An Orthodox Christmas Can be a Remedy for Christmas Depression and Holiday Blues
"The birth of Christ brought joy and hope to those who had been in darkness and the way the Orthodox celebrate Christmas is designed to let people feel that hope again," states Father Jonathan Ivanoff, an Orthodox Christian Priest and Pastor of St. John the Theologian Orthodox Church in Shirley, New York.
The Orthodox Church (known by some in the west as “Eastern Orthodox”) teaches that Advent represents the time before Christ, when God’s people were lost and disconnected from God. Instead of ”pre-celebrating” the Christmas holiday during Advent, Orthodox Christians participate in a solemn, six-week Nativity fast during this time. It is a spiritual practice that helps people grieve their losses, endure their sadness, feed their souls, and, ultimately, experience joy on Christmas day.
Whoever wants to become a Christian must first become a poet
"Whoever wants to become a Christian must first become a poet. That’s what it is! You must suffer. You must love and suffer—suffer for the one you love. Love makes effort for the loved one. She runs all through the night; she stays awake; she stains her feet with blood in order to meet her beloved. She makes sacrifices and disregards all impediments, threats, and difficulties for the sake of the loved one. Love towards Christ is something even higher, infinitely higher."
If a Catholic wants to convert to Russian Orthodoxy, what are the steps?
First of all, you convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church, not Russian Orthodox, unless you live in Russia.
The best is first to be willing to spend the time to really understand the commonalities and differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy.
In most cases, a person begins the process of conversion by speaking with a local Orthodox priest, who gives instructions (or catechism) on the teachings and beliefs of the Orthodox Church. These beliefs and doctrines have continued unchanged for over 2000 years, since the time of Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. This process of catechism could take many months. Once you have learned about the faith and teachings of the church, you would then be ready to be baptized as a member of the Orthodox Church, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (ie. the Holy Trinity). Baptism is by triple immersion in water. At the same time, you would be Chrismated, which means receiving the Holy Oil and the Holy Spirit.
Thanks for your message! If you need anything, I am here :)
I thank God that the truth of the Orthodox Church is being revealed to all over the world!!!
*By increasing our prayer. Says Fr. Anthony Coniaris, “The two great movements of the soul have always been withdrawal and return…withdrawal into God’s presence through prayer for strength…without prayer, the quality of our service deteriorates. Without prayer we forget the world; with prayer we remember.” Advent is a time to remember that in God, we move and breathe and have our being, and we must be with Him and consciously in Him before we can have authentic love and relationship with others.
*By giving alms. There is something almost poetic about giving money and perhaps even more important in these busy times, our time, to others who are in need at Christmas time. We can battle our self indulgence with self sacrifice, by giving freely, with joy and gratitude to God for His good gifts to us. St. John Chrysostom writes, “It is not enough to help the poor. We must help them with generosity and without grumbling. And it is not enough to help them without grumbling. We must help them gladly and happily. When the poor are helped there ought to be these two conditions: generosity and joy.”
“The Lord’s birth and baptism are directly connected to His dying and rising. He was born in order to die…the harmony between the events is overwhelming…Jesus lay as an infant in the cavern in the reign of Caesar Augustus that He might lay in the tomb under Pontius Pilate. He was hounded by Herod that He might be caught by Caiaphas…He was worshipped by wise men that the whole of creation might adore Him in His triumph over death.”
The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was the first of the Apostles to follow Christ, and he later brought his own brother, the holy Apostle Peter, to Christ (John 1:35-42). The future apostle was from Bethsaida, and from his youth he turned with all his soul to God. He did not enter into marriage, and he worked with his brother as a fisherman. When the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John began to preach, St Andrew became his closest disciple. St John the Baptist himself sent to Christ his own two disciples, the future Apostles Andrew and John the Theologian, declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God.
In the Orthodox Church, priests and bishops are regarded as bearers of divine grace, as instruments through which God Himself acts. When receiving a priest’s blessing, the faithful kiss his hand as if it were Christ’s hand, because it is by Christ’s power that he gives the blessing. This sense of holiness and dignity in priestly ministry is weakened in some Christian denominations. In certain Protestant communities the only difference between the laity and the clergy is that the latter have a ‘licence to preach’.
”If Christ were to walk in this world today, do you know what would happen to Him? He would be placed in a mental institution and given psychotherapy, just as would His saints. The world would crucify Him today just as it did two thousand years ago, for the world has not learned a thing, except more devious forms of hypocrisy.”
If those attacked by many passions of soul and body endure patiently, do not out of negligence surrender their free will, and do not despair, they are saved. Similarly, he who has attained the state of dispassion, freedom from fear and lightness of heart, quickly falls if he does not confess God’s grace continually by not judging anyone. Indeed, should he dare to judge someone, he makes it evident that in acquiring his wealth he has relied on his own strength, as St. Maximus states. St. John of Damascus says that if someone still subject to the passions, and still bereft of the light of spiritual knowledge, is put in charge of anyone, he is in great danger; and so is the person who has received dispassion and spiritual knowledge from God but does not help other people.
"As the present world approaches its end, the world of eternity looms nearer…. The end of the world merges with the beginning of eternal life…. The spiritual world is moving itself closer to us, manifesting itself through visions and revelations."
I’m so sorry people have been hurting you about the whole Catholic/Orthodox thing, but you have to expect it when you are dealing with the theological questions you did and the way you handled them. Its not their place to have offended you, I hope you haven’t lost your peace with the offenders personally, they are just trying to cut you down because they realize you speak the truth. Im so glad that you and other Orthodox people are on here though, you guys are a great help to my daily life and always provide insightful posts. God Bless you!
My dear friend thank you very much! I really appreciate your support! I will continue posting about our Orthodoxy! Many people here just can’t understand that I will always remain Orthodox, no matter what.
A reply to the hateful message from a Catholic (I am really ashamed of post it).
If your purpose was to hurt me with your insults, well done, you did it.
First of all, Orthodoxy is NOT going to accept the Pope as her head. Never! There are Saints just like Saint Mark of Ephesus who said the following:
"It is impossible to recall peace without dissolving the cause of the schism—the primacy of the Pope exalting himself equal to God.”
During the Early Christianity, before the Schism, five cities were given the status of Patriarch: Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople. The bishop of each city was given the title of Patriarch and was thus elevated above his fellow bishops. The Bishop of Rome very early became an important player in church debates (often mediating between Alexandria and Antioch) and began to argue that it was “more equal” than the others.
Before the Schism, all the Patriarchs were e-q-u-a-l. After the Schism, one (the Roman Catholic Pope) became the highest and infallible. Can’t you see the difference before and after the Schism? Orthodoxy remains the same, while Catholicism has changed.
So if you say that the Pope wants unity with Orthodoxy, it is great, Christianity have to be united, we all pray daily for unity. But he has to take the same position as he had during the Early Christianity. There is no other way. All equals: none infallible, none highest, none equal with God.
IF ANYONE OFFENDS MY FAITH AGAIN, NEXT TIME I WILL NOT REPLY. YOU ARE FREE TO UNFOLLOW ME. THANK YOU.
“Pray that you may be granted the grace to read the Fathers with the right understanding, the grace to live up to the standards they put before you, and the grace to clearly see your own frailty. You will not long be left wanting and waiting. God will give you help.”
"I do not speak about Christ, unless others want to, unless they ask. I pray for those people, I will even work miracles for them, but I do not speak to them. I want their soul to open up and to ask me. By asking to hear something, a person willingly listens."
Mysteries We Should Not Contemplate Without the Grace of Illumination
St. Gregory of Sinai writes:
We confirm that there are eight principle subjects for contemplation:
First, God, invisible and unseen; without beginning and uncreated; the First Cause of everything that exists; Triune; the one and only pre-existing Divinity;
Second, the order and rank of rational powers [the bodiless powers of heaven; the angelic world];
Third, the composition of visible things;
Fourth, the plan of the Incarnation of the Word;
Fifth, the general resurrection;
Sixth, the awesome Second Coming of Christ;
Seventh, eternal torment;
Eighth, the Kingdom of Heaven.
The first four have already been revealed and belong to the past. The last four have not yet been revealed and belong to the future, even though these four are clearly contemplated by those who, with the help of acquired Grace, attained complete purity of mind. Whosoever approaches this task of contemplation without the illumination of Grace, let him know that he is building fantasies and does not possess the art of contemplation.
Hello, I was wondering why we wear crosses. Is it to let others know we are Christians, to remind ourselves we are Christians or for another reason? I know I can't leave the house without my cross anymore, if I do, I just feel like I'm missing something. Sometimes during the day, I think I forgot, and I feel round my neck, and I'm always really relieved when I feel that I do have it. Does it have something to do with that?
Hello dear friend!
The unclean power fears nothing more than the cross. And nothing pleases them more than the careless treatment of the cross.
The Cross is the first and greatest Christian sacred object. When the priest sanctifies water, he immerses the Cross in it, and the water becomes holy. When we wear the Cross on our breast, our body constantly touches it, and from this touch it, too, is sanctified. The Cross that we wear protects us from all kinds of danger.
One ought not to look upon the Cross as some kind of jewelry like a bracelet or brooch. The Cross must adorn our soul and not our clothing, and must constantly remind us that we are Orthodox Christians, called to live according to our faith, which is founded on the Savior’s sufferings on the Cross.
If you are an Orthodox Christian, when you leave your home, if you wear your cross, drink Holy Water, and cross yourself, you mustn’t be afraid of anything! God protects you.
If you remember, in Communist Russia, believing people would wear a Cross at great risk, since there could be much unpleasantness from the godless for this. But these remarkable people were not afraid to confess their faith, and they would fearlessly wear a Cross.
So never be afraid of showing that you are wearing your cross!
The holy Fathers recommend serious preparation before reading and studying the Bible; but of what does this preparation consist?
First of all in prayer. Pray to the Lord to illuminate your mind—so that you may understand the words of the Bible—and to fill your heart with His grace—so that you may feel the truth and life of those words.
Be aware that these are God’s words, which He is speaking and saying to you personally. Prayer, together with the other virtues found in the Gospel, is the best preparation a person can have for understanding the Bible.
How should we read the Bible? Prayerfully and reverently, for in each word there is another drop of eternal truth, and all the words together make up the boundless ocean of the Eternal Truth.
The Bible is not a book but life; because its words are “spirit and life” (John 6:63). Therefore its words can be comprehended if we study them with the spirit of its spirit, and with the life of its life.
Instructions on Forgiveness by Saint Seraphim of Sarov
'Thus should we weep for the forgiveness of our sins. The words of the bearer of the purple should convince us of this: “Going they went and wept, casting their seed; but coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves” (Psalm 125.6); as well as the words of St Isaac the Syrian: “Moisten your cheeks with the tears of your eyes, that the Holy Spirit may abide in you, and cleanse the filth of your malice. Move your lord with your tears, that He may help you.”'
It happens that laymen live in piety, while priests live in unrighteousness, and therefore, if grace were to seek everywhere only the worthy, neither Baptism nor the offering of the Body of Christ ought to be performed through them. But now the Lord usually acts even through the unworthy, and the grace of Baptism is not in the least injured by the life of the priest. I say this so that anyone strictly examining the life of a priest would not begin to be tempted, reasoning about what he performs in the Sacraments. For a man does not introduce anything from himself, but all this is the work of God’s power, and God sanctifies you in the Sacraments.
"If anyone, while keeping fast, adds something to it by his own will, or if he fasts seeking men’s praise or some gain from it, such a fast is abomination in the eyes of God. And so it is in all things. Every good action, which is done not merely from the love of God, but is mingled with one’s own will, is unclean and unpleasing to God."
-St. Barsanuphius and St. John - ‘Directions in Spiritual Work’ (The Philokalia)”
"The heart cannot remain firm in purity, so as not to be defiled, if it will not be crushed by fasting. It is impossible also to preserve holiness without fasting, and the flesh will not submit to the spirit for spiritual activity, and prayer itself will not rise up and act because natural needs predominate. And the flesh will be compelled to become feverish. And from thoughts the heart is aroused and is defiled, and through this, grace departs, and the unclean spirits have boldness to rule over us as much as they wish."
A new Orthodox Saint: St. Sophia, the "Ascetic of the Panagia"
Elder Sophia to be officially numbered among the Saints
The Holy Metropolis of Kastorias is deeply moved to inform the fulness of our Holy Metropolis that bears the name of Christ, along with all the inhabitants of Western Macedonia, that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, led by our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, along with the Holy Synod, has recorded and numbered among the Saints of our Orthodox Church, the Ascetic of the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kleisouras, the Eldress Sophia.
Thus from now and to all the ages, she who “fought the good fight” invisibly in the Monastery of Panagia, Sophia the Ascetic, will be honored as a Saint and will be praised in hymns and spiritual odes from the faithful, especially on the 6th of May, the day of her dormition.
Her love for God and humanity was powerful and she had impressive experiences with the Panagia and various Saints.
As with many Saints, she had a special relationship with wild animals, especially with bears in the forest, but also with snakes and birds.
At that time, a ruler came to Jesus and asked him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these I have observed from my youth.” And when Jesus heard it, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard this he became sad, for he was very rich. Jesus looking at him said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
This will be my first Christmas here. So I will share for you many greek traditions, like “kalada” (traditional greek songs that differ from place to place), greek Christmas hymns, greek decorations (we decorate both Christmas tree and the traditional greek ship)… everything Greek! :)
I fall in love with Orthodox Church because I see how God loves her so deeply and keeps her undeviled [undefiled] by the evil one just like a Husband who doesn’t let His Wife be deviled [defiled] by wicked men…
She is my mother now. Even though she looks old, unchanging, rugged, old fashioned and the world doesn’t see it.
I have a question (for both Orthodox and Catholics)
I am confused… I recently heard that there are “Old Catholics” who are not in communion with Rome.
"The Old Catholic Churches reject the doctrine of papal infallibility; thus they reject the dogmatic status of the teachings promulgated in the Roman Catholic Church by such means, namely the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary. While Old Catholics affirm the Real Presence of Christ in the eucharist, they do not emphasize transubstantiation as the sole dogmatic explanation for this presence. Old Catholics generally refrain from using filioque and deum de deo clauses in the Nicene Creed and also reject a dogmatic understanding of Purgatory.”
So what’s their difference from Orthodox? Can anyone help me?
I promised to find a historic wrong of Orthodoxy (that happened before the Schism).
I was called by someone a “sectarian”, so I decided to search and find a wrong that happened in Orthodoxy.
I found how Russia was Christianized by Saint Vladimir of Kiev who is honored both in Orthodoxy and in Roman Catholicism. We both celebrate him on 15 July.
In the year 987, a prince, Vladimir (Saint Vladimir) sent envoys to study the religions of the various neighboring nations whose representatives had been urging him to embrace their respective faiths. Of the Muslim Bulgarians of the Volga the envoys reported there is no joy among them; only sorrow and a great stench. In the gloomy churches of the Germans his emissaries saw no beauty; but at Hagia Sophia, where the full festival ritual of the Byzantine Church was set in motion to impress them, they found their ideal: “We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth,” they reported, “nor such beauty, and we know not how to tell of it.”
So he destroyed the wooden statues of Slavic pagan gods and bring Christianity in Russia.
In my opinion, it’s not a wrongdoing, because we own to this great Saint the fact that today Russia is Christian (Orthodox).
“It is essential in these days to be able to protect ourselves from the influence of those with whom we come in contact. Otherwise we risk losing both faith and prayer. Let the whole world dismiss us as unworthy of attention, trust or respect – it will not matter provided that the Lord accepts us. And vice versa: it will profit us nothing if the whole world thinks well of us and sings our praises, if the Lord declines to abide with us.”
I am a lapsed Catholic. Atheism is NOT a solution. Protestantism is NOT a solution. There is always the Eastern Orthodox Church that remains unchanged since the Early Christianity. I WAS SO BLIND. Orthodoxy is the light! Thank you for your beautiful blog! I love you xoxoxoxo
Thank you for your message my dear friend! I am glad that you find your way.
If you need anything, there is a big Orthodox family here on tumblr, you can ask your questions.