Saturday, January 30, 2010

Understanding the Human Person Through Christ

Christ is the God-Man. He is perfect God and perfect Man.  When we approach Christ's humanity first, we try to understand him psychologically.  We say, 'This is a man.  How is He also God?'  If we try to understand Christ first according to anthropology and not Christology, we will also then understand ourselves psychologically first.  We will never understand Christ or ourselves in this way.  We must begin with Christ’s divinity first to understand who He is.  We must also begin with the human person on the deep spiritual level, not just on the psychological and emotional levels.

(Based on notes taken in a Patristics class at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Kh. Frederica on the Sanctity of Life

Listen to Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green's presentation for the Pan-Orthodox Sanctity of Life Sunday on Ancient Faith Radio.

You can also read Kh. Frederica's articles, "Three Bad Ideas for Women," "Post-Abortion Men, Natural Consequences," "Abortion Politics and the 'Rape and Incest' Exception," and others on her website (

Sunday, January 17, 2010

St. Nektarios the Wonderworker

St. Nektarios the Wonderworker is an Orthodox Saint whose intercessions are sought by those seeking healing from cancer.  You may listen to an account of his life on Ancient Faith Radio.  A brochure on "St. Nectarius the Wonderworker: Patron of Cancer Sufferers" is available from the All Saints of North America Orthodox Church (OCA) in Ontario, Candada. has provided several valuable resources, including a biographical account with photos and the text of Saint Nektarios: The Saint of Our Century.

Part of a Paraclesis (supplicatory service) to St. Nektarios sung by the Boston Byzantine Choir can be found on Youtube.

Here is a selection from the "Akathist to St. Nectarios, Wonderworker of Aegina and Pentapolis":

Kontakion 12
Multitudes of the faithful from all lands continually flee to your shrine, O holy one, and from your precious relics faithfully obtain divine grace and answers for their every petition. O Father, as you know how, fulfill you also the petitions of those who now cry: Alleluia!

Ikos 12
Singing praises we glorify you, O all-praised Nektarios; for in you God Who is glorified in the Trinity is wonderfully glorified. But even if we were to offer you a multitude of psalms and hymns composed from the soul, O holy wonderworker, we should do nothing to equal the gift of your miracles, and amazed by them we cry unto you:
Rejoice, you who conquered all the snares of the Evil One;
Rejoice, you who were sanctified both in soul and body!
Rejoice, speedy helper of those in need;
Rejoice, restoration of health to the sick!
Rejoice, healer of diseases by the Grace of God;
Rejoice, helper of those that suffer cruelly!
Rejoice, O Father Nektarios, model of patience and lover of virtue.

Kontakion 13 [3 times]
As a partaker in the life of heaven and a dweller with the angels, O Father Nektarios, in that you labored to please God, accept our present offering, and unceasingly intercede for your flock and for all the Orthodox who honor you, that we may be healed of all diseases of both body and soul, that together with you in the eternal Kingdom we may unceasingly cry: Alleluia!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Care at the End of Life"

"Care at the End of Life: What Orthodox Christianity Has to Teach"
by His Grace Bishop THOMAS

I. Making Decisions at the End of Life in a Post-Traditional Culture: Finding One’s Way to God

Orthodox Christianity offers orientation in the cosmos. More precisely, it leads us away from our passions and purifies our hearts so that we can be illumined by the uncreated energies of God and come into union with Him. (1) Contemporary man finds himself bereft of such orientation. Both his life and his death tend to be trivialized, reduced to what can make sense without any recognition, much less experience, of transcendent mean­ing, purpose, and obligation. As a consequence, much reflection on end-of-life decision-making gives priority, if not exclusive attention, to com­fort care, death with dignity, and the preservation of personal autonomy until death. All of this is done without ever asking the foundational ques­tion, What was life really all about? much less the foundational spiritual question of how I should and can repent from a life that was poorly lived so as finally to turn in repentance to God. Properly directed care at the end of life is care that focuses on repentance. To talk about end-of-life decision-making and not to place centrally the urgent is­sue of repentance is to miss the target completely. Care at the end of life should offer a final opportu­nity to the dying person to find orientation. That is, end-of-life care must bring the dying person to repentance through a recognition of how the holy, indeed, God, defines the meaning of the right, the good, and the virtuous. Good end-of-life care can­not be the product of a secular or philosophical bioethics. It must be the proclamation of a liv­ing theology. Orthodox Christianity teaches how to become oriented in life and to achieve a good death. What is important to be said cannot be stated adequately in secular terms.

II. Against the Grain of Secular Culture: Re­membering That One’s Religion Is Not a Per­sonal Matter

We live in a world that increasingly accepts pas­sive euthanasia in the sense of withdrawing or withholding treatment with the intention to bring about an earlier death. More and more, this world accepts not only active euthanasia (for example, the use of analgesics to hasten death), but also physician-assisted suicide and blatant voluntary active euthanasia. All of this is exactly what a bad death is about: it is focused on the willful con­trol of the end of one’s own life, rather than on humility and repentance. Orthodox Christianity brings a quite different message. Orthodox Chris­tianity teaches repentance, conversion, and the importance of turning to God. It surely does have concerns with the good, with justice, and with protecting life. But these concerns are set within concerns for the holy. Orthodox Christianity is not against making the world better; indeed, it knows that in the end the world will be made better after Christ comes in judgment (Revelation 21). In the meantime, the Orthodox Church must remind the world that the first Orthodox Christian convert to enter heaven was the thief on the cross, who did no good thing save to repent and convert (Luke 23:39–43). The thief had no opportunity after his conversion to accomplish anything worthwhile. Literally at the end, however, he turned to holi­ness, which holiness is personal: the triune God. Orthodox Christians, too, realize that truth is not propositional, but personal. Because of his con­version, the thief on the cross had a good death. Orthodox Christianity has to teach first and fore­most that we should turn to that Truth and, in so turning, we will come to know holiness. This fact of the matter, that truth exists and is personal, should orient our lives and our deaths, and should direct all end-of-life decision-making. It should help us to see the death of the thief as the icon of a good death.

The personal character of the truth is one of the central distinguishing marks of Orthodox Christian theology. To begin with, those who are theologians in the strict sense are not those who merely know about God, but those who know God: they are holy Fathers. At least half of the great Orthodox theologians of the twentieth cen­tury were not academicians; many never attended a university. Yet they had noetically experienced God. They had come to know God. (2) This is why the Orthodox Church rarely, and only for rhetori­cal purposes, gives proofs for the existence of God. Otherwise, such endeavors would be some­thing like a wife developing five proofs for the existence of her husband with whom she lives. Offering such proofs would be a hint that she is alienated from her husband, that she no longer experiences his presence. Because we experience God, we do not believe in his existence as one might believe in a philosophical proposition. His presence is realized in our lives and in our deaths. For this reason, instruction in how to die well is not derived from manuals and treatises, but from accounts of the lives and the deaths of saints. We look to the models of proven successful dying. This point of attention always directs us beyond the good towards the holy.

Because it is central to understand the good, the right, and the virtuous only with reference to God, Orthodox Christianity refuses to accept the dilemma that Plato (428–348 B.C.) develops in his dialogue, Euthyphro. In response to the question as to whether the good is good because God approves of it, or whether God approves of it because it is good, Orthodox Christianity real­izes that the good, including the good of a good death, can never be understood adequately apart from God. It is something like not being able to understand the orbits of the planets without ref­erence to the sun. Orthodox Christianity refuses to reduce theology or moral issues to natural-law reflections or discursive philosophical analyses and arguments. It focuses instead on the kind of person we should be for eternity. It does this in the face of a Truth that it is absolute and endur­ing: the Persons of the Trinity.

In contrast, spiritual character-building in our contemporary culture is frequently regarded as a do-it-yourself task, like the assembly of a meal in a cafeteria. The result is that one examines vari­ous moral and religious positions as if they were dishes from which one could sample and choose on one’s own, composing in an aesthetic and will­ful fashion one’s own life and one’s own death. Orthodox Christianity, in contrast, reminds per­sons that they must rightly orient their life-and­death choices through ascetically directing their lives to the meaning of the universe, Who is God. Orthodox Christianity is thus not simply pro-life, but pro-life directed to God, which direction in our lives and deaths is only achieved through ascetic struggle. One can only have a rightly-ordered ethic of life through turning rightly to God. The good cannot be understood apart from the holy. A philosophical analysis and refl ection will never be enough. (3) Orthodox Christianity, as a consequence, does not offer an ethic of life, but a way of rightly and theologically living one’s life. There can be no adequate understanding of rightly directed decision-making at the end of life, absent an adequate theological orientation.

Although life in general, and dying in partic­ular, are ascetic struggles, one should note that Orthodox Christianity recognizes the importance of pain control and comfort care. In particular, Orthodox Christianity has from the beginning ap­preciated that pain and distress can bring the dy­ing to temptation and despair, thus leading them away from a wholehearted pursuit of salvation. St. Basil the Great (329–379) therefore notes with approval that “with mandrake doctors give us sleep; with opium they lull violent pain.” (4) In­deed, twice in each Liturgy, the Church prays for “a Christian ending to our life, painless, blame­less, peaceful, and a good defense before the fear­ful judgment seat of Christ.” (5) This prayer empha­sizes the goodness of a death that is painless and peaceful. In so doing, however, it does not lose sight of the great offering to God made by the death of martyrs. In all these cases, a blameless death is like the death of the thief, repentant and marked by confession of Christ. As a result, there is nothing more frightening than the prospect of dying peacefully in one’s sleep without warning, without a final opportunity for prayer and repen­tance. In summary, with regard to decision-making at the end of life, there must be a focus on God, and this can require withholding and withdrawing treatment when such would distract from turn­ing wholeheartedly to God. The focus remains on wholeheartedly aiming at repentance.

III. Seeing the Big Picture

Life lived fully within the horizon of the finite and the immanent has a trivial character in contrast to a life lived in recognition of God. So, too, does end-of-life decision-making remain radically mis­directed and incomplete, no matter how much it might be embedded within a concern for death with dignity or directed by an ethic of life. Set within the horizon of the finite and the immanent, reflections on one’s death and decision-making at the end of life highlight creature comforts for a creature who thinks of himself as about to go out of existence. One is blind to the earnestness of taking advantage of final opportunities rightly to orient one’s life towards the future beyond death, that is, to God. Orthodox Christianity has the task of pointing out this big picture: the significance of death and the nature of the truth. As to the latter, Orthodoxy reminds the world of Who this Truth is. Only oriented to the Triune God can one in the end understand the meaning of life, the signifi ­cance of death, and the goal to which one should direct one’s decisions at the end of life.


1 The final stage beyond illumination (theoria or union with God) is what is achieved by true theologians. “The mysti­cal and perfecting stage is that of the perfected ones, who in fact become the theologians of the Church” (Hierotheos, Bishop of Nafpaktos, Orthodox Spirituality, trans. Effie Mavromichali, [Levadia, Greece: Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, 1994], p. 50).

2 “The theologians of the Church are only those people who have arrived at a state of theoria, which consists in illumi­nation and theosis. Illumination is an unceasing state, ac­tive day and night, even during sleep. Theosis is the state in which someone beholds the glory of God, and it lasts as long as God sees fit” (John S. Romanides, Patristic Theology, trans. Hieromonk Alexis [Trader], [Goldendale, Washing­ton: Uncut Mountain Press, 2008], p. 50).

3 Orthodox Christianity has an attitude towards philosophical reflection like that of St. Paul’s: “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the dis­puter of this age? Did not God make foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world knew not God through its wisdom, it pleased God through the foolishness of the preaching to save those who believe. For indeed, Jews ask for a sign, and Greeks seek wisdom, but we proclaim Christ Who hath been crucified; to the Jews, on the one hand, a stumbling block, and to Greeks, on the other hand, foolishness” (1 Cor 1:20–23). This Pauline in­sight is often reinforced by the Fathers. One might consider the rather critical things St. John Chrysostom has to say regarding secular Greek philosophy. See, for example, his first Homily on the Gospel of Saint Matthew and his second Homily on the Gospel of Saint John.

4 St. Basil the Great, “The Hexaemeron,” Homily 5, §4, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, eds. Phil­ip Schaff and Henry Wace (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hen­drickson Publishers, 1994), vol. 8, p. 78.

5 The Liturgikon (Englewood, New Jersey: Antakya Press, 1989), pp. 281, 299.

(The article is by His Grace Bishop THOMAS, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Used by permission.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy" Podcast Series

Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: "Discover how Orthodox Christianity and non-Orthodox doctrine differ and why it matters to your spiritual journey."

I previously posted my article, "Medicinal Dogma (in a 'spiritual, but not religious' culture)" about the significance of dogmatic theology for good health and healing.  As an introduction to the specific differences between the Orthodox Christian Faith and various non-Orthodox groups, I recommend listening to Fr. Andrew Damick's Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.  The series covers the following topics:

* Understanding the Terms
* The Essentials of Christian Doctrine
* Orthodox and Roman Catholic Differences
* The Classical Reformation
* The Radical Reformation
* Revivalism
* Non-Chrisitan Religions
* Non-Mainstream Christians

Handouts relevant to the presentations are available on the St. Paul Orthodox Church (Emmaus, PA) website. Before listening to the podcast series, read Fr. Andrew's "Reflections on Non-Ecumenical Podcasting" on his Roads from Emmaus blog.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Medicinal Dogma (in a "spiritual, but not religious" culture)

Medicinal Dogma (in a “spiritual, but not religious” culture)

by Fr. Symeon Kees

Whenever an Orthodox Christian has a conversation about dogma with those who have bought into the ideology of secularism, he may discover that the secularist prefers language that deemphasizes the difference between the Orthodox Christian Way and other religions and philosophies in our culture. The secularist may either consider all religions meaningless or think that all the different “religious traditions” are nearly the same and point to common truths. To those who don’t understand the Orthodox Way of Life, our dogmatic statements and detailed explanations may seem like legalistic doctrinal definitions that unnecessarily divide people instead of bringing them together. Some people prefer to talk about “spirituality” instead of “religion,” but when the word “spirituality” is disconnected from the Church and her dogma, the word may be defined so vaguely that it is rendered hollow and meaningless. There is a reason that Orthodox Christians emphasize Orthodox Christian healing instead of just speaking about “spirituality” in a general sense or “Christianity” in a broad, “inclusive” sense.

Orthodox Christians share a common Way of Life, the life of the Church. We possess one Faith, the Tradition rooted in the primal spirituality of the human race that has been passed down in its fullness from generation to generation since the time of the Apostles. We outright reject attempts by others to treat the Orthodox Church as one of many denominations, to treat the Orthodox Way as a humanly-derived religion that is one of many legitimate spiritual paths, or to treat the dogmas of the Orthodox Church as rational speculations invented to answer interesting philosophical questions. Simply stated, the Orthodox Church is the Church, the original Church planted on earth by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for our healing and good health. The Orthodox Way, the Way of health and healing, involves the personal experience of God. The dogmas of the Orthodox Church are expressions of the unchanging Faith that lead man to transformation and keep him on the path of Life.

“Orthodoxy” means both right faith and right glory. The Orthodox Church emphasizes the importance of believing correctly because we know that what a person believes is not just a matter of opinion, but affects his spiritual health. The reason that the Orthodox Church treats heresy so seriously is that heresy leads people to spiritual sickness, which also results in psychological, emotional, and relational problems.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, the second bishop of Antioch (Syria) who lived during the time of the Apostles, instructed early Christians to avoid the false teachings of heretics. In his Letter to the Trallians, he wrote,

I exhort you therefore—not I but the love of Jesus Christ use only Christian food and abstain from every strange plant, which is heresy. For they mingle Jesus Christ with themselves, feigning faith, providing something like a deadly drug with honeyed wine, which the ignorant man gladly takes with pleasure; and therein is death. (1)

St. Ignatius also warned the Christian in Ephesus, writing,

For there are some who maliciously and deceitfully are accustomed to carrying about the Name while doing other things unworthy of God. You must avoid them as wild beasts. For they are mad dogs that bite by stealth; you must be on your guard against them, for their bite is hard to heal.

There is only one Physician,
who is both flesh and spirit,
born and unborn,
God in man,
true life in death,
both from Mary and from God,
first subject to suffering and then beyond it,
Jesus Christ our Lord. (2)

As heresy leads toward spiritual sickness, the dogmas of the Orthodox Church guide people along the path of healing. They are medicines for the soul. Dr. Harry Boosalis explained,

This aspect of dogmas as medicines by which we are cured and reach divinization (or theosis) is of central significance to Orthodox Tradition. As a result of the Fall, all mankind suffers from spiritual illness. From the ecclesial perspective, every man is sick and is suffering. There is not one who is spiritually ’normal’ or healthy, except of course for the Saints, who have attained theosis—that is to say, they have been granted the gift of participation in divine life, for which man was originally created: ‘So in the Church we are divided into the sick, those undergoing therapeutic treatment, and those—saints—who have already been healed.’ Orthodox theology thus provides a therapeutic method or process whereby one is healed through the purification of passions, experiences divine illumination, and ultimately attains theosis: ‘Theology is a therapeutic treatment. It cures man.’

Herein lies the importance of Orthodox dogma. The aim of Orthodox dogma is not to subject man and to confine him within the borders of a particular religion. Rather it is to help him to be healed. Dogma leads man to therapy. It leads to the cure of the fallen human person.

However, it must be emphasized that dogmas in themselves do not heal man; they simply show the way. An intellectual acceptance of the letter of dogma is not an automatic guarantee of being healed. It is not a matter of simply agreeing with the wording; one must experience the spirit of Orthodox dogma by means of a living faith within the therapeutic life of the Church. Dogmas are truly meaningful ‘only for those who have encountered the Living Christ…and are dwelling by faith in Him, in His body, the Church.’ Cut off from the ecclesial experience, dogmas remain dry, empty, and abstract formulae. Dogmas are thus not ends in themselves; they are guides that point the way toward the therapy of authentic spiritual life in Christ. The purpose of Orthodox dogma is to heal.

Heretical teachings, on the other hand, always arise from those who do not know or follow, or who have deviated from, the Church’s therapeutic process. Whenever a heretical innovation is manifested within the Church, it results directly from the fact that the one introducing this innovation neither has a correct understanding of dogma, nor has he truly experienced the proper therapeutic process of the Church. This is what led the Church to define her dogmas—in order to protect and preserve the truth of her therapeutic method of purification, illumination, and theosis. (3)

Heresies have arisen throughout the history of the Church. When the false teachings of heretics have flared up, the Church has responded. The dogma of the Orthodox Church is unchangeable. We preserve the Faith handed down to us bythe Apostles, the Faith confirmed by the experience of the Church, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit and the “pillar and ground of truth,” in every generation. In response to heresy, the Church sometimes expresses the dogma of the Church in new ways to explain with enhanced clarity what the Church has always believed. Ultimately, the Church’s motivation for expressing dogma is the healing (salvation) of people.

The Church is Mystery and theology is the experience of the Mystery. The dogmas of the Church are not attempts to define the Mysteries of the Faith which is far beyond explanation, but they draw a line across which one leaves the experience of the Mystery and enters the realm of heresy, delusion, and spiritual sickness. Here is an example of the place of dogma within the Mystery of the Church: The Church distinguishes between the three Persons of the One Uncreated Essence in this way: The Father is Unbegotten, the Son is Begotten (eternally of the Father), and the Holy Spirit Proceeds (from the Father). This definition provides a boundary across which one will fall into heresy. These distinctions between the undivided Persons are not intended to do what they cannot - to contain or express the fullness of the Mystery of God. As St. Gregory the Theologian wrote:

What then is Procession? Do you tell me what is the Unbegottenness of the Father, and I will explain to you the physiology of the Generation of the Son and the Procession of the Spirit, and we shall both of us be frenzy-stricken for prying into the mystery of God. And who are we to do these things, we who cannot even see what lies at our feet, or number the sand of the sea, or the drops of rain, or the days of Eternity, much less enter into the Depths of God, and supply an account of that Nature which is so unspeakable and transcending all words? (4)

The Orthodox Church calls all into her open arms, including all those who have wandered onto the treacherous, poisonous path of heresy back to the life of true personal spirituality, healing, transformation within the life of the Church. For us, the ecumenical movement is not an occasion for us to minimize what separates us from the non-Orthodox, but an opportunity to teach others what the Orthodox Church is, the only Church founded by Christ, and to invite everyone into the Church, where right belief and right worship have been preserved as our Way of Life for 2,000 years.

An important note: The Orthodox Christian defense of Orthodox dogma must never be reduced to arguments fueled by arrogance over doctrinal positions. In the West, “theologians” are considered to be scholars who hold advanced academic degrees and teach theological concepts. A true theologian in the Orthodox Christian sense, however, is not a scholar educated by books, but one who personally experiences the Existing One, the true and Living God, through a life of prayer and repentance. To know God in the Orthodox Christian sense means to know God by experience and, therefore, to manifest His radiant divine love, humility, and peace. Proclaiming Orthodox dogma and pointing out heresy is good when motivated by love and accomplished with humility and prayer. Arguing about theological ideas intellectually without personally striving to be a theologian, acquiring humility and love in the heart through prayer, is anti-theological. The Orthodox Way is not about being right, but being good and loving.

Prayer, repentance, love, and humility were essential for the Fathers who carefully expressed the Mystery of the Church through dogmas during the past centuries. Let’s follow their example and remember this:

In fact, the [Orthodox] Christian religion transforms people and heals them. The most important precondition, however, for someone to recognize and discern the truth is humility. Egotism darkens a person’s mind, it confuses him, it leads him astray, to heresy. It is important for a person to understand the truth. (5)

When the dogmas of the Orthodox Church are kept in our minds and the theology expressed by them is known within our hearts, they serve to keep us all, including health care providers, on the Way of healing. It is not enough for health care providers to rationally know about Orthodox dogmas, intellectually agree with them, and try to follow them as objective guidelines. That is not sufficient. Health care providers who truly desire to care for others within the context of the Orthodox Christian Way must immerse themselves in the healing life of the Orthodox Church, remaining obedient to their bishop, learning as much as they can, worshipping attentively, prayerfully repenting, and regularly seeking the guidance of their spiritual fathers. We must all strive to fully participate in the inner life of the Orthodox Church so that we may become true theologians who, with pure hearts full of love, know God and serve Him humbly. A health care provider who is a theologian through prayer can best offer complete healing care, guide patients toward treatment options, and help the infirm derive spiritual benefit from the experience of sickness and suffering while pursuing good physical health. All this is accomplished, of course, alongside the ministry of our bishop, priests, and deacons within the life of the Church.

(1) St. Ignatius of Antioch, The Apostolic Fathers, ed. by Jack N. Sparks, “Letter to the Trallains,” par. 6-11 (Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life, 1978), 94-95. Another translation of the above text is available for free at this address:

(2) St. Ignatius of Antioch, The Apostolic Fathers, ed. by Jack N. Sparks, “Letter to the Ephesians,” par. 7 (Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life, 1978), 79-80. Another translation of the above text is available for free at this address:

(3) Harry M. Boosalis, “Life-Giving Dogma: An Orthodox Approach to the Study of Dogmatic Theology,” St. Tikhon’s Theological Journal, vol. 3 (South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 2005), 29-67.

(4) A free copy of the above text from The Fifth Theological Oration is available at the following address:

(5) Elder Porphyrios, Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios, trans. by John Raffin (Limni, Evia, GRE: Denise Harvey, 2005/Originally published in Greek by the Holy Convent of the Life-giving Spring: Chrysopigi, GRE, 2003), 94.

Copyright © 2010 by Fr. Symeon Dana Kees

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Blessing of Water on the Feast of Holy Theophany

"When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity wast made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of His word. O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee."  (Troparion of Theophany)

Listen to an explanation of the Feast of Theophany on Ancient Faith Radio.  Visit the Antiochian Archdiocese website for information about the icon of the Theophany.  Information about the Feast and the icon is also available on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese website.

On the Feast of Holy Theophany, water is sanctified for use throughout the year.  During the Theophany season, priests visit the faithful to bless their homes.  Here is a brief selection from the Service of the Great Sanctification of Water celebrated on the Feast of Theophany that expresses the healing effect of Holy Water:

"And grant it the grace of redemption and the blessing of the Jordan. Make it a fount of incorruptibility, a gift for sanctification, a redemption for sins, a elixir for maladies, a destroyer of demons, unapproachable by the adverse powers and full of angelic powers; so that to all who drink there from and receive thereof it may be for the sanctification of their souls and bodies, for the healing of sufferings, for the sanctification of homes and for every befitting benefit."

(The full text from which this was taken is available from the Diocese of LA and the West, Antiochian Archdiocese.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Emergence of Local Orthodox Christian Societies in America

An article entitled "The Emergence of Local Orthodox Christian Societies in America" has been published on the website of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.  The article, which I co-authored, pertains to health care in the context of the Orthodox Christian community.  One section specifically addresses medical care, but all aspects of a local Orthodox society are interconnected and relevant to personal health.

UPDATE (2/2010): "The Emergence of Local Orthodox Christian Societies in America" has been published in the February 2010 issue of The Word (Magazine).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mental Illness & Demonic Possession / Life Before Birth

The May 2009 issue of The Word includes the article, "Insanity and Demonic Possession in Patristic Thought," by Mother Melania (Salem). 

The article, "Orthodoxy and the Unborn Child," by Christopher Humphrey, Ph.D, can be found in the same issue.
This entire issue is available as a pdf file on the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese website.