DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF ST. JOHN, ARCHBISHOP OF SHANGHAI AND SAN FRANCISCO
image




ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WITNESS (USPS 412-260)
is published monthly by St. Nectarios American Orthodox Cathedral,
10300 Ashworth Avenue North, Seattle, Washington 98133-9410.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
OCW, 10300 Ashworth Ave. N., Seattle, WA. 98133-9410
Fr. Neketas S. Palassis, Editor Email: frneketas@stnectariospress.com
Telephone (206) 522-4471; (800) 643-4233 U.S. & Canada;
Fax: 206-523-0550

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
Excerpted from
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 unwritten. 12
_________________________
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, or not?"
   "No, I will not enter into communion," replied the Saint.
   "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 the diptychs?"
   "What profit is there in naming them and recalling them, if the dogmas of these councils are rejected?" was the Saint's reply.
   "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)
         Somehow, another 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 correct.
 
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 God’s Saints—those 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 God’s Saints, asking their intercession
      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 in them.
      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 intentions.
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 father asked.
"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 temptations."
The son obeyed his father, and lived happily.
Watch, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. (ICor. 16:13).
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 for.
(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 It’s 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



St. Nectarios Press