Patriarch Celebrates Historic Liturgy in Ancient Monastery

Orthodox Christians held the first Divine Liturgy in almost 90 years at an ancient monastery on the side of a Turkish mountain Sunday, after the government allowed worship there in a gesture toward religious minorities. At least 1,500 pilgrims, including from Greece and Russia, traveled to the Byzantine-era monastery of Sumela for the service led by Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians. The Islamic-oriented government, which is aiming to expand freedoms as part of its bid to join the European Union, has said worship can take place at the monastery once a year. Services were previously banned. The symbolic event was also likely to boost reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Greece, … [Read more...]

Safely Home to Heaven

The following letter from an Orthodox nun to a troubled layman is a warm, sane and usable remedy for anyone troubled with doubts about the mercy and compassion of God. Dear P., Christ is Risen! I was glad you called this weekend and let me know how you are doing. It sounds like you have a pretty good case of Calvinist-Jansenist indigestion [1]: uncomfortable and debilitating, but not inevitably fatal. A lot of western converts to Orthodoxy—Americans, Germans, etc., suffer from this to one degree or another, especially early on in spiritual life. Our gerondissa at St. Paul’s calls it the Medieval Sickness, a combination of moralistic nitpicking, pride, secretiveness,lack of faith in God, and lack of belief in the compassion of God. … [Read more...]

The Vocation of the Christian Warrior

by Fr. Gregory Jensen Troparion of St George As the deliverer of captives and defender of the poor, healer of the infirm and champion of kings, victorious great martyr George intercede with Christ our God for our souls salvation. Our last conversation focused on the macro-level of the Church’s moral witness on matters of war and peace. In this second post I want to focus on the what is for me more interesting, observation micro-level and pastoral observation made by the fathers of the Sacred Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in their encyclical , “The Basis of the Social Concept.” Specifically, I am interested in the positive view the fathers hold for military service for Christians in … [Read more...]

Digital Natives Embrace Ancient Church

Twenty-somethings captivated by Orthodoxy Tim Flinders will graduate from Grand Valley State University next month. Raised Lutheran, he also explored fundamentalist Baptism, Roman Catholicism and even Messianic Judaism before converting to Orthodox Christianity this year. “Orthodoxy has completely transformed me already,” he said. “I feel like the first time in my life I’m growing spiritually.” Flinders, 22, like many other young people converting to Eastern Orthodoxy, was looking for authenticity and historical accuracy in his Christian faith. “I had so many different questions that needed to be answered,” said Flinders, who added he wrestled with the many divisions of the Christian church over the years. He was chrismated … [Read more...]

Ten Steps to a Better Prayer Life

Author: Anonymous Designate A Prayer Space: Whether it is in the corner of your desk or a little stand in your room, it is important to have a place where you can put your Bible, Icons, etc. Dedicate the use of that space for God alone. Acquire A Time: Incorporate prayer in your routine and set time aside to center your thoughts to God. Acquire A Library: Start with a Bible, then get a small Orthodox Prayer Book, after that start collecting books. Here are some suggestions: 'Living the Liturgy' (Fr. Stanley Harakas), 'The Way of a Pilgrim' (Monk of the Eastern Church), 'For the Life of the World' (Fr. Alexander Schmemann), 'Beginning to Pray' (Metropolitan Anthony Bloom), 'Bread for Life' (Fr. Theodore Stylianopoulos), 'The … [Read more...]