DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF ST. JOHN, ARCHBISHOP OF SHANGHAI AND SAN
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WITNESS (USPS 412-260)
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AUGUST 2007, Vol. XLI, No. 8, (1575)
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. Concerning Worship Towards the East
2. Salvation by Administration
3. Pearls from the Holy Fathers
4. Sermon by Archbishop. John Maximovich
5. New Items from the Book Center
Prayer is the fortress of the faithful, prayer is our invincible
weapon, prayer is the cleansing of our souls, prayer is the ransom for
our sins, prayer is the foundation and source of countless blessings.
For prayer is nothing more than converse with God and association with
the Master of all. What could be more blessed than a man who is deemed
worthy of constant association with the Master?
St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions.
1. CONCERNING WORSHIP TOWARDS THE EAST
EXPOSITION OF THE ORTHODOX FAITH
by St. John of Damascus, Book IV, chapter 12
It is not without reason or by chance that we
worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible
and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit
and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator;
just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are
baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a
twofold manner, being sharers in the Mysteries and in the grace of the
Spirit. Since, therefore, God1 is spiritual light 2, and Christ is
called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness3 and Dayspring,4 the East
is the direction that must be assigned to His worship. For everything
good must be assigned to Him from Whom every good thing arises. Indeed
the divine David also says, Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth: 0
sing praises unto the Lord: to Him that rideth upon the Heavens of
heavens towards the East.5 Moreover the Scripture also says, And God
planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had
formed6: and when he had transgressed His command He expelled him and
made him to dwell over against the delights of Paradise, which clearly
is the West. So, then, we worship God seeking and striving after our
old fatherland. Moreover the tent of Moses7 had its veil and mercy
seat8 towards the East. Also the tribe of Judah as the most precious
pitched the ir camp on the East.9 Also in the celebrated temple of
Solomon, the Gate of the Lord was placed eastward. Moreover Christ,
when He hung on the Cross, had His face turned towards the West, and so
we worship, striving after Him. And when He was received again into
Heaven He was borne towards the East, and thus His apostles worship
Him, and thus He will come again in the way in which they beheld Him
going towards Heaven; 10 as the Lord Himself said, As the lightning
cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so also shall
the coming of the Son of Man be.11 So, then, in expectation of His
coming we worship towards the East. But this tradition of the apostles
is unwritten. For much that has been handed down to us by tradition is
1 St. Basil, On the Holy Spirit, ch. 27.
2 I John 1:5.
3 Mal. 4:2.
4 Zach. 3:8, 6:12, Luke 1:78
5 Ps. 68:32, 33.
6 Gen. 2:8.
7 Levit. 16:14.
8 Ibid. 2.
9 Num. 2:3.
10 Acts. 1:11.
11 Matt. 24:27
12 St. Basil, On the Holy Spirit, ch. 27.
2. SALVATION BY ADMINISTRATION
The representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch
addressed Saint Maximus: Will you enter into communion with our Church,
"No, I will not enter into communion," replied the
"Why?" inquired the representative. "Because she has
rejected the rulings of the Orthodox councils," replied the Saint. "
But if our Church has renounced the councils,"
objected the representative, "then how is it that they are inscribed in
"What profit is there in naming them and recalling
them, if the dogmas of these councils are rejected?" was the Saint's
"Can you demonstrate clearly," asked the
representative, "that the present Church at Constantinople has rejected
the dogmas of the former councils?"
"If you refrain from anger, and command me to do so,
I can demonstrate it easily," replied the Saint.
(From the Life of St. Maximus the Confessor1)
new doctrine has crept into the midst of World "Orthodoxy". Perhaps
this novel teaching is papal in origin? The name of this teaching is
"salvation by administration." Basically, this innovation teaches the
following: You have to be in communion with an ancient Orthodox see in
order to be an Orthodox Christian.
This novel dogma
has many problems.
It is not enough to be in communion
with a "historical see," because even "historical sees" have had their
un-Orthodox periods at some point in the past. Rome, too, was a
"historical see -- but this is of no avail to her today. Constantinople
also has had her staunchly heretical days. For three and a half years,
Nestorios ruled as Patriarch of Constantinople until he was condemned
for heresy and deposed by the Third Ecumenical Council in 431. In the
seventh century, during the Monothelite controversy, the Ecumenical
Patriarchate was in the camp of the non-Orthodox for almost eighty
years. Finally, in 681, the Sixth Ecumenical Council was convened and
condemned four Patriarchs of Constantinople, one Patriarch of
Alexandria, two Patriarchs of Antioch, a multitude of other
Metropolitans, Archbishops, Bishops, clergymen, and also one Pope of
Rome for heresy. Again, in the eighth century, during the Iconoclast
controversy, for the better part of the century, Constantinople was
again in heresy and not an Orthodox church.
When the Monothelite heresy was raging, St. Maximus
the Confessor was Orthodoxy's foremost champion. Here is what this
Saint said then about the Ecumenical Patriarchate:
When I see the Church of Constantinople as she was
formerly, then I will enter into communion with her without any
exhortation on the part of men. But when there are heretical
temptations in her, and while heretics are her bishops, no word or deed
will convince me ever to enter into communion with her.2
In a parallel case today, Orthodox Christians are
often reproached for isolating themselves from "official"
Patriarchates, from World "Orthodoxy" (such as the Ecumenical
Patriarchate), as if not being in communion with them were itself a
sign that these Orthodox Christians are not canonical or Orthodox.
There is one major problem with this argument:
nowhere do the Holy Fathers or holy canons teach that one has to be in
communion with any of the aforementioned Patriarchates in order for one
to be Orthodox! "Orthodox" ecumenists cannot quote any canons or Church
Fathers to support this "extremely important" point simply because
there are no such canons or teachings! The Orthodox Church knows of no
such teaching as this neo-papal "salvation by administration."
But let us permit St. Maximus the Confessor to
provide us with truly "canonical Orthodox" guidelines for responding to
these reproaches which our Orthodox Christians sometimes hear.
The Saint was asked by his inquisitors (who belonged
to the Ecumenical Patriarchate):
To which church do you belong? To that of Byzantium,
Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, or Jerusalem? For all of these churches,
together with the provinces in subjection to them, are in unity.
Therefore, if you also belong to the Catholic Church, enter into
communion with us at once. Yesterday, indeed, two delegates
arrived from Rome, and tomorrow, the Lord's day, they will communicate
the Holy Mysteries with the Ecumenical Patriarch.3
To this, St. Maximus replied as follows to the
representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (and to all those who
present themselves as the spokesmen of "official" Orthodoxy today):
Even if the whole universe holds communion with the
Patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the
writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even
the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another
Gospel, introducing some new teaching.
The "new teaching" of St. Maximus's day was
Monothelitism. The "new teaching" of our own times is Ecumenism.
Today's Ecumenism -- and its ecclesiological and theological, prop, the
Branch Theory -- is what lures the bishops and clergy of on World
"Orthodoxy" to have joint-prayer services with and to give communion to
non-Orthodox -- which is, of course, not Orthodox.
Unfortunately for the proponents of Ecumenism,
however, the errors of the Roman Catholics, Protestants, and
Monophysites have been condemned repeatedly in the decisions of the
seven Ecumenical Councils, in the Synodicon of Orthodoxy Sunday, and in
many other subsequent local Orthodox councils. Hence, no matter how
much the ecumenically-minded Orthodox try to re-interpret Orthodox
ecclesiology, the fact remains that they are in communion and pray with
clergymen who are adherents of repeatedly condemned heresies. One
new calendar clergyman writes:
Now you see why a non-Orthodox may not receive Holy
Communion in the Orthodox Church. It is a question of integrity. The
integrity of faith, church order, lifestyle and sacramental life.4
This is precisely what Orthodox Christians have been
saying for many years to those Orthodox who are of an ecumenical turn
of mind: It is a question of integrity. Hence, when ecumenistic
"Orthodox" bishops and clergy have joint-prayer services with the
heterodox and give them communion, they are being neither "canonical"
nor "Orthodox." Under such circumstances, surely, they lose their
"integrity of faith, church order, lifestyle and sacramental life."
In this, our new calendar clergyman is absolutely
Holy Transfiguration Monastery
Note: This article was adapted from the article, "A Question of
Integrity" in the Orthodox Christian Witness, December 9/22, 1985.
3. PEARLS FROM THE HOLY FATHERS
Do the saints, whom we call upon,
pray for us? They certainly pray for us. If I, a sinful
man, a cold-hearted, sometimes wicked
and malevolently disposed man, praying for others who have instructed
or have not instructed me to pray for them and do not doubt, do not
weary of saying their names during prayer, although sometimes not
heartily, then will not Gods Saintsthose lamps and torches, burning
in God and before God, full of love to their earthly brethren pray for
me and for us when we call upon them with faith, hope, and love,
according to our strength? They, our speedy helpers, pray also for our
souls, as our divinely enlightened Mother, the holy Church, assures us.
Pray, therefore, undoubtingly to Gods Saints, asking their
before God on your behalf. They hear you
in the Holy Spirit; only pray in the Holy Spirit, from your soul, for
when you thus sincerely pray, then the Holy Spirit breathes in you, Who
is the Spirit of truth and sincerity, and is our truth and sincerity.
The one same Holy Spirit is in us and in the Saints. The Saints are
holy through the Holy Spirit, Who sanctifies them and eternally dwells
Lord! Thou, Whose love to us infinitely
surpasses the love of every father, of every mother, of the tenderest
wife, have mercy upon us!
Holy Virgin, our Lady! Thou, whose love
to Christians surpasses the love of every earthly mother, of every
wife, hear our prayers and save us! May we constantly remember thee!
May we always pray fervently to thee! May we ever undoubtingly and
unfailingly take refuge beneath thy holy protection!
Just as there is a cup of calamity, and
a cup of wrath (Esaias 51:17, lxx), so there is a cup of weakness
which, at the proper time, the Lord takes from our hands and puts into
the hands of our enemies. Then it is no longer we but the demons who
grow weak and fall.
Saint John of Karpathos, Philokalia Vol i., p. 311.
4. SERMON BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN MAXIMOVITCH
Stand fast on spiritual watch, because you don't know when the Lord
will call you to Himself. In your earthly life be ready at any moment
to give Him an account. Beware that the enemy does not catch you in his
nets, that he not deceive you causing you to fall into temptation.
Daily examine your conscience; try the purity of your thoughts, your
There was a king who had a wicked son. Having no hope that he would
change for the better, the father condemned the son to death. He gave
him a month to prepare.
The month went by, and the father summoned the son. To his surprise he
saw that the young man was noticeably changed: his face was thin and
drawn, and his whole body looked as if it had suffered.
"How is it that such a transformation has come over you, my son?" the
"My father and my lord," replied the son, "how could I not change when
each passing day brought me closer to death?"
"Good, my son," remarked the king. "Since you have evidently come to
your senses, I shall pardon you. However, you must maintain this
vigilant disposition of soul for the rest of your life."
"Father," replied the son, "that's impossible. How can I withstand the
countless seductions and temptations?"
Then the king ordered that a vessel be brought, full of oil, and he
told his son: "Take this vessel and carry it along all the streets of
the city. Following you will be two soldiers with sharp swords. If you
spill so much as a single drop they will cut off your head."
The son obeyed. With light, careful steps, he walked along all the
streets, the soldiers accompanying him, and he did not spill a drop.
When he returned to the castle, the father asked, "My son, what did you
see as you were walking through the city?"
"I saw nothing."
"What do you mean, 'nothing'?" said the king.
"Today is a holiday; you must have seen the booths with all kinds of
trinkets, many carriages, people animals..."
"I didn't notice any of that," said the son. "All my attention was
focussed on the oil in the vessel. I was afraid to spill a drop and
thereby lose my life."
"Quite right, my son," said the king. "Keep this lesson in mind for the
rest of you life. Be as vigilant over your soul as you were today over
the oil in the vessel. Turn your thoughts away from what will soon pass
away, and keep them focused on what is eternal. You will be followed
not by armed soldiers but by death to which we are brought closer by
every day. Be very careful to guard your soul from all ruinous
The son obeyed his father, and lived happily.
Watch, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. (ICor.
The Apostle gives Christians this important counsel to bring their
attention to the danger of this world, to summon them to frequent
examination of their hearts, because without this one can easily bring
to ruin the purity and ardor of one's faith and unnoticeably cross over
to the side of evil and faithlessness.
Just as a basic concern is to be careful of anything that might be
harmful to our physical health, so our spiritual concern should watch
out for anything that might harm our spiritual life and the work of
faith and salvation. Therefore, carefully and attentively assess your
inner impulses: are they from God or from the spirit of evil? Beware of
temptations from this world and from worldly people; beware of hidden
inner temptations which come from the spirit of indifference and
carelessness in prayer, from the waning of Christian love.
If we turn our attention to our mind, we notice a torrent of successive
thoughts and ideas. This torrent is uninterrupted; it is racing
everywhere and at all times: at home, in church, at work, when we read,
when we converse. It is usually called thinking, writes Bishop Theophan
the Recluse, but in fact it is a disturbance of the mind, a scattering,
a lack of concentration and attention. The same happens with the heart.
Have you ever observed the life of the heart? Try it even for a short
time and see what you find. Something unpleasant happens, and you get
irritated; some misfortune occurs, and you pity yourself; you see
someone whom you dislike, and animosity wells up within you; you meet
one of your equals who has now outdistanced you on the social scale,
and you begin to envy him; you think of your talents and capabilities,
and you begin to grow proud... All this is rottenness: vainglory,
carnal desire, gluttony, laziness, malice-one on top of the other, they
destroy the heart. And all of this can pass through the heart in a
matter of minutes. For this reason one ascetic, who was extremely
attentive to himself, was quite right in saying that "man's heart is
filled with poisonous serpents. Only the hearts of saints are free from
these serpents, the passions."
But such freedom is attained only through a long and difficult process
of self-knowledge, working on oneself and being vigilant towards one's
inner life, i.e., the soul.
Be careful. Watch out for your soul! Turn your thoughts away from what
will soon pass away and turn them towards what is eternal. Here you
will find the happiness that your soul seeks, that your heart thirsts
(Translated from Pravoslavnaya Rus) and taken from
ORTHODOX AMERICA, Vol. XIV, No. 2-3, September-October, 1993
5. NEW ITEMS FROM THE BOOK CENTER
(PCH) THE SERVICE OF PREPARATION FOR HOLY COMMUNION, trans. By Holy
Transfiguration Monastery. Back in print after several years,
this handy pocket size book, 4-7/8 by 3-1/4 inches, printed in red and
black contains Small Compline, the Prayers Before and After Holy
Communion, and the Akathists to the Sweetest Lord Jesus and the Mother
of God. Paper 122pp. e$5.00
(ARA) AKATHIST OF REPENTANCE For One Who Has Aborted a Child.
Trans. from the Russian. During the Communist regime in Russian,
abortion was an accepted means of birth control. Written from the heart
by a Russian woman, this Akathist can be offered on behalf of someone
else, or a doctor who performs abortions with the hope that God will
lead him/her to repentance. Paper 35pp. e$4.00
(QR) A QUEST FOR REFORM OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH: The 1923 Pan-Orthodox
Congress, An Analysis and Translation of Its Acts and Decisions,
by Rev. Patrick Vancuso. A detailed presentation of the first
pan-orthodox attempt to deal with the problems faced by the Church in
the 20th century, clearly showing the differing view of the various
Orthodox Churches, and laying a ground-work for the discussions
continuing to this day. 205pp. Paper d$25.00
(TM29) LA PASION SALVIFICA. Hymns from Holy
Week chanted in Spanish to Byzantine Chant by the choir of the
Cathedral of St. George in Mexico. The third in a series of beautiful
and compunctionate chanting. D$18.00