by Carole A. Buleza
This article is the second in a series based on Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, by Christian Smith with Melinda Lundquist Denton (Oxford University Press, 2005. The book received the 2006 Christianity and Culture Book Award. The first article, “Christianity’s Mis-begotten Child” appeared in the March 2011 issue of The Word.
I knew that I would be writing more articles based on this book, which I consider exceptionally insightful and valuable. Soul Searching is the project report of professors at the University of North Carolina who received a grant to investigate how important faith is to American teenagers, why, and in what ways. The book received Christianity Today's 2006 Christianity and Culture book award.
The data for the report was gathered from 3,290 teenagers in the United States. The majority of the teenagers categorized themselves as Christian (82%); Protestants comprised the majority (52%) and Catholics were second (23%). The third largest category, those who considered themselves not religious, accounted for 16% of the respondents (31).
The book offers not only statistics but excerpts from the many interviews that were conducted, and the reflections of the authors. From my experience of working with teens and having two of my own, their analyses are correct, and their reflections are extremely valuable. Furthermore, they believe the beliefs held by the teenagers reflect those of the baby boomer generation, making the book valuable not only for youth ministers but also for pastors.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3)
In previous articles on parenting I have emphasized the importance of making connections between Christ, His Church and the issues and problems that make up modern life (Morelli, 2010). Jesus entry into his public life is recorded by the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. It was at His baptism in the River Jordan by St. John who is called the Baptist. This event is called the Theophany in which Christ's Divinity was proclaimed by His Father as told to us by St. Matthew: "And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." (Mt 3: 16-17) The spiritual-theological significance of the Theophany is noted in the beautiful Apolytikion of the Feast:
When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity wast made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of His word. O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee.
In mid-September 2011, various news outlets reported a ban on relatives and friends of wounded service personnel bringing bibles and other religious reading materials into Water Reed military hospital. The offensive statement reads: “No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit.” [i] Due to an outcry from various religious groups, this egregious policy was rescinded by December 2011. Thank God for that! But the fact that such a policy was even thought of, let alone promulgated, is an affront to God and Country.
Religious freedom is guaranteed and protected by the Constitution of the United States itself. The first amendment of the Constitution reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The operative term in the amendment regarding religion is making no law "prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In thinking up and initiating the now rescinded hospital policy, someone took it upon themselves to unilaterally interpret the words of the Constitution to impose on all 'freedom from religion' - which actually amounts to a prohibition of religion. An affront to our country and its religious tradition.
by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, January 1986
I am frequently asked, “Why?” Why does the Church believe in the intercession of Saints? Why does the Church have confession? Why this and why that. Of course, while we always try to provide reasonable and intelligent answers, I am impressed by the need of certain individuals to know everything by their tendency toward a Roman jurisprudence mentality that needs to put every theological concept into a capsule, identify it and put neat little tags on it so that whenever they needed an explanation they could go right to the proper file box, take it out and use it as desired.
Such a concept is foreign to those of us of the East. We who come from the Holy Lands on which Christ set foot, have a concept of mysticism that is foreign to the Occident. It has never been necessary for us to reduce God to our size and it has never been necessary for us to reduce Truth to the level of our own intellectual capacity to understand. This is not a new concept (lest anyone believe that it is, so I would like my message to be essentially a meditation on the passage of Ecclesiastes 1:4-9).
by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky
from The Word, February 1967
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (St. Matthew 6:34)
How many of us spend precious time on this earth inside a dark cloud of anxiety, worrying about things over which we have no control? Do we really believe in God?
If we say we believe that God exists, we should know that He is in command of our destiny. True believers live with an inner peace, because they know that God is the Ultimate Lord of history. If we doubt God’s Plan, we begin relying on our own scheme for the future.
Too many of the brief days of our lives we spend in worrying and planning. It is enough to be afraid of what we have really to fear. Anxiety is a nebulous fear, an irrational state of mind, leading to more serious mental breakdown.
If it were told us that we are trying to be little gods, doing what only God can do, we would deny it. Yet, that is what we do when we put our trust in our own ideas. Even more, when what we had desired doesn’t come about, when we have to abandon our own ideas, we blame God for rejecting us, or else we deny His Omnipotence.
Our age is an age of anxiety, because nearly all people in our world are agnostics. We cannot see God at work in our world, so we do God’s worrying and planning for Him. Only because we have no faith, can we ask all the fruitless “What if” questions that lead eventually to alcoholism, depression, or worse. Such questions are:
“What will happen if I should become ill for a long time?”
I taught medieval history at Wichita State University, Kansas, and I am a translator. When I get stuck in a stubborn paragraph, I say a short Latin prayer to the Holy Spirit: "Veni, Sancte Spiritus; et emitte coelitus lucis tuae radium. Veni, pater pauperum; veni, dator munerum; veni, lumen cordium." “Come, Holy Spirit, and send a ray of your heavenly light. Come, Father of the poor. Come, Giver of gifts, Come, Light of the hearts.”
In this article, I will first deal briefly with my own life, and then with one key aspect of patristic theology that continues to attract me. After discussing the practice of translation, I will answer questions that may arise.
I was a tenured member of the faculty, but my life lacked a sense of direction. And then, mindful of the words of Socrates (c. 469-399 B.C.E.) in Plato’s Apology that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” I concluded that I had not really used the gift God had given me, that of languages. I had studied ten. Instead of going to church on Sundays, I listened to classical music, or read poetry by the German poets Rilke or Hölderlin. Then, unexpectedly, a former student invited me to Pascha at St. George Orthodox Church. I converted to Orthodoxy in 1981.
I translate books out of a deep respect for Tradition. I know that various definitions may be given for that venerable word Tradition, but the one I like best is offered by the fifth-century French monk Vincent of Lérins in his renowned Commonitorium (c. 434). Using Latin, the language of his day, Vincent writes: “Id teneamus quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.” In translation, “We use the greatest care to hold what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all” (Documents of the Christian Church, ed. by H. Bettenson , 84).
By V. Rev. Fr. David J. Randolph
From the Word magazine, January, 2012
The term postmodern culture is used in many different ways, and cannot be grasped except in contrast to its predecessor, modernism, to which it is in reaction. Modernism displayed a high level of confidence in the abilities of humanity. Rooted in the Enlightenment, modernists attempted to rid themselves of the mystery of religion and things spiritual so as to focus purely on the empirical facts of science. Some believed that humanity could build a perfect society founded on human principles and structures. The movement was idealistic, and its breakdown was painful to the generation that experienced it.
This reaction took different forms. For many people of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, pop culture became a kind of rebellious religiosity. Many were from broken families, and they concluded that all commitments are fragile. Some also experimented with different “spiritualities,” having a distinct distaste for “institutional religion.” Theirs was a time of political turmoil, growing up amid the anxiety of the cold war, and through the period of Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the war in Iraq. The results for many were confusion, depression, and loneliness.
Postmodernism is the cultural reaction to the perceived failures of modernism. Youth ministers today face five challenges related to the postmodern stance.
First, postmodern young people give primacy to personal experience.
On Sunday, December 11, 2011, three new auxiliary bishops were consecrated for the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand, in Balamand, Lebanon. Their Graces John (Abdalah), Anthony (Michaels) and Nicholas (Ozone) were consecrated as Auxiliary Bishop for Worcester and New England, Auxiliary Bishop for Toledo and the Midwest, and Auxiliary Bishop for Brooklyn and Assistant to the Metropolitan in Englewood, New Jersey, respectively.
The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting." 1 Timothy 1:15-16
The favors of God so far exceed human hope and expectation, that often they are not believed. For God has bestowed upon us such things as the mind of man never looked for, never thought of. It is for this reason that the Apostles spend much discourse in securing a belief of the gifts that are granted us of God. For as men, upon receiving some great good, ask themselves if it is not a dream, as not believing it; so it is with respect to the gifts of God. What then was it that was thought incredible? That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. Upon this head accordingly Paul has discoursed at length in his Epistle to the Romans, and here again at length. "This is a faithful saying," he says, "and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
by Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Ziton
from The Word, June 1960
TIME, that precious gift of God . . . how wisely do we use it? How well do we apportion it? How much do we appreciate it?
Time is so precious a gift that God dispenses it but sparingly as if He were fearful that we waste it or hoard an excessive supply of it. Only the time present belongs to us along with its reserves of potential happiness and joy. We would prove ourselves guilty of ingratitude were we to ignore the value of time and put an ever unrequited hope in the future over which we have little or no power.
Set time aside . . . to enjoy the gift of life. Because so many people fail to appraise the time present, they complicate their lives and deprive it of its natural spontaneity in trying to pry into the future. Do you suppose that He Who gives us our daily bread is at the mercy of the weather or of man’s malice? Should we learn to tread the path of life with our eyes focused on Him, never would our soul age; our eyes would meet incessant marvels upon witnessing His evident solicitude on our behalf. Indeed, life would prove a thrilling spiritual adventure if only we took time out to truly enjoy it.
by Eleutherious Vorontsov, Late Metropolitan of Leningrad
from The Word, December 1960
Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)
I salute you, dear brothers and sisters, with the great feast of the Birth of Christ—with this radiant, joyous, and solemn day! This day is truly a day of especial joy: it was called this, as you have heard, by the Heavenly Angel who appeared to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem. And it is such in actual fact. How can not that day in which the Lord Himself descended from Heaven to earth but be radiant and joyful?
Who of the Orthodox Christians can greet this day with a feeling of coldness? Who will not rejoice in his soul, hearing that “a Saviour is born today, who is Christ the Lord?” It is for this reason that one of the Church hymns sung so joyously today, says: “Let Heaven and earth rejoice today in prophecy: let Angels and men exult . . . the whole of creation danceth because of the Saviour and Lord being born in Bethlehem.
My January Chaplain's Corner article last year called New Year resolutions a “useless waste of mental and spiritual energy." More than ever, I want to make the same point. However, I want to substitute a more functional alternative: making a commitment. The word ‘commitment’ brings up notions such as a ‘binding’ course of action, allegiance, dedication and loyalty. What better way to start the new year than by re-committing ourselves to respecting the personhood of others by overcoming any ways we have slipped into unthinking habits of rudeness. The word respect derives from the Latin word rēspicere, which means, “to look back, pay attention to.” In this case, to pay attention in a Godly way to the person with whom you are interacting.
The highest value of what it means to be a person is told to us in Sacred Scripture in the Book of Genesis (1: 26), a book that is sacred to Christians, Hebrews and Moslems alike. We read, "Then God said, "Let us make man according to our image and according to our likeness."" The person, therefore, is an icon of God, a consequence of His creative act in making us a finite mirror of His Divinity. Our Eastern Church Fathers would consider the meaning of personhood to be in our relationship with both God and mankind. To make this practical, the more we become committed to respecting others, to really paying attention to them as persons, the more we become like God.
by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
from The Word, December 1968
It is easy to lose sight of the miracle of Bethlehem in our modern world of pressure politics and commercial Christmas. This annual reminder of the continuous presence of the Divine in our wayward world is a necessary thing for us all; nothing is more usual, nothing is more miraculous than the birth of a child: every child’s birthday is a reminder of the presence of God in the world.
The atheist forces of the world try to tell us that God does not exist, that there is no connection between man and the eternal cosmos, the eternal mystery; they tell us that we are slaves of the world and of the material forces of existence. And yet, our experience tells us that GOD IS: too many aspects of our life clearly reflect the presence of the divine, the presence of God, among us. The birth of a child tells us this truth; the birth of the Divine Child sums up the common experience of all mankind.
The present troubles of our world seem overwhelming; the sorrow, the injustice, the poverty, the wickedness of war, the inhumanity of man to man, the distortion of the divine image which we cause, is everywhere; we have lost sight of God, and we suffer; the renewal that comes with the birth of our Lord can restore us, if we perceive it with the eyes of faith, and the simplicity of a child.
The blessing of our incarnate Lord be with you all, this Feast of his Nativity, and throughout the coming year!
The presentation below was given to the Clergy Retreat of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, November 08-11, 2011, in Scottsdale, AZ. An in depth discussion of many of the Retreat topics can be found in the articles I have written, which are posted on: Orthodoxy Today [www.orthodoxytoday.org/archive/morelli] and the Antiochian Archdiocese [www.antiochian.org/author/morelli] website. The high technology, secularist society we live in today poses many challenges to living Christ's teachings, being committed to His Church, and living a Christ-like life family life. Even greater challenges are faced by the successors of the Apostles, the bishops and priests who are called to shepherd Christ’s Church in the modern world. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, may this resource be of some assistance to all called to minister to our communities in Christ.
by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, December 1978
Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Jefta, David, Samuel, Isaac, Jacob, Zerah, Tamar, Amminadab, Boaz, Obed, Jessica —Who are all these people? I am sure that when we read the 1st chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which begins with the genealogy of Christ, most of us skip over it and don’t bother to read it. That is so sad. That’s like a person who looks at the leaves on a tree but doesn’t appreciate its roots and trunk. And so it is with us. Our lives in Christ are not just now, today, but have been in the past and shall be for all eternity and unless we understand that we are rooted in the past, our present and our future cannot have the fullness of meaning that God intends for them to have. Who are you? Where do you come from? Where are you going?
Each of us has an identity that extends itself to all those around us, our father, our mother, brothers, sisters, wife, husband, sons, daughters, our past, our present and our future. And those who have no such extension of themselves suffer from such a depth of loneliness that their lives are difficult for them. I am who I am, because I can identify with people who love me and who shared with me the highest values of life that they understood, my father and mother, our parents, our grandparents. All of those with whom we had the good fortune to come into contact from our past tried to contribute to us those good things of life which they knew were essential to our understanding of how to live and get along with God and with our neighbors. Those people of our present, our brothers and our sisters, strive to relate to us lovingly and with compassion in order that our lives might be enriched as well, and we strive to relate to them in the same way. Our children symbolize for us our future and we strive to pass on to them those ennobling characteristics which were preserved also for us as members of the Body of Christ, that we understand that our present and our future are somehow dependent upon our past.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
These promises are truths that have never been as evident in my life as they are today. I would love to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to share with you the wonderful beauty of God fulfilling his plans in my life, giving me hope and a very bright future.
I am Odeese M. Ghassa-Khalil, an Antiochian Orthodox, Arab-American parishioner blessed to be a member of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am also blessed to be the very proud mother of two wonderful young boys. As an Arab-American family, it is very important to us that we stay in touch with the Arabic world, our roots and history. It is also my desire one day to see and hear my two wonderful sons read the Holy Bible in Arabic. Because of my family and my church family, who have supported me and encouraged me to pursue and enjoy the many blessings and fruits the Lord had in mind for me, I currently hold a position at California University of Pennsylvania as the program coordinator and instructor of a new bachelor’s degree program in Arabic Language and Culture.
by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, December 1976
When I was a little boy, as with all children, I used to anticipate the coming of Christmas weeks in advance. I’d get excited and start thinking about the good food that was going to be shared and the gifts that would be forthcoming, decorating the Christmas tree, putting lights in the window, presents under the tree, waiting for Santa. I used to wonder for weeks what I was going to get for Christmas and I would go scrounging around the house in all of the cupboards and the closets looking for anything that looked like a Christmas present and surreptitiously I would find these gifts and I would play with the toys that had been purchased explicitly for gift-giving at Christmas time. Then when Christmas day actually came and the gifts were given to me and I had to open them, I had to pretend to be so excited and surprised because I didn’t want anybody to know that I had been celebrating Christmas before Christmas came.
The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians
“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness.” (Ephesians 4:1-2)
It is the virtue of teachers to aim not at praise, nor at esteem from those under their authority, but at their salvation, and to do every thing with this object; since the man who should make the other end his aim, would not be a teacher but a tyrant. Surely it is not for this that God set thee over them, that thou shouldest enjoy greater court and service, but that thine own interests should be disregarded, and every one of theirs built up. This is a teacher's duty: such a one was the blessed Paul, a man who was free from all manner of vanity, and was contented to be one of the many, nay more, to be the very least even of them. Hence he even calls himself their servant, and so generally speaks in a tone of supplication. Observe him then even now writing nothing dictatorial, nothing imperious, but all chastened and subdued.
"I therefore," saith he, "the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." What is it, tell me, thou art beseeching? Is it that thou mayest gain any end for thyself? No, saith he, in no wise; it is that I may save others. And yet surely they who beseech, do so for things which are of importance to themselves. True; and this, saith he, is of importance to myself, according to what he says also elsewhere in his writings, "Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord;" (1 Thess. iii: 8.) for he ever earnestly desired the salvation of those whom he was instructing.
"Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy." (1Cor 4: 2)
"The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." (Pv 31: 11)
Developmental psychologist Eric Erickson (1964a) conjectures that during infancy the continuity of comforting sensory experiences with adults promotes a sense of trust that serves as a root for the resolution of the successive challenges the individual will confront over a lifespan. Erickson goes on to suggest that the appropriate proportion of trust over mistrust produces hope. He states, "Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensible virtue inherent in the state of being alive." (Erickson, 1964b).
Erickson's understanding is also very descriptive of a functional marriage. Beck (1988), for example, considers trust one of the three major components of a functional relationship - commitment and loyalty being the others. Beck considers them "a force for stability" that, once developed, "protect[s] the closeness, intimacy, and security of the loving bond."
Beck (1988) goes on to give examples of attitudes or beliefs that indicate basic trust:
- "I can depend on my spouse to guard my best interests."
- "I know that my spouse would not intentionally hurt me."
- "I know that I can depend on my spouse for help in ordinary situations or in an emergency."
- "I know my spouse will be available when I need him or her."
- I can assume good will on the part of my spouse."
COMMITMENT AND LOYALTY: THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF TRUST
by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, November 1980
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Ephesians, 5:20-21)
Thanksgiving is so deeply embedded in the spirit of the Christian faith that it would be impossible to excise it without destroying the faith. While we understand that faith, hope and love are essentials of our belief, there are other essentials, components and characteristics which are also important in making up the totality of the Christian faith. Thanksgiving is one of these key essentials. We hear about the need to repent, to reach out to others to help them, to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to fast, to pray, but the quality of all of these things is enriched by a sense of gratitude, an understanding that all good things come from above, “From Thee, the Father of Lights”; that everything which is creative, constructive and positive comes from Him.
by Fr. Stephen Powley
By these terms, cradle Orthodox and convert, we mean, on the one hand, someone who is born into an Orthodox family and is baptized as an infant, and on the other hand, someone who converts to the Orthodox Faith from some other religion or from none. As far as the Orthodox Church is concerned, the answer to the question is that there is no difference. They are both members of the Holy Orthodox Faith and have the opportunity to grow toward theosis and salvation through a sacramental life of faith. Each of these individuals has positive and negative possibilities for their spiritual lives, arising from their life situations.
On the positive side, cradle Orthodox have the wonderful opportunity of growing up in the Orthodox life and faith from their earliest years. They have the oppor- tunity to partake in the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ Himself, each week throughout their lives. They can also be blessed with other sacraments of the faith, such as Holy Confession and Holy Unction, regularly. They live in a community of Faith where t h e y may find a spouse one day and participate in the Sacrament toof Holy Matrimony. They also can wit- n e s s some of the community being ordained to the Holy Priesthood or tonsured as Monastics. They can also experience the support of the entire Orthodox family when a loved one falls asleep in the Lord and is provided an Orthodox funeral. Throughout their lives they are in an environment where they can learn and grow spiritually to become mature Orthodox Christians.
by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon
During this past September 13-18, I was part of a delegation sent to Syria by Metropolitan PHILIP to investigate the internal political situation in that country, particularly with respect to its Christian minority. Our group consisted of six priests of the Antiochian Archdiocese: Fathers Dimitri Darwich (our guide and the only Arabic- speaker), Timothy Ferguson, Joseph Huneycutt, John Winfrey, David Bleam, and myself; and two Protestant pastors: Bonn Clayton and Norman Wilson. An expert in international law, James Perry, came with us, too, accompanied by his wife, Martha, who served as the delegation’s secretary. Attached to the delegation as a reporter for Ancient Faith Radio was John Maddex, its Executive Director.
The following is my own assessment of that experience, along with some account of what I learned.
Let me begin by expressing a deep, sincere gratitude to Metropolitan PHILIP, both for the golden opportunity to visit Syria and for the confidence he placed in myself and the others he sent.
Most of this trip was devoted to matters not directly related to its purpose – namely, visits to shrines and other places of cultural interest. We began, in fact, by first paying our respects at the house of St. Ananias, the first bishop of Damascus, who baptized Saul of Tarsus. We also saw the window in the city wall, through which the Apostle was lowered in a basket. We walked many blocks along and around the “street called Straight,” passing through the Christian and Jewish sections of the city. (There are still three thousand Jews in Syria, by the way, another of the minorities who find a secure home in that country.)
by Rev. Fr. Michael Baroudy
from The Word, April 1960
Consider if you will and visualize the people who are most unhappy, the dejected, dispirited, disheartened are not the poor in material matters, but those whose whole being vibrate to the tune of the dollar’s ring, those whose sole purpose is the accumulation of wealth. The reason for our unhappiness and misery is not wealth itself, but rather the love of it which the Bible characterizes as the “root of all evil”. In other words, the root of all evil springs from ungodly, unnatural, inordinate love for money or its equivalent. The reason is obvious. One would then have driven a wedge, created a barrier between himself and God on the one hand, and between himself and his fellow human beings on the other. Why? Because he had parted company with God. God to him is a partner and deserves recognition only as He dishes out more wealth, but he is willing and ready to deny God if he thinks God has gone back on him. The same thing is true relative to man, he is one’s friend as long as he is useful and profitable in material matters, but once that has been removed, there won’t be any more friendship.
President's Message: Society of St. John Chrysostom - Western Region
by Fr. George Morelli
If you turn on any news-program or look at the front page of almost any newspaper no one living in today’s world can miss the egregious personal, social, political and religious brokenness surrounding us. It is also so easy to perceive this brokenness as being the problem and responsibility of others. However, in the Eastern Church there is no such thing as a solitary sin. Even an infraction done in total privacy is a wound to the totality of mankind created by God. Just as an injury to any part of our body actually affects the entire body, so too, all of us are affected by the sins of even the ‘least’ one who makes up God’s human creation.
Because the Church is mystically “Christ’s Body,” how much greater are sins that injure the Church? The sinfulness of separation, the brokenness of those who make up the Body of Christ is a glaring violation of Our Lord’s priestly prayer at the last Supper: “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” Separation is a wound, scandal, illness, infirmity, and thus a dreadful sin. All of us are affected by this wound and all of us are called upon to heal this wound. A theme of one of the great feasts of the beginning of the civil calendar year is the Gospel passage from St. Matthew (4:17) read on the Sunday after the Theophany: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The first step in healing any sin is repentance. Repentance means a change of mind and heart. But there is prior step we have to do that enables us to repent.
by Rev. Robert E. Lucas
from The Word, October 1963
At the holy supper, the Redeemer’s voice reverberated throughout the room in significant tones, “Do this is commemoration of Me.” Thus Holy Mother Church has since that day celebrated on myriad altars throughout time this great mystery and has united its faithful to Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
Our altars remain the centers of Christian life—the center for the priests who there go to offer the sacrifice and there make known the word of God. The Eucharist reposes on the altar and the altar must NEVER be regarded as a sacred shrine to be looked upon with reverence. But the Eucharist is a food to be received, it is food for life, for the proper living of the Christian life.
The greatest gift which the merciful God ever bestowed upon mankind is Jesus Christ. His delight was to be with the children of men. That He might be with them always as their changeless Friend, their inspiring Counselor, and their great High Priest, He instituted the sacrament of the real presence.