The Two Comings of Christ

…Christians live between the two comings of Christ. They remember His first coming to be sacrificed. They anticipate His second coming to reign.

…The two comings of Christ are held together in Christian thought, action, and prayer at all times. They cannot be separated. When they are, it is the end of Christian faith, life and worship. The first coming without the second is a meaningless tragedy. The second coming without the first is an absurd impossibility. Jesus is born to bring God’s kingdom. He dies to prove His kingship. He rises to establish his reign. He comes again in glory to share it with His people. In the kingdom of God there are no subjects. All rule with the risen Messiah. He came, and is coming, for this purpose alone.

At Your first coming to us, O Christ,
You desired to save the race of Adam;
When You come again to judge us,
Show mercy on those who honor Your Holy Nativity.

- Excerpts from The Winter Pascha, by Fr. Thomas Hopko

Only our Lady…

If the nine orders of angels desired to descend from the heavens, and become demons,

If all men would become evil,

If all creations, heaven, lights, priests, animals desired to apostasize from God,

All these evils of creation weighed against the fulness of the Holiness of the Theotokos could not sadden God.

For only the Lady Theotokos was able to please Him in all things. She alone stands between God and men, who made God the son of men, and men sons of God.

Without her intercessions no one, neither angels, nor men could entreat God, for she alone is found on the border between the uncreated and natural creation.

- St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, from Fr. Demetrios Athanasiou, “Panton Anassa”

The Christian doctrine of our salvation…

The Christian doctrine of our salvation demands that we shall be maximalists. We are not to think of him as “half-in-half”. Jesus Christ is not fifty percent God and fifty percent man, but one hundred percent God and one hundred percent man.

- Met. Kallistos Ware, “The Orthodox Way”

Today the Orthodox Church commemorates the Synaxis of the three Holy Ecumenical Teachers and Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom!
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Each of these saints have their own feast day. St. Basil the Great, January 1; St. Gregory the Theologian, January 25; and St. John Chrysostom, January 27. This combined feast day, January 30, was instituted in the eleventh century during the reign of Emperor Alexius Comnenus.
At one time a debate arose among the people concerning who of the three is the greatest? Some extolled Basil because of his purity and courage; others extolled Gregory for his unequaled depth and lofty mind in theology; still others extolled Chrysostom because of his eloquence and clarity in expounding the Faith. Thus some were called Basilians, others Gregorians, and the third were called Johannites. This debate was settled by Divine Providence to the benefit of the Church and to an even greater glory of the three saints.
Bishop John of Euchaita (June 14) had a vision in a dream: At first, all three of these saints appeared to him separately in great glory and indescribable beauty, and after that all three appeared together. They said to him, “As you see, we are one in God and there is nothing contradictory in us; neither is there a first or a second among us.” The saints also advised Bishop John that he write a common service for them and to order a common feast day of celebration.
Following this wonderful vision, the debate was settled in this manner: January 30 would be designated as the common feast of these three hierarchs. The Greeks consider this feast not only an ecclesiastical feast but their greatest national school holiday.

Today the Orthodox Church commemorates the Synaxis of the three Holy Ecumenical Teachers and Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom!

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Each of these saints have their own feast day. St. Basil the Great, January 1; St. Gregory the Theologian, January 25; and St. John Chrysostom, January 27. This combined feast day, January 30, was instituted in the eleventh century during the reign of Emperor Alexius Comnenus.

At one time a debate arose among the people concerning who of the three is the greatest? Some extolled Basil because of his purity and courage; others extolled Gregory for his unequaled depth and lofty mind in theology; still others extolled Chrysostom because of his eloquence and clarity in expounding the Faith. Thus some were called Basilians, others Gregorians, and the third were called Johannites. This debate was settled by Divine Providence to the benefit of the Church and to an even greater glory of the three saints.

Bishop John of Euchaita (June 14) had a vision in a dream: At first, all three of these saints appeared to him separately in great glory and indescribable beauty, and after that all three appeared together. They said to him, “As you see, we are one in God and there is nothing contradictory in us; neither is there a first or a second among us.” The saints also advised Bishop John that he write a common service for them and to order a common feast day of celebration.

Following this wonderful vision, the debate was settled in this manner: January 30 would be designated as the common feast of these three hierarchs. The Greeks consider this feast not only an ecclesiastical feast but their greatest national school holiday.

The true theologian

… You see, then, that in Holy Orthodoxy the true theologian is not the one who has read the most books or possesses the most knowledge, but the one with the heart and mind of Christ, which is simple, humble, selfless love.

- Justamatch on his conversion to Orthodoxy

A message from Anonymous
I am wondering why Orthodox Christians are allowed under Catholic Canon Law to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church yet Catholics are not extended the same privilege if we attend an Orthodox Divine Liturgy.

Hello dear!

Orthodox Christianity does not permit its faithful to receive Holy Communion in non-Orthodox communities, whether they be Roman Catholic, Protestant, or whatever. Hence, while Roman Catholicism may extend Eucharistic hospitality to Orthodox Christians, it does not mean that Orthodox Christians are permitted to accept such hospitality.

For Orthodox Christians, the Eucharist is a visible sign of unity; to receive the Eucharist in a community to which one does not belong is improper. If one does not accept all that the Church believes and teaches and worships, one cannot make a visible sign of unity with it. The Eucharist is the result of unity, not the means by which unity is achieved. While many non-Orthodox see this as a sign that the Orthodox Church excludes non-Orthodox from the Eucharist, in reality the opposite is true. Because a non-Orthodox individual has chosen not to embrace all that Orthodox Christianity holds, the non-Orthodox individual makes it impossible for an Orthodox priest to offer him or her communion. It is not so much a matter of Orthodoxy excluding non-Orthodox as it is the non-Orthodox making it impossible for the Orthodox to offer the Eucharist.

The Didache and Church fathers warn that taking Communion whilst in dispute is dangerous and defiles the sacrifice. So we do not allow those in theological dispute with the church to commune for their sake, refusing it is protection if anything.

I hope this helps,

God bless you always! <3

A message from Anonymous
I mean this in no way to be rude and I respect orthodoxy but I have to say with the intersession of saints and the Theotokos Orthodoxy and Catholicism are a bit like polytheism. I understand God is to be the only one worshiped. I just don't see biblical support for the intersession of saints either. Sorry if this seems rude to you its just my opinion. Your blog is great though and again I hold high respect for you and your faith. Thank you, keep blogging. Maybe you could clear this up for me?

Hello dear friend,

I am sorry for the late reply! I hope you are still here :) Don’t worry, you don’t offend me. Let me explain.

Of course God is the only one worshiped. Orthodox doctrine and teaching is clear that we do not treat Saints as objects of worship, nor as worthy of worship. However Virgin Mary has a definite role in Orthodox Christianity. The Orthodox Church honors and venerates her very much, as if she was our own mother. She is important to Orthodox Christians (and Catholics) because the Bible says she is important to God. She is the model of faith to every Orthodox that is trying to apply in his life the teachings of Jesus.

The Orthodox concept of the Church is the basic reason for the invocation of the Theotokos and all the saints. The Militant Church on earth and the Victorious Church in heaven are intimately bound together in love. If it is proper for one sinner to ask another sinner to pray for him, how much more fitting it must be to ask the saints already glorified and near the throne of God to pray for us!

There is both Patristic and Scriptural testimony on the invocation of Saints (you can see this article).

This is a perfect article from the blog “Letters on Orthodoxy”, where explains why we ask the intercessions of Theotokos and the Saints.

God bless you!

——————-

ladylarrie said: This sums it up very well, with Biblical support and such: fatheralexander.org/boo…

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!

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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.

Holy Tradition, the unbroken voice of our Church

Sometimes Japanese Protestants come to me and ask me to clarify some place in the Holy Scriptures. “You have your own missionary teachers,” I tell them, “Go ask them. What do they say?” “We have asked them. They say: understand as you know how. But I need to know the real thought of God, not my own personal opinion.” … It’s not like that with us. Everything is clear, trustworthy and simple, since we accept Holy Tradition in addition to the Holy Scriptures. And Holy Tradition is a living, unbroken voice of our Church from the time of Christ and His Apostles until now, and which will exist until the end of the world. In it all the meaning of the Holy Scriptures are preserved.

- St. Nicholas of Japan

The meaning of objects held by Saints in Icons

Orthodox Iconography can be an extremely concise way of communicating the Faith. Therefore, what the Saints hold in their hands in portrait icons help in identifying them and in telling us about their lives.

— Cross: It indicates the Saint is a Holy Martyr. The reason martyrs are shown holding a cross is two-fold: firstly, martyr comes for the Greek for witness, and so these witnesses hold the preeminent symbol of Christianity: the Cross. Secondly, the Cross symbolizes the most perfect sacrifice of life for others, Christ’s own crucifixion. Therefore, any Saints who were murdered for confessing the Faith are shown with crosses, regardless of how they died.

— Scroll: It indicates holy Wisdom, and so is often shown in the hands of the Old Testament prophets, but is also commonly seen in the hands of the Apostles. Both were given wisdom from God – the prophets through visions, the Apostles through meeting and knowing Jesus Christ. Later Saints may also be shown holding scrolls if they were also known for prophecy, percipience, and imparting divine knowledge to others.

— Gospel Book: Sainted Bishops in Icons hold their main tool: the Gospel Book, from which they proclaim the Good News to the faithful during the Liturgy. Many of the Church Fathers were also Bishops, and some of their “writings” which we read today were not writings at all, but sermons preached after the reading of the Gospel, later copied down by the congregation for other churches to benefit from. Their inspired teachings were grounded in the Gospel, and so they hold these books in Icons as the instruments through which God granted them sainthood. And they hold them with great reverence indeed, indicated by the way some Icons show the Bishops covering their bare hand with their vestments or stole.

— Crosier: Another role of the Bishop is that of a pastor, or shepherd, of Christ’s flock. This is symbolized by the Crosier, which in Orthodoxy doesn’t look the same as the “shepherd’s crook” held by bishops in the West. It is of a simpler design, usually in the shape of the Greek letter Tau, which symbolizes life, resurrection, or the Cross.

— Weapons: Often there are weapons in icons, such as lances, shields and swords. In the first few centuries of the Church, two types of martyr gained particular devotion among Christians: virgin-martyrs and soldier-martyrs.These martyr-soldiers (and they usually hold crosses too, in remembrance of their sacrifice) have through their confession of faith become “soldiers for Christ”.

— Church Building: Some Saints are depicted holding a Church Building in their hands, just like Ss Peter and Paul. This reflects the hymnography of the Church, where the two Apostles are praised as “pillars of the Church.” Not only were they pillars of the Church, but church-builders too, establishing Christian communities (churches) around the Mediterranean and Holy Lands. Later, other Saints are remembered for their “church-building” and so are depicted holding small churches or monasteries, often in profile, shown offering the church to Christ. It is quite common for Sainted kings and queens to be shown holding churches in this way, as they are honoured for their role as protector and benefactor of the Church within their lands.

(Icons from here and here)

What is sin?

Sin is primarily a metaphysical phenomenon whose roots lie in the mystic depth of man’s spiritual nature. The essence of sin consists not in the infringement of ethical standards but in a falling away from the eternal Divine life for which man was created and to which, by his very nature, he is called. Sin is committed first of all in the secret depths of the human spirit but its consequences involve the individual as a whole. A sin will reflect on a man’s physcological and physical condition, on his outward appearance, on his personal destiny. Sin will, inevitably, pass beyond the boundaries of the sinner’s individual life, to burden all humanity and thus affect the fate of the world.

- Archimandrite Sophronius Sakharov

We must recognize…

We must recognize that while God foreknows all things, He does not predestine all things. He foreknows the things that depend upon us, but He does not predestine those things. He does not will the doing of evil, nor does He compel virtue.

- Saint John Damascene, The Fount of Knowledge

To be in His likeness

All of us who are human beings are in the image of God. But to be in His likeness belongs only to those who by great love have attached their freedom to God.

— St. Diadochus of Photike

A message from Anonymous
can you explain to me the theology and the religion of Orthodox?

Hello my friend,

Well, it’s a question that is very difficult to be answered in some lines. In the sidebar of my blog, I have a list with links that with few words describe the basics of the Orthodox Christianity.

From all these links, I propose you to check out the Discover Orthodox Christianity link as well as the Get to know the Original site.

You can find the full list with the links here.

I hope I helped :)