Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Holy Confession

The Holy Mystery of Confession

Orthodox Christian Faith

Western Orthodox Christian Church

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Holy Eucharist: Orthodox Christian Faith

The Holy Eucharist

The Orthodox Christian Faith

Remaining faithful to the Church 
as established by Christ our God and believed by all 
Christians for the first millennia of Christianity...

Metropolitan Joseph

Western Orthodox Christian Church

Friday, August 26, 2016

Come, Receive the Light...


Are you searching for the Orthodox Christian Faith? 

Come and See!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Take out the Garbage...

What is the drive that causes some to be so pre-occupied with the business of others? 

Jesus Christ gave warning to His disciples about such behavior:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." (Matthew 7: 3-5)

Yet, even at the Word of God, we fret over other peoples business. We allow ourselves to become the litmus test for all that is true, according to how we see it, or according to the perverted way it may have been passed down throughout the centuries. We have all heard it said: "This is how we have always done it!" That's nice, but it does not mean that it was being done correctly.

Our Lord Jesus Christ founded the Christian Church. Amazingly, or not so amazingly, His followers decided to look for the speck of sawdust in each other's eyes, while failing to notice the plank in their own eye. Priests teaching heretical theology, Councils battling it out, patriarchates developing to gain control and governance, bishops demonstrating their finest human quality of jealousy and fighting, disharmony and disunity ensuing all the while. And over what? Some important theological matters, while many other times bishops and priests acting like buffoons. 

Christ founded the Christian Church upon the Holy Apostles. This Church was not established or divinely instituted with patriarchates, such juridical regions were developments over the centuries and oftentimes due to ethnic people unable to co-exist as baptized brothers and sisters. The Church was planted all over the world and grew within the context of the culture and people She was serving. In the original Christian Church, the various particular regions or jurisdictions where She was planted developed into parishes highlighting or inculturating that which was familiar - language, music, food, dress, art, etc. So many of the early Christian Churches became, not surprisingly, ethnic or nationalistic. 

This all led to many un-Christian behaviors. The Greeks viewed themselves as the best, the Russians superior, the Lebanese the elite and the Indians somewhere on the spectrum just to name a few. Ethnic groups fighting to the point of parishes breaking off from one another and matastasizing into their own idea of what it means to belong to the Church. It has been a nightmare in many places, emotions damaged, people ostracized, etc., and all in the name of 'Christian.'  Today such biases, racism and prejudice continue to exist. 

Recently I heard of a blog that purports to be Christian, yet using its forum of 'discussion' to condemn everyone not associated with their particular flavor of Orthodoxy. Many Orthodox are stuck on the notion of patriarchates (Greek, Russian, Romanian etc) that were not part of the Church as Christ established it and certainly were not divinely instituted. Such territories were developments within areas of the Churches to establish governance and oversight. As with everything "absolute power, corrupts absolutely." So-called canonical Churches emerged from this development and declared themselves the litmus test for judging and determining who is or who is not Orthodox. For over one thousand years the Christian West (namely Rome) maintained the Orthodox Christian Faith in communion with the other Churches of that time period. Power corrupted Pope Leo IX, the Bishop of Rome, and he attempted to subject all the bishops to his patriarchate because he had power and prestige. It was a failed effort and a disaster for the unity of the Christian Church. When we look for specks of sawdust in others eyes we better first remove the plank in our own.

This behavior is a common denominator in all religions. For example, Sunni Muslims judge Shiite Muslims to be heretics; Catholic Christians claim to have the True Church (of Rome) although the Bishop of Rome defected from the unity of all the Churches in 1054AD; ethnic based Eastern Orthodox Churches are quick to condemn anyone who does not belong to "their patriarchate" and ethnic brand; Protestant Christians are fighting with each other so much so that there are 20, 800 different flavors of Protestants existing as of 1980 - this is much better than the Baskin-Robins various ice cream flavors!

In the Western Orthodox Christian Church we adhere to the Apostolic teaching of St. Paul as one of our standards for being Christian: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). We are an autonomous Orthodox Church, not due to affiliation with a man made jurisdiction or ethnicity, but we adhere to that which Christ founded upon the Holy Apostles: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it..." (Matthew 16:18).

It is not our place to meddle in the affairs of others or to be busy about non-sense such as name calling, power trips, elitist attitudes, social media gossip, calumny and detraction. Social media venues can serve a good end, such as building up the Church, or they can be a means of furthering the cause of disunity, bullying, hatred, etc.

So what is the drive that causes some to be so pre-occupied with the business of others? Think about it. It is a pre-occupation with self and an insecurity about their current circumstances.

Let's look again at what Jesus taught:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." (Matthew 7: 3-5)
Let's get it together and heed the words of Christ: 

"I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).

It's time to be Christians in a world that is torn apart by violence, ethnic cleansing, hatred, terrorism, religious bigotry, bullying, etc. Let us together, witness to the world, the face of Christ, in loving service to one another.

Dictionary of Christianity in America [Protestant] (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1990).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Historic Event In Over A Century!

An historical event!

The first time in over a century Holy Oils are consecrated by all the Bishops of our Holy Synod during the August 2016 annual assembly at St. Joseph Monastery, Carbondale, PA.

The Synod of Bishops of the Western Orthodox Church, during the annual assembly, collectively consecrated the Holy Oils of the Sick, Sacred Chrism (Myron) and Catechumens during the Divine Liturgy of the Dormition of the Theotokos.

The Holy Oils of the Western Orthodox Church are consecrated only during an assembly of the Synod of Bishops

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The New Israel...the Church

God in our Midst
The Living Reality of the Kingdom of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Ages unto ages have witnessed the flowering of the Orthodox Christian Faith. Subjected to the tyranny of ruthless leaders and gloriously triumphant through the blood of her martyrs the Orthodox Faith has remained constant in an ever changing world.

As the winds of change have seen civilizations come and go and governments topple the Orthodox Faith cannot be be prevailed against. The recipe for this extraordinary success is divine! Christ our God promised: "...and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," (St. Matthew 16: 18).

The Orthodox Faith, the Church as established by Our Lord Jesus Christ upon the Holy Apostles, is the living reality of the Kingdom of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in our midst. Every baptized member of this living reality, the Church, is a temple of the presence of the One God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is the Holy Trinity as revealed to us by the second divine Person, namely Jesus Christ. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us," (St. John 1: 1, 14).

The Church is the living expression of the Kingdom of the Triune Godhead, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! We move, breathe and have our being in Him (Acts 17: 28).

The worship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, is the object of all those living the Orthodox Faith. We believe and profess the One True God to be the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as we say in the Preface of the Holy Trinity during the Divine Liturgy/Holy Mass:

"It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should always, and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God. Who with thine only-begotten Son and the Holy Ghost art one God, one Lord: not in the singularity of one Person, but in the Trinity in one substance. For what by thy revelation we believe of thy glory, the same we believe of thy Son, and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference or distinction. So that in the confession of the true and eternal Deity, we adore a distinction in Persons, a unity in Essence, and equality in Majesty" (Preface of the Holy Trinity)

We adhere to Holy Scripture, Holy Tradition (not traditions or customs of men) and the Church Fathers of both East and West. Our Church believes and professes the Holy Trinity to be three divine Persons (Hypostases) who are consubstantial with one another, sharing the same essence (ousia). God revealed Himself to us as three Divine Persons sharing the same essence, the One God (homoousios). The Holy Trinity has always existed, without beginning and without end. Each of the three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, God, have always existed beyond the limitations of time and before the human phenomena of time was conceived in man's intellectual capacity. Yet, God has acted within the framework of time and sanctified it by assuming a human nature in the Incarnation, that is, when the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became man, became flesh. God assumed our human nature to redeem it since it had fallen through the man Adam. The New Adam showed us the way to holiness and that it is possible to become more like God, not God, but divinized.

We are monotheists in that we profess One God, but at the same time we are Trinitarian since the One God revealed Himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Orthodox Christian Faith professes the same God of our ancestors and Forefathers in the Faith such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We profess the same God Who revealed Himself in the burning bush to Moses as I AM.

The Father is the source and unity of the Holy Trinity. From the Father the Son is begotten, not made. From the Father the Holy Spirit proceeds as clearly stated in Holy Scripture. The Father is the source and unity of the Trinity but also the source of distinction between the three Divine Persons, co-existing, consubstantial, of the same essence. Our limited intellectual and rational capacity cannot fully grasp or comprehend the distinctions of the Three Divine Persons in the One God: the un-begottenness of the Father, the begottenness of the Son and the procession of the Holy Spirit. St. Gregory the Theologian said one would be led to insanity to even try to grasp or comprehend this divine reality. 

The Church accepts the divine mystery of the Trinity, of the One God. We resign to the fact that we are limited in our intellectual and rational capability to unravel this holy mystery, not because we cannot explain it, but because it is not possible to explain divine mystery; this is why it is a divine mystery and a matter of faith. We are content to approach God in the veil of such divine mystery and at the same time encounter Him personally through the mediation of Christ our God Who became flesh and dwelt among us.

The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is the summation of our Faith:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, 
and of all things visible and invisible. 

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. Begotten of the Father before all ages; God of God, light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made; consubstantial with the Father; by whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven. And became incarnate by the Holy Spirit, of the Virgin Mary; and was made man. He was crucified also for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven: and sits at the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory, to judge both the living and the dead: of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. 

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life: who proceeds from the Father. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified: who spoke by the Prophets. 

And in One holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. 

I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins. 

And I look for the resurrection of the dead. 

And the life of the world to come.