Introductions from 2005new members
Posted 05 August 2005 - 02:15 PM
The Orthodox Church is not like the Catholic Church, where every one is in full communion with each other, or not in communion at all. There are degrees of unity within the Orthodox Church, the highest of which is concelebrancy, that is, they celebrate liturgy together.
Now, putting aside the issue of communality, I think you are forgetting why Christ founded a Church in the first place. The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is a living, breathing organization. It lives on the flesh and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, and breathes in the prayers of its faithful. It is not the single individual who makes or breaks a church or a parish.
I will give two illustrations.
I know of several Baptist Churches which thrived under the pastor that founded the church. The Pastor was charismatic and had tremendous spiritual vigor to draw people into his church. And then the pastor retires, or passes away. And that specific church, under the guidance of a new pastor, dissipates and whithers away. An Orthodox parish is not dependent on its priest for its growth and livlihood, but the members of the parish itself. Orthodox people do not go to Church to listen to one man talk about God, and sing a few hymns. Orthodox people go to Church to pray and worship God in one flesh with one breath, and the priest may spend a few minutes to exhort us to strive harder.
At our parish, we are blessed with a very hard working, caring priest. But he does have some periodic health problems, mostly because he overworks himself. And our parish makes him take a vacation every year. At times when he is unavailable to serve, Holy Trinity Monastery sends us a replacement priest. Sometimes this priest does not even speak English! And the services are conducted in English if possible, in Slavonic if not English. What I have noticed is quite remarkable in this aspect. It does not seem to make any difference at all who is serving, or what language the service is conducted in. The people come, and worship God with the exact same fervor as when our regular priest served. Everyone seems to know the liturgy so well, it does not matter what language it is in. The dynamic power of the grace of God is still in evidence--just as the envoy who returned from Constantinople to report to St. Vladimir on the Orthodox Church.
Now, the reason for the Holy Church will be easy to see. It is to protect us from false prophets, and demons who come in the name of Christ. If we see someone we admire, and wish to follow, then we must rely on the Church to verify that person is of the Holy Spirit. Christ gave us a Church to preserve his teachings, and to preserve his Holy Name from those that would usurp it wrongfully.
Forgive me, O lord, for any errors.
Posted 05 August 2005 - 03:31 PM
While doing some research form the internet I have discovered that the differences, rather the stances taken by the old vs new calendar churches are more the just the calendar but rather deal with ecumenism and keeping to tradition. I guess my mane worry is fear for even thinking of looking outside my tradition GOC archdiocese. It would be different if it was to look at another church that was in full communion with the Patriarchate.
As you state in your response the church is a living, breathing organization that not the individual who makes or breaks a church. But I am keeping watch not keep watch over way a church is not in communion with each other as to not fall into heresy.
As you know 80% of the Orthodox population went along with the Arian heresy, but only a few championed the true theology of Church. I want to make sure that i am not committing into a false belief. Since each is throwing out the Heretical term at each other.
Posted 05 August 2005 - 03:39 PM
I am sad to say that the <font face="symbol">Gnhsiothta</font> (authenticity) of Orthodoxy is not to be found in any schismatic group. Schism quite litterally means to be cut off. How? Schism means to be cut off from communion, this means that the original grace which existed in a Church group prior to the Schism has been withdrawn and is now void. All sacraments, according to the Holy Canons of the Church are void.
The true Genuine Orthodox Church is the original Church not a copy of it.
You have to ask yourself why did this 'Church' you now wish to be part of come to being? Why did it break off? What did it hope to gain? Why did it choose to change it's name? Does changing the dates of when we commemorate a Sain't feast day affect our Orthodoxy in any way?
So after you have asked yourself these questions, also ask; is it better to have a spiritual father who you like or someone who can save you?
And by the way ROCOR is soon to be reunited to the Moscow Patriarchate, but this issue obviously has nothing to do with the Greek schimatic churches which seek autonomy for personal reasons. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was formed under extreme circumstances and nothing to do with wanting power and self-rule.
Posted 05 August 2005 - 03:56 PM
This is propaganda, a scare tactic used by schimatic groups to attract followers. Although a representantive of the Orthodox Church may attend <u>some</u> of their their meetings to discuss ethical and moral issues and campaigns against abuse of life etc, their greatest complaint of us is that we are not full financial supporting members -- I assure you, we never were and we never will be.
The true risk to Orthodoxy is people trying to split up the Church for silly reasons. Honestly, after so many years, have you ever noticed Orthodoxy ever being at risk? I advise you to Get back to reality.
Posted 05 August 2005 - 04:17 PM
I love my church and all the Orthodox Churches as a whole. That is why the last thing i want is to do anything against it, thus the beginning of this thread. Perhaps i need to keep on looking to find my guide within the Greek Orthodox Church of America. But I do pray these schisms will be healed.
Posted 05 August 2005 - 04:40 PM
Kosmas: I am aware of the pending concelebration of ROCOR and MP. And it is true that ROCOR was founded under very extreme circumstances and persecution, not to divide the church of Russia, but to preserve it against the godless government of the Soviet Union. I am thankful that the Soviet Union is no longer. And that is why I now can say with full conviction I belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and not qualify it with "Oustide of Russia."
Posted 06 August 2005 - 09:54 AM
If you feel comfort with the "extremely spiritual priest" from the old calendar G.O.C. take your time and investigate the origins of this church. If she has canonical apostolic succession that is, if the respective Bishop is canonically ordained as an Orthodox Bishop and if the respective priest is canonically ordained as a priest, then there is no problem.
It is required for at least two Orthodox Bishops to ordain a new bishop and it is required for an Orthodox Bishop to ordain a priest.
Also you may find whether this church is condemned by a local, or a wide Orthodox Synod.
If all this matters are solved then the sacraments officed by this Church are valid.
But, you have to find the "history" of the Church and of the respective ministers.
As it is written in the Scriptures: "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1)
As for your "feeling" that having a spiritual father from one Church and participating in sacraments from another church as a "betrayal to him", this is not a betrayal as long as you accept both churches to be genuine orthodox and you are participated in the second one for the cause of convenience. At a given opportunity you should be participating in sacraments in the Church of your spiritual father. I understand that you are wondering if you adopt the specific person of one Church as your spiritual father and “use” the services of another Church, because his Church is “unqualified”. I am afraid this is something that you may not do.
If we select a person that is "external" to the Orthodox Church to be our spiritual father, based in our wonderful personal relation with him, then we fail to realize the role of the spiritual father. A spiritual father is standing “in the place and as an image” of Christ within the Church so, he has to BE a genuine member of the Church.
We may become closed FRIENDS with persons that are wonderful to be related with, and with whom we “feel” exceptionally, no matter if they are orthodox, muslims, jews or of any religion. This is a blessing from the Orthodox Church, not to exclude anyone from personal relations. We can become much closed friends with a Hindu “guru” and to use some of his advices like we do from all of our friends, but as Christians we will not adopt him as our “father”.
The Orthodox spiritual sonship is to consciously adopt an experienced spiritual person within the Church as our spiritual father, not just because of our feelings, but because the Church has appointed this responsibility to the specific person as the most suitable from this ministration.
The blessing of the Orthodox Church is a precondition for the relation between spiritual father and spiritual child. This relation is not a decision between the two persons, but the realization of the Life of Church, as a membership in the Body of Christ that is personalized through the specific relation with the spiritual father.
The most important services of our spiritual father are his prayers for us and not his dialectic charismatic relational efficiency. We may even feel that our spiritual father is a common man, without any special charisma, but his appointment by the Church in the specific service completes and perfects his shortcomings through the Holy Spirit.
Our relation with our spiritual father is “problematic” from the start, as we are both imperfect. What brings the perfection in the specific relation and takes off the “problem” is our (both) membership in the Church. We trust our spiritual father totally, because we are both in the same Spirit that relate us in love. We have faith in him and he has faith in us. And this mutual faith is a faith based in our relation and not to our efficiencies.
It is like the natural father-child relation: it may not be a perfect relation according to personal imperfections of the related parts, but it is always a true relation. Likewise in Church we seek the truth of “imperfect” persons in relations, against the illusion of "perfect" persons in isolation.
May God bless us, all.
(Message edited by lpap on 06 August, 2005)
Posted 06 August 2005 - 04:20 PM
First of all in the Russian world (which of course in the diaspora includes non-Russian converts and those of Russian background who are assimilated) it was increasingly felt how tragic the division was. And the sense of tragedy began to outweigh the desire or need to condemn.
Secondly however we began to see that by this point in time we were more or less on the same page concerning our vision of the Church. Across the great divide after so many years we discovered a similar love for an active ascetic piety, the liturgical services in their integrity, and the saints. The last cannot be stressed enough for a major source of division was how the New Martyrs & Confessors were regarded. When it was recognised on both sides that indeed these saints were being venerated both within and outside of Russia a lot of the division was overcome.
In a real sense then what has occured in the Russian world is that there gradually was a unity of mind & heart according to the Patristic-traditional sense of what the Church is. And at a certain point both sides recognised this unity of spirit between themselves.
Cannot we pray that the division in the Greek world may be overcome in a similar way? Nobody can force the issue but a similar feeling that this division is tragic and a sign of fundamental brokeness for both sides is crucial. In other words healing will come when both New & Old calendrists recognise they do not have the monopoly on the Church's Faith & that the other side is preserving something most crucial to the Orthodox Faith. For example some New calendrists need to recognise how it is precisely in the Old calendrist world that Tradition was maintained during the very difficult years when much of world Orthodoxy was stressing assimilation to worldly values. At one time here in North America for example almost all of the Patristic & monastic works in English came only from the relatively small Old calendrist world both Greek & Russian. Do New Calendrist Greeks know that state militia was used against the Old calendrists in Greece resulting even in some deaths? If this witness was recognised it would be similar to how those in Russia have come to recognise the witness of those who were with the Catacomb church while those in diaspora have come to recognise the witness of those in Russia under the Soviet regime who remained with the Moscow Patriarchate
As someone who has experienced both sides of the great divide both Russian & Greek I think it is crucial for us to understand what produced these divisions and what will lead to unity. First of all it is a complete dead end (unless one feels called to work for disunity!) to continue to maintain that the division was entirely a result of delusionary fanatics devoid of grace. We will get nowhere until we recognise the dire direction Orthodoxy was taking in the 20th century especially from about the 1920s-70s. There was not just a worldly spirit prevailing in the Church- it was much more seriously that Synods of churches were openly charting courses that were in obvious rejection of the Apostolic spirit & Tradition. The example of ecumenism is often brought up. True the actual open espousal of ecumenism as a heretical teaching was not so common. But it was more commonly stated by bishops than we experience now. And perhaps just as seriously there was a complex our bishops had that they had to be accepted socially by the rest of the world, Christian or not. This led to a serious loss of the Patristic-ascetic spirit in the Church to the point that many of us can remember times in the 1970s when the desire to be ascetic was openly castigated by those in authority.
The pain of all of this will be healed in as much as all begin leading a true Orthodox life. Then New calendrists will be able to reach out a charitable hand to the Old calendrists seeing that for the most part they are no threat and actually maintained a valuable witness for the Church. And Old calendrists will be able to see that a true unity is possible which compromises nothing essential.
To get to this point however takes hard work and a serious effort at leading a true life in the Church. If the experience of the Russian world is anything to go by then of course unity will be achieved also on the official canonical level, with bishops & committees. But more importantly we have discovered that reconciliation occurs when the clergy & laity decide they will no longer accept these divisions as a fact of life and begin to heal them through personally reaching out and getting to understand the other side.
In Christ- Fr Raphael
Posted 07 August 2005 - 12:31 PM
It is probably worth pointing out that the title 'Old Calendarist' means varying things in varying contexts. Here in Britain, for example, there is a large community that follows the old calendar (i.e. most, but not all, of the Moscow Patriarchate's diocese of Sourozh), and who are entirely in communion with those who follow the new (i.e. the Ecumenical Patriarchate's archdiocese of Thyateira). There are also some (i.e. the Russian Church's abroad's communities) who follow the old calendar and who are not in communion with the above, though, as Fr Raphael mentioned in an above post, there are strong signs towards reunion between these bodies (and especially so in the UK).
In Greece, the situation is somewhat different. The title 'Old Calendrist' there usually implies such groups as deliberately broke communion with the Church of Greece, originally over the question of conversion to the new calendar as mandated by the state and adopted by the Church -- though the dispute came to centre around many other issues. Here there is a real issue of deliberate schism: many such bodies very intentionally are set against the Church of Greece, which is viewed as heretical; some of these groups do not exist in authentic succesion to the apostles; etc.
Before speaking too strongly on the particular issues of your own situation, Niko, it would be advisable to look carefully into the question of precisely what 'Old Calendrist' means in the case of the priest you've encountered, and to discuss the idea of spiritual fatherhood with your current community or bishop.
There are many holy men and women outside the Church. Some divisions are not inherently spiritually damaging (my late spiritual father was a monk in a different local church); but some may well be. The role of a spiritual father is not simply to be an inspirational guide, but to lead one in growth in the Church.
Posted 08 August 2005 - 02:34 AM
My spiritual father told me, when I was feeling very isolated and alone and expecting too much from my Church, that "We all pray together to give support to our struggles, but we each struggle alone."
Just something I feel that could contribute to this dialogue.
Guest_John Michael Fowler
Posted 08 August 2005 - 01:56 PM
To follow a patriarch when he is making the wrong decision doesn't that make you no different to the Roman Catholics? Doesn't it make you a bit like them? I can see it is a shame to be in a church that has no patriarch but I couldn't see what more they could do.
Posted 08 August 2005 - 02:12 PM
We never struggle alone when we are with God. But I know what you mean. We should never substitute human comfort for spiritual comfort from God. This is what the Fathers of the Orthodox Church have always believed and done.
"O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save, our souls, O Good One." (Prayer at Pentecost Vespers)
Posted 08 August 2005 - 02:58 PM
Yesterday when I went to church, our parish priest was on vacation. Filling in for him was a friend of mine from university who had chosen the vocation. After the completion of the liturgy I posed this topic to him. He stated that, yes, this old calendar church is in schism and I should no receive any of the sacraments. He understood my quest for traditionalism, deeper spiritual meaning, and need for spiritual guidance. It was explained to me that most of the laity in a parish are not ready for this spiritual journey and as the parish priest we must be at the basic levels for the majority of our parishioners. He advised getting to know my parish priest on a closer level so that he can see what I am in need of and to build relationships with various priest, monastics and lay people throughout the archdiocese which will help in my spiritual growth. As far as the old calendar priest, he advised to be close with him respect him and take advise from him attend services if I like but to be cautious, not so much on the calendar issue but rather on falling into zeal and “teaching of hate” towards churches not in communion with them that is common among many parishioners and some clergy. As he termed it a, “holier than though” mentality. In the mean time I will continue my struggles and my search. I knew fining and following our Christ would be difficulty but I underestimated the obstacle satin places in our way.
Yours in Christ
Posted 08 August 2005 - 04:08 PM
Hello, I do not normally post so many times, however as an old calendarist myself I can't understand how other people celebrate Christmas on the day that the Bishop of Rome changed.
We don't. We celebrate THE NATIVITY on the same day (December 25) which was established by THE CHURCH. Some people reckon the day from a calendar established by a pagan Roman Emperor that was the civil calendar at the time, others use a revised calendar that is similar to the one established by Pope Gregory, which is the civil calendar in most places today.
St. Paul says: "Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks." Romans 14:4-6
Posted 18 July 2005 - 01:48 AM
We would like to schedule same day/weekday pilgrimages to St. Nicholas Cathedral (MP) and the Synodal Cathedral of the Mother of God of the Sign (ROCOR) since they are within blocks of each other.
Can anyone with a familiarity of these churches give us an idea of the schedule of weekday services for these cathedrals? Are these cathedrals open during non-service times during the week for pilgrims?
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