Δόξα τω Θεώ, πάντων ένεκεν. - Αγ. Ιωάννης Χρυσόστομος

Σάββατο, 25 Απριλίου 2015

Πρωτοπρ. Νικόλαος Μανώλης, Υπάρχουν απαγορευμένες τροφές;

Ευαγγέλιο της Κυριακής των Μυροφόρων (Γραπτό Κήρυγμα)

εφημέριος του Ι.Ν. αγ. Σπυρίδωνος Τριανδρίας Θεσσαλονίκης (με τρίμηνη απόσπαση)

Για τον "Στύλο Ορθοδοξίας" (Μάρτιος 2015, αρ. φ. 165) 

Κήρυγμα στὸ Ευαγγελικό Ανάγνωσμα (Μαρ. ιε΄ 43 – ιστ’ 8)
      
  Κυριακὴ τῶν Μυροφόρων, ἀγαπητοί μου, εἶναι ἡ σημερινὴ Κυριακή. Ἡ Εὐαγγελικὴ περικοπὴ ποὺ ἀκούσαμε εἶναι τοῦ ἀποστόλου καὶ εὐαγγελιστοὺ Μάρκου καὶ μᾶς διηγεῖται τὰ συνταρακτικὰ  γεγονότα δύο μεγάλων ἡμερῶν. Ἀπὸ τὴν ἡμέρα τῆς σταυρώσεως καὶ τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ ἀπὸ τὴν λαμπροφόρο ἡμέρα τῆς Ἀναστάσεως.

        Ἡ ἁγία μας ἐκκλησία ἑορτάζει καὶ τιμᾶ σήμερα τὴ μνήμη πέντε ἀνθρώπων, δύο ἀνδρῶν καὶ τριῶν γυναικών. Οἱ δύο ἄνδρες εἶναι ὁ Ἰωσὴφ καὶ ὁ Νικόδημος. Κι οἱ τρεῖς γυναῖκες εἶναι ἡ Μαρία Μαγδαληνή, ἡ Μαρία ἡ μητέρα τοῦ Ἰακώβου καὶ ἡ Σαλώμη. Αὐτοὶ οἱ πέντε ἄνθρωποι, στὴν πιὸ κρίσιμη στιγμὴ τῆς ἱστορίας τοῦ κόσμου, δηλαδὴ τότε ποὺ οἱ ἄνθρωποι καταδίκασαν σὲ θάνατο τὸ Θεό, αὐτοὶ οἱ πέντε ἔσωσαν τὴν τιμὴ τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου γένους. Ὁ Κύριος εἶχε πεθάνει. Οἱ γνωστοὶ μαθητὲς του εἶχαν ὅλοι διασκορπιστεῖ. Τὸ πανάγιο σῶμα τοῦ Θεανθρώπου ἦταν κρεμασμένο ἐπὶ τοῦ Σταυροῦ. Θὰ ἔμενε ἐκεῖ; Ποιὸς θὰ φρόντιζε τὴν ταφή του;

        Στὴν κρίσιμη αὐτὴ περίσταση, παρουσιάζεται ἕνας ἄγνωστος καὶ κρυφὸς ἕως τότε μαθητής, ὁ Ἰωσήφ. Ἡ καταγωγὴ τοῦ ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν Ἀριμαθαία. Ἦταν  «εὐσχήμων βουλευτὴς», μὲ πλοῦτο πολὺ καὶ μὲ μεγάλη κοινωνικὴ θέση. Καὶ γι’ αὐτὸν τὸν λόγο ἦταν «κεκρυμμένος» μαθητής «διά τὸν φόβον τῶν Ἰουδαίων». Ἦταν ὅπως θὰ λέγαμε σήμερα κρυπτοχριαστιανός. Τὰ συνταρακτικὰ ὅμως γεγονότα τῆς Μεγάλης Παρασκευῆς ἦλθαν νὰ τοῦ ξεκαθαρίσουν τὴ θέση του καὶ νὰ τὸν ἐντάξουν ὁριστικὰ πλέον στοὺς φανερούς, ἀποφασιστικοὺς καὶ τολμηροὺς μαθητάς τοῦ σταυρωθέντος Θεοῦ καὶ Λυτρωτῆ μας.

        Πλησιάζει πρὸς τὸ τέρμα της ἡ ἁγία ἡμέρα τῆς Παρασκευῆς. Ὁ Κύριος τῆς δόξης εὑρίσκετε νεκρός, γυμνός, ἄταφος, ἄμορφος καὶ ἄδοξος, κρεμάμενος ἐπὶ τοῦ ξύλου. Ποιὸς θὰ φροντίσει γιὰ τὸν ἐνταφιασμό του; ποιὸς θὰ τολμήσει μέσα σ’ αὐτὴν τὴν ἀτμόσφαιρα τοῦ φόβου καὶ τοῦ τρόμου νὰ ἐμφανιστεῖ καὶ νὰ ἐνδιαφερθεῖ γιὰ τὴν ταφὴ τοῦ Κυρίου; Χρειαζόταν τόλμη καὶ ἡρωισμὸς ποὺ θὰ ἀντιμετώπιζε ἀκόμη καὶ αὐτὸν τὸν κίνδυνο τοῦ θανάτου. Καὶ στὴ μεγάλη ἐκείνη στιγμὴ ὁ Ἰωσὴφ ἀναδεικνύεται μέγας ἀνήρ.

        Ἀπορρίπτει τοὺς δισταγμοὺς καὶ τοὺς φόβους του. Γεμάτος πίστη καὶ ἀγάπη πρὸς τὸν Κύριό Του «τολμήσας εἰσῆλθε πρὸς Πιλάτον, καὶ ἠτήσατο τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ», γιὰ νὰ τὸ ἐνταφιάσει. Ὁ Πιλάτος θαυμάζει τὴν τόλμη τοῦ ἀνδρὸς καὶ ἀφοῦ πληροφορήθηκε ὅτι ὁ Κύριος εἶχε πεθάνει, «ἐδωρήσατο τὸ σῶμα τῷ Ἰωσήφ». Καὶ ὁ Ἰωσὴφ μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ὅμοιόν του βουλευτῆ καὶ «κεκρυμμένο»μαθητὴ τοῦ Κυρίου, τὸν Νικόδημο, προβαίνει στὴν ταφὴ τοῦ Διδασκάλου Του.

        Κανεὶς ἄλλος δὲν παρηκολούθησε τὴν ταφή, παρὰ μόνο μερικὲς γυναῖκες «ἡΜαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Ἰακώβου καὶ Σαλώμη». Πράγματι. Ἀληθινὲς ἡρωίδες ἀνεδείχθησαν καὶ οἱ Μυροφόρες. Τὸ καθῆκον τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ λατρείας τοῦ Χριστοῦ τὶς ἔφερε στὸ Γολγοθὰ κατὰ τὴ σταύρωση μαζὶ μὲ τὴν Παναγία Μητέρα τοῦ Κυρίου, τὶς ὁδηγεῖ τώρα στὸν τάφο, γιὰ νὰ ἀλείψουν μὲ μύρα τὸ πανάχραντο Σῶμα τοῦ Κυρίου. Ὁ ἱερὸς Εὐαγγελιστὴς διηγεῖται τὸ μέγα τοῦτο γεγονός.

        Εἶχε περάσει, λέγει, ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ Σαββάτου, καὶ εἶχε ἀρχίσει ἡ «μία τῶν Σαββάτων», ἡ Κυριακή, ἡ πρώτη ἡμέρα τῆς ἑβδομάδος. Καὶ «διαγενομένου τοῦ Σαββάτου» οἱ Μυροφόρες ἀγόρασαν ἀρώματα «ἴνα ἐλθοῦσαι ἀλείψωσι τὸν Ἰησοῦν». Ἕνα μόνο πρόβλημα τὶς ἀπασχολεῖ, «τὶς ἀποκυλίσει ἠμὶν τὸν λίθον ἐκ τῆς θύρας τοῦ μνημείου;» Οὔτε ὅμως καὶ αὐτὸ μπορεῖ νὰ τὶς σταματήσει. Ἡ ἡρωικὴ ψυχὴ δὲν ὑποχωρεῖ. Βαδίζουν ὁλοταχῶς πρὸς τὸν τάφο. Καὶ τί βλέπουν; «Τὸν λίθον ἀποκεκυλισμένον τοῦ μνήματος». Τὴν θύραν ἀνοικτή. Τὸν τάφο κενό. Περίμεναν νεκρὸ τὸ Χριστό. Τὸν βρίσκουν ἀναστημένο. «Εἰσελθοῦσαι εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, βλέπουν νεανίσκον καθήμενον ἐν τοῖς δεξιοῖς, περιβεβλημένον στολὴν λευκήν, καὶ ἐξεθαμβήθησαν». Δὲν προφταίνουν νὰ συνέλθουν ἀπὸ τὴν ἔκπληξη αὐτή. Καὶ ἀκοῦν ἀπὸ τὸ στόμα τοῦ ἀγγέλου τὸ μέγα μήνυμα τῆς ἀναστάσεως Τοῦ Κυρίου. Γνωρίζω ποιὸν ζητεῖτε, «Ἰησοῦν τὸν Ναζαρηνόν, τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον· ἠγέρθη οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε· ἴδε ὁ τόπος ὅπου ἔθηκαν αὐτὸν» Τί χαρά! Τί ἀπερίγραπτος ἀγαλλίασις καὶ εὐφροσύνη. Ἀλλὰ νὰ καὶ μία νέα τιμή, νέα χάρις, νέα ὑψίστη δωρεὰ καὶ δόξα σ’ αὐτές. Νὰ γίνουν οἱ πρῶτες εὐαγγελίστριες τῆς ἀναστάσεως τοῦ Κυρίου. Νὰ ἀναγγείλουν αὐτὲς στοὺς μαθητὲς τοῦ Χριστοῦ τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀνάσταση τοῦ Διδασκάλου. «Ὑπάγετε, εἴπατε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ καὶ τῷ Πέτρω, ὅτι προάγει ὑμᾶς ἒς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν ἐκεῖ αὐτὸν ὄψεσθε».

        Γενναῖες, ἠρωϊκὲς ψυχὲς ἀνεδείχθησαν οἱ μαθήτριες τοῦ Κυρίου. Πρῶτες κήρυκες τῆς ἀναστάσεως τοῦ Κυρίου. Ἀτρόμητες στὸ καθῆκον τους, ὑπόδειγμα γυναικείας τόλμης, αὐταπαρνήσεως, ἀρετῆς καὶ ἁγιότητος.


        Ἂς εὐχηθοῦμε νὰ χαρίσει ὁ Κύριος καὶ στὸν καθένα ἀπὸ ἐμᾶς,τὴν γενναιότητα τῶν ἑορταζόντων ἁγίων τῆς σημερινῆς ἡμέρας. Ἀμὴν!

Πηγή: http://katihisis.blogspot.gr/2015/04/blog-post_25.html

Παρασκευή, 24 Απριλίου 2015

Monasticism



The innermost spiritual sense of Orthodox Monasticism is revealed in joyful mourning. This paradoxical phrase denotes a spiritual state in which a monk in his prayer grieves for the sins of the world and at the same time experiences the regenerating spiritual joy of Christ's forgiveness and resurrection. A monk dies in order to live, he forgets himself in order to find his real self in God, he becomes ignorant of worldly knowledge in order to attain real spiritual wisdom which is given only to the humble ones. (Ed.)
With the development of monasticism in the Church there appeared a peculiar way of life, which however did not proclaim a new morality. The Church does not have one set of moral rules for the laity and another for monks, nor does it divide the faithful into classes according to their obligations towards God. The Christian life is the same for everyone. All Christians have in common that "their being and name is from Christ" 1. This means that the true Christian must ground his life and conduct in Christ, something which is hard to achieve in the world.
What is difficult in the world is approached with dedication in the monastic life. In his spiritual life the monk simply tries to do what every Christian should try to do: to live according to God's commandments. The fundamental principles of monasticism are not different from those of the lives of all the faithful. This is especially apparent in the history of the early Church, before monasticism appeared.
In the tradition of the Church there is a clear preference for celibacy as opposed to the married state. This stance is not of course hostile to marriage, which is recognized as a profound mystery2, but simply indicates the practical obstacles marriage puts in the way of the pursuit of the spiritual life. For this reason, from the earliest days of Christianity many of the faithful chose celibacy. Thus Athenagoras the Confessor in the second century wrote: "You can find many men and women who remain unmarried all their lives in the hope of coming closer to God"3.
From the very beginning the Christian life has been associated with self denial and sacrifice: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me"4. Christ calls on us to give ourselves totally to him: "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"5.
Finally, fervent and unceasing prayer, obedience to the elders of the Church, brotherly love and humility, as well as all the essential virtues of the monastic life were cultivated by the members of the Church from its earliest days.
One cannot deny that the monk and the married man have different ways of life, but this does not alter their common responsibility towards God and His commandments. Every one of us has his own special gift within the one and indivisible body of Christ's Church6. Every way of life, whether married or solitary, is equally subject to God's absolute will. Hence no way of life can be taken as an excuse for ignoring or selectively responding to Christ's call and His commandments. Both paths demand effort and determination.
St Chrysostom is particularly emphatic on this point: "You greatly delude yourself and err, if you think that one thing is demanded from the layman and another from the monk; since the difference between them is in that whether one is married or not, while in everything else they have the same responsibilities... Because all must rise to the same height; and what has turned the world upside down is that we think only the monk must live rigorously, while the rest are allowed to live a life of indolence"7. Referring to the observance of particular commandments in the Gospels, he says: "Whoever is angry with his brother without cause, regardless of whether he is a layman or a monk, opposes God in the same way. And whoever looks at a woman lustfully, regardless of his status, commits the same sin". In general, he observes that in giving His commandments Christ does not make distinction between people: "A man is not defined by whether he is a layman or a monk, but by the way he thinks"8.
Christ's commandments demand strictness of life that we often expect only from monks. The requirements of decent and sober behaviour, the condemnation of wealth and adoption of frugality9, the avoidance of idle talk and the call to show selfless love are not given only for monks, but for all the faithful.
Therefore, the rejection of worldly thinking is the duty not only of monks, but of all Christians. The faithful must not have a worldly mind, but sojourn as strangers and travellers with their minds fixed on God. Their home is not on earth, but in the kingdom of heaven: "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come"10. The Church can be seen as a community in exodus. The world is its temporary home but the Church is bound for the kingdom of God. Just as the Israelites, freed from bondage in Egypt, journeyed towards Jerusalem through many trials and tribulations, so Christians, freed from the bondage of sin, journey through many trials and tribulations towards the kingdom of heaven.
In the early days this exodus from the world did not involve a change of place but a change of the way of life. Because God was and is everywhere and fulfills everything, the rejection of the world and turning towards God was not understood in physical sense but as a change of the way of life. This is especially clear in the lives of the early Christians. Although they lived in the world they did not belong to it: "In the world but not of the world". And those who lived in chastity and poverty, which became later fundamental principles of the monastic life, did not abandon the world or take to the mountains.
Physical detachment from the world helps the soul to reject the worldly way of life. Experience shows that human salvation is harder to achieve in the world. As Basil the Great points out, living among men who do not care for the strict observance of God's commandments is harmful. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to answer Christ's call to take up one's cross and follow Him within the bounds of worldly life. Seeing the multitude of sinners, one not only fails to see his own sins but also falls into temptation to believe that he has achieved something, because we tend to compare ourselves with those who are worse than we are. Furthermore, the hustle and bustle of everyday life distracts us from the remembrance of God. It does not only prevent us from feeling the joy of intense communion with God, but leads us to contempt and forgetfulness of the divine will.
This does not mean that detachment from the world guarantees salvation, but surely does help us a lot in our spiritual life. When someone devotes himself wholly to God and His will, nothing can stop him from being saved. St. Chrysostom says: "There is no obstacle to a worker striving for virtue, but men in office, and those who have a wife and children to look after, and servants to see to, and those in positions of authority can also take care to be virtuous"12.

Saint Simeon the New Theologian observes: "Living in a city does not prevent us from carrying out God's commandments if we are zealous, and silence and solitude are of no benefit if we are slothful and neglectful" 13. Elsewhere he says that it is possible for all, not only monks but laymen too, to "eternally and continuously repent and weep and pray to God, and by these actions to acquire all the other virtues"14.
Orthodox monasticism has always been associated with stillness or silence, which is seen primarily as an internal rather than an external state. External silence is sought in order to attain inner stillness of mind more easily. This stillness is not a kind of inertia or inaction, but awakening and activation of the spiritual life. It is intense vigilance and total devotion to God. Living in a quiet place the monk succeeds in knowing himself better, fighting his passions more deeply and purifying his heart more fully, so as to be found worthy of beholding God.
The father of St Gregory Palamas, Constantine, lived a life of stillness as a senator and member of the imperial court in Constantinople. The essence of this kind of life is detachment from worldly passions and complete devotion to God. This is why St Gregory Palamas says that salvation in Christ is possible for all: "The farmer and the leather worker and the mason and the tailor and the weaver, and in general all those who earn their living with their hands and in the sweat of their brow, who cast out of their souls the desire for wealth, fame and comfort, are indeed blessed"15. In the same spirit St Nicolas Kavasilas observes that it is not necessary for someone to flee to the desert, eat unusual food, change his dress, ruin his health or attempt some other such thing in order to remain devoted to God16.
The monastic life, with its physical withdrawal from the world to the desert, began about the middle of the third century. This flight of Christians to the desert was partly caused by the harsh Roman persecutions of the time. The growth of monasticism, however, which began in the time of Constantine the Great, was largely due to the refusal of many Christians to adapt to the more worldly character of the now established Church, and their desire to lead a strictly Christian life. Thus monasticism developed simultaneously in various places in the southeast Mediterranean, Egypt, Palestine, Sinai, Syria and Cyprus, and soon after reached Asia Minor and finally Europe. During the second millennium, however, Mount Athos appeared as the center of Orthodox monasticism.
The most common and safest form of the monastic life is the coenobitic communion. In the coenobitic monastery everything is shared: living quarters, food, work, prayer, common efforts, cares, struggles and achievements. The leader and spiritual father of the coenobium is the abbot. The exhortation to the abbot in the Charter of St Athanasius the Athonite is typical: "Take care that the brethren have everything in common. No one must own as much as a needle. Your body and soul shall be your own, and nothing else. Everything must be shared equally with love between all your spiritual children, brethren and fathers".
The coenobium is the ideal Christian community, where no distinction is drawn between mine and yours, but everything is designed to cultivate a common attitude and a spirit of fraternity. In the coenobium the obedience of every monk to his abbot and his brotherhood, loving kindness, solidarity and hospitality are of the greatest importance. As St Theodore of Studium observes, the whole community of the faithful should in the final analysis be a coenobitic Church17. Thus the monastic coenobium is the most consistent attempt to achieve this and an image of Church in small.
In its "fuga mundi", monasticism underlines the Church's position as an "anti-community" within the world, and by its intense spiritual asceticism cultivates its eschatological spirit. The monastic life is described as "the angelic state", in other words a state of life that while on earth follows the example of the life in heaven. Virginity and celibacy come within this framework, anticipating the condition of souls in the life to come, where "they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven"18.
Many see celibacy as a defining characteristic of monastic life. This does not mean, however, that celibacy is the most important aspect of the monastic life: it simply gives this distinctiveness to this way of life. All the other obligations, even the other two monastic vows of obedience and poverty, essentially concern all the faithful. Needless to say, all this takes on a special form in the monastic life, but that has no bearing on the essence of the matter.
All Christians are obliged to keep the Lord's commandments, but this requires effort. Fallen human nature, enslaved by its passions is reluctant to fulfill this obligation. It seeks pleasure and avoids the pain involved in fighting the passions and selfishness. The monastic life is so arranged as to facilitate this work. On the other hand the worldly life, particularly in our secular society, makes it harder to be an ascetic. The problem for the Christian in the world is that he is called upon to reach the same goal under adverse conditions.
The tonsure, with cutting of hair, is called a "second baptism"19. Baptism, however, is one and the same for all members of the Church. It is participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. The tonsure does not repeat, but renews and activates the grace of the baptism. The monastic vows are essentially not different from those taken at baptism, with the exception of the vow of celibacy. Furthermore, hair is also cut during baptism.
The monastic life points the way to perfection. However, the whole Church is called to perfection. All the faithful, both laymen and monks, are called to become perfect following the divine example: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect"20. But while the monk affirms the radical nature of the Christian life, the layman is content to regard it conventionally. The conventional morality of the layman on the one hand and the radical morality of the monk on the other create a dialectical differentiation that takes the form of a dialectical antithesis.
St Maximus the Confessor, in contrasting the monastic with the worldly life, observes that a layman's successes are a monk's failures, and vice versa: "The achievements of the worldly are failures for monks; and the achievements of monks are failures for the worldly. When the monk is exposed to what the world sees as success- wealth, fame, power, pleasure, good health and many children, he is destroyed. And when a worldly man finds himself in the state desired by monks—poverty, humility, weakness, self restraint, mortification and suchlike, he considers it a disaster. Indeed, in such despair many may consider hanging themselves, and some have actually done so"21.
Of course the comparison here is between the perfect monk and the very worldly Christian. However, in more usual circumstances within the Church the same things will naturally function differently, but this difference could never reach diametrical opposition. Thus for example, wealth and fame cannot be seen as equally destructive for monks and laymen. These things are always bad for monks, because they conflict with the way of life the monks have chosen. For laymen, however, wealth and fame may be beneficial, even though they involve grave risks. The existence of the family, and of the wider secular society with its various needs and demands, not only justify but sometimes make it necessary to accumulate wealth or assume office. Those things that may unite in the world divide in the monastic life. The ultimate unifier is Christ Himself.
The Christian life does not depend only on human effort but primarily on God's grace. Ascetic exercises in all their forms and degrees aim at nothing more than preparing man to harmonise his will with that of God and receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. This harmonisation attains its highest expression and perfection in prayer. "In true prayer we enter into and dwell in the Divine Being by the power of the Holy Spirit"22. This leads man to his archetype and makes him a true person in the likeness of his Creator.
The grace of the Christian life is not to be found in its outward forms. It is not found in ascetic exercises, fasts, vigils and mortification of the flesh. Indeed, when these excercises are practiced without discernment they become abhorrent. This repulsiveness is no longer confined to their external form but comes to characterise their inner content. They become abhorrent not only because outwardly they appear as a denial of life, contempt for material things or self-abandonment, but also because they mortify the spirit, encourage pride and cultivate self justification.
The Christian life is not a denial but an affirmation. It is not death, but life. And it is not only affirmation and life, but the only true affirmation and the only true life. It is the true affirmation because if goes beyond all possibility of denial and the only true life because it conquers death. The negative appearance of the Christian life in its outward forms is due precisely to its attempt to stand beyond all human denial. Since there is no human affirmation that does not end in denial, and no worldly life that does not end in death, the Church takes its stand and reveals its life after accepting every human denial and affirming every form of earthly death.
The power of the Christian life lies in the hope of resurrection, and the goal of ascetic striving is to partake in the resurrection. The monastic life, as the angelic and heavenly life lived in time, is the foreknowledge and foretaste of eternal life. Its aim is not to cast off the human element, but clothe oneself with incorruptibility and immortality: "For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life"23.

There are sighing and tears produced by the presence of sin, as well as the suffering to be free of the passions and regain a pure heart. These things demand ascetic struggles, and undoubtedly have a negative form, since they aim at humility. They are exhausting and painful, because they are concerned with states and habits that have become second nature. It is however precisely through this abasement, self purification, that man clears the way for God's grace to appear and to act within his heart. God does not manifest Himself to an impure heart.
Monks are the "guardians". They choose to constrain their bodily needs in order to attain the spiritual freedom offered by Christ. They tie themselves down in death's realm in order to experience more intensely the hope of the life to come. They reconcile themselves with space, where man is worn down and annihilated, feel it as their body, transform it into the Church and orientate it towards the kingdom of God.
The monk's journey to perfection is gradual and is connected with successive renunciations, which can be summarised in three. The first renunciation involves completely abandoning the world. This is not limited to things, but includes people and parents. The second is renunciation of the individual will, and the third is freedom from pride, which is identified with liberation from the sway of the world24.
These successive renunciations have a positive, not a negative meaning. They permit a man to fully open up and be perfected "in the image and likeness" of God. When man is freed from the world and from himself, he expands without limits. He becomes a true person, which "encloses" within himself the whole of humanity as Christ himself does. That is why, on the moral plane, the Christian is called upon to love all human beings, even his enemies. Then God Himself comes and dwells within him, and the man arrives to the fullness of his theanthropic being25. Here we can see the greatness of the human person, and can understand the superhuman struggles needed for his perfection.
The life of monasticism is the life of perpetual spiritual ascent. While the world goes on its earthbound way, and the faithful with their obligations and distractions of the world try to stay within the institutional limits of the church tradition, monasticism goes the other direction and soars. It rejects any kind of compromise and seeks the absolute. It launches itself from this world and heads for the kingdom of God. This is in essence the goal of the Church itself.
In Church tradition this path is pictured as a ladder leading to heaven. Not everyone manages to reach the top of this spiritual ladder. Many are to be found on the first rungs. Others rise higher. There are also those who fall from a higher or a lower rung. The important thing is not the height reached, but the unceasing struggle to rise ever higher. Most important of all, this ascent is achieved through ever increasing humility, that is through ever increasing descent. "Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not", was the word of God to Saint Silouan of Mount Athos. When man descends into the hell of his inner struggle having God within him, then he is lifted up and finds the fullness of being26.
At the top of this spiritual ladder are the "fools for Christ's sake", as the Apostle Paul calls himself and the other apostles27, or "the fools for Christ's sake", who "play the madman for the love of Christ and mock the vanity of the world"28. Seeking after glory among men, says Christ, obstructs belief in God29. Only when man rejects pride can he defeat the world and devote himself to God30.
In the lives of monks the Christian sees examples of men who took their Christian faith seriously and committed themselves to the path which everyone is called by Christ to follow. Not all of them attained perfection, but they all tried, and all rose to a certain height. Not all possessed the same talent, but all strove as good and faithful servants. They are not to be held up as examples to be imitated, especially by laymen. They are however valuable signposts on the road to perfection, which is common for all and has its climax in the perfectness of God.

Endnotes

1. Maximos the Confessor, Mystagogia 1, PG91, 665C.
2. See Eph. 5, 32.
3. Presbeia 33. Also see Justin, Confession 1, 15, 6.
4. St. Mark 8, 34.
5. St. Matthew 10, 37.
6. "Each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another" I Cor. 7, 7.
7. Pros piston patera (To the faithful father) 3, 14, PG47, 372- 74.
8. Ibid 373.
9. "If we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. I Tim 6,8.
10. Heb. 13, 14.
11. See Oroi kata platos (Monastic rules in full) 6, PG 31, 925A.
12. Catechism 7, 28, ed A. Wenger, "Sources Chritiennes' vol.50, Paris 21970m 0,243.
13. Catechism 12, 132-5, ed B. Krivocheine, "Sources Chritiennes' vol.l04, Paris 1964, p.374.
14. Catechism 5, 122-5, ed B. Knvocheine, "Sources Chritiennes". voL96, Paris 1963, p.386.
15. Homily 15, PG151, 180 BC.
16. See On the life in Christ 6, PG150, 660A.
17. See Letter 53,PG99, 1264CD.
18. St. Matthew 22, 30.
19. See Service for the Little Habit. The Greater Prayer-Book, p. 192.
20. St. Matthew 5, 48.
21. Maximos the Confessor, On love 3,85,PG90, 1044A.
22. Archimandrite Sophrony, Ascetic practice and theory, Essex, Eng/and 1996, p.26.
23. 2 Cor. 5,4.
24 See Stage 2, PG88, 657A. For a comparison of the patristic tradition on the three stages of renunciation see the book by Archimandrite Sophrony, Asceticism and Contemptation, p.26f.
25. See Archimandrite Sophrony, We Shall See Him as He is, Essex, England 3-1996, p.389.
26. See Archimandrite Sophrony, Saint Silouan of Mount Athos, Essex, England 7-1995, p.572 Also Asceticism and Contemptation, p.42.
27. 1 Cor. 4, l0.
28. The Elder Paisios, Letters, Souroti, Thessaloni 1994, p.235.
29 St. John 5, 44.
30 See Archimandrite Sophrony, Asceticism and Contemptation, pp.33-4.

Georgios I. Mantzarides Professor of the Theological School Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (abridged text from the book Images of Athos by monk Chariton)

Source: http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org

On Ecclesiastical Music

Μusic is of two kinds (as are the other arts also)—secular and ecclesiastical. Each of these has been developed by different feelings and different states of the soul. Secular music expresses worldly (i.e., carnal) feelings and desires. Although these feelings may be very refined (romantic, sentimental, idealistic, etc.), they do not cease being carnal. Nevertheless, many people believe that these feelings are spiritual. However, spiritual feelings are expressed only by ecclesiastical music. 

 Only ecclesiastical music can truly express the secret movements of the heart, which are entirely different from those inspired and developed by secular music. That is, it expresses contrition, humility, suffering and godly grief, which, as Paul says, "worketh repentance to salvation." [2] Ecclesiastical music can also evoke feelings of praise, thanksgiving, and holy enthusiasm. Secular music, on the other hand—even the purest—expresses carnal emotions, even when it is inspired by suffering and affliction. This type of suffering, Paul calls "worldly grief," which "worketh death." [3]

Thus two kinds of music were formed, the secular, which arouses emotion—any kind of emotion—and ecclesiastical music, which evokes contrition. St. John Chrysostom strongly condemns the attempts that were made by some of his contemporaries to introduce into the Church secular music, the music of the theatre and the mimes.
Only the arts which were developed by devout motives since the early years of Christianity have given expression to the spiritual essence of the religion. These alone can be called liturgical, that is, spiritual, in the sense that religion gives to the term spiritual. The "spiritual odes" of which Paul speaks [4] were works of such art. All the liturgical arts express the same thing: architecture, hymnody, iconography, embroidery, and even writing, the manner of walking, and in general the movements and gestures of the priests, the chiming of the bells, and so forth.


That these arts are truly of unique spirituality has been realized by many non-Orthodox, especially clergymen, whose sense-organs have been exposed, from youth on, to formative influences different from those in which Orthodox Christians have been brought up. Nevertheless, they confess that our icons and psalmody evoke in them contrition—of course, when executed by inspired and pious artists.

Thus, the value of the liturgical arts is not merely conventional, but real, extending beyond the limited conceptions that are due to nurture, habit, and taste, since even persons who are not of the Orthodox faith recognize that the arts of the Orthodox Church reflect the spirit of the Gospels and for this reason lift the soul above the earthly realm. And how could it be otherwise, inasmuch as these arts have been developed by sanctified hearts, which felt deeply the liturgical element in speech and music? Liturgical music is the natural musical garb of liturgical speech. Both sprang up together; they are one and the same thing. Essence and expression here have an absolute correspondence, even more exact than that of an object and its reflection in a mirror, for the objects of which we speak here belong to the spiritual realm. The profound and apocalyptic spirit of Christian religion and its mysteries could not be expressed faithfully and worthily except by these arts, which are called liturgical and spiritual, and which were developed by that same profound spirit. Only this music, and none other, uniquely expresses the spirit of our religion, because only this music has an absolute and most exact correspondence with it. This is testified to, I repeat, by certain men whose spiritual upbringing, religious training, phyletic and other heritage have no relation to that of the Orthodox. "The Spirit bloweth where it listeth," [5] and is transmitted to souls by means of sounds which the same Spirit formed, by illuminating the souls of the holy writers of hymns.

The Fathers of the Church ordained that Christians use the voice alone in execution of hymns, chanting as did our Lord Himself and His disciples. St. John Chrysostom says: "Our Savior chanted hymns just as we do." The Apostolic Constitutions forbid the use of musical instruments in the church. From the time of the Apostles, psalmody was monophonic, or homophonic, as it is to this day in our churches [in Greece].

The Western Church, in order to gratify people and flatter their tastes, put instruments inside the churches, disobeying what was ordained by the Fathers. They did this because they had no idea what liturgical music was and what secular music was, just as they did not know the difference between liturgical painting and secular painting. But the Byzantines distinguished the one from the other, and this shows how much more spiritual they were in comparison with the Westerners and how much more truly they experienced the spirit of Christianity. Byzantine music is, in comparison with the music of the West, exactly as Orthodox iconography is in comparison with the religious painting of the West.
How divine, indeed, is the psalmody of the Orthodox Church! It seems sweeter and sweeter each year to the Christian—a new wine that fills the heart with joy and makes it soar to the ethereal region of immortal life. Words and melody are one and the same thing. Whoever separates them shows that he has not understood a thing. It would have been better if church music had been eliminated altogether and the troparia and hymns were simply read, instead of having those hermaphroditic combinations of Byzantine and European music.
Byzantine music is peaceful, sad but consoling, enthusiastic but reserved, humble but heroic, simple but profound. It has the same spiritual essence as the Gospels, the hymns, the psalms, the books of the lives of the saints, and the iconography of Byzantium. That is why Byzantine music is monotonous for one to whom the Gospels are monotonous, naive for one to whom the Gospels are naive, circumscribed for one to whom the Gospels are circumscribed, mournful for one to whom the Gospels are mournful, antiquated for one to whom the Gospels are antiquated. But it is joyful for one to whom the Gospels are joyful, filled with compunction for one to whom the Gospels are filled with compunction, enthusiastic but humble for one to whom the Gospels, are enthusiastic but humble, and peaceful for one who experiences the peace of Christ.
Byzantine art is spiritual, and it is necessary that a man have spiritual depth in order to understand its mystical treasures. Byzantine music expresses "gladdening sorrow," [6] that is, that spiritual fragrance which only the spiritual senses are capable of experiencing. Its melody is not unholy, ostentatious, despondent, shallow, tasteless, or aimless; it is meek, humble, sweet with a certain bittersweetness, and full of contrition and mercy. It bestows an unwaning spiritual glory upon souls that have become worthy of the eternal mysteries and the compassion of God. It expresses thanksgiving; it causes the flow of tears of gratitude and spiritual joy. This music is the warmest, the most direct, and the most concise expression of the religious feeling of faithful Orthodox people.


[1] Photios Kontoglou of blessed memory (1895-1965) played a major role in the glorious return of traditional Byzantine iconography to the Greek Orthodox world in the twentieth century. He was also an accomplished chanter and a spiritual writer who inspired countless souls to embrace the unadultered traditions of the Orthodox faith. This epilogue consists of selections from his writings translated in the book Byzantine Sacred Art by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, who was one of his disciples.

[2] II Cor. 7:10

[3] Ibid.
[4] Vid. Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16
[5] Jn. 3:8
[6] Vid. The Ladder, Step 7:9 (Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 88, col. 804B)

Source: http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org

Η ΞΕΝΟΜΑΝΙΑ ΜΑΣ-ΦΩΤΗΣ ΚΟΝΤΟΓΛΟΥ

Θα ήθελα να μη γράφω ποτέ κάποια πράγματα που ερεθίζουνε και δυσαρεστούνε όσους περπατά­νε σε δρόμο, ανάποδο από μένα. Αλλά να γράφω για πράγματα που ευχαριστούνε όλους.

Μα υπάρχουνε ένα σωρό στραβά, που ίσως να διορ­θωθούνε με το να καταλάβουμε καλά, πως είναι στρα­βά και να ζητήσουμε τη γιατρειά τους. Λοιπόν, άθελά μου, γράφω γι’ αυτά και σσς παρακαλώ να δώσετε προσοχή στα παρακάτω, όχι γιατί είμαι ο σοφός Σολομώντας, αλλά γιατί αυτά τα ζητήματα για τα οποία γράφω, έτυχε να τα γνωρίζω καλύτερα από πολλούς, και γιατί η ζωή μου η ίδια είναι υφασμένη μαζί τους, σαν το στημόνι με το υφάδι.

Και με όλο που κάποια από αυτά τα στραβά που θέλουνε σιάξιμο, φαίνουνται με την πρώτη ματιά πως δεν έχουνε μεγάλη σημασία, ωστόσο στ’ αληθινά έ­χουνε πάρα πολύ μεγάλη, μα δεν θέλουνε να το κατα­λάβουνε εκείνοι που συνεργούνε στο κακό. Κι αν ακόμα τους δώσει κανείς να το καταλάβουνε, από πείσμα επιμένουνε στο στραβό για να μη φανούνε στους άλλους πλανημένοι.
Ένα απ’ αυτά τα ζητήματα είναι π.χ. η κατάστα­ση που έχουνε οι εκκλησίες μας (για τα οποία έγραψα ύστερ’ από το Πάσχα), το χάλι που βρίσκονται οι εκκλησιαστικές τέχνες της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας μας: η ψαλμωδία, η αγιογραφία, η αρχιτεκτονική, η μικροτεχνία, μ’ ένα λόγο ό,τι εκφράζει το βαθύ πνεύ­μα της Ορθοδοξίας. Η παραμόρφωση αυτών των λει­τουργικών τεχνών, ώστε από λειτουργικές να καταντήσουνε κοσμικές, έγινε και γίνεται από κάποιους ε­πιπόλαιους, ρηχούς και αισθηματολογικούς ανθρώπους, που δεν νοιώθουνε καμμιά πνευματική ευθύνη για ό,τι κάνουνε, κι αλλάζουνε με ελαφρή συνείδηση το ένα και το άλλο, είτε στην ψαλμωδία, είτε στην αγιο­γραφία, είτε στα έθιμα της εκκλησίας, καταστρέφο­ντας τον θησαυρό της παραδόσεως με γελοίους νεωτε­ρισμούς. 
Αυτοί πορεύονται χωρίς να ξέρουνε τι κάνου­νε, και χωρίς να τους μέλει τι συμφορά φέρνουνε στη φυλή μας. Εμείς, όμως, όσοι νοιώθουμε αυτά τα πράγματα, και την αξία τους, και που καταλαβαίνουμε πνευματική ευθύνη, έχουμε χρέος να αγωνισθούμε κα­ταπάνω στην καταστροφή που κάνει η αμάθεια, η ανο­ησία, η ψωροπερηφάνεια, ο πνευματικός εκφυλισμός, μαζί με το πονηρό πνεύμα της εκμετάλλευσης. Αλλά, ενώ αυτοί οι μαστροχαλαστήδες πορεύονται, όπως εί­πα, ασυλλόγιστα, χωρίς να είναι σε θέση να καταλά­βουνε τι κακό κάνουνε, εμείς οι άλλοι πρέπει να τους πολεμήσουμε με γνώση, με σοβαρότητα, με τα λόγια της αλήθειας. Ένα ρητό ανατολίτικο λέγει: «Ένας τρελλός έρριξε μια πέτρα στη θάλασσα και πέσανε στο νερό εκατό γνωστικοί γιά να τη βγάλουνε!». Ο τρελ­λός είναι εκείνος που χαλά την παράδοση, γιατί έτσι του κατέβηκε, κ’ εμείς είμαστε οι γνωστικοί, που α­γωνιζόμαστε να σώσουμε αυτό που πάει να καταστρέ­ψει ο τρελλός, δηλαδή την παράδοση. Η παροιμία μιλά για έναν τρελλό και για εκατό γνωστικούς. Μα σ’ εμάς είναι εκατό τρελλοί που γκρεμίζουνε και πεντέξη γνωστικοί, που αγωνίζουνται, να μην τους αφή­σουνε στο παλαβό αυτό έργο της καταστροφής.

Κατά δυστυχία, πολλοί απ’ αυτούς τους ελαφρό­μυαλους, αλαφρόκαρδους και κούφιους «νεωτεριστάς» (όπως θέλουν να λέγουνται), έχουνε πιάσει τα πόστα, στα Υπουργεία, στις Ακαδημίες, στα Πανεπιστήμια και στ’ άλλα εκπαιδευτήρια, στα Ωδεία, στα Θέατρα, στις εφημερίδες, στις εκκλησιές,   στο ραδιοφωνικό σταθμό, κι από κει κάνουνε το κακό που κάνουνε ταμπουρωμένοι, με κάθε ευκολία, ενώ εμείς οι δυστυχείς πολεμάμε στ’ ανοιχτά, μοναχοί, χωρίς καμμιά υπο­στήριξη, χωρίς τα άρματα και τις τάμπιες που έχουνε αυτοί. Κοντά σ’ αυτό, εκείνοι έχουνε κάποια λαοπλάνα συνθήματα που τραβάνε τον κόσμο, όπως είναι: «ο πολιτισμός, η πρόοδος, η εξέλιξις, ο μοντερνισμός», και τα μασάνε μέρα-νύχτα στο στόμα τους σαν μαστίχι, ενώ εμείς είμαστε γι’ αυτούς «καθυστερημένοι», «έξω από το ρεύμα της εποχής», δηλαδή ό,τι δεν τρα­βά τη συμπάθεια του πολλού κόσμου. Ενώ, λοιπόν, οι «μοντερνιστές» είναι, κούφιοι κι ανόητοι, χωρίς κανένα βαθύ αίσθημα ή σοβαρόν στοχασμό, ωστόσο μ’ αυτά τα εύκολα εργαλεία της δημαγωγίας πλανούν τον κό­σμο, προ πάντων όσοι απ’ αυτούς έχουνε κάποιο δημό­σιο αξίωμα.

Και μ’ όλα ταύτα, εμείς, όχι μοναχά βαστάμε γερά και σταματούμε το γκρέμισμα, αλλά χτίζουμε σε στε­ρεά θεμέλια, απάνω στα χαλάσματα που έχει σωριά­σει η τυφλή μανία τους, και κάθε μέρα κερδίζουμε ψυ­χές που φωτίζουνται, κι απορούνε κ’ οι ίδιες σε τι πλάνη και σε τι ψευτιά βρισκόντανε πριν. Και μάλιστα ανάμεσα στους νέους, στον σπόρο που βλασταίνει.
«Ευλογημένο καταφύγιο», Εκδ. ΑΚΡΙΤΑΣ 
Επιμέλεια:ΝΟΤΑ ΧΑΡΑΣ
Πηγή: https://aoratospolemostheblog0.wordpress.com/2015/04/18/%CE%B7-%CE%BE%CE%B5%CE%BD%CE%BF%CE%BC%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%B9%CE%B1-%CE%BC%CE%B1%CF%83-%CF%86%CF%89%CF%84%CE%B7%CF%83-%CE%BA%CE%BF%CE%BD%CF%84%CE%BF%CE%B3%CE%BB%CE%BF%CF%85/

Τετάρτη, 22 Απριλίου 2015

Ὁ Ἅγιος Γεώργιος ὁ Μεγαλομάρτυρας ὁ Τροπαιοφόρος

Ἡ οἰκουμενικότητα τοῦ Ἁγίου Γεωργίου τοῦ Τροπαιοφόρου, ποὺ ἐκφράζεται μέσα ἀπὸ τὴ λειτουργικὴ τέχνη, τὴν τιμὴ πρὸς τὸν Ἅγιο λαῶν καὶ φυλῶν ἀκόμα καὶ μὴ ὀρθοδόξων, τὴ λαϊκὴ θρησκευτικότητα, μαρτυρεῖται περίτρανα ἀπὸ τὴν γ’ Ὠδὴ τοῦ Κανόνος του: «Γῆ πᾶσα καὶ βρότειος φυλή, οὐρανός τε συγχαίρει, στρατὸς Ἀγγέλων τε, ὁ πρωτοστράτηγος γάρ, Χριστοῦ νῦν Γεώργιος ἐκ γῆς, βαίνει πρὸς οὐράνια». Παρὰ τὴν εὐρέως διαδεδομένη τιμὴ καὶ εὐλάβεια πρὸς τὸν Ἅγιο Γεώργιο, δὲν ὑπάρχουν πολλὲς αὐθεντικὲς ἱστορικὲς πηγὲς γιὰ τὸ πρόσωπο καὶ τὸ μαρτύριό του. Πρώτη καὶ σπουδαιότερη πηγὴ ἀπὸ τὴν ὁποία ἀντλοῦμε πληροφορίες γιὰ τὸν βίο, τὸ μαρτύριο καὶ τὰ θαύματα τοῦ Ἁγίου Μεγαλομάρτυρος Γεωργίου εἶναι τὸ ἱστορικὸ ποὺ συνέταξε ὁ ὑπηρέτης τοῦ Ἁγίου, Πασικράτης, ὁ ὁποῖος παρακολούθησε τὰ γεγονότα τοῦ μαρτυρίου τοῦ Ἁγίου.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Γεώργιος γεννήθηκε μεταξὺ τῶν ἐτῶν 280 – 285 μ.Χ., πιθανότατα στὴν περιοχὴ τῆς Ἀρμενίας, κατὰ τοὺς χρόνους τοῦ αὐτοκράτορος Διοκλητιανοῦ. Ἐκεῖ, σὲ ἕνα μοναστήρι τῆς περιοχῆς, ὁ Ἅγιος δέχθηκε τὸ μυστήριο τοῦ Βαπτίσματος καὶ ἔγινε μέλος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ὁ πατέρας τοῦ Ἁγίου ὀνομαζόταν Γερόντιος, ἦταν Συγκλητικὸς – στρατηλάτης στὸ ἀξίωμα – καὶ καταγόταν ἀπὸ πλούσια καὶ ἐπίσημη γενιὰ τῆς Καππαδοκίας. Σὲ παλαιὸ χειρόγραφο ἀναφέρεται ὅτι γεννήθηκε στὴ Σεβαστούπολη τῆς Μικρᾶς Ἀρμενίας καὶ ὅτι ἀρχικὰ ἦταν εἰδωλολάτρης, ἐνῷ ἀργότερα ἔγινε Χριστιανός. Ἡ σύζυγός του ὀνομαζόταν Πολυχρονία, ἦταν Χριστιανὴ καὶ καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴ γνωστὴ Λύδδα (Διόσπολη) τῆς Παλαιστίνης. Ὅπως ἀναφέρουν οἱ πηγές, ἡ οἰκογένεια τοῦ Ἁγίου, ὅταν ἐκεῖνος ἦταν σὲ μικρὴ ἡλικία, μετοίκησε στὴ Λύδδα, λόγω τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ πατρός του.
Σὲ νεαρὴ ἡλικία ὁ Γεώργιος κατατάχθηκε στὸ Ρωμαϊκὸ στρατό. Διακρίθηκε γιὰ τὴν τόλμη καὶ τὸν ἡρωισμό του καὶ ἔλαβε τὸ ἀξίωμα τοῦ Τριβούνου. Λίγο ἀργότερα ὁ Διοκλητιανὸς τὸν ἔκανε Δούκα (διοικητή) μὲ τὸν τίτλο τοῦ Κόμητος στὸ τάγμα τῶν Ἀνικιώρων τῆς αὐτοκρατορικῆς φρουρᾶς, «πολλάκις πρότερον μεγαλοπρεπῶς διαπρέψας τοῦ τῶν σχολῶν μετὰ ταῦτα πρώτου τάγματος κόμης κατ’ ἐκλογὴν προεβλήθη».

Στὶς ἀρχὲς τοῦ 303 μ.Χ. ὁ Ἅγιος συλλαμβάνεται καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ τὸ μαρτύριο. Ἡ πίστη τοῦ Ἁγίου γίνεται ἀφορμὴ νὰ βαπτισθοῦν Χριστιανοὶ οἱ στρατιωτικοὶ Ἀνατόλιος καὶ Πρωτολέων, Βίκτωρ καὶ Ἀκίνδυνος, Ζωτικὸς καὶ Ζήνωνας, Χριστόφορος καὶ Σεβηριανός, Θεωνᾶς, Καισάριος καὶ Ἀντώνιος, τῶν ὁποίων τὴ μνήμη ἑορτάζει ἡ Ἐκκλησία στὶς 20 Ἀπριλίου καὶ ἡ βασίλισσα Ἀλεξάνδρα, σύζυγος τοῦ Διοκλητιανοῦ, μαζὶ μὲ τοὺς δούλους της Ἀπολλώ, Ἰσαάκιο καὶ Κοδράτο, τῶν ὁποίων ἡ μνήμη τιμᾶται στὶς 21 Ἀπριλίου.

Ὁ Ἅγιος μαρτύρησε, «ἀπετμήθη τὴν κεφαλήν», μετὰ ἀπὸ πλῆθος βασανιστηρίων, τὴν Παρασκευὴ 23 Ἀπριλίου τοῦ ἔτους 303 μ.Χ. Κατὰ δὲ τὸν ὑπολογισμὸ τοῦ ἱστορικοῦ Εὐσεβίου καὶ σύμφωνα μὲ τὸ Μακεδονικὸ ἡμερολόγιο, ἡ ἡμέρα αὐτὴ ἀντιστοιχοῦσε στὴν Παρασκευὴ τῆς Διακαινησίμου, τοῦ Πάσχα. Κρυφὰ σήκωσαν οἱ Χριστιανοὶ τὸ πάντιμο λείψανό του καὶ τὸ ἔθαψαν μαζὶ μὲ αὐτὸ τῆς Ἁγίας μητρός του, ἡ ὁποία μαρτύρησε τὴν ἴδια ἢ τὴν ἑπόμενη ἡμέρα. Ὁ πιστὸς ὑπηρέτης τοῦ Ἁγίου, Πασικράτης, ἐκτελώντας τὴν ἐπιθυμία τοῦ Ἁγίου, παρέλαβε τὸ Ἅγιο λείψανο τοῦ Μάρτυρα μαζὶ μὲ αὐτὸ τῆς μητέρας του καὶ τὸ μετέφερε στὴ Λύδδα τῆς Παλαιστίνης. Ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ, ὅπως βεβαιώνουν οἱ πηγές, οἱ Σταυροφόροι πῆραν τὰ ἱερὰ λείψανα τῆς Ἁγίας Πολυχρονίας καὶ τὰ μετέφεραν στὴ Δύση.
Μετὰ τὸ μαρτυρικὸ θάνατο τοῦ Ἁγίου, μαρτύρησαν καὶ οἱ συνδέσμιοί του Εὐσέβιος, Νέων, Λεόντιος, Λογγίνος καὶ ἄλλοι τέσσερις μαζί. Τὴν μνήμη τους τιμᾶ ἡ Ἐκκλησία στίς 24 Ἀπριλίου.
Βλέπουμε ὅτι μὲ κέντρο τὴν ἡμέρα τοῦ μαρτυρίου τοῦ Ἁγίου, δημιουργεῖται μέσα στὸ τελετουργικὸ χρόνο τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ἕνας ἑορτολογικὸς κύκλος, ὁ ὁποῖος καλλιεργεῖται περισσότερο ἀπὸ τὰ Τυπικὰ τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, ξεκινᾶ στὶς 20 Ἀπριλίου καὶ τελειώνει στὶς 24 τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός. Ὁ ἑορτολογικὸς αὐτὸς κύκλος δείχνει τὴν περίοπτη θέση τοῦ Μεγαλομάρτυρος στὴ ζωὴ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας.

Ἡ τιμὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου ἐπεξετάθη ἐντὸς ὀλίγου χρόνου σὲ ὅλη τὴν Ἀνατολή. Ἔτσι στὴ Συρία ἤδη ἀπὸ τὸν 4ο αἰώνα μ.Χ. ὑπῆρξαν ναοὶ ἀφιερωμένοι στὴ μνήμη του, ἐνῷ στὴν Αἴγυπτο ὑπῆρχαν περὶ τοὺς 40 ναοὺς καὶ 3 Μονὲς στὸ ὄνομά του. Στὶς λοιπὲς ἀνατολικὲς περιοχὲς ἡ τιμὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου εἶχε λάβει τεράστιες διαστάσεις ἀπὸ ἀρχαιοτάτους χρόνους. Στὴν Ἁγιοτόκο καὶ μαρτυρικὴ Καππαδοκία βρίσκονται πολλοὶ ναοὶ ἀφιερωμένοι στὸν Μεγαλομάρτυρα, ἀλλὰ καὶ σὲ ἄλλους Ἁγίους, μὲ ἐξαίρετες τοιχογραφίες τοῦ μαρτυρίου τοῦ Ἁγίου, καθὼς καὶ τῆς μητρός του Ἁγίας Πολυχρονίας. Καὶ στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη ὅμως πολλοὶ καὶ ὀνομαστοὶ ναοὶ ἦταν ἀφιερωμένοι στὸν Μεγαλομάρτυρα τοῦ Χριστοῦ Γεώργιο.

Ἡ τιμὴ πρὸς τὸν Ἅγιο Γεώργιο στὴν περιοχὴ τῆς Μικρᾶς Ἀσίας καὶ τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως καλλιεργήθηκε ἰδιαίτερα ἀπὸ τὸν Ὅσιο Θεόδωρο τὸν Συκεώτη. Δὲν εἶναι τυχαῖο τὸ γεγονὸς ὅτι ἡ μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Θεοδώρου, ποὺ ἡ Ἐκκλησία μας τιμᾶ στὶς 22 Ἀπριλίου, ἑορταζόταν στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη μὲ ἱερὰ Σύναξη στὸ ναὸ τοῦ Ἁγίου Γεωργίου «ἐν τῷ Δευτέρῳ». Αὐτὸ ἀκριβῶς καταδεικνύει τὴ σχέση μεταξὺ τῶν δύο Ἁγίων.

Ἀπολυτίκιο. Ἦχος δ’.
Ὡς τῶν αἰχμαλώτων ἐλευθερωτής, καὶ τῶν πτωχῶν ὑπερασπιστής, ἀσθενούντων ἰατρός, βασιλέων ὑπέρμαχος, Τροπαιοφόρε Μεγαλομάρτυς Γεώργιε, πρέσβευε Χριστῷ τῷ Θεῷ, σωθῆναι τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.

Ἕτερον Ἦχος α’. Τῆς ἐρήμου πολίτης.Τῶν Μαρτύρων τὸ κλέος, καὶ λαμπρὸν ἀκροθίνιον, τῶν καινῶν τροπαίων τὴν στήλην, καὶ ὁπλίτης περίδοξον, τιμήσωμεν ἐν ὕμνοις ἱεροῖς, Γεώργιον τὸν μέγαν Ἀθλητήν· σελαγίζει γὰρ τοῖς θαύμασιν πᾶσαν γῆν, καὶ σώζει τοὺς κραυγάζοντας· δόξα τῷ σὲ δοξάσαντι Χριστῷ, δόξα τῷ σὲ μεγαλύναντι, δόξα τῷ ἐνεργοῦντι διὰ σοῦ, ξένα θαυμάσια.

Κοντάκιον. Ἦχος δ’. Ὁ ὑψωθεὶς ἐν τῷ Σταυρῷ.Γεωργηθεὶς ὑπὸ Θεοῦ ἀνεδείχθης, τῆς εὐσεβείας γεωργὸς τιμιώτατος, τῶν ἀρετῶν τὰ δράγματα συλλέξας σεαυτῷ· σπείρας γὰρ ἐν δάκρυσιν, εὐφροσύνῃ θερίζεις· ἀθλήσας δὲ δι’ αἵματος, τὸν Χριστὸν ἐκομίσω· καὶ ταῖς πρεσβείαις Ἅγιε ταῖς σαῖς, πᾶσι παρέχεις, πταισμάτων συγχώρησιν.

Ἕτερον Κοντάκιον. Ἦχος πλ. δ’. Τῇ ὑπερμάχῳ.
Ὡς τῶν Μαρτύρων ταξιάρχην καὶ ἀκρέμονα
Καὶ Ἐκκλησίας ἀκατάσειστον θεμέλιον
Μακαρίζομέν σε πόθῳ Τροπαιοφόρε.
Ἀλλ’ ὡς μέγας ἀρωγὸς ἡμῶν καὶ πρόβολος
Ἐν παντὶ ἀντιλαβοῦ καὶ ὑπεράσπισον
Τῶν βοώντων σοι, χαίροις Μάρτυς Γεώργιε.

Μεγαλυνάριον.Μέγας ἐν ἀθλήσει ἀναδειχθείς, ὡς τροπαιοφόρος, καὶ ἐν θαύμασιν εὐκλεής, μέγας ἀντιλήπτωρ, τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ὤφθης, Γεώργιε παμμάκαρ, Μαρτύρων καύχημα.

Πηγή: www.synaxarion.gr

Κυριακή, 19 Απριλίου 2015

ΟΙ ΠΡΟΓΑΜΙΑΙΕΣ ΣΧΕΣΕΙΣ ΕΓΚΡΙΝΟΝΤΑΙ ΑΠΟ ΤΗΝ ΑΓΙΑ ΓΡΑΦΗ Η ΤΗΝ ΠΑΡΑΔΟΣΗ;

Πουθενά στην Αγία Γραφή δεν δικαιώνονται οι προγαμιαίες σχέσεις εφ’ όσον γίνονται μεταξύ δύο προσώπων που «αγαπιούνται». Και πουθενά στην Αγία Γραφή δεν θα βρούμε αμνήστευση των σχέσεων αυτών επειδή απουσιάζει η πληρωμή και γίνεται επίκληση του ερωτικού αισθήματος. Ας φέρουμε μερικά παραδείγματα:

α’) Η περίπτωση της Σαμαρείτιδος. Έχει τελέσει 5 νομίμους γάμους (επετρέπετο τούτο) και τώρα συζεί με ξένον άνδρα, ασφαλώς διότι «αγαπιούνται». Έχει ωστόσο την συνείδησή της βαρειά, γι’ αυτό και όταν ο Κύριος της λέγει να πάει να φωνάξει τον (νόμιμο) άνδρα της, εκείνη του λέγει «ουκ έχω άνδρα», θέλουσα να κρύψει ότι συζεί παρανόμως με άνδρα που δεν είναι νόμιμος σύζυγός της. Και ο Κύριος την επιβεβαιώνει, λέγοντάς της ότι είπε την αλήθεια, διότι όντως 5 άνδρες ενυμφεύθη και αυτόν που τώρα έχει δεν είναι νόμιμος σύζυγός της. Δηλαδή ο Κύριος αρνείται πως η σχέση αυτή είναι νόμιμη και αποδεκτή.

β’) Το παράδειγμα του Αποστόλου Παύλου. Ο Απ. Παύλος ήτο άγαμος. Γράφει λοιπόν για τους άγαμους άνδρες και τις χήρες γυναίκες, ότι θα προτιμούσε κι αυτοί να παραμείνουν όπως και αυτός δηλ. να μην παντρευθούν. Όμως – συνεχίζει – αν αυτό δεν το μπορούν, ένεκα της ασθενείας της σάρκας, τότε καλόν είναι να παντρευθούν. Δεν τους είπε να… βολευθούν με εξώγαμες σεξουαλικές σχέσεις ευρίσκοντας ο καθένας και η καθεμιά ένα… ταίρι έξω του γάμου.

γ’) Ο ξθ’ Κανών του Μεγ. Βασιλείου. Ο Μ. Βασίλειος θεωρεί ως κώλυμα ιερωσύνης τις προγαμιαίες σχέσεις ενός Αναγνώστου. Του επιβάλλει μάλιστα για την αμαρτίαν του αυτή ενός έτους επιτίμιο. Άρα θεωρεί τις σχέσεις αυτές εκτός του γάμου ως αμαρτίαν αξίαν κατακρίσεως και παιδαγωγικής τιμωρίας.

δ’) Ο δ’ Κανών του Αγ. Γρηγορίου Νύσσης. Ομιλεί για τη διάκριση μεταξύ πορνείας και μοιχείας. Και τις δύο θεωρεί ως αμαρτία. Η διαφορά μεταξύ των είναι ότι εις μεν την πορνείαν δεν γίνεται κάποια αδικία σε βάρος τρίτου, ενώ με τη μοιχεία πλήττεται ο απατώμενος νόμιμος σύζυγος. Καμμιά διάκριση δεν γίνεται με κριτήριο την καταβολή χρημάτων ή την ύπαρξη αισθήματος ερωτικού.

ε’) Ο κε’ Κανών του Μεγ. Βασιλείου. Προβλέπει την περίπτωσιν κάποιου ανδρός που διέφθειρε μία γυναίκα και στη συνέχεια την παντρεύθηκε. Για μεν την σεξουαλική σχέση, αδιάφορα αν έγινε με βιασμό ή με τη θέληση της γυναίκας, τον επιτιμά αυστηρά. Εγκρίνει όμως τη διατήρηση του γάμου. Αν η προ του γάμου σεξουαλική συνάφεια του ζευγαριού ήταν επιτρεπτή, γιατί ο Μ. Βασίλειος επιβάλλει επιτίμιο;Από τα προηγούμενα γίνεται σαφές ότι οι προγαμιαίες σχέσεις δεν εγκρίνονται από την Αγία Γραφή και την Παράδοση της Εκκλησίας μας.
+Αρχιεπισκόπου Αθηνών και πάσης Ελλάδος κ.κ. Χριστοδούλου:
(Απόσπασμα από το βιβλίο: «Το σώμα του Χριστού και ο Κήπος των τέρψεων». Εκδόσεις Εγρήγορση).

Πηγή: http://orthodoxanswers.gr/

Επιμέλεια θέματος : Δέσποινα Σεμερτζίδου

https://aoratospolemostheblog0.wordpress.com

Σάββατο, 11 Απριλίου 2015

Περί Ιεροψαλτών και «Ψαλτών»: Μεταξύ Ψαλμωδίας και Χασμωδίας

Νικόλαος Γεωργαντώνης
θεολόγος - ιεροψάλτης

Σιγά-σιγά τελειώνει η Μεγάλη Εβδομάδα και απόψε ετοιμαζόμαστε για την Ανάσταση του Κυρίου μας! Είναι περίοδος που μας προσφέρεται, μέσω των ακολουθιών, να έρθουμε πιο κοντά στον Θεό. Αλλά, δυστυχώς, αυτή η περίοδος (χωρίς να μην γίνεται και τον υπόλοιπο καιρό) είναι πρόσφορος για τους «ψάλτες – βοηθούς».

            Αυτή η τάση γίνεται πολλές φορές αλλά όχι πάντα με καλή προαίρεση από τους ανθρώπους αλλά αυτό που δημιουργεί και εξαπλώνει το πρόβλημα είναι η ανοχή και υποστήριξη πολλών κληρικών (επισκόπων, πρεσβυτέρων) που είναι άμουσοι, παντελώς αμόρφωτη προς την ψαλτική και το τυπικό. Χωρίς να θέλω να κατηγορήσω ή να θίξω κανέναν, πρέπει όμως ορισμένα πράγματα να ειπωθούν όπως πρέπει. Βέβαια, υπάρχουν κληρικοί που γνωρίζουν περί Ψαλτικής και του Τυπικού και φροντίζουν να έχουν καταρτισμένους ιεροψάλτες για να τελείται με κατάνυξη και ηρεμία οι ακολουθίες.  Δυστυχώς όμως, υπάρχουν και αυτοί (κληρικοί) που δεν γνωρίζουν και τοποθετούν ανάλογους «ψάλτες» που, ας μου επιτραπεί, «κατακρεουργούν» τα ιερά μέλη της Εκκλησίας μας. Το χειρότερο είναι ότι όταν υπάρχουν αξιόλογοι ψάλτες που γνωρίζουν μερικά πράγματα, παραμερίζονται και αν είναι σε πρώτη θέση, τους ενοχλούν οι «βοηθοί» τόσο που δεν μπορούν να αφοσιωθούν σε αυτό που κάνουν.

            Γιατί να καλλιεργείται αυτό; Τόσο πολύ «κρίση» έχουμε που πρέπει να βάζουμε άτομα που δεν ξέρουν να ψέλνουν; Το καταλαβαίνω σε χωριά που είναι απομακρυσμένα και δύσκολα για να βρεθεί ψάλτης αλλά στην πόλη, το θεωρώ ανεπίτρεπτο.  Γιατί να παραμελούνται ψάλτες, κατηρτισμένοι, καλλιτέχνες; Πως θα βγουν νέοι ψάλτες; Που θα μάθουν; Ποια παραδείγματα θα πάρουν;

            Σεβαστό να μην γνωρίζουν όλοι οι κληρικοί βυζαντινή μουσική και τυπικό (κάτι το οποίο τουλάχιστον θα έπρεπε να ξέρουν βασικά πράγματα) αλλά επειδή δεν ξέρουν, δεν σημαίνει ότι πρέπει να αφήνουν και άλλους να «ψέλνουν», «κατά το δοκούν», κάτι το οποίο καταστρέφει την πλούσια μουσική μας Παράδοση. Το σέβομαι να βοηθά και ο παππούς, αλλά πρέπει να υπάρχουν όρια στο να μην αλλοιώνεται (αρνητικά) η ακολουθία.

            Αυτές ήταν οι λίγες σκέψεις για αυτό το θέμα, που λίγο-πολύ όλοι οι ψάλτες έχουμε περάσει. Πρέπει όλοι (κλήρος και λαός) να μάθουμε την τάξη και πως πρέπει να γίνονται μέσα στην Εκκλησία. Εύχομαι να βελτιωθεί αυτή η κατάσταση για να μην γίνεται αυτό το κακό που βλέπουμε όλοι μας. Και να ξέρουμε τα όρια μεταξύ σωστής ψαλμωδίας και χασμωδίας.



Καλή Ανάσταση!!! Εύχομαι υγεία και ευτυχία και το φώς του Αναστάντος Χριστού να μας φωτίσει όλους!!!

Δευτέρα, 6 Απριλίου 2015

Another Jesus

One is tempted to hearken to the siren song of our relativistic and pluralistic society and conclude that all Christian churches believe pretty much the same thing.  There are differences, of course—some have bishops and some don’t; some consider the Eucharist to be the true Body and Blood of Christ, and some don’t.  And, of course, Catholics have the Pope.  But apart from these incidentals (as the world regards them), all people calling themselves Christians share the same faith and worship the same Jesus.  As long as we confess the same Christ, let’s not sweat the small stuff.
This approach was not the one taken by St. Paul.  Consider, for example, his approach to his Judaizing opponents.  These were men who followed him about, slandering his character, denigrating his apostolic authority.  In the churches of Galatia, they were preaching that to be saved, one needed more than simply baptism and faith in Christ.  One also needed circumcision—in other words, one needed to become a Jew in order to really be a Christian.  The Galatians were impressed with their arguments, and although they had not taken the definitive step of becoming circumcised, they did begin to otherwise live as Jews, keeping a Jewish calendar of festal days, months, seasons, and years (Galatians 4:10).  These same teachers were dogging Paul’s steps elsewhere, and making trouble for him in Corinth.
Here we must be clear: both the Judaizers and the people to whom they were preaching were baptized Christians, members of the church, Christians who confessed Christ.  According to our modern model, should not Paul have simply accepted them and agreed to disagree about “the small stuff”?  After all, they both worshiped the same Jesus.
Not according to Paul.  To the Galatians, he wrote that such “Christians” were preaching “a different Gospel” (Galatians 1:6).  They were “severed from Christ”, “fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4).  They were preaching “another Jesus” than the one Paul preached, and offered “another Spirit” in their counterfeit baptisms (2 Corinthians 11:4).  All this, just because some Christians insisted on circumcision as necessary for salvation!  So much for first-century ecumenism.
But it was not just in the first century that the Church “sweated the small stuff” and declared that such deviance from the purity of the faith constituted apostasy from Christianity.  In the fourth century, St. Athanasius also insisted that his foes were proclaiming another Jesus.  Both the presbyter Arius and the deacon Athanasius confessed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, and both could sign on to some sort of the faith in the Holy Trinity.  But they differed on the tiny detail of what the title “Son of God” actually meant. Athanasius said that it meant the full and undiluted deity of Jesus; Arius said that it simply meant that Jesus was created by God as the first and noblest of His creatures, and that it was through the Word that God made the rest of His creation.  Couldn’t they agree to disagree?  After all, both considered themselves Christians, and both could confess Jesus as the Son of God.  Even the emperor Constantine initially considered the dispute a merely verbal one and thought they should simply chill out and not fight over such minutiae.  But for Athanasius, the dispute was not over minutiae, but over the basics, and he declared that deviance in this matter of Christology meant that Arius had forfeited any real claim to be considered a Christian.  Accordingly, Athanasius called him and his followers not “Christians”, but “Arians”.  The label contained Athanasius’ denunciation of Arius as no real Christian at all.  Arius, of course, considered himself a Christian, but it was just this label that Athanasius denied him.
We come now to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  The front line has now shifted from Christology to anthropology, and we now debate matters of gender.  In the fourth century, the question was, “Is Jesus the Word as fully divine as the Father?”  In our day, the question is, “Is homosexual activity blessable or damnable?  Is it something to be celebrated and accepted, or to be repented of?  Is it legitimate as part of God’s will for His creatures, or is it an abomination?”  Or, put another way, “Does Jesus bless homosexual activity?” Our news casts and Facebook posts are full of the cultural warfare in North America as people give varied and opposing answers to this question.  Some churches and denominations are answering in the affirmative, and saying, “Yes, Jesus does bless homosexual activity and finds nothing wrong with it.”  Other churches are answering, “No, Jesus does not bless homosexual activity, but calls His disciples to repent of it as sinful.”
Of course, other questions are asked in this long and complicated discussion of gender, just as other questions could have been asked about the nature of Jewish Law in the first century, and the Christological debate in the fourth century.  Yes, it’s all very complicated.  But the basic questions still remain:  Does Jesus insist that His disciples be circumcised in order to be saved?  Is Jesus less divine than the Father?  Does Jesus bless homosexual activity?  Answering the first two questions in the affirmative resulted in the Church declaring that you were not a Christian in the first and in the fourth centuries.  I suggest that answering the third question in the affirmative results in forfeiting a credible claim to be a Christian now.  For in all three cases, the person answering in the affirmative is thereby proclaiming another Jesus.
Think back, for example, to the heresy of the Nicolaitans, a “Christian” movement in Asia in the late first century which tolerated eating food offered to idols and fornication.  Small stuff, right?  After all, there is no reason to think that their Christology was weird.  Like St. John, they also confessed Jesus as the Son of God.  But Christ Himself, speaking in the Book of Revelation, declared that He “hated” the works of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6), and would “war against them” with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 2:15-16)—i.e., pronounce judgment against them.  The Nicolaitans, of course, did not think that they were doing anything wrong, and thought that Jesus had no problem with people who ate food offered to idols or with casual sex.  But actually, Jesus did have a problem.  The real problem was that the Nicolaitans were proclaiming another Jesus.
Those welcoming the gay cultural steam-roller also proclaim another Jesus—one who blesses any sexual union as long as the partners love each other.  This Jesus presumably would have no time for the prescriptions in the Law which denounce homosexuality as “an abomination” (Leviticus 21:13); nor would He thank St. Paul for writing in his epistle that homosexual behaviour was “against nature” (Romans 1:26), and that practicing homosexuals were among those who would not inherit the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).  Instead, His anger and indignation would be turned on those who denounce such behaviour and refuse to celebrate it.  This Jesus is a nice Jesus, harmless, sweet, emphatically open, inclusive, and non-judgmental.  There is nothing sinful that would provoke His condemnation, with the exception, of course, of fundamentalists and people from the American Religious Right.  This Jesus is, of course, at odds with the mindset of the early Church and the Fathers; and He would have nothing but derision for the traditional stand which condemns homosexual behaviour.  This Jesus is therefore radically incompatible with the Jesus the Church has been proclaiming for two millennia, and is at least as different from Him as were the Nicolaitan Jesus and the Judaizers’ Jesus of the first century, and the Arian Jesus of the fourth.  If the Church values its traditional past at all, it should regard groups which confess this new Jesus as it once regarded the Judaizers, the Nicolaitans, and the Arians—namely as non-Christian groups.
If it did, this would have immediate consequences for the Church’s ecumenical conversations.  Groups that preach another Jesus and another Gospel are rightly regarded by us now as heretically non-Christian, and  thus the Orthodox Church does not have an official ecumenical dialogue with Mormons (that I know of) or with Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Our message to them is simply “Repent and believe”; we do not meet with them for wine and cheese to discuss Christology at conferences or produce scholarly papers at symposia about the thought of Joseph Smith or Charles Taze Russell.  In the same way, any church group or denomination which officially commits itself to blessing homosexual activity or gay marriage is preaching another Jesus, and Orthodoxy should also suspend any official ecumenical dialogue with them.  We badly misread the homosexual debate if we regard it simply as another moral issue (like abortion), and a debate over whether or not a particular activity is sinful.  It is more basic than that.  It is not simply a moral issue; it is a Christological one.  If we continue ecumenical dialogue with groups that bless homosexuality, at best we are wasting our breath.  At worst we are adding credibility to what Paul called “another gospel”.
The problem, of course, is a perennial one.  In every age, there are Christians who compromise with the standards of their age, and accept the world’s values as their own.  These people always call themselves “Christians” and denounce those who disagree with them as rigid and wrong.  But the Christ whom they preach is not the real Christ.  They in fact misrepresent Him, and preach a Christ made up by themselves, one who conforms more closely to their own secular age.  St. Paul, St. John, and St. Athanasius pulled the mask off them in their day, and denied them the label of “Christian”.  It is time that we Orthodox follow in their footsteps now and do the same to those who offer a counterfeit faith and another Jesus.

Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.