USA OF MY HEART
SAINTS OF MY HEART
USA OF MY HEART
SAINTS OF MY HEART
USA OF MY HEART
AMERICA OF MY HEART
NATIVE AMERICANS MET ORTHODOXY
CANADA OF MY HEART
ALASKA OF MY HEART
Orthodox Saints of Canada & USA
USA OF MY HEART
What Do You Mean, “Pray to the Saints”?
Frederica Mathewes-Green, Maryland, USA
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:
Music by Holy Cross Choir:
Special thanks to Evan Brown for all his work on set.
Videos produced by Theoria (Ben Cabe):
Theoria Youtube Channel:
AMERICA OF MY HEART
USA OF MY HEART
My Heart Began to Soften
St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
John and Michelle weren’t sure about coming to seminary. But visiting St. Tikhon’s began a period of discernment that has transformed their lives.
To find out more, visit:
ABOUT ST. TIKHON’S
St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary is an institution of professional Orthodox Christian theological education, chartered by the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and affiliated with the Orthodox Church in America. In a rural environment conducive to spiritual growth and academic study, the Seminary nurtures the theological vocations of its students and faculty, who share the unique opportunity of learning and teaching Orthodox theology in the framework of their daily experience of a rich heritage of Russian Orthodox spiritual and liturgical tradition.
The primary mission of the Seminary lies in providing the necessary theological, liturgical, spiritual and moral foundations for Orthodox men to become, as God so wills, good shepherds of His Holy Orthodox Church. At the same time, however, the Seminary also recognizes that many individuals choose to enroll in a professional theological training program for the fulfillment of needs other than those of ordained ministry. Among these are: preparation for general religious leadership responsibilities in parishes and other settings; advanced theological study; specialized ministry as religious educators or choir directors; personal spiritual enrichment. Therefore, St. Tikhon’s Seminary continues to support all honorable reasons for matriculation at the Seminary and participation in class.
Read more here:
ORTHODOXY IS LOVE
The Church NEVER apostatized
Republished from the magazine:
“Explorer of the Truth”
Edition Νο. 30.
EX 2×2 LETTERS
We shall present some of the assertions of these religious groups: “The devil began to introduce dogmatic changes, as of Emperor Constantine’s time, deceiving quite a few of the bishops… So, they developed a different theology to that of the Bible, because they embraced too much of Plato’s philosophy…. Eventually, a complete deterioration set in… With the passing years and centuries, historical Christianity became a religion that had completely distanced itself from the apostolic simplicity and spirituality, so that today, it appears entirely mutated…. During the fifth century, Christianity appeared to have conquered idolatry, however, idolatry had already corrupted Christianity.” (Evangelical magazine RESEARCH AND FAITH, March-April 1992, page 8)
“However, after the demise of the Apostles, a gradual change came over the Church. During the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries, many in the Church distorted and even rejected the truths that Christ and the Apostles had taught. (Adventist magazine “HERALD”, July-September 2004, page 19)
“Because the Church, with its careless stance, altered its God-founded constitution, thus upsetting everything.” (The book “THE REVERSALS OF RELIGION” by S. Charalambakis, page 26) This same author asserts that the church that “the Disciples of the Divine Savior delivered to us, was preserved to the 3rd century”, hence, he proposes, “this is the Church that we must return to: the roots” (RETURN TO THE GENUINE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN ROOTS, page 9). In another of his texts, he maintains that the apostasy took place later on: “Based on biblical and historical facts, we know that the Church retained its Apostolic guidelines up to about 500 A.D.” (pamphlet “THE ORTHODOX CHURCH AND ITS HISTORY”)
As we can see, there is no agreement as to when the Church apostatized; others place it in the 2nd century, others in the 3rd and others in the 4th or 5th. So, where is the truth? Did the Church of Christ really fall into apostasy? What does the Holy Bible teach on this matter? If apostasy did occur, when did it occur historically and which teachings did it affect?
One, huge contradiction
If however, the Ancient Church did not remain within the truth – as various protestant groups and heresies maintain – then they have a serious problem. They place themselves in the predicament of acknowledging the authority of an apostate Church that ruled on the Canon of the New Testament! How can they trust the Canon of the 27 books of the New Testament, if it was composed by alleged apostates of the truth? How can they be certain that those involved had made the correct choice as to which books are divinely inspired or not, if they had apostatized from the divine truth? If the Church had apostatized, how can they be sure that those people hadn’t chosen the books that were considered expedient and rejected those that weren’t to their advantage? If, on the other hand, they trust the Canon of the New Testament, then they –unwittingly- also trust the Church that created that Canon!
The oldest, complete catalogue of the 27 books of the New Testament did not exist until 367 A.D., when Athanasios the Great wrote his 39th commemorative epistle!! The Canon that we have, was finalized in 397 A.D., in the Council (Synod) of Carthage. At least that Church – which gave us the Canon for the New Testament – was surely “a pillar and foundation of the truth” (Timothy I, 3:15). If the Church had indeed preserved apostolic tradition, then it certainly was capable of deciding on the Canon of valid books for the New Testament; if, however, it had become corrupt and apostate, it would obviously not have preserved apostolic tradition and subsequently any decision that it may have reached for this Canon would have been erroneous! To quote the Holy Bible: “Who can extract the clean from the unclean? No-one” (Job, 14:4 – Vamvas Translation). But, if we accept that apostolic tradition was properly preserved by that Church, qualifying it to decide on the Canon, then it could not have been in apostasy!
Consequently, those who maintain that the Church had apostatized, have only two choices:
 The Emergence of the New Testament Canon- Daniel Lieuwen
Objections with ‘evidential’ verses
Various Protestants invoke certain passages, in order to support the alleged apostasy of the Church. They assert that what the Apostle Paul prophesied in his Epistle I to Timothy has been fulfilled, i.e., ‘in later times, some will apostatize from the Faith, paying attention to spirits of deception and to demonic teachings etc.’.. But this passage of Timothy I, 4:1 doesn’t imply that the entire Church was supposedly going to apostatize. The verse clearly says that ‘…….. some will apostatize from the Faith….’, not the entire Church! The Holy Bible speaks of those who will apostatize, in other verses also: “…. With faith and an innocent conscience, which some – after discarding it – became shipwrecked in their faith” (Timothy I, 1:19); “which some, in professing it, strayed from the faith” (Timothy I, 6:21). Furthermore, in Acts 20:28-30, there is no inference that the entire Church is going to apostatize; it only says that “some men will appear, who will teach the truth falsified” (Evangelic translation “Logos”).
The Holy Bible says: “They came forth from among you, but they weren’t one of your kind; for if they were one of your kind, they would have stayed with you. But they came forth so that it might be revealed, that not all of them are one of your kind.” (John I, 2:19). It is obvious that this verse proves that those individuals who apostatize from the true faith DO NOT remain in the Church, but move out of it, thus allowing the Church to preserve its dogmatic teaching unadulterated!
 From letter of some reader of Researcher
The Church cannot apostatize!
According to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Church cannot apostatize: “… the portals of the underworld shall not overpower her (the Church)” (Matthew, 16:18). The Holy Bible also clearly states that the truth shall remain in the Church forever: “…for the truth, which resides in you, and shall be with you for all time” (John II, 2); just as Jesus Christ Himself likewise promises that He shall continuously be with the Church, from the 1st century to the end of time, unfailingly: “I am with you, for all days, until the end of time” (Matthew, 28:80). The Holy Spirit also eternally resides in the Church, continuously, from the 1st century: “And I shall ask the Father, and He shall send you another Paraclete, to remain with you to the end of time” (John 14:16).
Therefore, the Church cannot ever apostatize, because Christ – the head of the Church – remains forever joined to His Body, just as the Holy Spirit remains continuously within it, to guide it throughout the truth (John 14:26), hence the truth must also perpetually reside within the Church! If the Church had indeed apostatized, as various teachers of deception claim, it would mean that Christ had given false promises, which He didn’t keep! But, isn’t that a blasphemous conjecture?
However, some protestants maintain that those promises do apply, but not to the visible Church, only the invisible one! But the Holy Bible doesn’t say that the Church founded by Christ was an invisible one! Quite the opposite, it very clearly talks about a visible Church: “ ….and if someone disobeys them, tell this to the Church; but, if he disobeys the Church also, then you should treat him as a gentile and a tax-collector” (Matthew 18:17). If the Church is invisible, then how does someone speak to the Church, and how does an…. invisible Church reprimand the one who has sinned?
“For I am the least of the apostles, who is unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God” (Corinthians I, 15:9). If the Church were invisible, then how did Paul manage to persecute it?
“For if one does not know how to govern his own home, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (Timothy I, 3:5). How does a bishop take care of an ….. invisible Church?”
These are just a few of the verses that prove that the Church founded by Christ is definitely visible, and not invisible. Consequently, in this visible Church, the promises that it cannot apostatize hold true, and the truth, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will remain inside it eternally!
An amazing admission by a Bible scholar
The biblical theologian Rick Wade mentions in his article “Scripture and Tradition in the Early Church” (www.probe.org/docs/tradition.html) that occasionally, someone will find references to the idea of a “decline” of the Church after the conversion of the emperor Constantine during the 4th century. Some believe that under Constantine, the Church began to slip, into a state religion that became corrupted by power and riches…. This threw a heavy cloak over the whole of ecclesiastic history, up to the era of Reform. Tradition was considered to be an element of a corrupt and institutionalized church. While it is true that the newly-acquired freedom that the Church enjoyed under Constantine had its negative points, it doesn’t mean that the Church “declined” as some say. During all of its history, the Church may have made mistakes in its dealings with secular society and its during its discovering how to appropriately handle the freedom and power that it had acquired, but, the idea that the Church rapidly became corrupt and that the councils (synods) that were convened during his reign were merely the emperor’s pawns, is too naïve a notion. The Church continued to be faithful to its duty of clarifying and spreading the apostolic tradition. “The faith that was confessed and practiced by the ancient churches was not defined by the political intrigues of emperors and the hierarchies of the prelates” Williams said..
“The essential form and structure of the Christian identity was something that the fourth century inherited and continued to expand, through biblical explanation and the liturgical life as expressed in the tradition of the Symbols of the Faith.”
Let’s take a look at what ensued after Constantine’s reign. Williams says: “…The theology that developed after Constantine did not reflect a radically subversive shift in the Holy Bible and apostolic tradition. On the contrary, the most important Symbols of the Faith (Creed) and official dogmatic discussions were the conscious expansion of a precedent Tradition and teaching of the New Testament, in an attempt to formulate the Christian understanding of God and salvation in the light of new challenges. The reason this is important for our study, is that some have allowed this idea (of the Church’s decline towards the end of the Patristic period) to influence them to the point of rejecting the whole of that period. This is wrong. There was good and there was bad for the Church under Constantine’s reign. Nevertheless, the Church continued to develop itself in its understanding of the apostolic Tradition. We should not ignore the ancient church because of unfortunate setbacks.”
 D.H.Williams, Retrieving the Tradition, and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants (Eerdmans, 1999).
Is a political power’s favor, proof of apostasy?
Most Greek (*) Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons etc. believe that the Church apostatized because Constantine the Great ended the persecutions and swayed the Empire’s favor towards Christians. But does the Holy Bible agree with this?
Let’s take a look at the Persian Emperor Cyrus as an example. The Holy Bible says that God spurred Cyrus’ heart (an idolatrous king!) into rebuilding the destroyed temple of God in Jerusalem, and to even return the sacred vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from it (Ezra, chapter 1). Was the favor of the idolatrous king towards the Judeans (especially his initiative to rebuild the Temple of God) proof that Israel had apostatized from the truth at the time? The Holy Bible replies with a resounding NO, because God stated the following about the idolatrous king Cyrus: “He is my shepherd, and he will perform all my errands; and I say unto Jerusalem: “You shall be rebuilt” and to the temple: “your foundations shall be planted” (Isaiah 44:28, Translation “PERGAMOS”). So, the Holy Bible clearly indicates that God can use even worldly potentates in order for His will to be done (Proverbs 21:1). The same happened with Constantine the Great: God swayed the favor of the idolatrous Emperor to the benefit of the Christians, using him as His instrument in order to terminate the state’s persecutions of the Church and allow the unhindered spreading of the Gospel throughout the Empire.
Consequently, the assertion of many contemporary movements that the Church apostatized opposes the Holy Bible as well as common logic, because if their assertion is accepted, then the Canon of the New Testament that they hold in their hands loses its validity! In closing, we submit something that the familiar Protestant Hank Hanegraaf said to the Mormons (although the same applies to every religious group that stresses the same argument: “In reply to this teaching (of the church’s apostasy), we should ask the Mormons exactly how would the Church be able to praise God ‘in every generation, for ever and ever’, if – as the Apostle Paul clearly wrote in Ephesians 3:21- it had declined into complete apostasy?” (www.equip.org/free/CP0306.htm).
(*). The original article was written in Greek.
Text: Manolis Kalomiris
Magazine: “Explorer of the Truth” Edition Νο. 30.
Diakrisis – Explorer of the Truth
USA OF MY HEART
CALIFORNIA OF MY HEART
AMERICA OF MY HEART
What do we mean by the word “Orthodox”
St John Maximovich, +1966
San Francisco, USA
ST JOHN MAXIMOVITCH
Shortly after the doctrine of Christ began to be propagated among the Gentiles, the followers of Christ in Antioch began to be called Christians (Acts XI:26). The word “Christian” indicated that those who bore this name belonged to Christ-belonged in the sense of devotion to Christ and his Doctrine. From Antioch the name of Christian was spread everywhere.
The followers of Christ gladly called themselves by the name of their beloved Teacher and Lord; and the enemies of Christ called His followers Christians by carrying over to them the ill-will and hatred which they breathed against Christ.
However, quite soon there appeared people who, while calling themselves Christians, were not of Christ in spirit. Of them Christ had spoken earlier:
“Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven” (St. Matt. VII:5).
Christ prophesied also that many would pass themselves off for Christ Himself: Many shall come in my name, sayings I am Christ (Matt. XXIV:5). The Apostles in their epistles indicated that false bearers of the name of Christ had appeared already in their time:
“As ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists” (I John II:19).
They indicated that those who stepped away from the doctrine of Christ should not be considered their own:
“They went out from us but were not of us” (I John II:19)
Warning against quarrels and disagreements in minor matters (I Cor. I:10-14), at the same time the Apostles strictly commanded their disciples to shun those who do not bring the true doctrine (II John I:10). The Lord, through the Revelation given to the Apostle John the Theologian, sternly accused those who, calling themselves faithful, did not act in accordance with their name; for in such a case it would be false for them.
Of what use was it of old to call oneself a Jew, an Old Testament follower of the true faith, if one was not such in actuality? Such the Holy Scripture calls the synagogue of Satan (Apocalypse II:9).
In the same way a Christian in the strict sense is he only who confesses the true doctrine of Christ and lives in accordance with it. The designation of a Christian consists in glorifying the Heavenly Father by one’s life.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (St. Matt. V:16).
But true glorification of God is possible only if one rightly believes and expresses his right belief in words and deeds.
Therefore true Christianity and it alone may be named “right-glorifying” (Ortho-doxy). By the word “Orthodoxy” we confess our firm conviction that it is precisely our Faith that is the true doctrine of Christ. When we call anyone or anything Orthodox, we by this very fact indicate his or its non-counterfeit and uncorrupted Christianity, rejecting at the same time that which falsely appropriates the name of Christ.
Brotherhood of St Poimen
AMERICA OF MY HEART
USA OF MY HEART
Orthodox Christians and Abortion
By Fr. John Garvey, USA
The Eastern Orthodox Church is opposed to the practice of abortion, a practice which is increasingly common in our society. How are we to respond–individually and as a Church–to a practice many of our fellow Americans regard as nothing more than a matter of choice? What are the Orthodox roots of opposition to abortion? How should Orthodox respond to the pressing moral issue of abortion?
EARLY CHRISTIAN OPPOSITION TO ABORTION
The World in which Christianity first appeared was familiar with abortion. Jews opposed it, which perplexed the ancient Romans; they found Jewish opposition to abortion irrational. (One example the Romans offered was the complication that new offspring caused if you had already drawn up a will. . . couldn’t the Jews understand how inconvenient a new child was in a case like this?)
In ancient Roman law, children were considered the property of the father. After seeing his newborn children, a father could choose not to accept them, in which case they were “exposed”–literally left outside, to die or to be taken in by a compassionate stranger. If a stranger chose to, he or she could rescue and take in a child abandoned this way (the stoic philosopher Epictetus did this); but the choice of life or death lay with the father of the house. Female infants were the most frequent victims of this practice.
In contrast to this, children were usually important in the New Testament: they are brought forward to Jesus, for his blessing; and John the Forerunner “leaps” in Elizabeth’s womb at Mary’s greeting.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians there is an interesting phrase that may be a New Testament condemnation of abortifacient medicine. (Scholars are not sure about this.) Galatians 5:20 speaks of the works of the flesh, which are opposed to the fruits of the spirit. Among the works of the flesh, one is frequently translated “sorcery”–a translator’s interpretation of the Greek work pharmakeia, literally “medicine.” This may refer to the occult use of drugs, but it may also refer to abortifacients.
There are other, more clear ancient Christian witnesses against abortion. The Didache is one of the earliest Christian works, contemporary with some of the New Testament writings; it was probably composed around the year 100 A.D. It condemns what it also calls pharmakeia and goes on to say, “You shall not slay the child by abortion. You shall not kill what is generated.”
The Epistle of Barnabas contains similar language, and Clement of Alexandria associates the destruction of the fetus with the destruction of love for humanity. Tertullian condemned abortion, and in the second century, a Christian answered anti-Christian allegations that Christians engaged in human sacrifice: “How can we kill a man when we are those who say that all who use abortifacients are homicides, and will account to God for their abortions as for the killing of men? For the fetus in the womb is not an animal.”
Some modern defenders of abortion argue, wrongly, that Christian opposition to abortion is relatively new. They point out that ancient and medieval Christian writers made distinctions between the “formed” and “unformed” fetus, the time before and after “quickening” when some believed the soul entered the unborn child. Their assumption is that this distinction made early abortion–before “quickening”–acceptable.
Although these distinctions can be found in the writings of Sts. Jerome and Augustine, and in the writings of such later Roman Catholic theologians as Thomas Aquinas, they were never understood as offering permission for early abortions. St. Basil explicitly rejected the distinction between the formed and unformed fetus as beside the essential point. St. John Chrysostom attacked married men who encouraged prostitutes and mistresses to abort. “You do not let a harlot remain only a harlot, but make her a murderess as well.”
Finally, it is important to realize the profound significance of the fact that we celebrate the feasts of the conception of the Theotokos and the conception of John the Forerunner–in addition to the Annunciation, which is the feast of Jesus’ conception.
WHAT ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN OPPOSITION TO ABORTION MEANS
As Christians, we believe that our lives are not accidents. We have been called into being from nothingness by God, and are meant for eternal life. God’s calling us into being is the sign of a love we can only being to imagine, a love revealed most perfectly in Christ.
There is no doubt, scientifically, that a unique human life starts at conception. Because we believe that each of us is willed to be, by God, we cannot accept the belief that the humanity which starts at conception is accidental, or has no value because it is not yet capable of the decisions and emotions and independent actions we usually associate with being a person. This life will become what we are–unless we end it. Even when an abortion is performed to save the life of a mother (and such abortions are extremely rare), something profoundly tragic has occurred.
Every life is valued infinitely by God. This includes the life of the unborn child, as well as the criminal, the enemy, the political oppressor, and the most annoying person we know. Although we fail in the task every day, we are called on, by our baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ, to reflect God’s love for everyone who lives.
We cannot allow this obligation to be marginalized. It is not always easy–in fact it will often involve us in the most profound inner struggle–to love as we are called to love. As Dostoevsky wrote, “Love in practice is a harsh and dreadful thing.” Our model of love is not a sentimental pastel-colored greeting card, but Christ crucified. There are situations in which birth-giving is at least profoundly inconvenient, and others in which it may be absolutely terrifying. We should see something infinitely more terrifying, however, in a heart that is willing to kill life at its start, at its most vulnerable moment of being.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
Complicated questions arise immediately, however. Granted that all of the above is true, what is the most effective way to bear witness to our belief that we exist because of God’s love? This belief is at the root of the Orthodox opposition to abortion and to every other detail of the holiness of every human life.
Many of those who oppose abortion have worked against a legal climate that has made the choice of abortion a relatively simple thing. The United States has the most permissive abortion laws in the industrialized Western world; there are more restrictions even in the most secular nations of Western Europe. Working to change the legal climate makes good sense and is one valuable form of pro-life witness.
It is not enough, however. Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon has pointed out that the United States not only has the most permissive abortion laws in the industrialized West; its social policy does less for women and children than any other industrialized nation. She sees a connection. A nation in which single women, or poor married women, are afraid to have children because they will be left alone if they do is one in which abortion will often be seen as a lesser evil. To see it that way is wrong, from a Christian point of view. But it is also wrong to condemn abortion, without trying to help those for whom bearing a child will involve real burdens.
Changes in law are part of this. Bearing a child should not mean the end of educational or work opportunities, and these possibilities weigh most heavily upon poor women in our society. In addition to working for changes in the law which might erode the permissive approach to obtaining abortions, it is important to work for positive justice, for a climate in which those women who bear children will not be penalized for having made that choice.
Many people volunteered to work for organizations which help unmarried pregnant women, or poor women who cannot afford appropriate pre-natal care. People have opened their homes to women who have chosen to bear a child rather than choose abortion, and there are many people eager to adopt such children.
MOVING BEYOND THE LAW
In many of these cases–both working against current permissive abortion law, and working for a social climate in which abortion will not seem desirable–the emphasis is on law. We have to move beyond law, however, to the most difficult areas of persuasion and example, which rest finally on our spiritual lives, on the ways in which we have taken prayer into our hearts and allowed it to transform us.
Example and persuasion are especially important because, if abortifacient drugs become widely available, the issue may be removed from the legal arena. It will remain a pressing moral issue, one to which we may not be indifferent. In the long run law must be based upon a general consensus within a society. When the issue is reduced to a “right to choose” all the most important issues are pushed aside. What should we choose? What is human life for? Is it something over which we have rights–or towards which we have an infinite obligation? Is life made valuable primarily by my attitude towards it? Does a life’s value depend upon whether I find it convenient or burdensome? Or is human life the gift of a God who loves it and wills it to be?
All the verbal arguments in the world will not persuade people as much as the example of someone who manifests a genuine and compassionate respect for life. The ways in which we choose to do that will vary from person to person–but as Christians it is our calling not only to oppose the use of abortion, but to manifest a profound love of, and gratitude, for God’s gift of life.
* * *
Fr. John fell asleep in the Lord on Tuesday, January 20, 2015. A graduate of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, he served in parishes on the east coast until he and his wife, Matushka Regina, relocated to Puyallup, WA in retirement. In addition to his pastoral duties, he was widely known for his published writings, and was a regular columnist for Commonweal. He also had contributed articles to the Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times Book Review and was the author of several books, including The Prematurely Saved (Templegate Press). May his memory be eternal!
Taken from the OCA Resource Handbook for Lay Ministries