holy Gifts by means of a communion spoon. Since the Holy Communion is an expression of our Faith, reception of the Holy Gifts is open only to those who are baptized, chrismated, and practicing members of the Orthodox Church.

The Liturgy comes to an end with prayer of Thanksgiving and the Benediction. At the conclusion of the Eucharist, the congregation comes forward to receive a portion of the liturgical bread which was not used for the offering.

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7052




The Divine Liturgy, what a splendor indeed!

Elder Ephraim of Arizona

The Divine Liturgy, what a splendor indeed! Man has been honored by God in such a way that He Himself comes down to earth with His Angelic Orders every time there is a Liturgy, in order to nurture man with His Most Holy Body and His Most Precious Blood! For He has given us everything. Is there anything physical or spiritual, perishable or everlasting, that has not been offered to us? None! Is there anything superior to His Most Holy Body and Blood, which is given to us on a daily basis? There is certainly not. God has enabled man, who is full of soil and dirt, to serve the Divine Liturgy. So priceless is the Divine Love that just a tiny drop exceeds any earthly, physical and secular love.

Adam and Eve’s sin was the starting point of all the distressing events that have occurred to this day and of those that will occur until the end of time. Disobedience, like a sperm inside Eve’s womb, gave birth to and transmitted physical and spiritual death to all of humanity. Poor Eve, could there have been a way for her to see that “the split second” taste of the fruit would cause such turmoil, thus compelling the Holy Trinity to have a “co-entreaty” so that the one Person of the Life-Giving Trinity would be sent to the world and endure, by the works of His hands, the blows, insults, whipping, spitting as well as all kinds of obscenity and ultimately be hung on the Cross as a curse! “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).

The sweet redemption of our Jesus, the light of our troubled souls, His Passion and Life-Giving Resurrection, are re-enacted in every Divine Liturgy through which every sinful soul is delivered. Great indeed is Jesus’ love for us! For He took on our human nature and was hung on the Cross, giving us freedom and thus wiping clean all our debts towards our Heavenly Father. And as our beloved Brother He makes us worthy of His co-inheritance which consists of the infinite riches of His Heavenly Father. And if during the time when the Law, which existed before Christ, had overshadowed things, and the blood of oxen and goats as well as a calf’s embers purified those who had partaken of them, how much more will Christ’s Most Holy Blood, which is partaken from the Holy Altar of the Holy Churches of God, cleanse us from sin and warm up our souls in order to receive the divine love of our most sweet Jesus. The Lamb which was slaughtered for our personal salvation will rinse us with His Most Precious Blood from the filth of our sins and give us eternal rest.

In any case, we owe it to ourselves to become partakers of this heavenly banquet which offers us this most wonderful Mystery of the Holy Altar. Once inside the church, we should stand in fear and devoutness, since our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy angels are present. Those who are attentive and devout are filled with grace and blessings; however, those who are inattentive are condemned, being unworthy.

On the one hand, the Angels serve the Divine Liturgy, and on the other, the faithful come to church in order to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ – “Receive the Body of Christ and taste the Fountain of Immortality” – so that they will live in Christ and not perish in sin. Thus, “let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup, for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to himself” (1 Cor. 11:28-29). For instance, when someone wants to appear before a king, it takes him days to get ready, in terms of general preparation, cleanliness, speech, manner, ethos, etc., so that he would succeed in drawing the king’s compassion and, in this way, have his desirable request granted. Even though there is no comparison as far as the two different kings are concerned, each believer should prior to Holy Communion prepare oneself in order to obtain divine mercy and forgiveness. Those who appear before a secular king are, most of the time, adorned by iniquity, flattery, pretence as well as deceit, in order to obtain that which is desired; nevertheless, the Christian believer who appears before the King of kings who in turn keeps an eye on the inner person must be adorned by holiness, humility and the sheer ethos of the soul that is more precious than lost gold.

The Lord created His Church on earth as a Bride, so that She would intercede for His children. He left us the Great Mystery of the Holy Eucharist, in order to be cleansed, become holy and thus become one with God. He has invited us all; some in their childhood, others in their middle as well as old age. As He is Good, He took hold of us like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, in order to make us partakers of His divine Kingdom. Nothing repelled Him – no ulcer, no wound, no illness, not even the deformity of spiritual phenomena which may characterize our soul. As a father He accepted us, as a mother He breast-fed us, and as an unmercenery doctor He took care of us and clothed us in the garment of adoption, with grace ignoring the heavy debt of our trespasses. We thus owe Him infinite love and worship. Love should remain in the heart like a life-giving source, gushing forth springs of communion wine and streams of divine eros.

We should be partakers of the Sacrifice of the Slaughtered Lamb as often as we can, and as long as we are free to do so, since Holy Communion is a great aid for the believer which in turn helps him to fight sin. Also, we should approach this divine Mystery in a spirit of compunction, crushed hearts, and a good sense of our sins. Great is the mercy of God Who condescends to enter into us; not abhorring the multitude of our sins. Nonetheless, due to His infinite love and affection, we are sanctified, and in this way we are made worthy to become His children and co-heirs of His Kingdom. Hence, let us prepare with a pure conscience aiming at the fortification of our senses, and in chastity let us enter along with the Holy Apostles to the Mystical Supper and partake of our sweet Jesus so that He should dwell with us unto the infinite ages of ages.

Unworthy as I am, I serve my Lord. A ministry rendered that is holy and mighty. Everyday I offer God a well-pleasing sacrifice, the Lamb of God, Immaculate to His Immaculate Father and God, in order that He might be merciful for the things with which we sadden the most good God. He whom we cause grief and Who sacrificed His only begotten Son. My God, Your most beloved Son for our sake! And who are we to deserve this ultimate sacrifice! “For being enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10).

It is a fact that numerous interpretations of the Divine Liturgy which were mainly based on the illumination and grace of the Holy Spirit were handed down to us by the Church Fathers. What makes this current analysis of the Divine Liturgy of my spiritual child Father Stephanos Anagnastopoulos noteworthy and beneficial, is the fact that it is offered through the experiences and revelations of worthy Liturgists of the Most High, older and more recent ones.

I, as well as its author, wish that this book will lead us all to the genuine liturgical conscience and life in order to urge us in a spirited way, as grateful servants, to try to rest the heart of His feelings so that He will be comforted, according to the Psalter: “…and because of His servants shall He be comforted” (Psalm 134:14). May we sense that which God offered us and thus rejoice in the beauty of His eros. Amen.

The most unworthy of all
+ Father Ephraim

From the book: Fr. Stephanos Anagnostopoulos, Experiences During the Divine Liturgy




The Homosexual Christian

Fr. Thomas Hopko, USA

Fr. Thomas Hopko discusses the Orthodox Christian understanding of homosexuality.

Many gay men and lesbians claim that the Christian faith is the guiding rule of their lives. Some of them hold that their sexual orientation is given by God, that it is good, and that there is nothing wrong or sinful with their homosexual activities. These persons say that the Bible and Church Tradition do not condemn homosexual behaviour, but have been misinterpreted and misused, sometimes unknowingly and other times quite willfully, by prejudiced and hostile people who hate homosexuals. Those who believe in this way obviously want others to agree with them, and many are now working hard to have their views accepted, particularly by fellow Christians and Church leaders.

Other homosexual Christians hold that their sexual orientation is not from God – except providentially, since the Lord’s plan inevitably involves human freedom and sin but derives from human fault. While some of these people are not willing or able to identify the specific reasons for their sexual feelings, though still affirming that they are not good and are not to be indulged; others with the help of what they believe to be sound biblical interpretation and accurate psychological analysis, identify the source of their sexual orientation in faults and failures in their family experiences, particularly in early childhood, and perhaps even before that, which contribute to their sexual makeup. These people hold that they are called by God to struggle against their homosexual tendencies as all people are called to struggle against the sinful passions which they find within themselves, while they work to heal the causes of their disorientation and disease. Those who hold this position look to their fellow Christians, especially their Church leaders, for support and assistance in their spiritual struggle.

The Orthodox Position

Given the traditional Orthodox understanding of the Old and New Testament scriptures as expressed in the Church’s liturgical worship, sacramental rites, canonical regulations and lives and teachings of the saints, it is clear that the Orthodox Church identifies solidly with those Christians, homosexual and heterosexual, who consider homosexual orientation as a disorder and disease, and who therefore consider homosexual actions as sinful and destructive.

According to Orthodox Christian witness over the centuries, Biblical passages such as the following do not permit any other interpretation but that which is obvious:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination . . . (Leviticus 20:13)

For this reason (i.e. their refusal to acknowledge, thank and glorify God) God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)

Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral (or fornicators), nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals (or sodomites; literally those who have coitus, or who sleep, with men), nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Unwilled Sins

According to the Orthodox Church not all sins are willful and voluntary, and not all acts of sin are the conscious fault of those who do them; at least not at first. In a word, sin is not always something for which the sinner himself or herself is necessarily culpable in a complete and conscious way. There are sins of ignorance and passion, sins which “work in our members,” as St. Paul says, even against our rational and conscious wills. (See Romans 6-8) These are the sins referred to in the Church’s prayers when the faithful beg God for forgiveness and pardon of sins which are not only conscious, but unconscious; not only voluntary, but involuntary.

There are sins which are involuntary, unwilled, unchosen; sins which overcome people and force them by irrational impulses and compulsions, by weaknesses of the flesh, emotional drives and misguided desires into actions which they themselves do not want, and often despise and abhor – even when they are engaging in them. These are known traditionally as the sins of passion. The fact that these sins are not freely chosen do not make them any less sinful. To sin means to miss the mark, to be off the track, to deviate, to defile, to transgress . . . whether or not the act is consciously willed and purposefully enacted; and whether or not the offender personally is freely and fully at fault.

Redeemed Sinners

According to Orthodox Church Tradition, Christians are redeemed sinners. They are human beings who have been saved from sickness and sin, delivered from the devil and death by God’s grace through faith in Jesus by the Holy Spirit’s power: “and such were some of you.” (1 Cor. 6:10) They are baptized into Christ and sealed with the Spirit in order to live God’s life in the Church. They witness to their faith by regular participation in liturgical worship and eucharistic communion, accompanied by continual confession, repentance and the steadfast struggle against every form of sin, voluntary and involuntary, which attempts to destroy their lives in this world and in the age to come.

The homosexual Christian is called to a particularly rigorous battle. His or her struggle is an especially ferocious one. It is not made any easier by the mindless, truly demonic hatred of those who despise and ridicule those who carry this painful and burdensome cross; nor by the mindless, equally demonic affirmation of homosexual activity by its misguided advocates and enablers.

Like all temptations, passions and sins, including those deeply, and oftentimes seemingly indelibly embedded in our nature by our sorrowful inheritance, homosexual orientation can be cured and homosexual actions can cease. With God all things are possible. When homosexual Christians are willing to struggle, and when they receive patient, compassionate and authentically loving assistance from their families and friends – each of whom is struggling with his or her own temptations and sins; for no one is without this struggle in one form or another, and no one is without sin but God – the Lord guarantees victory in ways known to Himself. The victory, however, belongs only to the courageous souls who acknowledge their condition, face their resentments, express their angers, confess their sins, forgive their offenders (who always include their parents and members of their households), and reach out for help with the genuine desire to be healed. Jesus himself promises that the saintly heroes who “persevere to the end” along this “hard way which leads to life” will surely “be saved.” (Matt. 7:13; 24:13)

” . . . the Lord guarantees victory in ways known to Himself”




New York Street may 
be named in honor of Holy Patriarch Tikhon, Apostle of America (+1925)

The Northern Cross Historical Society of Russian Compatriots in the USA has proposed naming a street in New York City after Holy Patriarch Tikhon (Belavin) of Moscow and All Russia (1865-1925), reports ITAR-TASS.

This initiative is supported by Russians and Orthodox Americans living in New York, hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Patriarchal parishes in the USA.

“The petition concerning this will be submitted to the mayor’s office in the next few days, in September it will go through the City Council, and we feel certain that in the coming months we will have a Patriarch Tikhon Street in the city,” said the president of the Northern Cross Society, Yuri Sandulov. It is supposed to extend along East 97th Street from Park Avenue to Fifth Avenue.

According to present New York City municipal laws, at least 20,000 New York citizens must support the renaming of a street.

“There are more than 300,000 Russian-speaking citizens in the city who consider themselves to be children of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia, which is a part of the former. Most of them are enthusiastic about the idea of perpetuating the memory of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, who became the first patriarch after the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia” in 1918, noted Sandulov.

Patriarch Tikhon’s ministry was closely connected with America: between 1898 and 1907 he was Bishop of North America, Alaska and the Aleutians. Through St. Tikhon’s efforts many Orthodox books were translated into English, and St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York was built (the cathedral is situated on the very part of 97th Street that will probably be named after the patriarch). He also undertook an enormous amount of missionary work—dozens of new churches were open during his time as bishop there.

“Orthodox Christians of America remember that Holy Patriarch Tikhon succeeded in preserving the Church in the circumstances of the most cruel persecutions against the faithful that followed the October revolution in Russia. He was our great compatriot who greatly contributed to the rapprochement between Russia and the USA. It is particularly necessary to remember his spiritual and secular exploits now, when the tension between our countries has increased,” believes the president of the Northern Cross Society.

New York City, August 1, 2014




He touched the Blood of Christ…

Experiences during the Divine Liturgy

Fr. Stephen Anagnostopoulos:

Father Anthony Tsigas was a priest at the Church of Prophet Elijah in the area of Kastella located in Piraeus (Greece). When the deceased Metropolitan of Piraeus, Chrysostom Tavladorakis was still alive.

One Saturday morning, as Father Anthony was performing the Divine Liturgy he reached the point where he had to Consecrate the Holy Gifts.
As he was on bent knees saying the Prayer, his hands were leaning on the Holy Table.

During the moment when he was about to get up in order to bless the Precious Gifts, a drop of Blood falls on his hand from up high; in fact, It spattered him!!

He was in a state of terror when he saw It!! Terrified as he was,he was looking at It and then he was captured by holy awe, fear; he was ecstatic and astonished,in other words he experienced various mixed, incomprehensible feelings that could not of course be described by Father Anthony. As soon as he got up he did not know what to do! He licked the Blood of Christ… he did not know what had come over him. Nevertheless, the Grace of our Holy God, after this miracle, made him look at the Holy Chalice only to realize that it was empty!

He had forgotten to fill it with wine. Next,when he looked at the Body he saw that It was in fact unpierced. That is to say, he had not completed the Holy Proskomedia.

The chanter continued chanting “We hymn thee, we bless Thee…” the priest told him to continue with a nod (there were not as many people since it was Saturday), he took the Holy Spear, pierced the Holy Bread and said; one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear,and at once there came out blood and water”.

Afterwards he filled the Holy Cup,then poured the wine and water,as usual, blessed it, made the sign of the Cross and after having completed all this, he was on bent knees once again in order to read the consecration Prayer, got up blessed the Precious Gifts and our All Holy God transformed the bread and wine-the way it is always done every time there is a Divine Liturgy-into the Body and Blood of Christ. Following the Consecration and the end of the Divine Liturgy, he consumed the Holy Cup cleaning it entirely.

Immediately after the Divine Liturgy which was held on a Saturday,he told Metropolitan Chrysostom all about his experience. The latter then took Father Anthony’s hand so that he could smell it. It had an inexpressible sweet-smelling savor!! He took it and started kissing it many times.

—My Bishop!, Says Father Anthony.

—I am not kissing your own hand he said,even though it should also be kissed, for you are a Celebrant of the Most High.

It does not matter if you are a priest and I a bishop. I have touched in you hand the Blood of God,the Blood of God!!!!!

I recall that after Father Anthony’s falling asleep the bishop narrated the story to me.

Since the bishop was very expressive,he stood up and said;

—Father Stephan, the BLOOD OF CHRIST!!, and started crying!

All this takes place during the Divine Liturgy!!

Christ is not hidden in the Precious Gifts (He is not concealed or simply
found inside,nor is bread and wine mere symbols of the Body and Blood of Christ,as the Protestants claim)moreover,it is not a simple but a mystical union of each believer’s soul with Jesus Christ.No! i could shout a thousand
times; no!

In the real and true Conversion Christ and only Christ is present!

That is why we say “we eat and drink”and thus we become of one Body, of one Blood as well as Christ bearers and we are along with Jesus Christ whom we receive in us,of one body and of one blood.

We have the God-man Lord Jesus Christ “who abides in us together with the Father and the Holy Spirit”, as Saint Basil the Great confirms in one of
his Liturgical Prayers.

As a matter of fact,our eyes might see the bread and wine and our tongue
taste the bread and wine however,things are not the way they seem. I will dare say there are many who have not chewed, eaten, and swallowed
bread and wine but the Body and Blood, the Flesh and Blood of Christ, which is followed by an endless exaltation of their soul and generally a psychosomatic transformation which can only be made possible through
the Holy Spirit.

From the moment the Holy Spirit comes down upon us and celebrates the Most Immaculate Mystery,what we see and taste before us is what we actually believe in,what we venerate,what we worship,the true and real deified Body and Blood of Christ!

Taken from the book: Fr. Stephan Anagnostopoulos, Experiences during the Divine Liturgy



Pastoral Trips to Vietnam

With the blessing of Archbishop Benjamin of Vladivostok and the Primorsky area, a delegation of the Vladivostor Diocese will be in the Republic of Vietnam with a pastoral visit from 31 October to 14.

It will be headed by Archpriest Sergiy Yakutov, dean of the central diocesan district. Visits are planned to the city of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau and Kamran, reports the Diocesan website.

“On November 4, the day of the commemoration of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, we will have a festal divine service in honor of the parish patronal feast in the town of Vung Tau; this is perhaps the main goal of our regular pastoral visits to Vietnam,” stated Archpriest Sergiy on the eve of his departure.

In addition to divine services, there are plans for familiarization tours and formal meetings, including one with the newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Russia in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam A. Kovtun.





GOD TELLS US About Animal Rights

(Eating Animals and Wearing Fur)


Many people have become vegetarians because they think that it is wrong to eat animals, or even to wear their fur. Some even try to prove their point with scripture. The verses below show what God says on the subject.


Genesis 1:26-28
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:29
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Genesis 1:30
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.


Genesis 9:2-3
And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

Leviticus 11:1-3
And the LORD spoke unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat Among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is cloven-footed, and cheweth the cud, Among the beasts, that shall ye eat.

Leviticus 11:9
These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.

Leviticus 11:21-22
Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth. Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.

Leviticus 11:13-19
And these are they which ye shall have in abomination Among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey; And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; Every raven after his kind; And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier-eagle, And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.


After Christ’s resurrection, God said that we could even eat the animals, fish and fowl that had been unclean before.
Acts 11:5-7
I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

John the Baptist, who was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb, was not a vegetarian as some claim.
Luke 1:15
For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

He ate locusts and honey, most likely because that is all that was available in the desert wilderness.
Matthew 3:4
And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

Locusts were insects.
Leviticus 11:21-22
Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.


God commanded that Jews eat the sacrificial lamb at Passover. Even Jesus was a Jew.
Exodus 12:8
And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Exodus 12:11-14
And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’s passover. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your Generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.


It would have been sinful for Jesus to give people fish to eat if eating fish were sinful. Jesus also ate the fish himself (all ate).
Matthew 14:16-21
But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and broke, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

Jesus also ate fish and honey after His resurrection to prove that He was not a ghost.
Luke 24:41-43
And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of a honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.


God also gave us animals so that we could use their skins/fur.
After Adam and Eve sinned and realized that they were naked, they covered themselves with leaves.
Genesis 3:7
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

But, when God saw them, He covered them with animal skins instead.
Genesis 3:21
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Mark 1:6
And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey.

Animal skins were also used for the tabernacle, by order of God.
Numbers 4:25-26
And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers’ skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.


God did not say to hunt for sport, but for food. He even tells us how to hunt so that animals could continue to reproduce.
Deuteronomy 22:6-7
If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.


God also tells us to be kind to animals.
Numbers 22:32
And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me.

Proverbs 12:10
A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Deuteronomy 22:10
Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.

Deuteronomy 25:4
Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.

We should even care about plentiful animals.
Luke 12:6
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?

Even an enemy’s animal.
Exodus 23:5
If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.

And to give work animals a day of rest.
Exodus 20:10
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.


Psalms 104:10-18
He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run Among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing Among the branches. He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart. The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.


God also created it so that animals of prey go out at night when men are not out working – and they are sleeping when men are out working.
Psalms 104:19-23
He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens. Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labor until the evening.


God created people in His image, not animals, and so the souls of animals do not go to Heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:21
Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

After the flood, when eight people and the animals of every kind were saved from drowning, God says that only eight souls were saved.
1 Peter 3:20
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.


Some think that the following two verses mean that Paul was a vegetarian. The context shows that some Jews that converted to Christianity still felt that some animals were not clean and so should not be eaten, even though following every law perfectly to receive salvation had been replaced with salvation through Christ. The context is that it is wrong to make a man do something that he believes is sinful even though it is not.
Romans 14:21
It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

1 Corinthians 8:13
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

Some think that the following verse means that man is not better than the animals.
Ecclesiastes 3:19
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

The next verse shows the true context – only that man and animals all die, and the bodies of both turn to dust.
Ecclesiastes 3:20
All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

Some think that the following verse means that God says that killing animals is wrong. The context shows that it means that the animal sacrifice of a bad man is abominable to God.
Isaiah 66:3
He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.

Some think that the following verse means that God says that eating animals is wrong. The context shows that it means that these men cared more about their physical pleasures than they did about God.
Amos 6:4-7
That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.

Some think that the following verse means that God hated the sacrifice of animals. The context shows that these men were not sacrificing the way that God had commanded, and their hearts were wrong, both evidenced by the fact that they ate the meat they were supposed to be giving to God. They had rejected God’s law so He rejected their sacrifice.
Hosea 8:13
They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.


We are all God’s creatures. He created the “food chain” – down to plants, microbes, and bacteria. God created everything and gave everything its place and order. We eat animals, they eat other animals, those eat plants, plants eat from the soil, bacteria eat yeast, etc. God created balance and order in the entire earth and heavens.
Isaiah 40:12
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

(The words of Christ are shown in red. Bible verses are shown in black.)


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On the respect due to the Church of God and to the Sacred Mysteries

Saint John Chrysostom (+407)

Very few have come here today. Whatever is the reason? We celebrated the Feast of the Martyrs, and nobody comes? The length of the road makes them reluctant; or rather it is not the length of the road that prevents them from coming, but their own laziness. For just as nothing stops an earnest man, one whose soul is upright and awake, so anything at all will stand in the way of the half-hearted and the lazy.

The Martyrs gave their blood for the truth, and you are not able to think little of a brief stretch of road? They gave their life for Christ, and you are reluctant to make a small journey for Him? The Martyrs’ Commemoration, and you sit in sloth and indifference! It is but right that you should be present; to see the devil overcome, the Martyrs triumphant, God glorified, and the Church crowned with honour.

But, you will say to me, I am a sinner. I cannot come. Then if you are a sinner, come, that you may cease to be one! Tell me, who is there among men without sin? Do you not know that even those close to the altar are wrapped in sins? For they are clothed with flesh, enfolded in a body: as we also who are sitting and teaching upon this throne are entangled in sin. But not because of this do we despair of the kindness of God; and neither do we look on Him as inhuman. And for this reason has the Lord disposed that those who serve the altar shall also be subject to these afflictions: so that from what they too suffer they may learn to have a fellow feeling for others.

How absurd and foolish is it that should a harper, or a dancer, or any one of these kind of people, invite us to his house, we would go there with all haste, and thank him for having invited us, and spend almost half the day there; paying attention only to him. But when God is speaking to us through His holy Prophets and Apostles we yawn, and we scratch, and we turn this way and that!

And at the circus, without a roof above them to keep off the rain, the crowds stand there crazy, the rain pouring down on them, and the wind blowing it in their faces, and they think nothing of the cold or the rain or the distance, and nothing will keep them from going there, and nothing will keep them at home! But to go to the Church, a shower, or the mud on the road, is a serious obstacle!

And if they are asked who were Amos or Abdias, or what was the number of the Prophets or of the Apostles, they cannot open their mouths. But if it is a question of horses, or charioteers, their eloquence surpasses that of the poets and orators. And how, may I ask you, are we to put up with this? I have warned you time and again that you should not go to the theatre. You heard me, but you have not obeyed me. You have gone to the theatre, and taken no notice of my words to you. Are you not ashamed to come now and hear them again?

But, you will say to me, I have heard, and not obeyed; how can I come again and listen? Well this you do understand, that you have not obeyed; and now you are ashamed, you blush, and though no one has corrected you, you have corrected yourselves, you know what I say is true and certain and even without my presence my words yet troubled your conscience. You have not obeyed me? So much the more reason have you for coming to Church, to listen again; and then you will obey.

If you take a medicine, and it does not purify you, will you not try it again another day? Suppose, O Man, a tree-feller wishes to cut down an oak. He takes an axe. Then he cuts the roots. And when he has one blow, and the tree does fall, will he not add another? And a fourth, and a fifth, a tenth? Let you do the same. I am saying these things to you, to not make you still more lazy, make you more alert.

You have entered the Church, O Man; you have been held worthy of the company of Christ. Go not out from it: unless you be sent. For if go out from it without being sent you will be asked the reason; as if you were a runaway. You spend the whole day on things which relate to the body, and you cannot give a couple of hours to the needs of the soul? You go often to the theatre. And you will not leave there till they send you away. But when you come to the Church you rush out before the Divine Mysteries are ended. Be fearful of Him Who has said: He that despiseth anything, shall it be despised (Prov. xiii. 13).

Were you to stand in the presence of the king you would not even dare. But when you stand in the presence of the Lord of all, you do not stand there in fear and trembling, you laugh, provoking him to anger? Do you not see that by this conduct you provoke Him more by your very sins? God is not wont to be as angry against those who sin as against those who, when they have sinned, feel neither sorrow regret.

And you, O Man, standing about in the Church, with a mind only for attractions of the women, are you not horrified, offering such an insult to the temple of God? Do you regard the Church of God as a house of ill fame, and of less repute than the market place? For there you would be ashamed, and afraid, to be seen staring at a woman so curiously. But in the very temple of God, while He is speaking to you, and threatening you with punishment, you dare to do such things during the very time in which you are hearing that such things are not to be done? And are you not shocked, or troubled in your soul, at making your eyes and your heart the workshop of evil doing? Better for a man to be blind than use his eyes to do this.

Think, O Man, of Who it is Who is close to thee in this tremendous sacrifice, and of who it is with whom you are to call upon God; that is, of the Cherubim, the Seraphim, and the other heavenly powers. Remember who are celebrating, together with you, the worship of God. This will suffice to make you recollected in spirit, when you reflect that while enfolded in a body, and clothed in flesh, you have been made worthy, together with the incorporeal powers, to praise the common Lord of all.

Do not then take part in this holy praise, in these sacred mysteries, with a dissipated soul. Let not your thoughts during this time be occupied with worldly things. Rather, casting all earthly things from your mind, and being wholly turned towards heaven, and as though you were raised on wings as the Seraphim, and were standing at the very threshold of His glory, offer your holy praise to God for all He has done.

Because of this are we bidden to stand worthily during the time of the divine sacrifice, so that while still on earth we may raise to heaven our dragging thoughts, so that shaking off that dissoluteness which comes from the affairs of this life, we may be enabled to awaken our souls to the presence of God. It is not a question of the hands and feet of the body, for we are speaking here not of runners or gymnasts; but we desire by these words to raise up the powers of our inner thoughts, brought low through temptation. For at the time of the Divine Supper, Brethren, it is not men alone who raise that tremendous cry, for even the Angels are bowed down before the Lord, and the Archangels are in prayer; for them too it is a fitting help, and a helpful Offering.

And as men spread branches of palm before kings, meaning by this to remind them of mercy and compassion, so likewise the angels, bearing before them instead of branches the Body of the Lord, pray to the Lord on behalf of mankind, and all but saying: We beseech Thee on behalf of those whom before Thou didst deign to so love, that for them thou gavest up thy own spirit! We supplicate Thee for those for whom Thou didst shed Thy Blood! We pray to Thee for these for whom Thou hast given Thy body in sacrifice!

Let each one consider within himself what faults he must remedy in himself, what good work he may yet do, what sin he may wipe out from his soul, so that by this he may become better. And if he finds that he has made progress in this excellent market, through fasting, and is aware that there is need for much care for his wounds, then let him draw near. If however he remains neglectful of himself, and has only his fasting to show, and makes no progress in other directions, then let him remain outside, and let him return only when all his sins are cleansed. He who does not fast, offering as a reason the weakness of his body, may fittingly receive pardon. But he who will not correct his evil ways cannot be excused in the same way.

And what shall we do if the Lord requires of us an account of this neglectfulness of conduct in our assemblies? For well you know that oftentimes, while the Lord Himself is speaking to us through the mouth of His prophet, we turn away to hold prolonged and frequent conversations with our neighbour, and on things that have nothing to do with us. Putting aside all our other sins, should He exact punishment for this conduct what hope of salvation have we? Do not regard this as a little sin; for if you wish to see how evil it is, consider this same offence in relation to men, and you will see the magnitude of your folly. Should some prince or person of superior station speak with you, would you dare to turn away to begin a conversation with a servant; and here you perceive what your offence is, doing this very thing in the presence of God. If this other were a powerful person, he would seek satisfaction for the insult offered. But God, Who is offended each day by many and by grievous sins, and not by one man only, but by nearly all men, forbears and endures in patience.

And when you seek to placate the anger of an earthly king, do you not come all together, with your wives and your children, and sometimes you deliver from punishment someone who has been condemned by the anger of the king. But to placate the King of heaven, and to deliver from His wrath, not one, or two, or three, or a hundred, but all the sinners of the world, you do not hasten together, all of you, so that God, being appeased by your common prayers, forgives your offences, and remits the punishment due to them. You stay away.

I would like to know then, what they are doing who so neglect the assemblies of the faithful, and keep away from this sacred table? I know but too well. They are either talking about vain and idle things, or immersed in worldly things. The time used in either case is without justification, and merits severe correction. As to the first there is no need to prove it in words. Nor can they be excused who put forward the excuse of family affairs, and of the needs that arise from them; for it is plain that they do not esteem spiritual and heavenly things above those of this world. For what servant, I ask you, attends to the things of his own house before fulfilling those of his master?

How absurd is it therefore that among men, where authority is but a mere name, such reverence and obedience should be shown to masters, while to Him Who is not alone Our Master, but the Lord of all Powers, we do not offer even such reverence as we give our own equals? Would that it were possible that I might set before your eyes the souls of such men, and you would see how stained and unworthy they are, how profligate, how weak and earthly? Would that I might open to you their hearts, they who cut themselves off from the sacred assembly! Would that you might penetrate into their consciences, then would you clearly see with how many wounds it is afflicted, how many the thorns that are there!

For just as soil that is not touched by the hand of the farmer goes wild and becomes unlovely, so likewise the soul that goes without spiritual cultivation brings forth weeds and thistles. For if we who each day hear the teaching of the prophets and apostles, singing from our hearts the songs of Holy Scripture, can scarce contain our own fiery hearts, scarce hold in check our own angers, scarce free ourselves from the poison of envy, scarce master our own concupiscence, scarce restrain these wild beasts, what hope of salvation have they who never use these saving medicines, never listen to the divine teaching?

For just as he who leaves behind a place of safety will stray in every direction, and he who goes without a light in darkness will strike against many things, so he who falls into forgetfulness of the fear of God will be given over without ceasing to cares and pains and anxieties. And as when God is with us and protects us, sadness is banished from us; so, leaving Him, and abandoning ourselves to forgetfulness of Him, our soul is split in two, and our heart afflicted with sorrow, and those who torment us laugh at us, so that even the very careless, because they are tormented by all, return quickly whence they set out. Thy own wickedness shall reprove thee, and thy apostasy shall rebuke thee (Jer. ii. 19). For abandonment is a form of divine providence. For while He cares for and provides for us, He is despised. He then lets go of us, and forsakes us, to the end that being undone by their own neglect, they who had despised Him now become more diligent.

I believe that many of those who long ago forsook us, and deserted to the gatherings of iniquity, today are present among us. And I wish that I might know them with certainty, that I might cast them forth from this sacred abode, not that they might remain shut out, but that having mended their ways they might return again, just as fathers, should their sons provoke them, are wont to drive them from the house, and forbid them the table; not indeed that they may for ever be deprived of these things, but that being so reproved they may become better, because of this, and may be restored with due honour to the paternal inheritance.

This shepherds too are wont to practise. For they separate the sheep with mange from those that are healthy, and when they are cured of the disease they return to the flock; and so the rest are not infected. It is for this reason we desire to know them. And though we cannot tell them with our eyes, these words of ours mark them; and where it touches their conscience, it will readily persuade them to withdraw themselves in secret, teaching them that he alone is of the household who reveals a disposition worthy of the Christian way of living: Just as he who while living unworthily becomes a partaker of this sacred Supper, though he approaches hither in the body, yet is he cast out, and more truly sent forth than those who have been shut out, and who may not partake of the sacred table.

For these latter have been excluded according to God’s laws, and while remaining without have yet a good hope of presently returning; and if they seek to amend their faults, they can return again with a pure conscience to the Church from whence they were banished. But they who have stained themselves, and have been warned that they must not return before being purified of the blemish of their sins, and then conduct themselves shamelessly, make more grevious their wound. For there is no sin so grevious as shamelessness after sin committed.

Many partake of the Sacred Mysteries but once in the year; others twice, others oftener. Who among these are we to praise? They who come once? Or they who come oftener? Or those who come less frequently? Neither those who come once nor they who come oftener, nor they who come more rarely, but they who come with a clean heart, with unclouded conscience, with a manner of life that is without reproach. Let such as these approach: they who are not of this kind, let them not come even once, for they take judgement and damnation unto themselves. For as food that has the power to nourish, if it enter into one who has a stomach infected with disease, injures and aggravates everything, and becomes a cause rather than a remedy for sickness, so is it with this tremendous Mystery.

Will you partake of this spiritual table, the table of the King, and then soil your body again with filth? Do you anoint it with ointments, and then fill it up with foulness? Do you consider that it suffices for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole year if you at each returning year partake of communion, and then at the end of the week give yourself again to your former conduct?

Tell me this. If you after forty days were restored to health again from a serious illness, should you return again to those things that earlier had brought on your sickness, would you not squander uselessly all your former efforts? And if the things of the body are spoiled in this way, how much more the things that depend on our own free will and decision? And if there be bitterness in your mouth, you do not eat even the simplest food: how then, I ask you, when there is so great foulness in your soul do you dare to partake of the Sacred Mysteries? What forgiveness is there for this? For the Apostle says: Whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord (I Cor. xi. 29); that is, he shall have the same guilt, and the same punishment, as those who crucified Christ. For as those butchers became guilty of His Blood, so likewise are they who partake unworthily of the Eucharist. For as he who has torn the royal purple, or bespattered it with mud, has equally insulted the one who wears it, so those who take to themselves the Body of the Lord, and It with an impure soul, treat Him with the same mockery as they who dishonour the royal apparel.

The Jews put Him to death upon a cross; they who receive Him with unworthy hearts dishonour Him. Therefore, though the sins may be diverse, the affront is the same. This troubles many of you, this confounds many, this gnaws at the conscience of many who listen to me; and not alone the consciences of you who hear me, but even more than you, it troubles our conscience who speak to you. For this teaching is for every man: for all have the same afflictions, and for this reason I set before you the common remedies. This is the doing of the divine benevolence: that he who speaks, and he who listens, share the same nature and are subject to the same laws: so each alike is guilty who offends them. And why is this? That he may correct with moderation; that he may be prompt to bestow forgiveness on those who have sinned; that mindful of his own infirmity he will not make his rebuke unendurable.

If therefore there is one among you of those who gather together with you in the Church who is a fornicator, and you observe him approaching the sacred mysteries, say to the dispenser of them: This man is unworthy of the mysteries: exclude him who is unworthy of our sanctities. For if such a man is not worthy to declare the justices of God (Ps. xlix. 16), consider how he adds to his punishment should he touch the sacred table; and not alone he, but you also who countenance him. For He said not: ‘and you committed adultery’; but: and with adulterers thou hast been a partaker (Ps. xlix. 18).

Save us, what an evil, to cover up the rottenness of another! For the Lord says that you make yourself a sharer of the retribution that will come to them; and rightly too. For the other had the excuse of passion; though this is no justification for pardon. You had not even this. Why then, since you shared not in his pleasure, do you make yourself an associate and a partaker of his punishment? Neither let you make to me that remark which is laden with selfishness: What is it to me? I mind my own affairs. For then do you best care for your own affairs, if you care for them by helping the need of your neighbour; as Paul has also said: Let no man seek his own, but that which is another’s (I Cor. x. 24), so that he may thus find what is his own. For when one who has sinned sees that all turn away from him, he will then come to see that his sin is something evil and reprehensible. But should he see that others do not consider his conduct to be unworthy, and accept him without complaint, and even encourage and abet him, then will the approval of others, abetting his own corrupt soul corrupt also the judgement of his conscience.

Many, not submitting to these grave corrections have after their return among us been very indignant, and have complained that we turned them away from the Sacred Table and shut them out from Communion. And so I am forced to speak of these things, so that you may understand that I do not turn away, but seek to unite; nor do I repel or exclude, but seek rather by trials to help you. For the fear of chastisement falling on the consciences of those who do wrong destroys and consumes sin as fire touching wax, and while it remains there preserves the soul clean and undefiled, and thus brings us to a greater degree of confidence. And just as the physician who ministers bitter medicine to those whom food disgusts drives out distressing poisons and helps to revive the lost appetite, so that our accustomed food is eaten with even greater appetite, so does he who uses sharp words, and helps to purify the evil thoughts of the heart, and lift the heavy burden of sin, allowing the conscience to breathe, and thus prepares the soul to taste with even greater delight the precious Body of the Lord.

Rightly then has the blessed Paul told us: Obey your prelates and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls (Heb. xiii. 17). You no doubt carefully look after your own affairs, and if they are well ordered you have no account to render for those of others. But a priest, though his own life should be well ordered, yet, if he has not an earnest care for yours also will go down to Gehenna with the reprobate. And often, though not betrayed by sins of his own, he perishes because of those of others.

And since we have spoken sharply to those who partake unworthily of the Sacred Mysteries, it is necessary that we speak also to you who minister them, that you may dispense those Gifts with great carefulness: for otherwise your chastisement will not be light. For should you while knowing that a man is unworthy permit him to partake of the Sacred Table, his blood will be required at your hands. And should he be a general of the imperial army, or a Prefect, or even one whose head is encircled by the imperial diadem, and should he approach while unworthy, forbid him. Yours is a higher authority than his. Take care not to provoke the Lord, by not purifying His Body.

Do not offer a sword in place of food. And should such a man, because of his infirmity, approach so that he may take part, fear not to forbid him. Fear the Lord God, not man. If you fear a man, he will scorn you; and you will anger God. If you fear God you will be dear to him, and revered by men. Should you fear of yourself to do this, then send him to me. I shall not suffer him to attempt to do this. I would give up life itself first, rather than communicate the Blood of the Lord to the unworthy. Far better to be deprived of one’s own life, for God’s sake, than to save that life, and be deprived of God; to Whom be honour, praise and glory now and forever. Amen.

Patrologia Graeca 63, Cols. 623-32. Taken from The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, trans. and ed. by M.F. Toal (Swedesboro, NJ: Preservation Press, 1996), pp. 137-145. This is a classic and indispensable four-volume set of collected writings from the Holy Fathers. Preservation Press has done the Church a great service in reprinting this text.