Holy Cross Orthodox Church
Weekly Bulletin

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Bulletin for Sunday, December 21, 2014

(link above to oca for daily saints commemorated)

This Week in Our Community

TODAY (12/21): 9:40am, Reading of Hours, Confessions

10:00am, DIVINE LITURGY, Coffee Hour and Singalong

MONDAY (12/22): 7:00pm, Daily Vespers and Study Group

WEDNESDAY (12/24) Christmas Eve: 7:00pm, Vigil Service for the Nativity of Christ, and Fellowship

THURSDAY (12/25) Christmas Day: 9:10am, Reading of Hours

9:30am, Festal Divine Liturgy, and Fellowship


SUNDAY (12/28):  9:40am, Reading of Hours, Confessions

10:00am, DIVINE LITURGY, followed by Coffee Hour


TODAY, the Sunday before Christmas, as we begin final liturgical preparations for the Nativity of Christ, our Holy Church commemorates all the saints of the Old Testament from Abraham to Joseph, the Betrothed. This is an extension of last Sunday's celebration that honored the Ancestors of Christ. Again, many today (including Christians!) have lost touch with the Old Testament and thus don't consider that Jesus Christ is truly present, though veiled, in all the events and all the texts of the Hebrew scripture. Everything is centered upon Him! Thus through the reading of the prophets and contemplating the lives of the Old Testament saints, the voice of Jesus Himself speaks to our hearts. At this stage of Advent, it is fitting for us to pray that the Lord open our understanding to the message of the Old Testament that we may truly "see" Jesus throughout the ages.

YOUTH: Another note of thanks to our youth who participated in the St Nicholas Basket Project, delivering goodies to some of our church neighbors with song; and a final visit to the Hillside Senior Center. Thanks to Meg for coordinating the project and all who contributed to the baskets. A little goodwill goes a long way in the neighborhood ("You're the church that makes perogi, right?!")  Today our youth will lead us in a singalong of some traditional Christmas carols and festal hymns at the Coffee Hour.

MONDAY: Our session tomorrow, December 22, will begin at 7pm with Daily Vespers followed by our study group. Last week, we reflected on the daily scripture readings and continued a review of the spiritual classic "On the Incarnation" by St Athanasius the Great. Join us for some extra "soul food" before Christmas!

WORSHIPPING THE INCARNATE GOD! All Advent preparation and anticipation is fulfilled in the divine services for the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Vigil on Christmas Eve will begin at 7pm and be followed by Fellowship. The Festal Liturgy of Christmas Day will be at 9:30am, followed by fellowship. If we seriously want to "keep Christ in Christmas," we'll celebrate His first coming together as His Body, the Church. Come, let us adore Him!

AUXILIARY NEWS: Thanks to all who supported the annual Holiday Bake/Craft Sale last Sunday. Some "remnants" are available today: as are frozen lentil soup and perogi. Proceeds from the sale benefit our parish education fund that helps pay for our youth's attendance at camp and retreats. >Our next Perogi project will be Friday, January 9; delayed a week due to New Year's celebrations. Please plan to help out -- and order EARLY to assure an adequate supply. The Perogi Hotline is 570-337-8784.

2015! Church calendars for the coming year were distributed last Sunday. Several remain for those who missed out. Again our thanks to the Crouse Funeral Home of Williamsport for sponsoring them for us. A number of boxed offering envelopes for parishioners remain to be picked-up in the Fellowship Center. Please do not use any more 2014 envelopes after Dec 31 as your randomly-assigned envelope number changes yearly. A number of 2015 financial pledge cards are outstanding. If you haven't yet, please complete and return one (at the candle counter) ASAP as the Council continues budget work.

LOVE OFFERINGS: Our December LOVE offering is designated for the poinsettias that adorn our church during this festal season. Please use your monthly LOVE envelope for this purpose. As a result of LOVE offerings through November, the Council disbursed $300 to IOCC (that will be matched) and $200 to St Anthony's Center in downtown Williamsport that provides hot meals Monday through Friday. Thanks for helping us help others!

PARISHIONERS: Dolores H remains at Geisinger in Danville -- and could use some prayerful support from her church family. May the Lord God visit and strengthen all those in special need of His help through our prayers. Those inclined to share Christmas greetings with those not present among us can find a list of addresses on our Fellowship Center bulletin board.

PARISH COUNCIL met last Wednesday. The treasurer's report showed year-to-date assets increased by $8 (talk about a close budget!). In addition to disbursing charity funds and expressing gratitute for a special gift, the Council moved to purchase additional altar boy robes for Lent from Memorial Funds. Another line-item review of the 2015 budget was executed. Dan T will represent Holy Cross with Fr Dan at the Diocesan Assembly, Jan 29/30 in Bethlehem PA. Eric will be our delegate to the OCA Council in July. Several maintenance issues were discussed; some resolved. New business included discussion on parish revitalization, tentative planning for the Fall, and preparations for the Annual Parish Meeting slated for Sunday, January 25 at Coffee Hour. Any parishioner(s) interested in being considered for a Council position for the coming year can make your intention known to any current Council member.  The Council will meet again on Tuesday, Jan 13, 6:30pm.  We express our THANKS to Phil and Eric for polishing the church candlestands!

FOOD/GIFTS: Those who ordered kielbasi for Christmas can pick it up today from the Fellowship Center fridge. We have several trays of extra baklava remaining for anyone interested. We also have brass Holy Cross ornaments available for $15; benefit IOCC. Since we did not mail a Christmas newsletter this year, you're welcome to use a Christmas offering envelope at the candle counter for your festal gift to the Church.

PRISON MINISTRY at LSCI Allenwood was held Thursday with a couple new faces among the 10 attending. Our monthly visits to, and prayers with, those incarcerated are truly appreciated.

NEW YEARS: We'll usher in 2015 at Holy Cross with the unique Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil the Great on New Year's Eve, Wednesday, Dec 31 at 5pm (corresponding to midnight in Jerusalem). Fellowship will follow. Then the rest of the night is yours to safely enjoy!

KRISTI'S QUOTES:  "Love Christ and put nothing before His Love. He is Joy, He is Life, He is Light. Christ is everything! Everything beautiful is in Christ!"  --  Elder Paisios

 Wisdom from the Fathers "On the Incarnation"

"Our nature was sick and in need of a physician.  Man had fallen and needed someone to raise him up.  He who ceased to participate in the good needed someone to bring him back to it.  He who was shut in darkness needed the presence of life.  The prisoner was looking for someone to ransom him.  The captive was seeking someone to take his place.  He who was under the yoke of slavery was looking for someone to set him free." -- St Gregory of Nyssa

"All that came to pass in His coming to earth was wrought with such great wisdom that man's tongue cannot express it.  We therefore worship God's wisdom with humility and obedience, for He not only satisfies our human minds but fills our hearts with joy...  Glory to the only- begotten Son, on the throne of the cherubim in heaven and in the straw of Bethlehem on earth." -- St Nicholas of Zicha

(>Wisdom from the world: "Grandma got run over by a reindeer!")

Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra and Lycia

In 1809, Washington Irving transformed the image of a venerable, loving, fourth-century Eastern bishop into a jolly 'character' with a big hat and baggy pants; who smoked a pipe and rode over rooftops in a horse-drawn wagon dropping presents down chimneys to good little girls and boys.

About thirty years later, Clement Moore, a professor of classical Greek in New York, inspired by the Irving character, sought to amuse his children with a poem which began with the words "Twas the Night before Christmas."  Santa Claus was born!  The jolly old elf had put the horses out to pasture and acquired eight reindeer, a white beard, a stocky physique and a nose like a cherry.

It's amazing how appearances change over the years -- over the centuries!  The person who inspired Irving's character was none other than Saint Nicholas.

In the calendar of saints, Nicholas bears the title of "Confessor", a rank just below that of a martyr, referring to those punished or imprisoned for confessing their faith.  Ancient iconography generally represents these ranks of saints by their red garments.  In Nicholas' case, they were vestments of an Orthodox Bishop.

Nicholas was a towering figure in the early Church.  His fame increased as he defended Orthodox doctrine, helping to put down the heresy of Arius at the First Ecumenical Council held in 325 AD.  And it was because of his position in the Church that he was one of the first clerics to be imprisoned under the cruel persecutions during the reign of Emperor Diocletian.

Many miracles and cures were attributed to Nicholas and stories of his legendary charity spread quickly throughout the world. 

He became the patron saint of travelers and sailors when, on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land during his teen years, his prayers were credited with saving the ship in a terrible storm.

Nicholas is the patron saint of Greece, Russia, Sicily, Lorraine and numerous cities, dioceses and churches throughout the world which bear his name. 

He became the patron saint of pawnbrokers, innkeepers, and old maids through the echoing tale of his tossing three sacks of gold through a window as dowries for the daughters of a poverty-stricken nobleman (saving the ladies from lives of ill-repute!).

He inherited his parents considerable wealth, essentially giving it all to the poor in numerous anonymous acts of giving. He became the patron of children and orphans because of a miracle of restoring to life three orphan boys who were brutally murdered by a drunken innkeeper.

It was not soon after Nicholas died in 343 AD that people imitated his loving-kindness as a tribute to him, perpetuating his memory through anonymous expressions of love and charity, especially on the day of his falling-asleep in the Lord, December 6.

Is Santa Claus really Saint Nicholas?  You bet your red nose he is!  Dutch settlers took the story of St Nicholas to New Amsterdam where he became the gift-laden Sant Nikolaas.  Then the English-speaking New Yorkers borrowed the legend but corrupted the name to Sant Niklaus.  The rest, as they say, is history!

St Nicholas lives on; not just in the person of Santa Claus, but in every person who bestows anonymous expressions of love upon another -- most particularly, those in need.  He lives in the Church among the community of Saints. And he lives in the heart of every Christian soul that honors his holy memory.

A Hymn to St Nicholas: "For your flock you were a rule of faith; a model of meekness and a teacher of temperance. Your humility exalted you! Your poverty enriched you! Holy Father Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God, that our souls may be saved!"



Blessed are the peacemakers (Matt 5.9)

We, the members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, gathered in Dallas, Texas, on September 16-18, 2014, prayed "for the peace of the whole world" (from the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom) and decried the brutal and bloody violence in the Middle East.

The barbarity perpetrated against Christians, Muslims and vulnerable communities in the Middle East by the self-named Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as well as other jihadist groups has claimed numerous innocent lives and driven countless people from their homes. It has also threatened the existence of Christian communities, which enjoy an uninterrupted presence there for over two thousand years. Recent hostility not only against Christians and Yazidis, but also against Muslims, has shocked the entire civilized world.

Echoing the statement of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East as well as the other Patriarchs of the East (August 14, 2014), we lament and denounce the egregious and barbarous incidents in the area, including religious intolerance and fanaticism, that erode the social fabric and unity of the region, destroying churches, shrines and monuments, which are the common heritage of all Christians and, indeed, all humanity.

Along with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, "we cannot remain indifferent or silent before such irrational persecution, cultural intolerance and appalling loss of life, especially when caused by religious hatred and racial hostility" (August 13, 2014). The recent horrific events in Iraq and Syria, Libya and Egypt, and especially in Palestine and Lebanon, demonstrate the dire consequences of remaining complacent in the face of evil.

In this regard, we affirm the Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches (March 9, 2014), which called "for the immediate cessation of military action, liberation of captives, and establishment of peace in the region through dialogue," stressing "that Christians in the Middle East are a leaven of peace" and emphasizing that "peace for all people also means peace for Christians."


1) We affirm our solidarity with and pray for the safety of Christians in the Middle East, committing ourselves to work for peace and justice in the region.

2) We support international efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestine issue, ensuring the security, freedom and human rights of their peoples, and bringing peace to the Holy Land.

3) We encourage all people of good will to support agencies, already hard at work throughout the region, in their efforts to assist the displaced populations in order that they may return to their homes.

4) We urge governments and authorities to insist upon the fundamental human rights and religious freedom of all, urgently establish the rule of law, and immediately desist from supporting extremist groups and oppressive governments whether through financial means or military arms.

5) We urge the United Nations and the international community, and especially the government of our United States of America, to establish policies that promote peace and justice for all in the region, while refraining from all forms of violence.

6) We firmly reiterate our call for the immediate release of our brothers, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul Yazigi and the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop John Ibrahim, both of Aleppo in Syria, who were kidnapped on April 22, 2013, as well as the release of all innocent captives.

   Finally, above and beyond our appeal and prayer for peace and justice, mindful that "what is impossible with men is possible with God" (Luke 18.27), we place our ultimate hope in "God, Who is the source of peace" (Rom. 16.20).

Got a problem with organized religion???

“It is always possible to make a new start by means of repentance.  “You fell,” it is written, “now arise” (Proverbs 24:16).  And if you fall again, then rise again, without despairing at all of your salvation, no matter what happens.  As long as you do not surrender yourself willingly to the enemy, your patient endurance, combined with self-reproach, will suffice for your salvation.  “For at one time we ourselves went astray in our folly and disobedience,” says St Paul. “…Yet he saved us, not because of any good things we have done, but in His mercy” (Titus 3:5).  So do not despair in any way, ignoring God’s help, for He can do whatever He wishes.  On the contrary, place your hope in Him; and because of your hope He will act lovingly toward you in ways of which you are not aware, and so will save your shackled soul.  Only do not abandon your Physician.”

--- St Peter of Damascus

How Shall We Repay the Lord for All His Goodness to Us?


St Basil the Great (4th Century)


What words can adequately describe God's gifts?  They are so numerous that they defy enumeration.  They are so great that any one of them demands our total gratitude in response.


Yet even though we cannot speak of it worthily, there is one gift which no thoughtful man can pass over in silence.  God fashioned man in His own image and likeness; He gave him know- ledge of Himself; He endowed him with the ability to think which raised him above all living creatures; He permitted him to delight in the unimaginable beauties of paradise, and gave him dominion over everything upon earth.


Then, when man was deceived by the serpent and fell into sin, which led to death and to all the sufferings associated with death, God still did not forsake him. 


He first gave man the law to help him; He set angels over him to guard him; He sent the prophets to denounce vice and to teach virtue; He restrained man's evil impulses by warnings and roused his desire for virtue by promises.  Frequently, by way of warning, God showed him the respective ends of virtue and of vice in the lives of other men.  Moreover, when man continued in disobedience even after he had done all this, God did not desert him.


No, we were not abandoned by the goodness of the Lord!  Even the insult we offered to our Benefactor by despising His gifts did not destroy His love for us.  On the contrary, although we were dead, our Lord Jesus Christ restored us to life again, and in a way even more amazing than the fact itself, for His state was divine, yet He did not cling to His equality with God, but emptied Himself to assume the condition of a slave.


He bore our infirmities and endured our sorrows.  He was wounded for our sake so that by His wounds we might be healed.  He redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for our sake, and He submitted to the most ignominious death in order to exalt us to the life of glory. 


Nor was He content merely to summon us back from death to life; He also bestowed on us the dignity of His own divine nature and prepared for us a place of eternal rest where there will be joy so intense as to surpass all human imagination.


How, then, shall we repay the Lord for all His goodness to us?  He is so good that He asks no recompense except our love: that is the only payment He desires.


To confess my personal feelings, when I reflect on all these blessings, I am overcome by a kind of dread and numbness at the very possibility of ceasing to love God and of bringing shame upon Christ because of my lack of recollection and my preoccupa- tion with trivialities.


Confession... to a Priest?!

from "Lessons in Our Faith" by Bishop Michael (Dahulich) of New York

(many similar videos available at nynjoca.org)

Question #4: But why must I go to a priest for confession; can't I just confess directly to God?

Answer: The first Christians confessed their sins publicly, out loud before everyone in the Church, because we sin against both God and one another; and they received the forgiveness -- the absolution -- from the bishop (or the priest) as directed by our Lord.  St James confirms this, saying: "Confess your sins to one another" (James 5:10).  Because people unfortunately began to discuss one another's sins, the Church prescribed that the priest (or bishop) would not only individually offer the forgiveness, but would also individually hear the penitent's confession with the promise of confidentiality.  Just like we cannot be healed by our doctor unless we tell him where the pain is, we cannot be healed of our sins unless we tell them in the presence of our spiritual father.  It is humbling to be sure; but that cures the mother of all sin: pride.  St John Chrysostom tells us, "It is difficult to confess to our spiritual father; but I would rather confess my sins to one man and be forgiven, than be disgraced before the whole universe at the Last Judgment for my unforgiven sins."

ON THE HOLY CROSS by St Andrew of Crete

"The cross is something wonderfully great and honourable.  It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation -- very many indeed, for both His miracles and His sufferings were fully rewarded with victory.  The cross is honourable because it is both the sign of God's suffering and the trophy of His victory.  It stands for His suffering because on it He freely suffered unto death.  But it is also His trophy because it was the means by which the devil was wounded and death conquered; the barred gates of hell were smashed, and the cross became the one common salvation of the whole world.  The cross is called Christ's glory; it is saluted as His triumph.  We rccognise it as the cup He longed to drink and the climax of the sufferings He endured for our sake.

The Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils

     In the Ninth Article of the Nicea-Constantinople Symbol of Faith proclaimed by the holy Fathers of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, we confess our faith in "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." By virtue of the catholic nature of the Church, an Ecumenical Council is the Church's supreme authority, and possesses the competence to resolve major questions of church life. An Ecumenical Council is comprised of archpastors and pastors of the Church, and representatives of all the local Churches, from every land of the "oikumene" (i.e. from all the whole inhabited world).
     The Orthodox Church acknowledges Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils: The First Ecumenical Council (Nicea I) (May 29, and also on seventh Sunday after Pascha) was convened in the year 325 against the heresy of Arius, in the city of Nicea in Bithynia under StConstantine the Great, Equal of the Apostles.
     The Second Ecumenical Council (Constantinople I) (May 22) was convened in the year 381 against the heresy of Macedonias, by the emperor Theodosius the Great.
     The Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus) (September 9) was convened in the year 431 against the heresy of Nestorius, in the city of Ephesus by the emperor Theodosius the Younger.
     The Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon) (July 16) was convened in the year 451, against the Monophysite heresy, in the city of Chalcedon under the emperor Marcian.
     The Fifth Ecumenical Council (Constnatinople II) (July 25) "Concerning the Three Chapters," was convened in the year 553, under the emperor Justinian the Great.
     The Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople III) (January 23) met during the years 680-681, to fight the Monothelite heresy, under the emperor Constantine Pogonatos.
     The fact that the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicea II) is not commemorated today testifies to the antiquity of today's celebration. The Seventh Council, commemorated on the Sunday nearest to October 11, was convened at Nicea in the year 787 against the Iconoclast heresy, under the emperor Constantine and his mother Irene.
     The Church venerates the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils because Christ has established them as "lights upon the earth," guiding us to the true Faith. "Adorned with the robe of truth," the doctrine of the Fathers, based upon the preaching of the Apostles, has established one faith for the Church. The Ecumenical Councils, are the highest authority in the Church. Such Councils, guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and accepted by the Church, are infallible.
     The Orthodox Church's conciliar definitions of dogma have the highest authority, and such definitions always begin with the Apostolic formula: "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." (Acts 15: 28).
     The Ecumenical Councils were always convened for a specific reason: to combat false opinions and heresies, and to clarify the Orthodox Church's teaching. But the Holy Spirit has thus seen fit, that the dogmas, the truths of faith, immutable in their content and scope, constantly and consequently are revealed by the conciliar mind of the Church, and are given precision by the holy Fathers within theological concepts and terms in exactly such measure as is needed by the Church itself for its economy of salvation. The Church, in expounding its dogmas, is dealing with the concerns of a given historical moment, "not revealing everything in haste and thoughtlessly, nor indeed, ultimately hiding something" (St Gregory the Theologian).
     A brief summary of the dogmatic theology of the First Six Ecumenical Councils is formulated and contained in the First Canon of the Council of Trullo (also known as Quinisext), held in the year 692. The 318 Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council are spoken of in this Canon I of Trullo as having: "with unanimity of faith revealed and declared to us the consubstantiality of the three Persons of the Divine nature and, ... instructing the faithful to adore the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with one worship, they cast down and dispelled the false teaching about different degrees of Divinity."
     The 150 Holy Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council left their mark on the theology of the Church concerning the Holy Spirit, "repudiating the teaching of Macedonius, as one who wished to divide the inseparable Unity, so that there might be no perfect mystery of our hope."
     The 200 God-bearing Fathers of the Third Ecumenical Council expounded the teaching that "Christ, the Incarnate Son of God is One." They also confessed that "she who bore Him without seed was the spotless Ever-Virgin, glorifying her as truly the Mother of God.
     The 630 Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council decreed that "the One Christ, the Son of God... must be glorified in two natures."
     The 165 God-bearing Holy Fathers of the Fifth Ecumenical Council "in synod anathematized and repudiated Theodore of Mopsuestia (the teacher of Nestorius), and Origen, and Didymus, and Evagrius, renovators of the Hellenic teaching about the transmigration of souls and the transmutation of bodies and the impieties they raised against the resurrection of the dead."
     The 170 Holy Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council "taught that we ought to confess two natural volitions, or two wills [trans. note: one divine, and the other human], and two natural operations (energies) in Him Who was incarnate for our salvation, Jesus Christ, our true God."
     In decisive moments of Church history, the holy Ecumenical Councils promulgated their dogmatic definitions, as trustworthy delimitations in the spiritual battle for the purity of Orthodoxy, which will last until such time, as "all shall come into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (Eph. 4: 13). In the struggle with new heresies, the Church does not abandon its former dogmatic concepts nor replace them with some sort of new formulations. The dogmatic formulae of the Holy Ecumenical Councils need never be superseded, they remain always contemporary to the living Tradition of the Church. Therefore the Church proclaims:
     "The faith of all in the Church of God hath been glorified by men, which were luminaries in the world, cleaving to the Word of Life, so that it be observed firmly, and that it dwell unshakably until the end of the ages, conjointly with their God-bestown writings and dogmas. We reject and we anathematize all whom they have rejected and anathematized, as being enemies of Truth. And if anyone does not cleave to nor admit the aforementioned pious dogmas, and does not teach or preach accordingly, let him be anathema" (Canon I of the Council of Trullo).
     In addition to their dogmatic definitions, the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils exerted great efforts towards the strengthening of church discipline. Local Councils promulgated their disciplinary canons according to the circumstances of the time and place, frequently differing among themselves in various particulars.
     The universal unity of the Orthodox Church required unity also in canonical practice, i.e. a conciliar deliberation and affirmation of the most important canonical norms by the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils. Thus, according to conciliar judgment, the Church has accepted: 20 Canons from the First, 7 Canons from the Second, 8 Canons from the Third, and 30 Canons from the Fourth Ecumenical Synods. The Fifth and the Sixth Councils concerned themselves only with resolving dogmatic questions, and did not leave behind any disciplinary canons.
     The need to establish in codified form the customary practices during the years 451-680, and ultimately to compile a canonical codex for the Orthodox Church, occasioned the convening of a special Council, which was wholly devoted to the general application of churchly rules. This was convened in the year 692. The Council "in the Imperial Palace" or "Under the Arches" (in Greek "en trullo"), came to be called the Council in Trullo. It is also called the "Quinisext" [meaning the "fifth and sixth"], because it is considered to have completed the activities of the Fifth and Sixth Councils, or rather that it was simply a direct continuation of the Sixth Ecumenical Council itself, separated by just a few years.
     The Council in Trullo, with its 102 Canons (more than of all the Ecumenical Synods combined), had a tremendous significance in the history of the canonical theology of the Orthodox Church. It might be said that the Fathers of this Council produced a complete compilation of the basic codex from the relevant sources for the Orthodox Church's canons. Listing through in chronological order, and having been accepted by the Church the Canons of the Holy Apostles, and the Canons of the Holy Ecumenical and the Local Councils and of the holy Fathers, the Trullo Council declared: "Let no one be permitted to alter or to annul the aforementioned canons, nor in place of these put forth, or to accept others, made of spurious inscription" (2nd Canon of the Council in Trullo).
     Church canons, sanctified by the authority of the first Six Ecumenical Councils (including the rules of the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787, and the Constantinople Councils of 861 and 879, which were added later under the holy Patriarch Photius), form the basis of THE RUDDER, or KORMCHAYA KNIGA (a canon law codex known as "Syntagma" or "Nomokanon" in 14 titles). In its repository of grace is expressed a canonical norm, a connection to every era, and a guide for all the local Orthodox Churches in churchly practice.
     New historical conditions can lead to the change of some particular external aspect of the life of the Church. This makes creative canonical activity necessary in the conciliar reasoning of the Church, in order to reconcile the external norms of churchly life with historical circumstances. The details of canonical regulation are not fully developed for the various eras of churchly organization at all once. With every push to either forsake the literal meaning of a canon, or to fulfill and develop it, the Church again and again turns for reasoning and guidance to the eternal legacy of the Holy Ecumenical Councils, to the inexhaustable treasury of dogmatic and canonical truths.

--- from oca.org


Ancient Wisdom -- with Contemporary Relevance!

from St John Chrysostom (4th century)

Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor?  Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich person's gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors?  Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone?

Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm.  Those who combined both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again.

Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold from the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift.  Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. 

Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow.  The only way to achieve true justice is to change people's hearts first and then they will joyfully share their wealth.

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