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Human Beings and the Cosmos (Part X): The Great Divorce

By the Middle Ages, however, with the rise of humanism and rationalism, there were already the beginnings of a breach between Christianity and a self-sufficient humanity. In Byzantium, and spreading into Franciscan Italy, there was an attempt, supported by a theology of the transfiguration of the body and the earth, to transfigure the renaissance, to divinize humanism. But this last phase of Byzantine culture, which seemed so promising, was swamped by Asian influence, while Western

The Lord’s Prayer (Part VIII)

Even before the revelation of Christ we find in scripture one striking example of a man who was strictly speaking a pagan, but was on the verge of this knowledge of God in terms of sonship and fatherhood; it is Job. He is termed a pagan because he does not belong to the race of Abraham, he is not one of the inheritors of the promises to Abraham. He is one of the most striking

What is a Saint?

By Father Stanley Harakas All of us have heard of the saints. The names of nearly all of us are a saint’s name. We know about some popular saints, like St. George or St. Demetrios or especially, the Mother of our Lord, the Virgin Mary. But what is a saint? A common answer is “a holy person.” But what does that mean? In Greek, “holy” is “AH-yee-os.” Its basic meaning is “to be set apart

WATCHFULNESS IN HOLY SCRIPTURE (Part I)

Numerous are the passages which tell us about watchfulness, thus securing it scripturally. We shall refer to a few selectively. There is a passage in the Old Testament which is a true neptic treasure: “Take heed to thyself that there be not a secret thing in thine heart, an iniquity …”(1). Attention to yourself, fathoming inside the abyss of your heart to the extreme limits of your conscious or unconscious personality is the manifestation, practice

The Thirty-Fourth Day of Christmas Advent: THE TWO SUNDAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS (Part II)

The Old Testament Church’s anticipation of the Lord’s First Coming serves as an exhortation to the New Testament Church not to forget its anticipation of His Second Coming: Christ has commanded those with understanding to be vigilant and to hope for His coming, for He has come to be born from a Virgin. At your second coming, O Christ, make me, who honor Your coming in the flesh, one of the sheep at Your right

Nineteenth Day of Christmas Advent: Search the Scriptures (The Katavasias, Part III)

Rod of the Root of Jesse The fourth ode of the katavasias refers to one of the great prophecies predicting the coming of the Messiah: There shall come forth a rod from the root of Jesse, and a Bower shall grow out of his root. The Spirit of God shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and godliness. (Is. 11:1-2) Jesse was

Seventeenth Day of Christmas Advent: Search the Scriptures (The Katavasias, Part I)

Rod of the Root of Jesse Rod of the root of Jesse, and flower that blossomed from his stem, You, O Christ, have sprung forth from the Virgin. From the mount of shaded leafy trees, You, the God who is not material have come to be incarnate from her who did not know wedlock. Glory to Your power, O Lord. (Fourth Ode of the Katavasias of the Nativity) We begin to chant the Katavasias of

Fifth Day of Christmas Advent: Beginning of Advent and the Forefeast

BEGINNING OF ADVENT AND THE FOREFEAST Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight the paths of our God. (Isaiah 40:3) EVERY GREAT FEAST of the Orthodox Church is preceded by a period of preparation. One of the longest and richest periods is Advent. But what does it mean to prepare? For many, the preparation for Christmas is hectic— shopping for presents, making decorations, mailing cards, attending Christmas parties, and so forth. But in the

Fourth Day of Christmas Advent: Preparing for Christ’s Birth

ORTHODOX WORSHIP As with Great Lent, so too with the Nativity Fast, the approaching feast is prepared for not only by abstinence, but also through the profound meaning of the biblical readings and the hymns (contained in the hymnbooks known as the Menaia for November and December) that we hear in church during this season. Because the main focus of Advent is our preparation for the Nativity-the Incarnation of the Son of God-the hymns for

The Untamable Textbook and Its Handouts: Ruminations on Scripture—Tradition Relationship (Part III)

REV. DR. EUGEN J. PENTIUC Just prior to the first powerful fiat (Genesis 1:3, “Let there be … “), we are informed rather abruptly of some enigmatic realities whose origins are unexplained.  “Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, with God’s Spirit hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). According to the Priestly author, “darkness;’ “deep” and “water” were neither created by God nor had any existence of themselves. In