By God’s Grace, His Beatitude Patriarch John X Patriarch of Antioch and of All the East To all my brothers, the Shepherds of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, and to my spiritual children throughout the Apostolic See of the Church of Antioch, “Beholding him that was in God’s image and likeness fallen because of the transgression, Jesus bowed the heavens and came down; and without suffering change, He made His dwelling in womb of a Virgin.” — The Entreaty, Great Vespers of the Nativity
Fr. Geoff’s Blog
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Seemingly every year there’s a mad rush to tie up loose ends at work, shop, party and stress over visiting the relatives. Despite our streets and shops having awesome decorations, Christmas in Australia has become increasingly secular. The most counter-cultural thing you can do is to make this season an opportunity for increasing your spiritual sensitivity.
The radical gap between modern evangelical worship and traditional Christian worship is in large part the result of the influence of the sixteenth century Swiss Reformer, Ulrich Zwingli. Zwingli was a contemporary of Martin Luther, and if Martin Luther wanted reform in the Church, Zwingli wanted to restore the Church from scratch. To illustrate just how radical have been the consequences of Zwingli’s teaching, let’s compare a typical evangelical worship service with a traditional Christian worship service.
Victoria’s Parliament was the scene for a powerful speech delivered by the Honourable Member for Ringwood, Ms. Dee Ryall. As a former nurse, she’s cared for many patients with chronic pain and approaching death. In this speech, grounded in long personal experience of the care of patients nearing the end of their lives, she advocates for proper funding of palliative care services and not the passage of a deeply flawed voluntary euthanasia bill.
It is deeply satisfying to see the peace, love and joy that flows into the hearts of worshipers here at The Good Shepherd. The work and fruit of the Holy Spirit is a deep, abiding, joyful stability which I see growing in many of our parishioners. Through entering into the worship of the Holy Orthodox Church, so many people, of Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox backgrounds alike, find communion with the God Who is the Lover of Mankind.
Five hundred years ago this month, Martin Luther posted an invitation to an academic disputation on the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg. This act sparked a fire of protest that raged across Europe and caused a grievous schism in Catholic Europe that has never been healed. The soil that gave rise to the protest was a uniquely Latin, Roman Catholic one. The questions of dogma, doctrine and state politics were questions that arose from conditions unique to the West.
I have been receiving a lot of dismayed, uncomprehending and perhaps angry emails in the last week. My correspondents appear bewildered at why Orthodox Christian ethics does not share the conclusions of popular secular ethics. After all, they both appear to share many of the same values. Both ethical systems value “equality,” “freedom of choice,” “human brotherhood,” “fairness” and “justice.” So if they share these values, why doesn’t Orthodox Christianity support the same conclusions?
Every responsible parent asks this question at some point as their children grow older: “How do I raise my children as faithful Orthodox Christians?” We want our children to grow up safe and free, as healthy as possible in body, mind and spirit, and to make the best use of their God-given gifts. We know that the Church is the ark of salvation and that the spiritual safety of our children depends on their remaining in the Church through all the stages of life, from the cradle to the grave.
Ever since the Beatles travelled to Rishikesh to learn at the feet of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Westerners have been attracted to Eastern spirituality. Western Christianity has seemed artificial, lifeless and powerless; while Eastern spirituality has a life-changing broadness about it. Below, Monk-Priest Damascene traces the path from Western desire to the East's authentic and life-changing answer.