1 ΛΥΧΝΟΣ «Λύχνος τοῖς ποσί μου ὁ νόμος σου καὶ φῶς ταῖς τρίβοις μου» Ψαλμ 118, 105 A GREEK ORTHODOX PERIODICAL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE Volume 28, Issue 6 OCTOBER 2013 NOVEMBER 2013 aint Elias Ekdikos refers to Prayer as fire. He had said S that When the soul ceases to be affected by external distractions and becomes united with prayer, then prayer engulfs the soul just as flames encompass and completely inflame iron. The soul remains the same, but it repels those superficial forces which attempt to influence it, just as molten iron cannot be touched by human hands. The human person, often referred to by the Fathers of the Church as the clay body, has the capacity to become inflamed and transformed through the power of prayer 1. St Ignatios Brianchaninov points out that prayer should be the chief task of those who desire to live a spiritual life. Prayer can only be experienced when the Christian actively seeks to fulfil God s commandments. When people maintain bad habits, sinful actions, impure thoughts and destructive passions then they do not allow themselves to become partakers of this great gift of prayer, which all human beings can have access to. Prayer allows the human being to communicate with its Creator. It allows all people to glorify their Father and to thank Him for all His blessings. It allows each person to make requests, ask for guidance and mercy, beg for forgiveness, and to realise that we are all brothers and sisters of the one Father. Through the power of prayer we can realise another dimension beyond merely what we can see, touch and hear. We have a tendency to see prayer as a heavy taskmaster. As a result of our fallen nature, we would rather remain in a state of slavery (to sin and bad habits), rather than taste the saving grace and power of prayer. Prayer requires constant struggle and few souls manage to make real progress in prayer. We are inclined to see prayer as a heavy burden and a very difficult task. For those, however, who have made some progress in this virtue, their lives are constantly being transformed in the image of Christ and His saints. And then Christ shines through them and gives encouragement and hope to others who are seeking to find the true path to God. Prayer produces virtues such as genuine Christian love, manifested as love towards God, charity towards others, spiritual peace and true communality. The human person who progresses in prayer begins to realise his nakedness, weakness, poverty and utter sinfulness. At the same time, however, he comes face to face with the awesome mercy and wisdom of God and so is moved to heartfelt compunction. So as the human person experiences the saving power of prayer, as he or she comes closer to his Maker, then it becomes possible to approach others. Prayer, like a cloud envelopes the soul and protects it from destructive and worthless thoughts and it gives rise to a spiritual way of seeing and feeling and thinking. This is the power of prayer: to live and radiate the light and kindness that God gives abundantly to His children. 1P. M. Sotirhos, Orthodox Life According to the Holy Fathers: Practical Chapters in the Spiritual Struggle, Orthodox Press, Athens, 1988, p. 28 (this author s translation).
2 2 τις οκτώ Νοεμβρίου η Εκκλησία μας γιορτάζει τη Σ σύναξη των Αρχιστρατήγων Μιχαήλ και Γαβριήλ και όλων των Ασωμάτων και ουρανίων ταγμάτων. Η Αγία Γραφή συχνά κάνει λόγο για τους αγγέλους, για τη φύση τους και το έργο τους. Σ αυτήν διαβάζουμε πως οι άγγελοι είναι πνευματικά, λογικά όντα που δημιουργήθηκαν από το Θεό πριν την υλική ημιουργία. Στο βιβλίο του Ιώβ ακούμε το Θεό να λέει «ὅτε ἐγενήθησαν ἄστρα, ἤνεσάν με φωνῇ μεγάλη πάντες ἄγγελοί μου» (Ιώβ ΛΗ 7). Οι άγγελοί μου με εδοξολόγησαν γιατί είδαν τα θαυμάσια της ημιουργίας. Ο αβίδ, στον ψαλμό (103-4) λέγει «Ὁ ποιῶν τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὐτο α τοῦ πνεύματα καὶ τοὺς λειτουργοὺς ς αὐτοα τοῦ πυρὸς ς φλόγα» ηλ. οι άγγελοι είναι φτιαγμένοι από το Θεό, πνευματικές υπάρξεις που έχουν σώματα σαν φλόγες φωτιάς. Σε σύγκριση με τους ανθρώπους, οι άγγελοι είναι άϋλοι. Σε σύγκριση όμως με τον Θεό που είναι απόλυτα Άϋλος, οι άγγελοι είναι υλικοί. Αυτός είναι και ο λόγος που η Ζ οικουμενική σύνοδος όρισε πως επιτρέπεται να εικονίζονται οι άγγελοι γιατί είναι «περιγραπτοί» και εμφανίσθηκαν σε πολλούς ανθρώπους. Οι άγγελοι δεν είναι πανταχού παρόντες ούτε γνωρίζουν τα πάντα γιατί η πανσοφία και η πανταχού παρουσία είναι ιδιότητες του Θεού μόνον. Γνωρίζουν μόνο όσα τους αποκαλύπτει ο Κύριος. Ο Ιωάννης αμασκηνός γράφει ότι τροφή τους έχουν τη θέαση του Θεού (το ότι βλέπουν το Θεό). Έχουν το αυτεξούσιο. Ήσαν ελεύθεροι να μείνουν πιστοί στο Θεό ή να επαναστατήσουν και να γίνουν δαίμονες όπως έκανε ο Εωσφόρος και η ακολουθία του. Τότε δοκιμάστηκε η θέλησή τους. Όμως, διάλεξαν να μείνουν αφοσιωμένοι στο Θεό υπακούοντας στη φωνή του αρχαγγέλου Μιχαήλ «Στ Στῶμεν καλῶς στῶμεν μετὰ φόβου». Από τότε έγιναν «δυσκίνητοι» προς το κακό. Εντελώς «ακίνητοι» προς το κακό έγιναν μετά την ενανθρώπιση και τη σταύρωση του Κυρίου (Ι. αμασκηνός). Το έργο τους είναι να υμνολογούν και να δοξολογούν ακατάπαυστα το Θεό. Επίσης να διακονούν κατ εντολή Του τους ανθρώπους. Στην Αποκάλυψη ο Άγ. Ιωάννης γράφει ότι είδε και άκουσε γύρω από το θρόνο του Θεού «μυριάδες μυριάδων καὶ χιλιάδες χιλιάδων» αγγέλων να δοξολογούν τον Κύριο (Αποκ. Ε Ε 11). Οι αναρίθμητες στρατιές των αγγέλων ακούραστα ψάλλουν ουράνια υμνωδία στον Άγιο Θεό. Και ο Απ. Παύλος γράφει ότι οι άγγελοι είναι «Λειτουργικά πνεύματα εἰς ε ς διακονίαν ἀποστελλόμενα διὰ τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν ν σωτηρίαν» (Εβρ. Α Α 14). Μας τους στέλνει ο Θεός και αναγγέλλουν το θέλημά Του, γι αυτό και ονομάζονται άγγελοι. Αποστέλλονται και μας υπηρετούν, μας βοηθούν στους αγώνες της επίγειας ζωής μας και στη πορεία μας για τον Ουρανό. Και η μεγαλύτερή τους χαρά είναι όταν ένας αμαρτωλός μετανοεί. «Χαρ Χαρὰ γίνεται ἐνώπιον τῶν τ ἀγγέλων τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐπὶ ἐ ὶ ἑνὶ ἑ ὶ ἁμαρτωλἁ μαρτωλῷ μετανοοῦντι ντι» (Λουκ. ΙΕ 10). Χαρά τους είναι η δική μας αιώνια σωτηρία. Αξίζει να τους θυμόμαστε κι ιδιαίτερα κάθε βράδυ ας απευθύνουμε ο καθένας μας τη προσευχή της Εκκλησίας μας στο προσωπικό μας φύλακα άγγελο: «Ἅγιε ἄγγελε, ὁ ἐφεστἐ φεστὼς ς τῆς τ ἀθλίας μου ψυχῆς ς καὶ ταλαιπώρου μου ζωῆς, μὴ μ ἐγκαταλίπης μἐ μ τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν (...) καὶ πρέσβευε ὑπέρ ἐμο μοῦ πρὸς ς τὸν τ Κύριον (...) ἄξιον ἀναδείξαι με δοῦλον τὴς τ Αὐτο τοῦ ἀγαθότητος. ἀ Ἀμήν. μήν.»
3 3 St Stylianos of Paphlagonia Commemorated on November 26 th aint Stylianos was born in the 6th century in Paphlagonia (modern Turkey) into a wealthy S family. At a young age, Stylianos rejected his comfortable life. He joined the hermits of the desert and became a monk. He did not completely withdraw from the world though, and often attended to the needy in order to provide help and comfort. While Stylianos was praying one night, he felt the divine presence of the Holy Spirit. He was filled with a sense of joy and serenity that he had never felt before. The next day, as he made his usual visits to the people in town, he felt the urge to place his hand on a sick child, something he had not dared do before. The child immediately recovered through God s Grace. From then on, crowds of people came to his cave. Many sick people were cured through the saint s prayers and faith. Stylianos had a special affiliation with children. St Stylianos is often shown in icons holding a young child. Stylianos not only healed children of physical illnesses, but also provided spiritual guidance. Families trusted Stylianos with their children and his home became a haven for youth. Of the many miracles Stylianos performed, he is most known for interceding for an infertile woman. Her husband was so thankful, he spread the word of the miracle everywhere he went. Soon after, infertile women came to Stylianos for help. When St Stylianos was canonized, he was made the patron saint of unborn children. Stylianos lived until he was an old man, and was famous for always smiling. He had a cheerful character; a wondrous example of a man with ascetic zeal, and complete devotion to the people around him. It is said that when St Stylianos died, his face beamed with a faint smile, evidence of his lifelong love, joy and devotion to the Lord. My child, let me tell you a story T he elderly, saintly priest1 and his three young companions are on their way to a monastery to celebrate Vespers. The road is long and the priest is getting tired, so they stop for him to rest. A taxi appears in the distance. The priest tells them not to signal because the taxi driver will stop for them of his own accord. He also tells his young companions to remain silent inside the taxi. They get in, and the priest gives the driver their destination. The taxi driver immediately begins a relentless tirade against the clergy. He accuses them of a multitude of evils. At the end of his many accusations he turns to the young men, who are not clergy, and asks if they agree with him. However, the young men keep silent. The driver finally turns to the elderly priest and asks: Am I not right father? What have you got to say? The priest responds: My child, let me tell you a story. There once lived a man in the village of X... who had an elderly neighbour. This man desired the property of his neighbour, so one night he kills him and buries the body. He then forges papers and acquires the property. And do you know what he did with the money he obtained from selling this property? He bought a taxi. The driver is so shaken by what he hears that he stops the taxi and begins to shout: Father, stop! Don t say anything more! Only you and I know the truth of what you are saying! The priest then says God also knows. It is He who told me so that I may tell you. See to it that from this point onwards, you change your life. 1 Elder Porphyrios ( ). Reference: Elder Porphyrios, Testimonies and experiences by Klitos Ioannidis (Athens, 2007) ISBN:
4 4 St Gregory Palamas On the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple Gospel Reading October 13 th (Luke 8: 5-15) The Parable of the Sower he Feast of the entry of the Theotokos into the T Temple marks the beginning of her spiritual preparation. Although only an infant, she was already aware of the spiritual life, as St Gregory Palamas notes, she was not so much presented into the Temple, but she Herself entered into the service of God of her own accord, as if she had wings, striving towards this sacred and divine love. She had received this divine love from her parents, Joachim and Anna, who had been childless for some time but through chastity joined with prayer they besought God to grant them a child which they promised to dedicate to His service as an infant. Having surpassed all the descendants of David by their virtuous life and good disposition, the Mother of God was granted to them, so that from such virtuous parents the all-virtuous child would be raised. It is this infant which was chosen by God from before the ages and from eternity out of His elect from the ranks of the chosen of all ages, to unite the incomprehensible purity of the divine nature to her own human nature and give birth to the Son of God. For this reason she would have to remain a perfectly spotless and most pure virgin as the divinely fitting chariot of God. Thus, the Ever-Virgin Mary, like a Treasure of God, is stored in the Holy of Holies, so that in due time she would serve for the enrichment of, and an ornament for, all the world. St Gregory Palamas urges us to follow the example of the Most Pure and All-Holy Virgin, ascending from earthly things to the heavenly, changing our path from the flesh to the spirit and transforming our desires from the temporal to the eternal. Let us therefore focus our attention on the inaccessible places of Heaven, on the Holy of Holies, so that we too may become heirs of the everlasting blessings to come. This is a well-known parable. Christ himself is the Sower. The seed is His divinely inspired word, which He sows into the human soul. This seed has eternal authority as well as great power and potential. The four categories of ground that receive the seed (the road, the rock, the thorny ground and the good earth), represent how we receive the word of God. The parable confirms that Christ respects human freedom. He does not force His seed and its potential consequences upon us. As to whether the full power of the seed is unleashed depends critically on the soul it encounters. Without the soul s cooperation, the word of God remains inactive and no spiritual fruit is produced. Responsibility for success does not lie with the power of the seed or the attitude of the Sower. The seed is powerful, it is sown plentifully, and the Sower does not discriminate as to who receives the seed. The parable also reveals that the devil does his utmost to interfere with this interaction between Christ s word and the human soul. He is particularly keen to interfere with the hearing of Christ s word, its growth and development within the human soul. As a result, the grace of God which the seed contains is lost, not only by the person who rejects it outright (the road), but also by those persons who initially accept the seed but who are not careful and persistent in its cultivation within their soul (the rock and the thorny ground). The secret of success in unleashing the full power of the word of God is also confirmed by the parable. It is necessary for one to receive the word with a noble and good heart. Above all, one must then keep the word and bear fruit with patience. Patience is the key. Salvation cannot be won without it. It is the material with which every virtue is built. We should continually ask ourselves what category of ground do we belong to? Only if we are bearing spiritual fruit in our lives can we genuinely say that our soul belongs to the good earth category, and that we have managed to grow a branch of the true vine.
5 5 How should we pray? T his topic is extremely important. Our Archbishop Stylianos, begins his book On Prayer, saying: The greatest privilege, but also the greatest problem for the faithful, is prayer. We all very much need to progress in prayer. St Ignatii Brianchaninov says that the fruit of true prayer is: Firstly holy peace of the spirit; secondly peaceful and silent joy, which is a stranger to dreaming, arrogance, exaltation; thirdly love of neighbour, a love that does not discriminate between good and bad, worthy and unworthy, but beseeches God equally for all others and for oneself; fourthly, pure love for God, which is an extension of love of neighbour. Prayer is a state of standing before God; it is mentally to gaze unswervingly at Him and to converse with Him in reverent fear and hope. Prayer can be with words, or soundless - simply remaining in His presence, saying nothing but being conscious that He is present. The Church Fathers talk about three aspects of man: body, mind, and spirit. Each aspect has its own way of knowing: the body through the senses, the mind through intellectual reasoning, and the spirit through a mystical perception that transcends man s ordinary rational processes. There are thus three degrees of Prayer: There is bodily prayer, where we say the words but our mind is not concentrating on the words, this is not prayer. There is Prayer of the mind, where the mind does focus on the words, this is sort-of prayer. True prayer is Prayer of the spirit or heart, where we concentrate on the words, but also feel the words, and as the Fathers say stand with the mind in the heart before God. So, the first step in learning how to truly pray, both when we pray at home and when we pray in Church, is to struggle to concentrate on the words of Prayer and not become distracted. It is good to have a daily canon of prayer: morning and night to read from an Orthodox Prayer book, and before receiving Holy Communion to read the Service of Preparation for Holy Communion. Prayers that are written by holy men nurture feelings that are blessed and pleasing to God and guide us toward praying in spirit and truth (John 4:23). In terms of getting deeper into Prayer, this is not easy to write about. To progress in true prayer, we need to struggle to clean ourselves from our passions and from self-love. Jesus words are extremely important: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8). True prayer is the voice of true repentance. When prayer is not invigorated by repentance, it does not fulfil its purpose, because God does not accept it favourably. On the contrary, God will never despise a broken and contrite heart (contrite due to the awareness of sin). A very special prayer amongst Orthodox Christians is the Jesus Prayer. This short Prayer consists of saying, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me. One can repeat this many times: what is important is that while we are praying this Prayer, we are aware of our sinfulness and of the love and presence of God. We can set aside some quiet time each day during which undivided attention is given to the repetition of the Jesus Prayer. We may even repeat it while driving, waiting in a queue, doing housework, while suffering with insomnia, etc. This prayer protects us from temptations at the time, and in a very real sense brings us closer to God. Fr N. S.
6 6 Elder Iakovos of Evia ( ) ne day 65 men O had arrived at St David's monastery in Evia to help with some manual labour. Elder Iakovos was responsible for them and went into the kitchen to cook for the men. All he could find was a little bit of rice, some olive oil, some offering bread and half a loaf of regular bread. He did not want the men to go hungry so he took the food into the church and stood in front of the icon of St David, asking him to bless the food so that the men would not go hungry. When he went to serve from the pot he found that no matter how much he served the food would not run out. After he had served all 65 men he had half a pot of food left over. Elder Iakovos' life is filled with miracles such as this and many people claim that he still appears at the monastery, even though he no longer lives on earth. Elder Iakovos was a man of many gifts. He could heal the sick and extract demons, but his greatest gift was his ability to speak with the saints; especially St David and St John the Russian. Through his great humility and spiritual maturity, Elder Iakovos was able to converse and request things from them as if they were his friends, and yet according to Elder Porphyrios, he was the humblest man in all of Greece. On many occasions he would not defend himself when fellow monks made false accusations against him to the abbot of the monastery. Elder Iakovos lived the holy life in a cell which had holes in its roof, and yet he lived among the saints; conversing with them as if they lived within the same space that he did. His life shines light on the need to "Come out from among them and be separate (2 Corinthians 6.17). Elder Iakovos showed that whilst our bodies live here on earth, our souls can daily ascend into God's Kingdom. Part 3: Seminars at St Paul s Theological Co n November 2012, eight men from the Greek Orthodox Christian I Society travelled to Medan, Indonesia, at the request of Fr Chrysostomos, an Orthodox priest of Indonesian background. This the third of a series of articles outlining aspects of this missionary work. St Paul s Theological College in Medan is built on the same ground the Orthodox Church of St Demetrios. The 400 students are mainl Protestants with a smaller number of Catholics and about 30 Orthodox students. Most of the students will become teachers of religious studies in state high schools. We held a number of seminar aimed at informing the students about the Orthodox faith. The seminars were held with groups of about 50 students. The following topics were presented: the Orthodox mindset (Phronema Panayia and the Saints, the Sacramental Life, Orthodox Tradition an the significance of icons in Orthodox worship. Each topic was presented with the help of a translator. These seminars were genera very well received. The students often referred to their Bibles. Thei enthusiasm, honesty and modesty inspired the presenters. The questions revealed much about the Indonesian students. Some question and answer sessions ran for more than one hour. One evening, we had the blessing to meet with about thirty young I were able to share and exchange thoughts and experiences about be young man, who converted to Orthodoxy about two years ago, wer Grace is mine. I am sure that with the Orthodox way of life I wil Sometimes we commit some transgressions so we must confess. repair our relationship with God. This is the biggest point for me. Dr Psarommatis is answering questions from the students. Fr Chrysostomos is translating. Some question and answer session went for an hour or more.
7 7 llege is s as y rs ), d lly r A student is asking a question at the end of a seminar. The students were enthusiastic and eager for knowledge. They asked many questions especially about the saints, Panagia, icons, Orthodoxy in Australia, prayer and fasting. ndonesian Orthodox Christians at the Theological College. We ing Orthodox both in Indonesia and Australia. The words of one e striking. As an Orthodox, I feel God's Grace for me, God's l get salvation. The biggest problem is maybe from ourselves... But the Orthodox Church gives us the way, the tools, for us to This seminar was held outdoors in the courtyard, under the banner of St Paul s College. The students took notes. They frequently referred to their Bibles during the talks and when asking questions. Presbytera Elizabeth was the interpreter. Everyday Saints By Archimandrite Tikhon Published by Pokrov Publications 2012 ASIN: , 504 pages his book won Russia s National T Book of the Year in September 2012, the country's most prestigious literary award. The author, Archimandtrite Tikhon, was a university student in communist Russia in the early 1980's studying to be a screenwriter, when he began his journey to Orthodoxy. On being baptized, he was encouraged by his new godmother to visit the Pskov Caves Monastery, insisting he must stay for at least ten days. His true spiritual awakening occurs here, as he hates and then loves his experience, feeling the need to keep returning. And so in 1984, along with another four young men, he joins the monastery as a novice. The book is about the people he met, firstly at the Pskov Caves Monastery, and then as Abbot of Sretensky Monastery in Moscow. It is about people who lived in our time, some saintly, performing miracles, and others being ordinary, everyday people (hence the title) who had miracles happen to them. Archimandrite Tikhon brings them to life in a way that only a screenwriter could. There are stories of very eccentric, yet saintly monks, of a con man pretending to be a monk who converts and then slides backwards with devastating results, as well as the story of Mother Frosso, the secret nun. Because this book was written for Russians it does not dwell on the horror of the communist era, but nonetheless does give us an inkling of the difficulties of life during that time. The stories are interesting, humorous and colourful and the translation good, making it an easy book to read while being able to teach us many spiritual lessons. But mostly this is a book about how God works in all our lives, no matter who we are and what faults we have, and how great is His mercy. A wide range of Orthodox Christian books in Greek and English is available from the Orthodox Bookstore, 217 Bexley Rd, Kingsgrove. For further enquiries. Ph: (02) Internet:
8 8 Το Επος της 28 ης Οκτωβρίου 1940 Ό λη η Ελλάδα βασανίζονταν από έναν εφιαλτικό ύπνο και εκείνη την νύχτα. Οι προκλητικές ενέργειες των Ιταλών είχαν φτάσει στο κατακόρυφο. Η κυβέρνηση φαίνονταν να αδρανεί για αρκετό καιρό. Ήταν τρεις η ώρα το πρωί όταν στο Πρωθυπουργικό του γραφείο, ο Ιωάννης Μεταξάς δέχονταν μια αναιδή απαίτηση από τον Ιταλό Πρέσβη να μπουν στην Ελλάδα με το έτσι θέλω. Αυτός αυθόρμητα και αστραπιαία βροντοφώναξε στον θρασύδειλο Ιταλό το Θρυλικό εκείνο και Λακωνικό: ΟΧΙ!- ΜΟΛΟΝ ΛΑΒΕ! Την στιγμή ετούτη χτυπούσε στα στήθη του Ελληνική Καρδιά 3000 χρόνων. Οι καμπάνες σ'όλες τις Εκκλησιές και στον Γαλάζιο Θόλο, στα δάση στα βουνά και στις θάλασσες αντηχούσαν το Θούριο αυτό. Ανάκατα και με το θυμιατό ευλογούσαν και θέρμαιναν τον κόσμο στις Εκκλησιές και στις Αθάνατες Ελληνικές Ψυχές Ηρώων και Μαρτύρων. Οι Ουρανοί μαζί τους πανηγύριζαν και Άγγελος Κυρίου επισφράγιζε το λεχθέν με ολόχρυσα γράμματα στην ατέρμονη ΒΙΒΛΟ της Ελληνικής Ιστορίας. Τα υπόλοιπα είναι πασίγνωστα και πως η Αγία Σκέπη της Παναγιάς προστάτευε τους Ήρωες Φαντάρους μας που ο πολύς Τσώρτσιλ απλά επιβεβαίωνε το ταυτόσημο Ήρωες = Έλληνες. Είναι σωστό ότι «Η Ελλάδα ποτέ δεν πεθαίνει, μόνο λίγον καιρό ξαποσταίνει και ξανά προς την όξα τραβά». Όμως για κάμποσο καιρό τώρα το «ξαποσταίνει» έγινε λήθαργος. Η «εκ των έσων» ψυχική και ηθική διάβρωση, η κομματικοποίηση και παιδιών του ημοτικού ακόμα και οι «εκ των έξω» ασταμάτητες απειλές κάθε είδους οδήγησαν την Μητροπολιτική μας Ελλάδα στο χείλος του γκρεμού. Λένε ότι όλοι φταίνε, αλλά τι έχουν να πουν για τα άμοιρα παιδιά που κυριολεκτικά πεινούνε; 73 χρόνια είναι πολλά και οι όπου γης Έλληνες πρέπει να ξαναβρούμε τους εαυτούς μας και να βροντοφωνάξουμε και πάλι το ΟΧΙ. Να ξαναζήσουμε το Ήθος και Έπος του Τότε που όλοι οι Έλληνες αντέδρασαν με μια Ψυχή «τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι»! For Adults Who Seek a Deeper Understanding of their Faith The Greek Orthodox Christian Society and Orthodox Ladies Fellowship of Sydney hold Talks, Lessons and Bible Study groups weekly so that those who participate can: Learn to live our Orthodox Christian Faith within the life of the Church Have fellowship with one another Participate in voluntary mission work, such as Sunday Schools and youth groups, camps/retreats, distribution of Orthodox Christian books, Orthodox radio programmes, visiting the sick and similar activities. Meetings are held at the Orthodox Mission Centre, 217 Bexley Rd Kingsgrove, for those 18 years and over, in several age groups: For women 4 to 5:30 Saturday afternoons For men 8 to 9:30 Saturday evenings.
9 9 From the Old Testament Psalm 26:1 (LXX) The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? his verse is triumphantly chanted as the T Prokeimenon of the Epistle reading at every Orthodox Christian s baptism. In baptism, we are illumined with the light of Christ; indeed, He is the Light (John 8:12). Hence, we also become clothed in Light during baptism: For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ like a garment (Galatians 3:27). It is in this context of illumination that the Lord is also called my salvation, inasmuch as There is also an antitype which now saves us baptism (1 Peter 3:21). This is a beautiful and poetic verse which demonstrates antithetic parallelism : that is, two phrases which provide essentially the same meaning from slightly different perspectives. This verse is about assurance, comfort and trust in God in the face of evil and trials. The assurance spoken of, that is, whom shall I fear?... of whom shall I be afraid? is mirrored by St Paul in the New Testament: If God is for us, who can be against us?...who shall bring a charge against God s elect? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Romans 8:31, 33, 35). As baptised Orthodox Christians we should daily remember this verse and pray that the Lord gives us the strength and faith to live by it. The Vision of Isaiah and the Holy Eucharist Then one of the Seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." (Isaiah 6:6-7). rthodox Christians in Liturgical worship understand O the live coal in the above verses found in the Book of Isaiah, the Prophet of holiness, as the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ. The Liturgy of St. James, the oldest Liturgy in use, refers to receiving the fiery coal from the Eucharistic altar. In the Prayers for Preparation for the Holy Eucharist we read: O Word of God, and God, may the live coal of Your Body be for the enlightenment of me who am darkened, and may Your Blood be for the cleansing of my defiled soul. And again: Be awe-stricken, O man, beholding the deifying Blood; For it is a lighted Coal that burns the unworthy In comparing the Eucharist, the body of Christ, to Isaiah's live coal, these texts testify that the flesh of Christ bears the fire of the Holy Spirit. It is through this purifying and sanctifying coal that we are made holy: Be holy for I am Holy (Leviticus 11:44). St John of Damascus wrote, Let us draw near to Him with burning desire and...let us take hold of the divine coal, so that the fire of our longing, fed by the flame of the coal, may purge away our sins and enlighten our hearts. Let us be enkindled by touching this great divine fire, and so come forth as gods (Exposition on the Orthodox Faith 4:13).
10 10 Matins Hymn of the Seventh Tone ί ἀνταποδώσωμεν τῷ Κυρίῳ, περὶ παντων ὧν T ἀνταπέδωκεν ἡμῖν; δι ἡμᾶς Θεὸς ἐν ἀνθρώποις διὰ τὴν καταφθαρεῖσαν φύσιν, ὁ Λόγος σὰρξ ἐγέν-ετο, καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν πρὸς τοὺς ἀχαρίστους ὁ Εὐεργέτης πρὸς τοὺς αἰχμαλώτους ὁ Ἐλευθερωτής πρὸς τοὺς ἐν σκότει καθημένους, ὁ Ἥλιος τῆς δικαιοσύνης ἐπὶ τὸν Σταυρὸν ὁ ἀπαθής ἐπὶ τὸν Ἅδην τὸ φῶς ἐπὶ τὸν θάνατον ἡ ζωὴ ἡ Ἀνάστασις διὰ τοὺς πεσόντας πρὸς ὃν βοήσωμεν Ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν δόξα σοι. hat return shall we make to the Lord for all that he has W given back to us? For us God came among men; for our corrupted nature the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us; the Benefactor to the ungrateful; the Liberator to the prisoners; the Sun of justice to those who sat in darkness; the impassible to the Cross; the Light to Hades; Life to death; Resurrection for the fallen: to him we cry out: Our God, glory to you! Save, O Lord Your people and bless Your inheritance; grant victory to the Kings over their adversaries and protect Your commonwealth, by the power of Your Cross. e encounter this hymn during the Matins service of W Sunday when the tone or ήχος of the week is the seventh tone (βαρύς). It is the 4 th sticheron sung after the Lauds. For the great majority of Sunday and weekday matins services, the hymns are taken from the service book called the Paraklitiki. The Paraklitiki is based upon the hymns St John of Damascus wrote for the Sunday and weekday services in all eight tones of the Liturgical Music of the Orthodox Church called the Octoechos. This original Octoechos of St John of Damascus was edited and expanded upon by Sts Cosmas of Maiuma, Joseph the Hymnographer, Theophanes the Branded of Nicaea, Paul of Amorium, Metrophanes of Smyrna, and others to include hymns for the whole week. The opening question is sourced from Psalm 115:3 - "What shall I give back to the Lord for all He rendered to me?". St Paul interprets this particular psalm in his 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians (4:13-18) as anticipating the resurrection of the dead. Having opened the hymn with a question, the hymnographer then proceeds to list Christ's saving work for us, using the poetic device of antithesis i.e. using two terms, phrases, or clauses with opposite meanings e.g. "the Liberator to the prisoners", "the Light to Hades", "Life to death" etc. The effect is to create a feeling of gratitude in the hearts of the faithful towards Christ, who has saved us from the bonds of death. This hymn is an excellent example of how the Doctrines of our Church are directly incorporated into its Worship. In this manner, our Church Services have an educational purpose as well as assisting us to praise God. The Seventh Ecumenical Council he Seventh T Ecumenical Council was held in Nicaea, Asia Minor in 787 A.D. under the rule of the Empress Irene, and was attended by 367 Bishops. It centred on the use of icons in the Church and the controversy between the iconoclasts and iconophiles. The iconoclasts were suspicious of religious art; they demanded that the Church rid itself of such art and that it be destroyed or broken (as the term iconoclast implies). The iconophiles believed that icons served to preserve the doctrinal teachings of the Church; they considered icons to be man s dynamic way of expressing the divine through art and beauty. After a long deliberation, the council proclaimed: "We define that the holy icons, whether in colour, mosaic, or some other material, should be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on the sacred vessels and liturgical vestments, on the walls, furnishings, and in houses and along the roads, namely the icons of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, that of our Lady the Theotokos, those of the venerable angels and those of all saintly people. Whenever these representations are contemplated, they will cause those who look at them to commemorate and love their prototype. We define also that they should be kissed and that they are an object of veneration and honour, but not of real worship, which is reserved for Him Who is the subject of our faith and is proper for the divine nature,... which is in effect transmitted to the prototype; he who venerates the icon, venerated in it the reality for which it stands." Although vanquished dogmatically, iconoclasm revived with new strength after the death of the Empress Irene in 802 A.D. The final victory of Orthodoxy once again came through a woman. Monks and clergy came in procession and restored the icons in their rightful place. The day was called Triumph of Orthodoxy. Since that time, this event is commemorated yearly with a special service on the first Sunday of Holy Lent, the Sunday of Orthodoxy.
11 Youth and Society 11. The Search for Role Models t is quite common these days to meet young people I who do not know what to do with their lives. Time passes and they are looking for something to adopt as their ideal, they are looking for role models to imitate in their own life. But role models these days are sparse, difficult to find among friends, relatives, workmates, fellow-students. They search among the leaders of society, the people of the spirit, the educated, the thinkers - all to no avail. They wish to find people with real virtue, self-sacrificing, altruistic, caring towards others, people with strong conviction and strong character. In the past, people searched the history of past generations, and in most cases they were not disappointed. In our times advertising, promotion of non-entities on TV, and self-interest, do not let us pay attention to history. In the past the wreath of value and glory was given by history with great accuracy. Today, advertising has become a factory of worthless glory, that in which no thinking man has any confidence. The footballer, who makes the masses scream is considered a hero, whilst a singer or actor who causes a pandemonium of mass hysteria among the young, is thought of as the ultimate artist!. Such people cannot possibly be role models. Why? One moment they are glorified and even worshipped, but soon they are forgotten. They are the heroes of this moment, but not of the next. The enthusiasm and the excitement they cause is temporary, of the moment. It is the enthusiasm of the foolish. If your heart is burning with the desire to find role models, you have to look for them. Such people are still around. You need discernment. You will find them in places where their existence is obscured by those who have little moral value. The dedicated teacher, the upright young man serving his country as a soldier, the social worker who cannot sleep because his thoughts are with the client with a horrific social history, the youth worker who cannot do enough for the youths entrusted to him, the spiritual leader who has denied himself of so many things, so he can help those he leads develop real faith in God. For the Christian young person, there is always a perfect role model - the one imitated by St.Paul, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. So, instead of complaining about the lack of role models, we would fulfil our mission on earth, if we, the Y generation, become that for which we are looking. Return: Repentance and Confession. Return to God and His Church by Archimandrite Nektarios Antonopoulos Published by Akritas Publications, July eturn by Archimandrite Nektarios R Antonopoulos is an insightful book about returning to God and His Church after falling into sin. This book is appropriate for people of all ages, as it is written very clearly and discusses relevant concerns such as the everyday feelings of falling into sin, feelings of discouragement we may experience as Christians and how to best prepare for a proper and heartfelt confession and return to God. The book centres on the parable of the Prodigal Son, and each message in the book corresponds to the small part of the parable being discussed. The early part of the book focuses on sin itself and definitions of sin which include: acts of self-destruction and fatal sickness of the soul. It also states that all sins can be summed up in one fundamental sin, which is the lack of genuine love, belief and hope in God. The latter part of the book focuses on the return from sin and into the loving embrace of God, just as the prodigal son realised what he had done was wrong and sought forgiveness from his father. A lot of the later part of the book focuses on a true and heartfelt confession, how to approach the sacrament of confession and what to do/ what not to do when you re with your spiritual father. Return is a very user friendly book, written simply and effectively with easy to understand language, while it is also fairly brief and accessible (only 90 pages). One of its many good qualities is that it dispels many misconceptions people have about the Church, especially sacraments such as Confession and Holy Communion. This book is also strongly backed-up with references and extracts from many great Orthodox writers and orators such as St John of the Ladder, St John Chrysostom and St Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain. Overall, Return is an uplifting read for all Orthodox Christians and one you will not regret picking up. I highly recommend it. A wider range of Orthodox Christian books for people of all ages in both Greek and English is available from the Orthodox Bookstore, 217 Bexley Rd, Kingsgrove. For further enquiries. Ph: (02) Internet:
12 12 NEWS and VIEWS Sunday School Camp his year s Sunday School Camp was held on T September at Challenge Ranch in Somersby, about an hour north of Sydney. It represented the 10th year the camps have been running, accommodating children aged from various Greek Orthodox parishes of Sydney as well as some students from scripture classes. This year, 83 students and 15 leaders attended, with the theme of the camp being "Sacred Sites". The children were divided into five groups, each group examining one of the following sites: St Sophia in Constantinople, St Demetrios in Thessalonike, Great Meteoro monastery at Meteora, Mega Spelaio monastery near Kalavryta and St Theodora of Vasta. It was a hugely successful camp, with the highlight being the Divine Liturgy Service conducted by Abbot Eusebios from Pantanassa Monastery. Participating in group discussion During mealtime The Divine Liturgy officiated by Abbot Eusebios. Enjoying a good meal Participants in this Year s Camp Ακούτε το ραδιοφωνικό πρόγραµµα «Η ΦΩΝΗ ΤΗΣ ΟΡΘΟ ΟΞΙΑΣ» κάθε Κυριακή: 10:45 π.µ. στο 2MM-ΑΜ :00 π.µ. στο 2ΕRΑ-FΜ (scanner) 5:30 µ.µ. στο Galaxia FM (scanner) κάθε Πέµπτη: 3:30 µ.µ. στο Radio Club AM 1683 «ΛΥΧΝΟΣ» is a bimonthly publication of the Greek Orthodox Christian Society, under the auspices of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. Phone: (02) Internet:
Ecumenical Patriarchate Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey ASCENSION Greek Orthodox Church FAIRVIEW - NEW JERSEY Weekly Bulletin Sunday June 1 st, 2014 Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council Οικουμενικόν
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