Blessed Easter to all those that celebrate it today!

Happy Easter to all of you that celebrate it today! God bless you always, many and blessed years! <3

Also, to all of us that are still waiting for the Resurrection of our Lord, blessed fasting period!

A message from Anonymous
Do you think Protestants and Catholics can go to heaven?

Christ is Born!

Orthodox Christianity is the assured means to the be joined to Christ, but how God will ultimately join to Christ those who do not have access to the presence of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is his prerogative and mystery.

About the salvation of those who have not consciously rejected Christ, we have the words of St. Theophan the Recluse to guide us into a correct Orthodox understanding:

“You ask, will the heterodox be saved… Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such concern. Study yourself and your own sins… I will tell you one thing, however: should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever.”

And there are the words of the Metropolitan Philaret who was the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad a very conservative theologian:

“It is self evident, however, that sincere Christians who are Roman Catholics, or Lutherans, or members, of other non-Orthodox confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics—i.e. those who knowingly pervert the truth… They have been born and raised and are living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The Lord, “Who will have all men to be saved” (I Tim. 2:4) and “Who enlightens every man born into the world” (Jn. 1.43), undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation In His own way.

However, Elder Nektary of Optina said:

“God desires not only that the nations be saved, but each individual soul. A simple Indian, believing in his own way in the Creator and fulfilling His will as best he can, will be saved; but he who, knowing about Christianity, follows the Indian mystical path, will not.” [Ivan Kontzevitch, Elder Nektary of Optina, p. 181].

Individuals within Orthodoxy might give you all sorts of different answers, but the most uniform response you will get about who God will save outside of the Church is that we simply do not know. Christ as God, and King and Judge can save whoever He wants to save, and condemn whoever He wants to condemn. Even being in the Church is no guarantee of salvation; it’s not a free ticket. We must cooperate with God and experience a rebirth.

Same goes for people who belong to other religions as well. We don’t know if they will be saved or not. It’s up to God, who desires the salvation of every human soul.

I hope this helps :) God bless you!

A message from Anonymous
Christ is Risen! Hello, I am a recent convert to the Orthodox Church in the USA. I have had a hard time dealing with resentment towards my evangelical friends who rejected me because of my conversion. Please pray that I will be able to forgive and show them love. And of course, that they would come to know Christ in His fullness. Sincerely, a sinner who the Lord Jesus has had mercy on

Greetings in Christ! Christ is Born!

Don’t be discouraged from your friends’ stance towards you. Orthodox Christians have been persecuted for years and until today because of their Orthodox faith. Everytime others make fun of my faith, or reject me, I try to keep always in mind all the Orthodox that have been persecuted for their faith, as well as the sweet face of our Lord, and I am not sad anymore.

I promise I will pray for you. Please, everyone that read this message, pray for this dear friend…

May God bless you, strengthen your Orthodox faith and heal the relationship between you and your friends!

A message from Anonymous
Hey! I have a question. Are there any specific elements of Catholicism and Protestantism that you appreciate? Can you mention them? God bless!

Hello! :)

Usually, I tend to emphasize the differences mostly among the Orthodox and the other Christian denominations. However, it’s not true that I don’t appreciate the believers as true brothers and sisters in Christ or some aspects of these Christian confessions.

As far as Catholicism is concerned, apart from the teachings that I disagree, I recognize and respect the common heritage, traditions and Saints that our Churches have. Also, I am trully touched by the fact that they believe a lot in God and honor Virgin Mary and their Saints, because it reminds me a lot the strong faith of the Orthodox believers. Their desire to receive the Body and the Blood of Christ reminds me so strongly our desire to receive the Holy Communion piously, with humility. Also, I really like Catholic art and architecture, it is nice. In fact, I don’t think I would have a problem to have a Catholic friend in real life: we could talk for hours about our faiths! I may not have Catholic fiends in real life, but I have many here on tumblr, and I love them with all my heart!  :)

About Protestantism, I respect their faith in Jesus and their happiness to spread the Bible and share the Christian faith with others (even though I disagree with many interpretations of them). However, I feel a little sad because they don’t have a special relationship with our Mother, the Most Holy Theotokos. Without a doubt, their faith in Jesus is strong, and this makes me really happy, it makes me feel close to them, as real brothers and sisters! But how much extra happiness they would have if they knew Mary, and the other Saints that unceasingly pray for all of us to our Lord!

I hope and pray that one day, all Christians will be united, like we were in the early Christian years…

Greetings in Christ!

————————

flowers-for-hamlet said: :) Catholic / Orthodox tumblr friendships are wonderful! I love all the Orthodox tumblrs I know and love your faith! <3 

A message from Anonymous
So, do you know of any good resources for a reformed protestant to look at (videos of lectures or anything) that would help me transition to an orthodox view? Mainly dealing with justification or penal substitution or imputed righteousness. Thanks for your time.

Hello dear friend,

I am so sorry for the late reply! The last few days I receive a ton of messages and it is so hard to reply to all, but I do my best :)

Hmm.. a good site that presents generally the differences between Orthodoxy and Protestantism is OODE. It has a good amount of articles trying to explain the Orthodox point of view.

On penal substitution exclusively, you can see this thread of monachos.net forum. Generally speaking, this forum contains many useful information for inquirers to Orthodoxy, so you can read the discussions here or propably join. Also, a good article on Theosis is this, to take a taste on what is the Orthodox position, as well as this one.

On the issue of “imputed righteousness”, here is a link that is really informative, it’s explanation as far as the Orthodox point of view is concerned is really good.

In addition, Catechumen has replied in a similar question as well (or propably is you asking?). It’s nice to read the different answers of many Orthodox, everyone has to add something different :)

You can also check out this list with links, maybe some of them are quite useful for you.

God bless you always!

——————-

prolepticvison said: Donald Fairbairn, Eastern orthodoxy through western eyes. Westminster: Louisville, 2002. Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox way. St. Vladimir’s, 1995. Two suggestions that may help.

A message from Anonymous
I want to ask where the information came for today's posting. It is not in scripture. How do you know it to be true? I am an Orthodox seeker coming from a protestant backround.

Hello dear friend,

For which post are you talking about? Because today I made three new posts so far so I am not sure which one you mean.

Generally speaking, my posts are mostly quotes that great Saints (older and contemporary), ascets of the desert (monks) or priests have said. The Fathers of the Church, of those the quotes I post, are those that not only read, knew by heart and keep like a treasure the scriptures, but they also lived according to what the Gospel said and they were enlighted by God, thus they wrote very important books on the Scriptures and their analysis (e.g. Saint Chrysostom’s homilies on the Gospel of St. John and the Epistle to the Hebrews). The Orthodox Church looks to the consensus patrum —that is, the consensus of the Fathers— for its understanding of the patristic Orthodox faith (because no Father is infallible).

So, in Orthodoxy, the Holy Tradition (the deposit of faith given by Jesus Christ to the Apostles and passed on in the Church from one generation to the next without addition, alteration or subtraction) is as important as the Bible. In fact, Holy Scripture is a part of the tradition of the Church. It is that tradition which affirms the value of the holy books in the Church.

Just remember some points that the Bible says about the Holy Tradition:

"Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. - 1 Corinthians 11:2"

"So then, brothers, stand firm, and cling to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. - 2 Thessalonians 2:15”

"Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25"

I am sure I gave so many information on my reply, but I just wanted to clarify how I choose the quotes and mostly how important is the Holy Tradition of the Church. I am sorry in advance for any possible mistakes of mine, any Orthodox is free to add anything related to the importance of the Tradition in the Church.

God bless you!

A message from Anonymous
Hello! OK, so I'm an inquirer into orthodoxy. I'm a bit perplexed about how icons are used in Orthodox worship and prayer. Some seem to think they help on a 'psychological' level: they help our minds to apprehend the heavenly in the same way a picture of a loved one immediately fixes our thoughts on that person. Others take it a bit farther and say that God and the saints are actually present through the icons, more so than without them, and that icons can transmit grace to us. How does it work?

Hello dear friend!

I totally understand how you feel. It’s not easy to understand why or how we use icons and why it is so important for the Orthodox Christian spirituality.

Actually, both of the thoughts you send me can be correct, they work both as “windows to heaven” and as a manifestation of grace in the Church. The icons have many purposes: They are used to help teach the faithful about God. A person can walk into an Orthodox Church and see the whole Bible story unfolded on its walls. Icons of Old and New Testament people and events were used to teach the faithful -keeping in mind that many could not read- about the Christian Faith.

Another purpose of icons is to aid the faithful in prayer and meditation on the person or the salvific significance of the event depicted. Icons keep the mind from wandering and help focus one’s attention on prayer. They also serve as a reminder to all the Orthodox of God’s omnipresent and immanence in the world.

As far as your second thought, we can’t ignore the existance of many miraculus icons. Many believers through ages and until today have been healed from miracle-working icons of the Lord, Virgin Mary or the Saints.There are also many weeping or bleeding icons. A general examination of the phenomenon of weeping icons leads to the conclusion that it is a manifestation of grace within the Church. The acceptance of weeping icons, (and, one must add, many other miraculous phenomena associated with icons), by the tradition of the Church indicates this is a divine activity and should generally be received as such.

I don’t know if my answer is really clear for you, as it is still difficult to translate my thoughts in english. However, feel free to ask me any more questions and to visit the following links that are related to icons:

Windows into heaven

What do icons mean?

God the Word’s Incarnation as the Foundation for Holy Icons: Theology of Icons

The icon F.A.Q.

Why do icons weep?

God bless you dear friend!

P.S. If any Orthodox Christian has to add or correct something at my reply, feel free to do it.

Amen!

Amen!

A message from Anonymous
Hello sweet friend, I'm a Christian raised in the protestant church, and I'm very seriously considering Orthodoxy, converting, etc. I'm going to a Great Vespers service tonight for the first time, and I'm a little nervous as I have no idea what to do or what to expect. Any tips or things I should know?

Hello dearest friend!

It’s great that you’ll attend Vespers tonight, I’m sure the experience will be unforgettable! I know it’s difficult, but don’t be nervous, you are just visiting the house of our Father! :)

As I said to the previous anon that contacted me, act as others do: when you get in the Church, light a candle and then you may want to venerate the holy icons. Then, you can find a seat and sit there for the rest of the service. It could be really nice if you could sit next to a person around your age (I am just guessing that you are around my age?). If you don’t find a seat, it’s okay, you can just stand. When you see others standing in some specific parts of the service, you can do the same as well. Generally speaking, we always stand when the middle doors of the Iconstasis open whether we elect to sit during parts of the service or not.

You can find some general information on the vespers here. Also, you maybe want to check out the article of Frederica Mathewes-Green "12 Things I Wish I’d Know - First Visit to an Orthodox Church".

I don’t know if these info are enough. I just hope and pray that you’ll enjoy the service. While you are smelling the beautiful insence, close your eyes and pray from your heart to God to guide you to your journey to Orthodoxy.

God bless you!

- Your sister in Christ

Next time that you’ll make fun of my Church…

… Just keep in mind that the Orthodox Church has the original Greek text and keeps it until today free from any additions and alterations. You know, the Orthodox Church is serious when she says whe does not want any alterations in anything (and mostly in doctrines). She’s trying to protect the original faith as a treasure. And she does a great job by keeping it alive for 2012 years.

So, in reality, my Church that you describe as a “Protestant version of Catholicism” (really??? little known fact the word “catholic” is a Greek word as well), I have to inform you that the original language of the Bible was Greek. So, when you say that Orthodox Christians don’t understand the New Testament which it’s actually originally first written in OUR language that we still use in our Church, and you show me as a proof a mistranslated quote of the Bible, what do I have to do? To start laughing, crying or what..?

Also, you make fun of my english. You know, here in Greece we learn so many languages apart from our mothertongue, that we can’t be perfect at every single language we learn, it’s true!!!

Sorry for this, I’m not here to offend others, critize, but I’m just a weak human and everyone has his limits. I stayed quiet for all this time, but I can’t anymore. If my blog annoys you this much, feel free to unfollow.

Please pray for me, the sinner.

PS. I’ll turn off the anonymous button for a while. You know the reasons.

A message from Anonymous
My heart is being drawn towards Orthodoxy, but I was raised Protestant and know relatively little about it. Where do you suggest I start?

Hello dear friend! :)

In my blog’s side bar, with my friends’ help I have tried to collect a series of sites that explain what is Orthodox Christianity. You can find the list here.

After you search, ask and be informed, you may want to experience a service (a Divine Liturgy on Sunday, or another Orthodox service). So, visit an Orthodox Church, and talk to a priest in order to ask him any questions you may have. In case you live in America, and you don’t know where you can find an Orthodox parish you can visit the Orthodox Church locator.

I may be far away from you, but I would love to help you with whatever you want. So, if you have any other questions, just ask :)

God bless you!

PS. You can also join the OOCA, an Orthodox forum made by Orthodox and Inquirers to Orthodoxy from tumblr. Here you can talk with many Orthodox around the world (France, Korea, Greece, Russia, Turkey, Serbia etc).

—————————

jamesfromta said: I would definitely recommend experiencing a service. A vespers or the Divine Liturgy for example. That’s where you get a real feel for Orthodoxy, and it gives you a chance to speak to a Priest or Deacon to ask more.

theorthodoxbrit said: I agree with James here. Get in contact with a priest or deacon an attend a liturgy, this will open your heart and allow you to open your mind to learning the faith.

frdcnsilouan said: As others have said, attend a Liturgy. Most parishes have some sort of “coffee hour” or snack afterwards—ours is so small that it’s a full-blown dinner. It’s a great time to talk to people informally and ask questions.

lifethrudeath said: Talking to others who have come from a Protestant background can be helpful too!;)

queenfan89 said: Go to a Liturgy and stay for the Coffee Hour. If the parish you go to is anything like my OCA parish, there are a lot of converts, especially from Protestant denominations. My priest used to be an Episcopalian.

gampleman said: I asked a similar question some time ago and was recommended ‘The Orthodox Church’ by Timothy Ware.

A message from Anonymous
What's your stance on Christian martyrs outside the Orthodox Church?

Hello dear friend!

My priest had said once in his sermon that the Baptism of blood (he meant the martyrdom) is higher than the mystery of Baptism. So, if a Christian outside the Orthodox Church loose his life for the sake of Jesus, though he has not been declared a Saint within the secure boundaries of the Orthodox Church, it doesn’t mean he has not found favor with God or he is not ranked among the Saints in the here-after.

Saint Cyprian says:

When any die for the confession of Christ without having received the washing of regeneration, it avails as much for the remission of their sins as if they had been washed in the sacred font of baptism.

As in any case, it’s not my buisness to pass judgement one way or the other on those outside the Church, Roman Catholics, Protestant or other who suffer and are martyred for their confession of Jesus Christ. That’s why I said in the past that though I don’t venerate Saints outside Orthodoxy for the reason that their life and teachings may contradict with the teachings of my Church, however I respect their Christian witness, life and martyrdom. I don’t see how anyone who dies for the sake of Christ - unless they died consciously renouncing the Truth of His holy Orthodox Church or something like this - can be viewed as heretic.

But these are only personal thoughts. I am not the one who’ll judge or say who is a Saint or not or to talk for what’s happening outside Orthodoxy. I am just a Christian who tries to follow the teachings of Jesus and to live an Orthodox Christian way of life.

Please pray for me, a sinner, in order to obtain humility and to dedicate my life only to our Saviour.

A message from Anonymous
What is your opinion about ecumenism?

Hello my gentle friend!

This is a controversial issue that tons of books, essays etc are written about. It’s kind of difficult to share my opinion because of my poor english, but I’ll try.

There is much misunderstanding about it. Unfortunatelly, other Christians often judge Orthodox for being close-minded and old-fashioned, but the truth is that every single thing we do is in order to protect and keep the unchanged Orthodox faith. In my humble opinion, Christians from other denominations have to keep this in mind and don’t hurry to judge us.

I’ll post here the opinion found on James' blog, that is exactly how I feel:

Ideally it would be lovely for all Christians to achieve unity so we can all share the one faith once more. However I think that comes from further dialogue addressing doctrinal issues directly rather than glossing over them which is what it seems the current Ecumenical movement today is doing. Ecumenism also seems to put every Christian group on a level par acting as though all doctrine is relative which is dangerous because it puts heresy on the same level as true doctrine which is dangerous.

Talking about unity between Eastern Orthodox and Catholics, though it’s of the essence, I truly believe that unity can not be achived for now, and maybe for a long time, because there are too many issues to be sort out there (theological, doctrinal and even political issues). However, about unity between Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox I think unity is much more realistic, because there are still some issues, like the councils and anathemas, but concerning the Eastern and Coptic Orthodox, it’s the same faith just different language to describe the same things. Now, about Orthodox-Protestant unity, though it’s sad, unity is way too difficult to be achieved.

To sum up: With Coptic Orthodox we Eastern Orthodox have actually the same faith described in different language, with Catholics we have many similarities, common history and heritage but still serious issues to be solved, and with Protestants unity is even more difficult at the moment because there are many and serious differences.

However, I have to say that I am very sad that Christians are divided, it totally breaks my heart. As far as I am concerned, I always try to focus on the similarities than the differences, but it’s not always easy, because I don’t want to make compromises with my faith. But I pray sincerely, with all my heart, that one day all Christians will be able to be called real brothers and sisters in Christ, united, like we were in the early Christianity.

God bless you!

A message from Anonymous
How can you support that you are a Christian, while there are no orthodox missionaries in remote places? Can you see how many Protestant and Catholic missionaries there are? Also, do you see how many Protestants and Catholics there are in Africa for example? Why Orthodox don't do missionary work? Thank you.

Hello,

The Orthodox Church has been active in missions since it’s beginning. Two factors, however, greatly thwarted the Church’s missionary efforts in recent centuries:

1) the Turkish occupation of the Balkans, lasting four centuries

2) Orthodox Christians were persecuted until recently from the severe communist rule in many Orthodox countries.

Between these two events, the ability of the Orthodox Church to do missionary work was repressed at a time when the churches of the West (namely Catholics and Protestants, as you mentioned in your message) were free to expand.

However, since the persecution of the Orthodox Church stopped, Orthodoxy is spreading everywhere in the world, in every remote place day after day. It’s a true miracle!

So, plese don’t rush to judge the Orthodox Church for the little missionary work in recent years in comparison with western Christians, because the Orthodox Church has suffered greatly until recently from persecutions while Western Christianity was free to expand, so it was very difficult to do missionary work while she was persecuted for centuries until recently. It’s very easy to judge someone without knowing the facts.

And, to close my reply, yes, I am not simply “support” that I am a Christian, because I am a Christian, an Orthodox Christian and I feel blessed that my faith has survived through all these persecutions, through the blood of millions of Martyrs.

God bless you.

——————————-

jamesfromta said: People forget that before the persecutions that the Orthodox Church had great missions; St. Cyril & St. Methodius who created a language for people to help them understand the faith being one example.

jessicabeth said: I am sorry, but this upsets me. Orthodox are the greatest missionaries, all you have to do is look at history - St Andrew to Greece, St Thomas to India, St Paul to Antioch and many more, St. Mark to Egypt - and that is just in the first century.

stubbornly-euphoric said: IOCC is huge and does great work. -International Orthodox Christian Charities. A big difference between this organization and other churches I have seen is that IOCC helps people in need but does not force Orthodoxy on them. One of the best teachings I have gotten from being Orthodox is to be humble about it. Just because the Orthodox aren’t loud about how much charity work they do doesn’t mean they don’t do it.

kormosendre said: Another thing: How did Orthodoxy reach the United States or Korea, if not by missionaries? What about cross-cultural missionaries, such as Fr. Daniil Sisoev, who was murdered a few years ago? And why would anyone without missionaries be not Christian

orthodoxbrit said: There are orthodox missionaries all over Africa. The has recently been a Greek bishop ordained in Botswana and loads in Kenya, also missions all over central American native communities.

forgivemeasinner said: Also, check out OCMC.

inconceivables said: Our small diocese does missionary work in Uganda and Guatemala…

milatumbles said: Go to: ocmc.org/program… It lists missionary opportunities for 2012.

A message from Anonymous
I'm not Catholic anymore, now I'm Christian Orthodox BUT whoever says that Catholics are not Christians IS TOTALLY WRONG. Whoever offends my Catholic brothers offends me personally. Though I've received into the Orthodox Church (OCA) several years ago, Catholicism will always be an important part of myself and I will ALWAYS defend Catholic Christians from Protestant attacks. Keep defending them sister!

Hello!

Whoever says that Catholics are not Christians, obviously hasn’t read Church history and he’s not well informed. It’s very frustrating to read everywhere “Catholics are not Christians”. I am always eager to defend Catholics and those specific Catholic teachings that are in accordance with Orthodox Christianity and do not contradict with with my Orthodox Christian faith.

I love equally all people, no matter if they are Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Protestant etc. And for trying to defend Catholics it doesn’t mean that I don’t love and respect Protestants. We believe in the same God, so it’s not nice to offend each other, despite our differences.

God bless you!

PS. Not to mention that since I’ve tried to defend Catholics I’ve lost 30 (!) followers. Obviously many disagree with me. Oh well…