Why is the Church called Apostolic?

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HEART QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

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Why is the Church called Apostolic?

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Topic 274 of the Catechism

of Saint Philaret of Moscow, Russia (+1867)

November 19

Because she has from the Apostles, without break or change, both her doctrine and the succesion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, through the laying of consecrated hands. In the same sense the Church is called Orthodox, or Right-believing.

“You are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” (Eph. 2:19-20).

Source:

LOVE AND REPENTANCE

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Why do we venerate Constantine the Great as a Saint?

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Why do we venerate Constantine the Great as a Saint?

The very name of Constantine is enough to move the heart of any Christian. It moves us because the first to bear the name Constantine I, the Great, was not merely one of the greatest men in world history, but he was something more besides: a saint.

And when they hear the word “saint”, the trumpeters of atheism and unbelief start to sound off. Is he a saint? General, yes. King and Emperor, yes. Great, yes. But saint? No, he’s not a saint, they say. Because, they say, Constantine the Great committed crimes: he killed his son Crispus; he killed his second wife Fausta; and so shouldn’t be considered a saint*.

What can we say in response to those who are against Constantine the Great for no other reason than that he was a Christian? Had he not been a Christian, but an idolater like Julian the Apostate, who betrayed the Church, then they would be praising him. But, no. Constantine, who supported the Orthodox faith and established firm foundations, is slandered and hated by the enemies of Christ.

We would answer: they either forget or do not know that, in our faith, there is a great thing called repentance. One tear from a sinner, whatever act they’ve committed, one tear at the sacrament of confession, redeems any fault. Were there no repentance, paradise would be empty, we wouldn’t have a calendar of feasts nor any saints, because there isn’t a saint who hasn’t cried and hasn’t repented sins. There’s no other way to Paradise, beloved, than the door of repentance. Constantine wasn’t born a saint, he became one. He made mistakes, but he repented. Let’s not forget that he was brought up in the inhuman surroundings of the courts of Diocletian and Galerius, yet he disagreed with people like them.

He’s a saint because his presence in the world is the light of Christ. This light is also shown in his call, which is remarkably like that of Saint Paul and which is why it is mentioned in his dismissal hymn. Saint Paul was called by Christ in a vision when he was walking along the road to Damascus; he saw a shining light and heard a voice saying: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” In the same way, Saint Constantine was called in a vision. A historic vision which is reported by contemporary historians[2]. What was the vision? When he arrived outside Rome on 28 October, in the year 312 A. D., the army of his rival was three times larger and defeat stared him in the face. As he sat there pondering, in broad daylight, he saw a great sign: the stars in the heavens formed a cross and below the cross he saw the words: “In this conquer” (In hoc vinca). And from that moment on, he was convinced that the future of humanity rested with Christ. He then adopted the banner which proceeded his troops and, with this sign, “In this conquer”, he defeated Maxentius, entered Rome and proclaimed to the whole city that this victory did not belong to his legions but to the Honourable Cross.

His edicts are light. The first edict, in February, 313, was for the persecutions to cease. Just imagine. The persecution of Christians had lasted 300 years. It was forbidden to be Christian. The very word “Christian” was cause enough for conviction, nothing else needed to be investigated: “Are you Christian?”. That was it. Possessions confiscated, incredible sufferings, horrifying tortures. How many martyrs? 12 million. For 300 years, Christians begged: “Lord, give us peace”. And He did. Peace came into the world through the chosen vessel of divine providence[3], Constantine the Great.

How, then, can we not honour him? We ought to do so if for nothing other than that edict which he signed with his holy hands. His nobility of soul and forgiving nature were also light. They say that some idolater enemies once decapitated a statue of him. When the news was brought to him he raised his hands, took hold of his head and said: “This is my head here. There’s nothing missing. Don’t punish them”. On another occasion he said that if he saw a cleric sinning, he would cover him with his robes, so as to prevent other people seeing his sins. This showed his intense concern that the Church should not be subjected to scandals.

He abolished the worship of the Roman emperors, who were considered gods on earth.

His legislation was also light. For the first time, Christian legislation was introduced. His vision was rare. What vision? To make a Christian state, on a global scale, and offer it to Christ for sanctification and deification. This is why he’s depicted holding an orb. And just as the Patriarch Abraham heard the voice of God telling him to leave his homeland and settle in a land that God would show him (Gen. 12, 1), so, too, Saint Constantine left Old Rome, the city stained with the blood of innocent Christians criminally killed, and built a New Rome on the Bosphorus, which, after his repose, was quite rightly called Constantinople. And from here he took measures aimed at raising the spiritual state and sanctity of the people.

What measures? He closed all the night-time places of corrupt pleasure. There were places of entertainment where women gathered under the protection of disgusting divinities, Aphrodite centres, Bacchus centres and he closed them all. He closed the oracles and got rid of the magicians who were exploiting people and deceiving them. He forbade blasphemy. He said he would forgive anything, except blasphemy. If anyone blasphemed the name of Christ, they were immediately arrested and exiled.

He honoured Sunday by edict. He declared it a great and splendid day and forbade any shops to open. Horse races, places of relaxation, everything closed.

He supported small land-holders and workers and took measures against usury and every of other form of injustice. He was the first to support human rights, he protected widows and orphans, and showed particular concern for social welfare.

He protected the Orthodox faith. When Arius, the leader of the heresy named after him, came along and opened his dirty mouth against our Lord, Jesus Christ, and said that He was not really God and of the same substance as the Father, Constantine convened the First Ecumenical Synod in Nicaea, Bithynia, to write the Creed. He himself went to the convention, not as emperor and ruler of the planet, but in humility and kissed the hands of the holy bishops, many of whom still had the marks of their mistreatment fresh on their bodies. Not being a theologian, when he was asked for his opinion, he replied: “I respect what I do not know”.

He supported missionary work. It was during his time as emperor that the Armenians and Georgians became Christians, and the light of Christ reached as far as India.

It was at his command that the Honourable Cross was found an d the first churches were built in Jerusalem. He was the initiator and founder of a Christian Empire that lasted one thousand one hundred years.

Finally, beloved, when he realized that his earthly end was approaching, he surrounded himself with bishops and confessed his sins and wept. He was then baptized, at the age of about 63, and never again put on the royal robes, the splendid imperial vestments, but wore only his white baptismal robes, telling people that he now really did feel like an emperor. He took communion, the Body and Blood of Christ, and, pure and clean, rejoicing and praying, departed for the heavenly kingdom.

Beloved, even if we ignore all the above, there are two criteria for the Church regarding his sanctity: a) the vision of God and the grace which the saint enjoyed, as we have mentioned; b) his miracles after death.

After his departure from this life, his sacred relics were buried with imperial honours in the narthex of the church of the Holy Apostles, where they gave off a powerful aroma and myrrh and performed many miracles[4]. It may be that some people wonder whether what the Christians say is really the truth. Beloved, even if some people don’t believe, there are two criteria for his sanctity and only two. It is with the seal of God that Constantine is a saint and Equal to the Apostles. History has shown him to be great and the Church to be a saint.

[1] Words attributed to Konstantinos XI Palaiologos in a poem about the capture of Constantinople (trans. note).

* The truth of the matter is as follows: when Constantine the Great was Caesar in the West, Rome proclaimed the cruel, anti-Christian, Maxentius, as emperor, who wishing to cover his back in the west, since he feared Constantine, forced him to divorce his wife, Minervina and marry Fausta, a very ambitious and cunning woman who was also Maxentius’ sister, in order to control him. When she saw Constantine’s eldest son, Crispus, distinguishing himself in battles and being groomed for the succession, she wanted to destroy him at all costs, in order to promote her own three sons to positions of power. So she slandered Crispus by saying that he had tried to rape her and kill his father in order to seize power, like a new Absalom. Unfortunately, Fausta’s plot was so convincing and her lies so persuasive that Constantine and the generals fell into the demonic trap. And they allowed Crispus to be put to death, in accordance with the law. When the queen mother, (Saint) Helen, who was many miles away, learned what had happened she rebuked her son severely for his decision. Constantine instituted exhaustive enquiries, from which it became clear that he was the victim of a criminal conspiracy on the part of his wife, Fausta, and her supporters. So he ordered that she, too, be put to death. These two murders of people of his own family greatly distressed Constantine, who regretted them bitterly to the end of his days and sought God’s forgiveness. And I order to show his repentance publicly he had a statue erected to Crispus, with the inscription “To my much-wronged son”.

[2] Lactantius (De Mortibus Persecutorum, 44), Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. IX, 9.1-11, Socrates (Eccl. Hist. I, 2.5-10), Sozomenos (Eccl. Hist. I 1) et al.

[3] In his book “The Ecumenical Synods”, Saint Nektarios writes that Saints Constantine and Helen were the hands of divine providence.

[4] See the calendar of the Church.

by Meletios Stathis

Source:

http://www.omhksea.org

http://swww.omhksea.org/2013/05/why-do-we-venerate-constantine-the-great-as-a-saint/

Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong & South East Asia

Why do women cry?

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PAINTING LEAVES

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Why do women cry?

A little boy asked his mother, “Why are you crying?” 

“Because I’m a woman,” she told him.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

His Mom just hugged him and said, “And you never will.”

Later the little boy asked his father, “Why does mother seem to cry for no reason?”

“All women cry for no reason,” was all his dad could say.

The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry.

Finally he put in a call to God. When God got on the phone, he asked, “God, why do women cry so easily?”

God said:

“When I made the woman she had to be special.

I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world, yet gentle enough to give comfort.

I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children.

I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up, and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining.

I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her very badly.

I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart.

I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.

And finally, I gave her a tear to shed. This is hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed.”

“You see my son,” said God, “the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart – the place where love resides.”

Anonymous

Q&A – Father Zacharias of Essex Monastery, England – Video

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GREAT BRITAIN OF MY HEART

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Q&A – Father Zacharias of Essex Monastery, England

Archimandrite Zacharias is a disciple of Elder Sophrony (of blessed memory), who was a disciple of St. Silouan of Mount Athos.

Presently, Fr. Zacharias is the abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist, Essex, England founded by Elder Sophrony.

What is the Holy Confession?

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HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART

AMERICA OF MY HEART

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Holy Confession

One of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Orthodox Church

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ORTHODOXY IS LOVE

Holy Confession (or Repentance) is one of the holy mysteries (or sacraments) in the Orthodox Church, as well as many other Christian traditions. Through it, the penitent receives the divine forgiveness of Christ for any sins that are confessed. Confession is typically given to a Spiritual Father (usually a parish priest or monastic). Confession can be individual or general. The frequency of required confession (as well as whether or not general confession is permissible) can vary from parish to parish, and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The better is once a month or twice a month.

Confession In the Bible

Old Testament

“He shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.” (Num. 5:7)

“Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners, and they stood and confessed their sins and the guilt of their fathers. While they stood in their places, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day and spent another fourth of the day in confession and worship of the LORD their God.” (Nehemiah 9:2-3)

“And read out publicly this scroll which we send you, in the house of the LORD, on the feast day and during the days of assembly: ‘Justice is with the LORD, our God; and we today are flushed with shame, we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem, that we, with our kings and rulers and priests and prophets, and with our fathers, have sinned in the LORD’S sight and disobeyed him. We have neither heeded the voice of the LORD, our God, nor followed the precepts which the LORD set before us.'” (Baruch 1:14-18)

John the baptist

John the baptist practiced confession

“Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” (Matthew 3:6)

“And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark 1:5)

The Church

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

“Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.” Acts 19:18

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Preparing for Confession

Reflection on the Ten Commandments is often recommended as part of an examination of conscience.

Confidentiality

From “Guidelines for Clergy” (Orthodox Church in America):

“The secrecy of the Mystery of Penance is considered an unquestionable rule in the entire Orthodox Church. Theologically, the need to maintain the secrecy of confession comes from the fact that the priest is only a witness before God. One could not expect a sincere and complete confession if the penitent has doubts regarding the practice of confidentiality. Betrayal of the secrecy of confession will lead to canonical punishment of the priest.

St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite exhorts the Spiritual Father to keep confessions confidential, even under strong constraining influence. The author of the Pedalion (the Rudder), states that a priest who betrays the secrecy of confession is to be deposed. The Metropolitan of Kos, Emanuel, mentions in his handbook (Exomologeteke) for confessors that the secrecy of confession is a principle without exception.”

In St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite’s Exomologitarion, he writes:

“Nothing else remains after confession, Spiritual Father, except to keep the sins you hear a secret, and to never reveal them, either by word, or by letter, or by a bodily gesture, or by any other sign, even if you are in danger of death, for that which the wise Sirach says applies to you: “Have you heard a word? Let it die with you” (Sir. 19:8); meaning, if you heard a secret word, let the word also die along with you, and do not tell it to either a friend of yours or an enemy of yours, for as long as you live. And further still, that which the Prophet Micah says: “Trust not in friends… beware of thy wife, so as not to commit anything to her” (Mic. 7:5).

For if you reveal them, firstly, you will be suspended or daresay deposed completely by the Ecclesiastical Canons. Secondly, you become a reason for more Christians not to confess, being afraid that you will reveal their sins, just as it happened during the time of Nektarios of Constantinople when the Christians did not want to confess on account of a Spiritual Father who revealed the sin of a woman. The divine Chrysostom both witnessed these things and suffered because of them on account of his trying to convince the people to confess. It is impossible for me to describe in words how much punishment this brings upon you, who are the cause of these things.”

St. John of the Ladder writes:

“At no time do we find God revealing the sins which have been confessed to Him, lest by making these public knowledge, He should impede those who would confess and so make them incurably sick.”

The Byzantine Nomocanon states, in Canon 120:

“”A spiritual father, if he reveals to anyone a sin of one who had confessed receives a penance: he shall be suspended [from serving] for three years, being able to receive Communion only once a month, and must do 100 prostrations every day.”

Source:

ORTHODOX WIKI

What the Saints say about Paradise?

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ORTHODOXY IS LOVE

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Saint John of Damascus

“An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith”

Concerning Paradise

BOOK II CHAPTER XI

Now when God was about to fashion man out of the visible and invisible creation in His own image and likeness to reign as king and ruler over all the earth and all that it contains, He first made for him, so to speak, a kingdom in which he should live a life of happiness and prosperity. And this is the divine paradise, planted in Eden by the hands of God, a very storehouse of joy and gladness of heart (for “Eden” means luxuriousness). Its site is higher in the East than all the earth: it is temperate and the air that surrounds it is the rarest and purest: evergreen plants are its pride, sweet fragrances abound, it is flooded with light, and in sensuous freshness and beauty it transcends imagination: in truth the place is divine, a meet home for him who was created in God’s image: no creature lacking reason made its dwelling there but man alone, the work of God’s own hands.

In its midst God planted the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. The tree of knowledge was for trial, and proof, and exercise of man’s obedience and disobedience: and hence it was named the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or else it was because to those who partook of it was given power to know their own nature. Now this is a good thing for those who are mature, but an evil thing for the immature and those whose appetites are too strong, being like solid food to tender babes still in need of milk. For our Creator, God, did not intend us to be burdened with care and troubled about many things, nor to take thought about, or make provision for, our own life. But this at length was Adam’s fate: for he tasted and knew that he was naked and made a girdle round about him: for he took fig-leaves and girded himself about. But before they took of the fruit, They were both naked, Adam and Eve, and were not ashamed. For God meant that we should be thus free from passion, and this is indeed the mark of a mind absolutely void of passion. Yea, He meant us further to be free from care and to have but one work to perform, to sing as do the angels, without ceasing or intermission, the praises of the Creator, and to delight in contemplation of Him and to cast all our care on Him. This is what the Prophet David proclaimed to us when He said, Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He will sustain thee. And, again, in the Gospels, Christ taught His disciples saying, Take no thought for your life what ye shall eat, nor for your body what ye shall put on. And further, Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. And to Martha He said, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her, meaning, clearly, sitting at His feet and listening to His words.

The tree of life, on the other hand, was a tree having the energy that is the cause of life, or to be eaten only by those who deserve to live and are not subject to death. Some, indeed, have pictured Paradise as a realm of sense, and others as a realm of mind. But it seems to me, that, just as man is a creature, in whom we find both sense and mind blended together, in like manner also man’s most holy temple combines the properties of sense and mind, and has this twofold expression: for, as we said, the life in the body is spent in the most divine and lovely region, while the life in the soul is passed in a place far more sublime and of more surpassing beauty, where God makes His home, and where He wraps man about as with a glorious garment, and robes him in His grace, and delights and sustains him like an angel with the sweetest of all fruits, the contemplation of Himself. Verily it has been fitly named the tree of life. For since the life is not cut short by death, the sweetness of the divine participation is imparted to those who share it. And this is, in truth, what God meant by every tree, saying, Of every tree in Paradise thou mayest freely eat. For the ‘every’ is just Himself in Whom and through Whom the universe is maintained. But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was for the distinguishing between the many divisions of contemplation, and this is just the knowledge of one’s own nature, which, indeed, is a good thing for those who are mature and advanced in divine contemplation (being of itself a proclamation of the magnificence of God), and have no fear of falling, because they have through time come to have the habit of such contemplation, but it is an evil thing to those still young and with stronger appetites, who by reason of their insecure hold on the better part, and because as yet they are not firmly established in the seat of the one and only good, are apt to be torn and dragged away from this to the care of their own body.

Thus, to my thinking, the divine Paradise is twofold, and the God-inspired Fathers handed down a true message, whether they taught this doctrine or that. Indeed, it is possible to understand by every tree the knowledge of the divine power derived from created things. In the words of the divine Apostle, For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. But of all these thoughts and speculations the sublimest is that dealing with ourselves, that is, with our own composition. As the divine David says, The knowledge of Thee from me, that is from my constitution, was made a wonder. But for the reasons we have already mentioned, such knowledge was dangerous for Adam who had been so lately created.

The tree of life too may be understood as that more divine thought that has its origin in the world of sense, and the ascent through that to the originating and constructive cause of all. And this was the name He gave to every tree, implying fulness and indivisibility, and conveying only participation in what is good. But by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we are to understand that sensible and pleasurable food which, sweet though it seems, in reality brings him who partakes of it into communion with evil. For God says, Of every tree in Paradise thou mayest freely eat. It is, me-thinks, as if God said, Through all My creations thou art to ascend to Me thy creator, and of all the fruits thou mayest pluck one, that is, Myself who art the true life: let every thing bear for thee the fruit of life, and let participation in Me be the support of your own being. For in this way thou wilt be immortal. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. For sensible food is by nature for the replenishing of that which gradually wastes away and it passes into the drought and perisheth: and he cannot remain incorruptible who partakes of sensible food.

Source:

Saint John of Damascus

An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

BOOK II CHAPTER XI

What about Eternal Life?

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Eternal Life

ETERNAL LIFE Q&A

What is Eternal Life in Eastern Orthodox Church?

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USA OF MY HEART

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The Symbol of Faith: Eternal Life

Source:

http://oca.org

http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/doctrine/the-symbol-of-faith/eternal-life

ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA – OCA

I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world [ages] to come

(From the Sympol of Faith)

The Eastern Orthodox Church does not believe merely in the immortality of the soul, and in the goodness and ultimate salvation of only spiritual reality. Following the Scriptures, Orthodox Christians believe in the goodness of the human body and of all material and physical creation. Thus, in its faith in resurrection and eternal life, the Orthodox Church looks not to some “other world” for salvation, but to this very world so loved by God, resurrected and glorified by Him, tilled with His own divine presence.

At the end of the ages God will reveal His presence and will fill all creation with Himself. For those who love Him it will be paradise. For those who hate Him it will be hell. And all physical creation, together with the righteous, will rejoice and be glad in His coming.

The wilderness and the solitary places will be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom in abundance (Is 35:1).

For behold I create new heavens and a new earth says the Lord, and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create, for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy (Is 65:17-18).

The visions of the prophets and those of the Christian apostles about things to come are one and the same:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself will be with them; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:1-5).

When the Kingdom of God fills all creation, all things will be made new. This world will again be that paradise for which it was originally created. This is the Orthodox doctrine of the final fate of man and his universe.

It is sometimes argued, however, that this world will be totally destroyed and that God will create everything new “out of nothing” by the act of a second creation. Those who hold this opinion appeal to such texts as that found in the second letter of Saint Peter:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away… and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up (2 Pet 3:10).

Because the Bible never speaks about a “second creation” and because it continually and consistently witnesses that God loves the world which He has made and does everything that He can to save it, the Orthodox Tradition never interprets such scriptural texts as teaching the actual annihilation of creation by God. It understands such texts as speaking metaphorically of the great catastrophe which creation must endure, including even the righteous, in order for it to be cleansed, purified, made perfect, and saved. It teaches as well that there is an “eternal fire” for the ungodly, an eternal condition of their being destroyed. But in any case the “trial by fire” which “destroys the ungodly” is in no way understood by the Orthodox in the sense that creation is doomed to total destruction, despised by the loving Lord who created it and called it “very good” (Gen 1:31; also 1 Cor 3:13-15; Heb 12:25-29; Is 66; Rev 20-22).

 

What do you mean, “Pray to the Saints”? – Video

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FREDERICA MATHEWES-GREEN

USA OF MY HEART

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What Do You Mean, “Pray to the Saints”?

Frederica Mathewes-Green, Maryland, USA

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Welcome to the Orthodox Church! Join Frederica Mathewes-Green, in this video series, on a journey into the Eastern Orthodox Church. Learn about Orthodox teachings and dogma, Orthodox architecture and terminology, and what it means to live an Orthodox life.

In this video, “What Do You Mean ‘Pray to the Saints?’,” Frederica explains that the English word “pray” in this sentence is a little misleading. So, what does it mean to pray to the Saints and what does the Orthodox Church practice? Watch to find out!

These videos are based off of Frederica’s new book, “Welcome to the Orthodox Church.”

Buy the book:
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Frederica Mathewes-Green:
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Music by Holy Cross Choir:
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Special thanks to Evan Brown for all his work on set.

Videos produced by Theoria (Ben Cabe):
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Theoria Youtube Channel:
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What about our Guardian Angel?

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SMILE OF IRELAND

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About our Guardian Angel

Source:

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/46500.htm

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

Guardian Angels not only suggest to us good thoughts for eternal salvation—they truly guard us in our life’s situations. The word, “guardian” is not at all an allegory, but the living and precious experience of many generations of Christians. There is a good reason why, for example, in the prayers for travelers we ask the Lord for the special protection of our guardian angel. It’s true—when else but while traveling do we especially need God’s protection?

About thirteen years ago, I was in the Pskov Caves Monastery with one of our parishioners, Nicholai Sergeyevich Leonov, a professor of history and lieutenant general in military intelligence, with whom we had been working for many years on the television program, “Russky Dom” (Russian House). There in the Pskov Caves Monastery, Nicholai Sergeyevich had met Fr. John (Krestiankin) for the first time. As Nicholai Sergeyevich later related, the elder had not only made a very deep impression on him, but had greatly helped him by his prayers.

During those years, Nicholai Sergeyevich was just beginning to enter into the life of the Church, and he still had many questions. One of those questions he asked me was regarding the Orthodox teaching on the angelic world; about guardian angels. I tried very hard, but to my dismay, I still felt that he was disappointed by my artless explanations.

That early summer morning, Fr. John saw us off as we left the monastery for Moscow. The road ahead of us was a long one, and so I asked the mechanics in the monastery garage to look over the car and check the oil before we left.

We sped along the deserted road. I was at the wheel, listening attentively to a story about one of his overseas assignments. He had long promised me that he would tell me that one. I have never met such an interesting storyteller in my life—Nicholai Sergeyevich’s stories leave you breathless. That was how it was that time.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, I caught myself strangely thinking that something was happening to us right then, at that very minute, which was out of the ordinary and threatening. Our automobile was driving along as usual. Nothing—not the indicators, nor the smooth ride, nor any sort of smell—signified any trouble. Nevertheless, I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable.

“Nicholai Sergeyevich, it seems to me that there is something wrong with the car!” I said, making the decision to interrupt my traveling companion.

Leonov is a very experienced driver with many years of practice behind him. Attentively appraising the situation, he finally reassured me that there was nothing wrong. But this did not relieve my inexplicable anxiety in the least. To the contrary, it increased with each passing minute. I felt ashamed about my faintheartedness, but I was simply overwhelmed by a gripping fear.

“Probably we should stop!” I finally announced, feeling that I was breaking out in a cold sweat.

Nicholai Sergeyevich again looked carefully at the indicators. Then he looked through the windshield at the hood. He listened to the automobile’s movement. Looking at me with surprise, he repeated that from his point of view, everything was alright.

But when I repeated for the third time—not understanding why—that we had to stop, Nicholai Sergeyevich consented.

No sooner had we come to a stop, when black smoke came billowing out from under the hood.

We jumped out onto the road. I lunged to lift the hood, and an oily flame burst forth from the motor. Nicholai Sergeyevich grabbed his jacket from the back seat and smothered the flames with it. When the smoke cleared and we were able to investigate what had happened, we could see that the monastery mechanics had forgotten to replace the cap after filling the oil pan. It was still lying next to the battery. Motor oil had been spilling out over the heated motor the entire way, but because of our high speed, the smoke had spread under the wheels, and we did not feel anything inside the car. Just two or three more miles, and the whole thing could have ended tragically.

After cleaning up under the hood a little, we slowly returned to the monastery, and I asked Nicholai Sergeyevich if he needed any additional elucidation concerning guardian angels and their participation in our fate. Nicholai Sergeyevich answered that this was quite enough for today, and he has satisfactorily assimilated that question of dogma.

Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov

Translated by Nun Cornelia

ANGELS Q&A

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How to tie an Orthodox Prayer Rope? – Video

http://orthodoxyislove.wordpress.com

ORTHODOXY IS LOVE

kauai-tor-hta

How to tie an Orthodox Prayer Rope

Andrey Pichugin

Preferably use 100% woolen yarn for knitting needles number 9.

For practice until you learn it properly, use a thick twine to solve easily in every mistake.

 

 

视频: 神存在嗎?Does God exist? ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* English & Chinese video

http://taiwanhongkongofmyheart.wordpress.com

TAIWAN & HONG KONG OF MY HEART

IMG_3983

神存在嗎?Does God exist? (台灣基督東正教會)

台灣基督東正教會隸屬於普世宗主教聖統香港及東南亞教區
主教為黎大略都主教,台灣由李亮神父牧養來自世界各國的教友

李亮神父 Fr. Jonah
來自東正教會希臘聖山(Mt. Athos)Gregoriou Monastery修院,
身為修士們的屬靈父親(spiritual father),
於修院中實踐心禱,鑽研希臘原文聖經十多年。
來臺後於各神學院教導東正教神學、聖經希臘原文等課程,
其屬靈父親為已故希臘知名靈修導師 Elder Porphyrios。

心禱 臉書粉絲專頁 http://www.facebook.com/prayforyou
聖經查經班 臉書粉絲專頁 http://www.facebook.com/bibleoflife
YouTube頻道 https://www.youtube.com/user/asianORTHODOX

来源:

http://theological.asia

台灣基督東正教會

The Orthodox Church in Taiwan

 

無神論 Q&A

What is true love? – Video

http://usaofmyheart.wordpress.com

USA OF MY HEART

Nature___Flowers_Violent_flowering_of_pink_flowers_in_the_mountains_100678_-1440x900

What is Love?:

An Orthodox Christian Understanding of the Divine Love of God

Part 1 & 2

An Eastern Orthodox Lesson on what true love is, and how to acquire this true and Divine love of God.

Speaker / Translator – Mr Zalalas: Translator of Archimandrite / Spiritual Father Fr. Athanasios Mitilinaios, Greece

LOVE Q&A

Why do Orthodox Christians “cross themselves” different than Roman Catholics?

http://romancatholicsmetorthodoxy.wordpress.com

ROMAN CATHOLICS MET ORTHODOXY

1152x720_bright-pink-flowers-in-the-mountains

 

Why do Orthodox Christians “cross themselves”

different than Roman Catholics?

http://orthodoxyislove.wordpress.com

ORTHODOXY IS LOVE

They touch their right shoulder first, then their left, whereas the Roman Catholics first touch their left shoulder. Is this difference important? Does it make any difference?

Orthodox cross themselves from right to left. first we will describe the mechanics of making the cross, then explain why it is indeed important that we make the sign of the cross correctly.

“Placing the cross on oneself”

-We place our thumb and first two fingers together in a point, and our last we fingers flat against our palm. The three fingers together represent the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the two fingers in the palm represent the two natures of Christ.
-We touch our forehead, then our belly, tracing the vertical part of the cross.
-From our belly, we bring our hand up to our right shoulder, touching it.
-We finish placing the cross on ourself by touching our left shoulder.

The act of “Placing the cross on oneself” is a request for a blessing from God. We make if from right to left to mirror the actions of the priest when he blesses us. The priest, looking at the parishioners, blesses from left to right. Therefore, the parishioners, putting on the sign of the cross on themselves, do it from right to left.

Because the Lord separated the sheep from the goats, putting the faithful sheep on His right side, and the goats on the left, the Church always treats the right side as the preferred side. We only cross ourselves with our RIGHT hand. The priest, when blessing a person, first touches or points to their RIGHT side, then their left. Also the censing of the Holy Table in the Altar is always done from the RIGHT side first; censing of the Ikonostasis, the Congregation and of the Church itself always begins with the right side. The priest always gives communion with his RIGHT hand, even if he is left handed. There are other examples of this right side preference.

When a parent makes the sign of the cross over a child, they will cross them from left to right, just as the priest blesses. When they make the sign of the cross over themselves, they would do it, logically, the other way.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states that in the Roman Catholic Church, the faithful crossed themselves from right to left, just as the Orthodox do, until the 15th or 16th century. They must explain why they have changed an ancient and apostolic tradition. We cannot answer as to their motivations.

Is it important to cross ourselves a particular way? In a word, YES. We do not have the authority to choose willy-nilly what parts of the Christian Tradition we want to follow. Our fathers, and countless saints crossed themselves from right to left. Ancient icons show Christ or bishops beginning a blessing from right to left. the right side is referred to in a preferential way many times in scripture and our sacred hymns What should we want to change?

ΒΥ

FR. ALEXANDER LABEDEV

What Yoga really is?

http://whataboutyoga.wordpress.com

WHAT ABOUT YOGA?

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What Yoga Really Is?

By

Johannes Aagaard

Aarhus University, Danmark

Source:

http://www.egolpion.com/root.en.aspx

http://www.egolpion.com/tieinai_yoga.en.aspx

ANTI HERETICAL MANUAL

The philosophy of yoga can be expressed as follows:

“Ashes are fire, ashes are water, ashes are earthy everything is ashes, mind, sight, and the other senses are ashes.” (Atharva Siras)

All things in life are transitory, and pain, suffering, and death lurk behind everything. All of life with its omnipresent suffering and death goes on and on in an eternal cycle (samsara or the reincarnation cycle) from which no one escapes. Life is an endless wandering through relentless and insurmountable suffering. The future holds only further rebirths, and whether one is inching towards a better life or sinking into worse life makes little difference.

For all life is ashes.

Hinduism in all its various forms is first of all an attempt: escape from this relentless cycle of rebirth. It is not death wish because the aim is to escape death as well as life. Hindus wish to escape from life with good reason – for life on the Indian subcontinent is hard. Sickness of every kind, famine due to drought or flood, war and oppression make life an unbearable succession of suffering and defeat. The religious faith of the hindus which grows out of their painful experience of life finds its foremost expression in the god Shiva and his consort Kali.

Fear of death

The various Hindu techniques for liberation are attempts to be free of both life and death. Even those who fail to reach the ultimate goal can at least reduce their involvement with life. This is the aim of yoga. By practicing yoga one can reduce suffering and defer death by reducing or completely halting the normal life

An important text of hatha yoga expresses it this way

92. As long as prana is held in the body, so long consciousness (cittam) (is) free from disease. What cause is there for fear of death so long as the sight (resins fixed) between the eyebrows’

93. Therefore, from the fear of death, Brahma (is) intent on pranayama, as are also Yogis and sages. Therefore, one should restrain the prana.” (Gozaksa Sataka)

As expressed in this text the source of yoga is the fear of death, and the way to avert death is to hold back breathing. The same hatha yoga techniques will hold back and immobilize other life functions.

Hatha Yoga Techniques

Hatha yoga breathing exercises (pranayama) are not intended to lead to better breathing, but to the reduction or complete cessation of breathing! In the same way hatha yoga body postures (asanas) are intended to immobilize the whole body. Practicing them will enable the body to become completely motionless and hardened in fixed positions. Meditation words (mantras) serve to immobilize the consciousness. Mantras are usually the names of gods used for worship. Symbolic body movements (mudras and bandhas) in yoga are designed to close all “nine doors of the body”, so that no sense perception from the outside penetrates into the mind. When all outer sensation is shut off the body itself will create as compensation sense perceptions of an inner kind, an inner light, an inner sound, an inner smell, an inner pleasure.

So the objective of yoga is not to affirm people’s lives, but to create another inner life as a substitute for the life one wants to escape. A whole inner new universe, an internal new dimension awaits those who meditate, those who are willing to become a disciple and follow the path of a guru. That is the ultimate aim of the techniques taught in all yoga schools and yoga classes throughout the world.

In yoga there are no neutral techniques. The entire discipline from beginning to end is intended to lead toward an escape from life and death and to serve the higher aims of yoga.

Tantra Yoga

This higher yoga has many names. Distinctions can be made between the yoga of the emotions (bhakti), the yoga of action (karma), and the yoga of knowledge (jnana). However more important than all of these is the greater or higher yoga called Tantra yoga. Tantra yoga itself can be called kriya yoga, laya yoga, kundalini yoga, and raja yoga. The three class!c yogic disciplines of bhakti, karma, and jnana demand many reincarnations for training in order to break free from the cycle of life and death. In contrast, tantra yoga is the direct but also the most dangerous path. Most yoga schools teach that mankind is in a state of decay (kali yuga) and our desperate situation requires a desperate remedy. Tantra yoga is the desperate remedy, and most yoga schools and gurus are tantric in one way or another.

While the classic yogic systems either reject or play down sexuality, Tantra does completely the opposite. Along with the classic systems Tantra desires to escape from the samsaric cycle and perceives life as a poison, but Tantra intends to drive out evil with evil, poison with poison. This is where sexuality enters into tantra yoga. This is not immediately apparent to a newcomer, because like many other oriental religions yoga functions at two levels showing one face outwardly and a completely different face inwardly. This is why yoga is couched in w hat Hindus call “twilight language” which hides as much as it reveals, and is deliberately ambiguous. Thus the key concepts in yoga, such as bindu (semen) and prana (life force) have both a physical and a symbolic meaning.

Semen Mysticism

It is a basic tenet of Tantra yoga that normal sexual activity uses up the life force and exposes the individual to sickness and death. Consequently it is not only prana in the sense of breathing that must be held back, but first and foremost bindu (semen) which must be conserved. The holding back of breath and all other techniques in Tantra yoga serve the ultimate aim of retention of semen. Retention of semen can lead to immortality or at least rejuvenat man in a way which holds off death. For this to happen semen must be transformed in to nectar, ambrosia, soma, the elixir of life, the drink of immortality. This is the deepest core, the very center of all that yoga is concerned with.

The Kundalini Serpent

The full details cannot be explained in a short presentation, but the culmination of yogic practice is ritual sexual intercourse (maithuna) using the various techniques of hatha yoga. Yoga uses the orgasm as the determining experience for both liberation from the samsaric cycle of life and death and confusion with the divine. In reality what takes place is the divinization of the human.

This takes place through meditation on the kundalini serpent. Prana or life force is identical with sexuality and is portrayed by the kundalini or coiled serpent which resides behind the human genitals. She (the life force/serpent is seen as feminine) must be awakened and forced from her spot at the bottom of the spinal column into a canal within the spinal column and then up through this canal. On the way up she will pass through a number of points called chakras. At each chakra she receives more and more energy and becomes more and more divine.

This process of divinization should manifest itself in supernatural powers for the person meditating. For example the meditator could levitate, or walk through walls, or be in two places at one time. The acquisition of supernatural power is called siddha yoga and is found all over the world. Siddha yoga is represented by TM which promises its meditators the power to levitate, but of course only upon the payment of a large fee.

The Great Death – Immortality

After all the difficult hatha yoga techniques and exercise: are put into practice, the serpent is forced to the top of the brain and a cosmic culmination takes place with a superorgasm. What occurs in reality is an orgasmic experience which when coupled sith strongly hallucinogenic feelings, has an extremely violent character. Symbolically the experience is explained as sexual intercourse between the god Shiva, who reigns supreme in the human brain, and his consort Kali, who is his potency and identical with the Kundalini.

This orgasmic experience is understood as the Great Death by which one escapes the manifold world, and by which one experiences the great freedom. From this experience only the “chosen” come back, as gurus who devote themselve. to the liberation of others. Ordinary people according to yogic doctrine should die within three weeks of this experience of full liberation. This death – and no other – leads away from all life and all death, to total freedom.

Escape from Death to Death

It is ironic that a religiosity so driven by fear of death should culminate in the Great Death. This is because yoga

is founded not only on the fear of death, but on the fear of life as well. Yoga therefore seeks to go beyond life and death to what can he called eternal Death, free from sickness, suffering, and all that is transitory.

A thorough reading of the central texts of yoga reveals that the root of yoga resides in the problem of old age. Yoga was developed as an old man’s attempt to stop the decay of the body, to put off death and at the came time to prepare the individual for death by a gradual withdrawal from life. This withdrawal is social, as an elderly man would leave his own environment to live in isolation in the forest or mountain. But the withdrawal is also mental and physical, as the individual draws back from ordinal life functions. The latter can even be accomplished while one remains in the same social environment. The truth of the matter is that yoga; was first of all developed for elder mer This sexist aspect of yoga is also seen in the centrality of semen mysticism.

Yoga for health

Many people who practice yoga will object that they are not interested in such theoretical rubbish, for from their own experience they know that yoga does them good. They have became healthier with it. This attitude should be respected, but also correctly understood.

A comparison can make this clear. It is a fact that it has done many young men good to have been soldiers. They have been taught discipline and self-control and have become stronger and more healthy. This fact does not alter another fact, that the army itself has a completely different aim, namely to teach people to kill. In the same way it can be said that the aim of yoga is not identical with its side effects and it is a fact that many meditating people, after a period with positive results, experience extremely alarming “harmful” results. We call these results “harmful” but they are in fact the desired effect. What happens is that one gradually loses the ability to lead an active, open extroverted life centering on loving interdependent relationships with others. The meditator gradually withdraw into his self and is less able to relate with other people. Slowly the meditator accepts this as valid – for as time goes on the practice of yoga leads to an acceptance of the theory of yoga.

One Is Taken Where One Does Not Want To Go

If a person practices yoga with the intention of becoming a Hindu this is of course perfectly all right, because freedom of religion is necessary and people ought to be able to practice their religion according to their convictions. However the vast majority of people who practice yoga are taken where really they had no intention of going They are transformed into people with new values, they become Hinduized, and this was not at all their intention. They began to practice yoga because it was presented as an art of life, when in reality it is an art of death developed to help first of all elderly men cope with the end of their lives.

If a person intends to escape from a normal life of social interaction and intends to “establish oneself as a God”, then yoga is the way. If one wants to abandon one’s Christian faith and its love for others and for life itself, then yoga is the best way. But most people are unsuspectingly drawn into yoga. Even some Christians defend yoga because they are ignorant of its factual reality.

It is, therefore, necessary to expose the facts concerning yoga, not in order the deprive yoga teachers of their livelihood or gurus of their disciples, but to provide guidance for those who cannot comprehend the real situation when they approach yoga.

For those who have a need to meditate, there are many methods of Christian meditation. Christian meditation is diametrically opposed to yoga. It will not make gods of us, it will not free us from life and death, but will bring us to the God who through his resurrection saved us from the dilemma of which yoga is itself an expression.”

YOGA Q&A

If a Roman Catholic or a Protestant wants to convert to Orthodoxy (Eastern Orthodox Church), what are the steps?

http://paintingleaves.blogspot.com

PAINTING LEAVES

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If a Roman Catholic or a Protestant wants to convert to

Orthodoxy (Eastern Orthodox Church), what are the steps?

╰⊰¸¸.•¨*

Questions & Answers

in

SIMPLY ORTHODOX

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http://simplyorthodox.tumblr.com

Here is the original question:

SIMPLY ORTHODOX

Hello,

The best is first to be willing to spend the time to really understand the commonalities and differences between Roman Catholicism or Protestantism and Orthodoxy (Eastern Orthodox Church).

In most cases, a person begins the process of conversion by speaking with a local Orthodox priest, who gives instructions (or catechism) on the teachings and beliefs of the Orthodox Church. These beliefs and doctrines have continued unchanged for over 2000 years, since the time of Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. This process of catechism could take many months. Once you have learned about the faith and teachings of the church, you would then be ready to be baptized as a member of the Orthodox Church, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (ie. the Holy Trinity). Baptism is by triple immersion in water. At the same time, you would be Chrismated, which means receiving the Holy Oil and the Holy Spirit.

Thanks for your message! If you need anything, I am here 🙂

I thank God that the truth of the Orthodox Church is being revealed to all over the world!!!

PS. Some very useful sites are:

http://simplyorthodox.tumblr.com – SIMPLY ORTHODOX

http://romancatholicsmetorthodoxy.wordpress.com – ROMAN CATHOLICS MET ORTHODOXY

http://gkiouzelis.blogspot.com – ORTHODOX HEART SITES

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com – JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

 

如何愛「惡人」?How to love a bad person? ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* Chinese & english video

http://taiwanhongkongofmyheart.wordpress.com

TAIWAN & HONG KONG OF MY HEART

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如何愛「惡人」?How to Love a Bad Person? (東正教)

首先,與那些被惡人深切傷害的受害者,一同哀哭。
然後,試著不要「恨」對方。
接著,試著理解對方之所以成為惡人的原因。
最後,意識到對方變成如此,我們都有責任。

也要記得,我們不是任何人的最後審判者。

但是,在我們談論稀有的、最高的「愛」之前,
在我們談論如何愛「惡人」之前,
先思想我們如何「關心」我們「身邊的人」,
關心我們的家人、朋友、妻子、孩子,
踏出最實際的第一步。

李亮神父講道摘要:http://theological.asia/?p=11986

教會官網 http://theological.asia/
愛的箴言 臉書專頁 http://www.facebook.com/prayforyou
YouTube 頻道 http://www.youtube.com/user/asianORTH…
聖禮儀現場直播 http://bambuser.com/channel/orthodox-…

※尊重著作權,引用請註明網址連結。

台灣基督東正教會隸屬於普世宗主教聖統香港及東南亞教區,
主教為黎大略都主教,台灣由李亮神父牧養教友。

李亮神父
來自東正教會靈修聖地阿陀斯聖山
(Mt. Athos, Gregoriou Monastery),
身為修士的屬靈父親(spiritual father),
於修院中實踐心禱,鑽研古希臘文聖經十多年。
來臺後於各神學院教導東正教神學、靈修、聖經希臘原文等課程,
其屬靈父親為已故希臘知名靈修導師St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia。

※尊重著作權,引用請註明網址連結。

愛 Q&A

祈禱不是義務 Is Prayer a Duty? (東正教) ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* Chinese & english video

http://taiwanhongkongofmyheart.wordpress.com

TAIWAN & HONG KONG OF MY HEART

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祈禱不是義務 Is Prayer a Duty? (東正教)

真正的禱告,如同親吻。
藉著禱告,你親吻神,如同親吻所愛的人。
藉著禱告,你透過神,親吻了你所愛的人。
藉著禱告,你讓神不得安寧,直到祂答應保守你所愛的。

這種發自內心的祈禱,無時無刻,不論何地,
你都可以禱告。

如果你讓祈禱成為例行公事,
或讓祈禱成為繳稅般的義務,
你就殺了祈禱。

影片:3分鐘,學心禱
http://youtu.be/ER5LbIne6bQ

教會官網 http://theological.asia/
愛的箴言 臉書專頁 http://www.facebook.com/prayforyou
YouTube 頻道 http://www.youtube.com/user/asianORTH…
聖禮儀現場直播 http://bambuser.com/channel/orthodox-…

※尊重著作權,引用請註明網址連結。

台灣基督東正教會隸屬於普世宗主教聖統香港及東南亞教區,
主教為黎大略都主教,台灣由李亮神父牧養教友。

李亮神父
來自東正教會靈修聖地阿陀斯聖山
(Mt. Athos, Gregoriou Monastery),
身為修士的屬靈父親(spiritual father),
於修院中實踐心禱,鑽研古希臘文聖經十多年。
來臺後於各神學院教導東正教神學、靈修、聖經希臘原文等課程,
其屬靈父親為已故希臘知名靈修導師St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia。

※尊重著作權,引用請註明網址連結。

What about Marriage?

https://orthodoxsaintvalentine.wordpress.com

ORTHODOX SAINT VALENTINE

0582A

4-russian-orthodox-ceremony

AIMILIANOS

Marriage

by

Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery,

Holy Mount Athos, Greece

http://lettersfromanex2x2.blogspot.com

LETTERS FROM AN EX 2×2

When you see difficulties in your marriage, when you see that you’re making no progress in your spiritual life, don’t despair. But neither should you be content with whatever progress you may have already made. Lift up your heart to God. Imitate those who have given everything to God, and do what you can to be like them, even if all you can do is to desire in your heart to be like them. Leave the action to Christ. And when you advance in this way, you will truly sense what is the purpose of marriage. Otherwise, as a blind person wanders about, so too will you wander in life…

It is an adulteration of marriage for us to think that it is a road to happiness, as if it is a denial of the Cross. The joy of marriage is for husband and wife to put their shoulders to the wheel and together go forward on the uphill road of life. “You haven’t suffered? Then you haven’t loved,” says a certain poet. Only those who suffer can really love. And that’s why sadness is a necessary feature of marriage. “Marriage”, in the words of an ancient philosopher, “is a world made beautiful by hope, and strengthened by misfortune.” Just as steel is fashioned in a furnace, just so is a person proved in marriage, in the fire of difficulties…

marriage, then, is a journey through sorrows and joys. When the sorrows seem overwhelming, then you you should remember that God is with you. He will take up your cross. It was He Who placed the crown of marriage on your head. But when when we ask God about something, He doesn’t always supply the solution right away. He leads us forward very slowly. Sometimes He takes years. We have to experience pain, otherwise life would have no meaning. But be of good cheer, for Christ is suffering with you, and the Holy Spirit, “through your groanings is pleading on your behalf” (cf. Rom. 8:26)…

Marriage is a road: it starts out from the earth and ends in heaven. It is a joining together, a bond with Christ, Who assures us that He will lead us to heaven, to be with Him always. Marriage is a bridge leading us from earth to heaven. It is as if the sacrament is saying: Above and beyond love, above and beyond your husband, your wife, above the everyday events, remember that you are destined for heaven, that you have set out on a road which will take you there without fail. The bride and the bridegroom give their hands to one another, and the priest takes hold of them both, and leads them round the table dancing and singing. Marriage is a movement, a progression, a journey which will end in heaven, in eternity.

In marriage, it seems that two people come together. However, it’s not two but three. The man marries the woman, and the woman marries the man, but two together also marry Christ. So three take part in the mystery, and three remain together in life.

in the dance around the table, the couple are led by the priest, who is a type of Christ. This means that Christ has seized us, rescued us, redeemed us, and made us His. And this is the “great mystery” of marriage (cf. Gal. 3:13). (The Orthodox Word vol. 50, no. 3 [296])

Source:

http://orthodox-heart-sites.blogspot.com

ORTHODOX HEART SITES

Is your grandmother a fish?

http://creationtruthorthodoxy.wordpress.com

CREATION TRUTH ORTHODOXY

ireland-beach

Is your grandmother a fish?

By

Dr. Georgia Purdom

https://answersingenesis.org

https://answersingenesis.org/answers/

http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/georgia-purdom/

ANSWERS IN GENESIS

According to a soon-to-be published book for young children, a fish and many other animals are your “grandmothers.” The subtitle for the book is “a child’s first book of Evolution.” While the author and illustrator do a good job of simplifying evolution through words and pictures and using terminology that is kid-friendly, it is exactly those points that make the book so deceptive.

Starting with the Familiar

Rather than starting at the beginning of the evolutionary tree of life with a single-celled organism, the author starts with a fish likely because this would be more familiar to young children. The author chose not to use the terminology of “millions of years” but rather states “a long, long, long, long, long time ago” probably because young children don’t have a good understanding of time. In addition, the author uses the term “grandmother” to refer to each animal (i.e., grandmother fish, reptile, mammal) since children would know what a grandmother is but not an ancestor.

Confusing the Issue of Intelligent Behavior

The book compares animal behavior to human behavior for each of the animal grandmothers. This seduces children into thinking because they can do the same types of things they must be related to the animals. For example, “She [Grandmother Fish] could wiggle and swim fast. Can you wiggle?” Well, certainly children can wiggle (every parent can attest to this!), but that doesn’t mean humans are related to fish. It’s no secret that humans and animals have some similar behaviors, but as we have reported many, many times before this isn’t because of shared ancestry. Instead, God designed animals to beintelligent, but their intelligence pales in comparison to that of humans who are made in the image of God.

Missing Evolutionary Transitions

Following the comparative animal-human behaviors for each “grandmother,” children are presented with a small evolutionary tree showing lines connecting that grandmother to the next one. The book connects fish to reptiles, reptiles to mammals, mammals to apes, and, of course, apes to humans. While visually simple, it discounts the millions of mutations that would have to occur by random chance for these transitions to be possible (and the fact that transitional fossils between these organisms are absent).

Following the conclusion of the book is a parent’s guide giving more detailed information about each evolutionary transition presented in the book. For example, grandmother mammal is said to cuddle and parents are told, “They evolved cuddling as part of nursing our young. Both of these behaviors are governed by the ‘cuddle hormone,’ oxytocin.” It seems the author didn’t stop with simplifying evolution for kids; he also wanted to absurdly simplify it for their parents as well.

How Evolution Supposedly Happens

Also in the parent’s guide are explanations of three major points related to evolution: descent with modification, artificial selection, and natural selection. Dogs are used for artificial selection to show that people have bred dogs to achieve dogs with specific traits (of course, traits that already existed in dogs). They conclude this section with, “All the different kinds of dogs come from one kind of dog that lived a long time ago.” Finally, something I can agree with in the book! All dogs did come from the original dog kind created by God on Day Six of Creation Week, approximately 6,000 years ago. I found it interesting that their point about artificial selection is that it results in variation within a certain group of animals (dogs) and yet somehow a similar type of mechanism (natural selection) is supposed to achieve molecules-to-man evolution with one kind of animal evolving into a completely different kind of animal! I honestly hope parents reading the guide will see the obvious problem this creates for evolution and how natural selection cannot be a mechanism.

As with many books on evolution, time is presented as the key. Evolution can do anything and everything with enough time. But it is this simplification presented to both children and parents in this book that is so problematic. As a professional geneticist, I can attest to the fact that time is not the key but rather what is needed is a genetic mechanism that adds new and novel information so that organisms can evolve from fish to humans. The problem is that with all the thousands of papers published on mutations, no such mechanism has ever been observed. Mutations only alter (and many times detrimentally) genetic information that is already present—they don’t add new and novel information of the type that will change one kind of organism into another. All the time in the world is useless if there is no genetic mechanism to add what is needed for molecules-to-man evolution.

Teaching Our Kids the Truth About Our Origins

With its engaging text and illustrations, I’m sure this book will find its way into many public libraries and even school libraries. I challenge parents and others to suggest to their local librarian an alternative book from AiG’s vast resources for children. One of my personal favorites is Dinosaurs for Kids. I always say it should be called “Dinosaurs for Everyone,” because it is a book that will keep the attention of both children and parents and equip them to answer common questions about dinosaurs. Also, be sure to visit the Creation Museum and take advantage of our “Kids Free in 2014.”

While it is sad to see evolutionary resources like this book for children, it is very encouraging to see the many children’s resources (including Answers Bible Curriculum andAnswers VBS) available through AiG that help us teach our kids that the truth about our origins can only be found in the truth of God’s Word.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!

Source:

http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/georgia-purdom/2014/07/10/is-your-grandmother-a-fish/

ANSWERS IN GENESIS

 

视频:神為何降生為人?Why God became Human? – Video

http://taiwanhongkongofmyheart.wordpress.com

HONG KONG & TAIWAN SMILE

alaska_waterfall_21

视频:神為何降生為人?

Why God Became Human? (東正教)

来源:

http://theological.asia

台灣基督東正教會

THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN TAIWAN

神 Q&A

Yoga and Orthodox Christianity: Are They Compatible? – Dr. Christine Mangala, India

 http://whataboutyoga.wordpress.com

WHAT ABOUT YOGA?

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Yoga and Orthodox Christianity: Are They Compatible?

Dr. Christine Mangala, India

Source:

http://www.ancientfaith.com

ANCIENT FAITH

Dr. Christine Mangala was raised in India and brought up a devout Hindu. Her family was close to one of India’s leading Hindu gurus and teachers. Now an Orthodox Christian writer and teacher, she and Illumined Heart host Kevin Allen speak about whether various aspects of Hindu Yoga are compatible with Christian faith and practice, or whether Yoga should be shunned entirely.

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http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/yoga_and_orthodox_christianity_are_they_compatible

The interview video of Dr. Christine Mangala & Kevin Allen

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Mr. Allen: Welcome to The Illumined Heart on Ancient Faith Radio. As many of you know, we have spoken often on this program about the influence of eastern, non-Christian, spiritual ideas, metaphysics, and worldviews on our culture. And this is the spiritual background I came out of, one which continues to be a subject of interest to me, and, I hope, for some of you as well.

Recently, my parish in southern California has begun to see a trickle of enquirers coming from various eastern traditions, especially those of Hinduism. So I hope our conversation today—Yoga and Orthodox Christianity: Are They Compatible?—will bring light to the subject.  In addition to enquirers from eastern spiritual traditions, many Christian believers also practice yoga asanas, physical postures which have become virtually mainstream in North American and European life, and even some forms of Hindu-influenced meditation. So the question of the compatibility of yoga in its various meditative and especially the physical postures forms with Eastern Orthodox Christianity is one that we’ll attempt to address on the program today.

My guest, whom I’m very very enthused to be speaking with, was born a Hindu, a Brahmin, the highest and priestly caste in India. She was brought up on yoga. Her grandfather, in fact, was a personal friend of one of the expounders of modern yoga and Vedanta philosophy, the well-known Swami Sivananda, who is the founder of the Divine Life Society. And Dr. Christine Mangala became a Christian at age 22, and later converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. She received her doctorate in English literature from Cambridge University, and has authored articles on literature and books of fiction, of which she has written several, as well as various spiritual subjects, including yoga and Christianity. She is married to Dr. David Frost, the director of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, England—a fine program, by the way—with whom she has four children, and she attends St. Ephraim’s Russian Orthodox Church in Cambridge, UK, England.

Her excellent article, “Yoga and the Christian Faith,” provided the impetus for this program, and I’m speaking with my guest today by telephone in Cambridge, England. Dr. Christine Mangala, welcome to The Illumined Heart on Ancient Faith Radio. It’s great to have you as my guest.

Dr. Mangala: Thank you very much, Kevin. It’s a great pleasure and privilege to be on this program.

Mr. Allen: Thank you so much. It’s good to have you as my guest. I’m going to enjoy this; I can tell already. Let’s begin with this first question, Christine, if I might. Speaking of yoga, not in its modern and popularized context, but in its classic context, as you were probably taught the yogas, is yoga understood as spiritual practice in its native Indian tradition, or is it thought of merely as some form of relaxation or physical exercise or both?

Dr. Mangala: Well, I have to say yoga in its classical context is a manifold discipline. At the core of it is a spiritual goal, and, therefore, it would be very fair to say that [in] the classical context it was understood as a spiritual practice, but by the time the late 19th century reformers got to work, and on, even in the early 20th century, the relaxation aspect of it also had started to dominate. But the Indian teachers of yoga, from Sivananda onwards, always have reiterated that the spiritual goal is the primary aim of yoga, and the postures and exercises and other things are an aid to it. If you read teachers like Ashok Kumar Malhotra, and even the most popular of yoga writers, like B.K.S. Iyengar, emphasize this.

Mr. Allen: Yes, and the point I’m trying to get to is—and we’re going to be talking about this rather continually throughout and building up towards it—is can these yogas be somehow separated from their spiritual context, so that’s why I wanted to start there. Now most of us, Dr. Christine Mangala, in Britain and in Europe and North America, are most familiar with the physical postures yoga, which is called Hatha Yoga, but it’s merely one of several classic yoga disciplines. Could you briefly summarize for our listeners the five—as I know them—classic yogas, the spiritual disciplines of Hinduism?

Dr. Mangala: Yes. In fact, you mentioned five—it’s a bit like the sacraments in the West: some say seven and some say countless, and so on. In fact, if you look at the Bhagavad Gita, every chapter is headed “Yoga of Something-or-other”; it’s a bit confusing, but we’ll stick to the five. And the five are: the Karma Yoga, which is the yoga through work to cultivating detachment and achieving a state of dispassion state, in which you do the work, and there’s a wonderful phrase in the Bhagavad Gitawhich talks about “work in worklessness” and “worklessness in work” and its paradox is to be realized in our everyday life; that is the Karma Yoga. Now, Jnâna Yoga is the yoga of true knowledge, true discrimination, and this is the exercise of the intellect in various forms, to discriminate truth from falsehood, ignorance from enlightenment, and so on. Now Bhakti Yoga, which is in fact the most popular one in India, I would say, widely practiced, simply recommends simple devotion and love to our chosen deity or to god in general. Then you have Raja Yoga which is a much more advanced form of mental and psychosomatic control. Now, Hatha Yoga, the one that is very popular in the West, focuses on getting fit, really, tuning the body up, if you like; that is to do with all the physical postures.

Mr. Allen: Thank you for that summary; I think it’s an excellent summary. So, Christine, in the context of classic yoga, as we’ve been speaking, how are these physical postures, the asanas, the Hatha Yoga, seen as being related to the other yogas? I mean, are they a spiritual partner, equally; a lower form; a prelude to the others; you know, can one be liberated in the Hindu context exclusively through the use of yoga postures or asanas, etc.?

Dr. Mangala: Yes, well, I would say that in the classical yoga, you can look at it in two ways: one is to see it in terms of a gradual ascent; perhaps that’s a bit misleading. I would see it much more like spokes in a wheel: there are various aspects, and the idea is to get to the center, and the physical postures are to be practiced along with all the other things as well, so that you actually do a simultaneous practice of several aspects of the yoga discipline. It is a manifold discipline, and I think in ancient—definitely in the ancient days, there was no question of achieving liberation—spiritual liberation—through just practicing the postures alone. The idea wouldn’t even have entered the minds of these ancientrishis—the yogis who practiced them—because they were fully aware of the whole range of psychosomatic problems that had to be overcome in any spiritual journey.

And even then, the yogi who just sits under a tree simply impressing people with postures or lying on a bed of nails was always slightly, I would say, regarded as a spectacle, a butt of ridicule. Even now there are people who do this at pilgrim centers, and I call them the “bizarre bazaars,” you know, just like a spectacle. And this definitely was not encouraged at all: just focusing on the physical aspect of the postures to expect somehow for you to take that into any spiritual state often leads into byways and dead ends, like some psychic feats become possible, but it doesn’t necessarily mean spiritual liberation. This is recognized by the Indian teachers in the classical context.

Mr. Allen: Speaking of yoga and its practice, in an organic sense, what is the ultimate goal of yoga, Christine, as defined by Patañjali and his classic Yoga Sutras and other writings like that?

Dr. Mangala: Well, Patañjali, in fact, speaks of Yoga as “eight-limbed” (ashtanga): eight-limbed postures, an eight-limbed discipline, and, in fact, postures—the practicing of postures, asanas—figures third in the list. It actually begins with moral and psychological preparation. And it starts with the five restraints, you know, you have to control your senses.; and five disciplines, this is the obverse side of it: you have to be trained to do the right things. And then you have third is physical postures. And then you go on to regulation of vital force and withdrawing of the sense organs (pratyahara), and then concentration and meditation, and, finally, you have the word “samadhi”—“absorption.” Now this is usually regarded as the ultimate goal: samadhi or absorption.

Now it becomes a tricky question as to what exactly are you absorbing into? And I’m afraid there are different answers to this question given by different schools of Indian/Hindu traditions. Some would say it is absorption into a kind of impersonal Brahman—that’s where the individual becomes identical with the universal; and some would say it’s absorption into a trans-personal, a godhead; and, of course, if you are in the Buddhist tradition, there’s no question of any godhead whatsoever, in the original Buddhist teaching: and so you enter Nirvana, which is blowing out. Absorption or samadhi, this is the key phrase which describes the Yogi Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras.

Mr. Allen: So it would be fair to say that sticking with the classic understanding of the yogic disciplines, the ultimate goal of which would be this samadhi. So I think we need to drill down a bit, then, and talk a little bit about that. And samadhi is often described in terms ofsaccidananda, pure consciousness, bliss, and so on. How does that compare, and is it compatible with our views within Christianity, of the kingdom of God and so on?

Dr. Mangala: Well, the notion, the concept of saccidananda, which is sort of truth, knowledge, bliss—it’s a tripartite description of this ultimate experience—to my mind it sounds wonderful but it’s a static concept, and it’s also an abstract concept. Now, when Jesus speaks of the spiritual goal of human beings, as the kingdom of God, to me it’s an incredibly rich, exciting, dynamic, inspiring vision. For, it’s not only internal, but also external; it’s not only personal, but it’s also corporate: it involves other human beings. And, besides, the kingdom of God that Jesus speaks of encompasses not only human beings, but all of Creation. We human beings are to be transfigured, but also Creation along with us. What’s more, it’s not a static goal, it is rooted in the Christian notion of Godhead, which is “life-creating Trinity,” we sing in the Liturgy, which means it’s a very dynamic, active force of love and of relationship.

And therefore you have an incredible vision here, a vision of faith, and it’s also, to me, even greater because it doesn’t end; it’s not a goal that you score and that there is an end to it, but it continues. It’s a continuing transformation from glory to glory as St. Paul talks about. I can go on talking about this, but too many words perhaps are not a good idea. But there is one very important reminder about the kingdom of God which I would like to just conclude with: the kingdom of God is achieved onlythrough the cross of Christ, only by following Christ. What that means is suffering alongside with Him.

This is the other thing that excites me as a Hindu, a Hindu convert from Hinduism, one of the reasons I became Christian, was that I found the Hindu answers to evil and suffering extremely inadequate and even pathetic; simply to postpone the problem to karma or some life in the past was not good enough. Whereas, through embracing suffering wholeheartedly, and, conquering it, through love, through faith, we heal our own wounded self, also the wounded world. And now this is concurrent with the kingdom of God. And so all this just to suggest that the Christian idea of the kingdom of God is a far cry from what I would call—I expect I will offend people if I say it, but I will say it anyway—it’s a kind of “do-it-yourself kit” idea of samadhi. And also, samadhi, inevitably, becomes self-centered. Even if people talk about community work and so on, ultimately it does leave the world behind, it leaves the other people behind, and it leaves the Creation behind.

Mr. Allen: Do you think that—I’ve always been confused about this idea of samadhi, especially within the context of Bhakti Yoga which I practice, which, as you pointed out earlier, is devotion to a personal deity—and here is my confusion; maybe you could shed some light on it. And we’re talking about people like Vaishnavites who worship Krishna, and in my case it was Ramakrishna, and there are others that worship Holy Mother and Kali and so on and so forth. My question is: Is samadhi always, Christine, a losing of self? Of course, in Christianity, our personhood in the image of God is key. Is it always a losing of self or is it not always a losing of self or a “blowing out of self” as the Buddhists might say?

Dr. Mangala: Well, I think the “self” that is spoken of in Hindu traditions is not the same as the Christian understanding of a human person; the whole human anthropology is understood differently, and this creates a lot of problems, because when you talk about— when you look at the Bhagavad Gita, it’s one of the classic examples of the way the human being is looked upon as a kind of— the soul indwelling the body. The body-soul division is extremely strong, so what really matters is the soul; the body is just an aggregate of various elements. You have a very similar idea in other Hindu schools of philosophy, even in Buddhism, and Buddhism goes even further by demolishing the very notion of self as well. So when you ask, “What is it that absorbs?” Any illusory sense of self is what most Hindus would say. In other words, there is no sense of the value of a distinctly created human person to start with.

Now this is where I find Christianity so liberating, because we talk about— we have a clear idea and a cogent idea in Christian theology of God is love and God is a creator-God and the lover of mankind. Now, these two things matter immensely when you think about what human beings are, because if human beings are made in the image of God, they also have these personal qualities, if you like. And that is incredibly important, and when you talk about the kingdom of God or theosis and other notions that come with it, because human beings are intrinsically valuable, because they’re made in the image of God. Now, I don’t have anywhere in the Hindu thinking a parallel notion. And so samadhi, naturally, it’s confusing, because there are different ways of defining the human being, but mostly you will find they have a Gnostic undercurrent: the soul becomes important, but the body does not.

Mr. Allen: I’ve spoken though with some in this country who are in the Hare Krishna movement. We have folks that have started to become inquirers into our church—thank God—and they argue that we’re not talking about absorption into an impersonal deity, we’re talking about living forever as a unique being in a “loca” with Krishna, with their deity. So I was confused about whether we’re talking about loss of self in all cases or just in some of the Vedantic schools.

Dr. Mangala: One problem with so many manifestations of Hinduism of late is that it’s rather difficult to track cross-currents that are going on. You would find a lot of Christian terminology taken over and what I call these actually “leavening the lump” from within, meaning that so much of Christian thinking and Christian terminology and Christian notions have been absorbed into Hinduism and regurgitated as Hinduism back to the West. And this idea of living in a loca—it’s a wonderful fantasy. I met a Hare Krishna in the street some years ago, and he was trying to sell me aBhagavad Gita, and I felt sympathetic and I said to him, “Okay, I’ll buy a copy”—I mean, I was working on translations of the Bhagavad Gita at the time—and I said to him, “You know, all you are dreaming of is a poetic fantasy. What is real is Jesus Christ, who has actually come as a human being. God has actually come at a historical point in time to this, to us, to offer all this that you’re dreaming about.” And that is where I would put the Hare Krishna movement.

Mr. Allen: That is such a brilliant way to put it, because, for myself, Christine, when I was meditating in the ashram and had my experience of Christ, as a prelude to that, I started to come to believe that my projections and my visualizations and my meditations as I was taught by my guru, were, in fact, poetic fantasies; they were my desires for something versus anything actually happening inside of me, if you know what I mean. So that’s a well-done, well-done overview. Did you have anything you wanted to add to that?

Dr. Mangala: I was going to say that I would extend the— you know the word “type” that is used in the Church Fathers and others, they use in their commentaries that there are certain types and images of what we expect, and Christ is the reality. And once you have the reality, the types are no longer needed. And there is a sense in which you do have a lot of types imaged in other religions. Some of them, at best, induce people to look in the right direction; at worst they can be demonic, that’s the difference. There’s no way of telling, and you need the spiritual discernment to find out which is which. Actually, the predictions can be so strong that you can actually hallucinate these images, too. Agehananda Bharati, who is an Austrian convert and a monk in the Hare Krishna order, talks about how he actually saw his goddess, and he’s very clear about what had happened, how it had happened to him, too.

Mr. Allen: Yes, and, of course, Rama Krishna had visions all the time with Kali and so on and so forth in some very, frightening to me, frightening ways and aspects. You wrote in your article on yoga and Christianity, Christine Mangala, that a key problem with yoga is that itencourages people to think that there is a way to wholeness of body and mind through the use of human techniques, that is, yoga, without grace and faith in salvation through Jesus Christ. Yet here’s a kind of a paradox I want to throw at you. The Orthodox, as you probably know, are sometimes accused, especially by Protestant Evangelicals, because of our emphasis on theosis and synergy with God, as advocating some form of the same sorts of things you accuse yoga of, you know, spiritual effort, works of righteousness. So can you help us understand how you make the distinction between yoga as false spiritual effort if you like, and theosisand synergy as appropriate or effective spiritual effort?

Dr. Mangala: I have to admit, first of all, I love the concept, the Orthodox concept of synergy. It’s the most beautiful and inspiring way of recognizing human freedom. Now, Orthodox writers emphasize synergy because they recognize this as part of being made in the image of God, the freedom that we have. God hasn’t stinted anything; He’s given us this freedom. And, of course, the idea of effort is something that can be easily misrepresented. It’s not a case of us pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, but it’s much more the case of exercising this God-given energy and directing our energies—physical, mental, spiritual—towards God, towards Christ, through the Spirit.

Let me give you an example; it’s not a very brilliant example, but a crude example. Let’s say someone is driving headlong with all his passion and eagerness to achieve something, except he doesn’t know quite where he’s going and perhaps he’s even on the wrong road, maybe the SatNav has let him down. But the moment that he realizes he’s not getting anywhere, he has to turn back. Now, that is what most of us are like, that in our fallen condition we are misled by our sins, by our passions, by the distractions of the world and confusion, and we seek our solace at first in all sorts of things which the world—what the Bible calls “the world” or “the flesh”—offers, but when we realize that none of this is working, weliterally turn back, that is, we repent. Now if this action of turning back, the redirection of our energies, towards our proper human goal, which is to seek and find God and worship and glorify Him, once this turning back takes place in all sincerity, we are infused by the Holy Spirit. In other words, God’s energies start to flow into us. This is why I love the word “synergy,” because it recognizes two aspects of the spiritual life. So when we pray, when we struggle, it is the Holy Spirit which is praying through us. This is the answer I would give to the Protestant Evangelical suspicions of this so-called “synergy” being some kind of effort.

I will actually give you another of my favorite examples, which is taken from the saint of our parish, St. Ephraim the Syrian. He has a beautiful image which tells us what kind of effort we are to make. St. Ephraim sees the human person as the “harp of the Spirit,” this lovely musical instrument. To play well the music of the Holy Spirit, we need to be clean: the harp needs to be clean and well-tuned, and its strings neither too tight nor too slack. That is our spiritual effort, the ascesis, all the things that are recommended in the Orthodox Church and the Orthodox tradition of fasting, almsgiving, repentance, thanksgiving, prayer: all these are means to achieve the tuning. That is what I see synergy is: a redirection of energies God-wards so that God’s energies can flow into us and transform us. I hope that answers some of the criticism.

Now, similarly with theosis; it’s a bit of a daring and a frightening word for some people;  they feel it’s presuming too much, but it isn’t at all if you look at the Bible, because what are we told there? We are commanded by God, we are told “to be holy even as God is holy.” How can we ignore this command? And it’s not as if He is asking us to do it by ourselves, not at all; He’s pulling us up, if you like. It’s not a military order, but it’s a command of love. God is willing. He is the great Lover. We keep singing “the Lover of mankind” in all our services. We mean what we say: “God is the Lover of mankind.” He is eager to share His life, and He seeks us first. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a classic instance of telling us how He seeks us first. And when we are still far away, He still comes running to us.

Now all this is very difficult for a modern sensibility to register because they haven’t even begun to think of God as love. They are still trapped in the old-style ideas of God as the punisher, God as the sin-picker, and God as the law, and all these false gods have to be got rid of first. And when you read the Bible and pray, you discover the God of love, which is where you have to start. But what happens when love is offered? Many people these days—and they’ve done it in the past and they do it still—saying, “No, thank you. I am sufficient unto myself.” But the moment you shut, you close the door, God is not going to force himself. So I like to think of theosis as being transfigured by God’s love. The more we open the windows, which is [what] I would call our effort, the more the light of God streams in, and the light of the— we have to remember it’s not a static light, it’s the dynamic light of the Trinity—is allowed to penetrate and illuminate us and transform us. This is what theosis is, in my limited understanding.

And that it is possible in this life, we get a glimpse of in the life of the saints. They have shown us, down the centuries, that this kind of transformation is possible, to become transparent to God in this life is possible right in this life and it will be more fully realized in the life to come.

Mr. Allen: And thank God for that. Absolutely. And that’s one of the reasons I think that Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the Orthodox tradition, and I’m assuming you agree, have so much, you know, when you say “to offer” it somewhat sublimates the great Hindu tradition as well, but we have things in common that we can share, I think. Eastern Orthodox Christianity, of all the forms of Christianity, would be very attractive to Hindus. Do you agree?

Dr. Mangala: I think so, because of the Hindu’s natural sense of the sacrament, of the mysterious and mystical dimension of life. And in Orthodox Christianity they will find a home. I remember I was with my family, my husband, and we were traveling in India, and we were went to Haridwar up in the north and watched the evening lamp-lighting ceremony there. You know, hundreds and hundreds of people were lighting lamps, and at a certain time they were saying prayers and floating them down the River Ganges as the mother of all life and life-giver and so on. And I couldn’t help thinking how easily this could be transformed into a Christian service of thanksgiving, and the Orthodox would be capable of doing it, because, you know, we approach everything in a mystical, in a sacramental way, and the Hindus naturally would find that compatible with what they grew up with.

Mr. Allen: And Hinduism is so physical, even with the duality of soul and body, there are so many physical aspects to it, and, of course, we— the physical aspect within Orthodox Christianity has been sanctified through the Incarnation, so I agree with you. How and when, Christine, did modern postural yoga and modern meditation yoga become, as you wrote in your article, “remolded in the idiom of American schools of self-help and positive thinking and become marketed as a safe and easy pathway to bliss within the grasp of all”? Was this Vivekananda in the 1800s or was it Maharishi before that or after that or who?

Dr. Mangala: Actually, it goes way back, believe it or not, and I don’t want to sound as if I’m putting it all squarely in America, but what happened was in the early 19th century, there were certain literary figures, like Emerson and Thoreau, who were the beginning of this movement. And Emerson, of course, was a total Transcendentalist and a Unitarian, and he found the concept of the Over-soul and he wrote poems on Brahman and so on. But did you know Thoreau, the Boston Brahmin, was the first to practice yoga?

Mr. Allen: No, I did not know that. Really?

Dr. Mangala: Yes, I believe he was. And then these people actually probably were reacting against their excessive Calvinistic Puritanism, I don’t know, but that’s the background. And they reintroduced a more idealistic notion of human beings. I always feel whenever in history, this is the way the Holy Spirit works, whenever in history, something gets forgotten or not recognized sufficiently, someone comes along and it gets overemphasized, you know, and you have to recover the balance somewhere or other. And then the waters get slurred and muddied because of other people coming in and having their input. I mean, there were people who are flirting with Swedenborgian ideas and Madame Blavatsky and her Theosophists and all these people—the details are difficult to go into now, but I have a book to recommend on that, I will do that in a minute—but they created an ethos, this is the important thing; they created an ethos of psychologized psychic religion.

Now, interestingly, when Vivekananda got to his parliament of religion, this was the air he breathed, and he very quickly saw the potential, and it was an extraordinary criss-crossing of the East and West once again. And he changed, he reformulated classical Hindu metaphysics, and he produced something called “practical Vedanta,” which is in fact far from what Shankara, the original Vedantan philosopher, taught. With his “practical Vedanta,” even for Vivekananda it was a bit too abstract, so then he produced his manual on Raja Yoga, and this is what was highly influ— this was a— the language of this manual is incredibly very like [that] of the self-help books and taking charge of oneself. He says bluntly that the whole aim is to take control of oneself and to control nature.

And in his writings there’s sometimes, what I feel is preposterous, and sometimes very brusque promises of instant results, and this appeals to the emerging consumerist mentality. Now after him this kind of approach, of “instant results” and “quick fixes,” if you like, “do it yourself,” all this “here and now” and “in your own home and in your own self, don’t bother going anywhere else,” you know. This developed further with people like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Rajneesh and whole peoples any number of swamis and matajis and whatever.

I did mention this book, and I think your readers might be interested. It’s called A History of Modern Yoga: Patañjali and Western Esotericismwritten by Elizabeth [de] Michelis and she has some very useful information about this extraordinary cross-fertilization of Eastern and Western ideas in the late 19th century and how it eventually produced these two forms of yoga: postural yoga and meditative yoga.

Mr. Allen: Give for our listeners again— could you give us the title and the author; spell the author’s last name?

Dr. Mangala: Yes, the author is Elizabeth [de] Michelis: M-I-C-H-E-L-I-S, and her book is called A History of Modern Yoga: Patañjali and Western Esotericism. It was published by Continuum Books in 2004.

Mr. Allen: Carrying along on this line that we’ve been on—we’re starting to descend a bit—is there anything wrong, in your opinion, with using yoga as a form of relaxation or physical exercise? And as a follow-up to that, should Christians be aware of or troubled by any spiritual baggage that often goes along with yoga? And do you think yoga can be a completely non-religious activity?

Dr. Mangala: Paradoxically, the movement which started then and has now resulted in—let’s give an example—the department of health and sports in England recommends yoga for its footballers and athletes. The National Health Service here recommends yoga for people with medical problems and so on. It’s become very much used as a form of physical exercise and relaxation, alongside physiotherapy and other such things. And, in a way, I think this is a good thing because what they have done is to dissociate it, and, definitely, a few stretches or proper breathing does help the posture and realign and calm the mind.

Here there has to be a word of warning. Exercise in moderation is a fine thing, and yoga exercises can be, in moderation, a fine thing. But, I would have also noticed this, is with some people—someone I know, this has happened—is that some of these people get bored with the simple ones and then they go on to the more complex ones, and then it becomes an addiction. When I say “addiction”—because the good hormones it produces , it gives you a high and you become dependent on it—the same way runners get addicted to running, and other such things. And that is the time to stop and consider what exactly is going on, you know, whether you are just relaxing or actually binging on it, if you like. And that’s a danger point.

And the second thing I would say about the spiritual baggage is: Christians definitely—I’m speaking for Christians here—definitely need to be careful what they receive by way of spiritual baggage whether they are reading books or whether they are going to yoga classes. First of all—there are two things to do—first of all, they have to be, Christians have to be fully grounded, and properly grounded in their Christian faith and prayer and worship. Only then we Christians will have the light, the proper light of Christ, to discern the good and take it and leave the bad. Now I have this rather simple image Christ is like— People ask me, “How do you deal with your past, your Hindu past?” I say, “Well, there are some good things in the attic and some rubbish, and Christ is the magnet.” I’m using metaphors here. Christ acts like a magnet. He will attract to himself the good things and the rest will fall away.

Now we need that light, otherwise we will not be able to tell what’s right and wrong. The second thing is to watch out if these yoga teachers, whether they stay with the postures alone or whether, by implicitly or explicitly, they go on to other things which take you into the Hindu spiritual ethos which is alien in its goal of samadhi and self-realization and all those other things, and that is, as I have said, incompatible with Christianity, where we are to look for the kingdom of God. And to go along with those things, I would even say, is a form of apostasy at its worst. And so, and I’m quite clear: there are two things needed. You have to be grounded in good Christian faith and worship and prayer, and also therefore to be able to discern. And also watch out when these exercises are— just stay as exercises or whether they subtly morph into something else.

A friend of mine here, who is doing research, went to these classes to keep fit, and after a while she found that the teacher was giving them mantras, and she started entering into strange mental states— and she was already doing her Ph.D. research which is enough to send anybody into a strange mental state anyway, and that didn’t help—and she got rather alarmed and then retreated very fast, because she is an Orthodox girl and so she knew there was something wrong here, and she stopped. So I’m talking—we do have to exercise discernment, and that’s very important.

Mr. Allen: Yeah, you know, as an aside to that, when I went through the transcendental meditation class, many many many years ago, before I became a Christian, they tried to take it outside of Hindu religious ethos, however, you are told you have to bring a piece of fruit and you have to bring something else, and then when you go there, the American instructor places it before a photograph of Maharishi and his guru, some Sanskrit words are given, and then you are given a Sanskrit mantra to repeat, so this is very much transcendental meditation within the context of Hinduism. So your point’s very well taken. What do you make of the attempts—as we’re coming to a close, Christine—of the attempts to “Christianize” yoga techniques, you’ve written about Déchanet and some of the others. Can there be a true, Christian yoga?

Dr. Mangala: Déchanet is a very interesting case. He’s a very clear-minded writer. Do you know his work?

Mr. Allen: I don’t. I was, frankly, introduced to him through your article, and I’m going to read him now that I’ve learned about him.

Dr. Mangala: He’s very thorough, and he’s very careful also to distinguish the yoga’s spiritual ethos from Christian beliefs and he’s made it very clear that they are incompatible. He’s very clear-headed and very sound. Then in the second part of the book he makes some very specific recommendations about how to use the postures to glorify God and to sing His praises and to express our contrition and so on. It’s a kind of a synchronizing of Christian— phases of Christian prayer and worship withyoga postures.

Now I thought this sounded exciting, so I spent some more time when I was writing this article practicing it, doing what he recommended. Then, after a while, I had this uneasy feeling that I was terribly self-conscious in my prayer. I wasn’t forgetting myself; I became excessively conscious of myself. I didn’t like that at all. I wanted to focus on God, not on how I was performing. And this distracted me too much. So my personal experience was that I would rather simply do the exercise and then pray without thinking about my postures in that sense.

Mr. Allen: Interesting. As we’re coming to a close, if there are listeners that are listening today, Christian or not—but I think I’m going to ask you to really focus on this as we conclude, for the Christian listeners—what have you concluded about the practice of yoga as an Eastern Orthodox Christian? Do it, don’t do it, with limitations, etc., etc., etc.?

Dr. Mangala: Well, I think I— people, provided they know what they’re doing… If, for instance, some of the asanas in the early stages are okay to do them, if you take them as a form of relaxing and as a form of tuning up the body and of learning to breathe properly—most of us don’t know how to breathe properly—but that is as far as I would go. Anything more complicated becomes a challenge anyway because you have to be in a fit medical condition. For instance, if you suffer from high blood pressure, you shouldn’t do the sirsasana pose. You know, that’s bad for you, and you have to know these things.

Mr. Allen: The headstands.

Dr. Mangala: Yes. If you have a thyroid condition, you have to be careful about what asanas you do and not. So you do need more knowledge than most people have who go to these classes. So already the trouble starts there. And then as for meditative practices and chant and mantras and so on, definitely no, because they take you into psychic states and that sometimes can become very dangerous. So I would say a very minimal use. Minimal in the sense in— and one doesn’t even have tothink of it as yoga if you like.

Mr. Allen: Well, I just want to add one thing. I knew a woman who was 42 years old, and she took up Hatha Yoga; she became a practitioner, maybe an addict. She did not know she had high blood pressure. She did these headstand postures regularly and during one of them—she’s a very close friend of my mother’s—during one of them she suffered a brain aneurism and died on the spot.

Dr. Mangala: Well, that’s an extreme instance. In fact, one of our more, I would say humorous gurus in India, regards some of these yogic practices— he pokes fun at them, saying these postures actually damage the capillaries of the brain, and people— you suffer from some kind of a mental damage, and they think you enter this state of bliss because you simply no longer know what’s what.

That’s an extreme criticism, but there is a danger, and even doctors, when they recommend, they have to be careful as to what they are recommending people. I hope they do know. Otherwise, I myself find every time I forget, every time I’m stooping in front of the computer too much, if I sit back and breathe a bit, more slowly and so on, I feel better. That’s about as much as it comes to, and, similarly, when the limbs get stiff, you do some of the basic postures and it helps. I’m not a very good practitioner, so I’m not one to talk. I go from doing nothing to doing something. Yes, I’m glad you mentioned that story because the medical condition is an extremely important one when people start doing these things.

Mr. Allen: Yes, as with any physical exercise. Well, my guest on the program today has been Christine Mangala, Ph.D. Christine, thank you so much for being my guest on The Illumined Heart on Ancient Faith Radio. It’s been a lot of fun and very fascinating.

Dr. Mangala: Thank you very much. It’s been a great pleasure talking to you.

SOURCE:

http://www.ancientfaith.com

http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/yoga_and_orthodox_christianity_are_they_compatible

ANCIENT FAITH

YOGA Q&A