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PEACE AND HARMONY
Reverend Dr. Doru Costache
Our Patriarch Passed Away
by Reverend Dr. Doru Costache
On the 30th July 2007, the clock ceased to count the moments for Patriarch Teoctist, allowing his soul to extend its wings toward the horizon without setting of the Kingdom. Of course, many things may be stated about the activity of a hierarch who dedicated to the service of the Church more than seventy years of his life; I am certain that those who knew him closely can bear testimony to all these. I would like however to add to this cloud of witnesses a personal detail, which I have never shared till now outside a small circle of close friends. It was more than four years ago. I do not remember the reasons why the Patriarch invited me to his office. What I am certain of is the fact that, arriving early in the morning, to my surprise I found together with His Beatitude one of the spiritual fathers of the patriarchal cathedral. By the end of the meeting, and with no relation to the discussion, the Patriarch made a comment which probably I will never forget. In short, he observed that even the professors and lecturers of the theological faculty need a spiritual father and the sacrament of confession – indicating to the father next to him and who kept silence throughout the meeting. I remained speechless. It was as if he was able to read my soul: it happened that (although strange to my habits) those days I have been without a spiritual guide for almost a year. Anyway, I left touched by the observation of the Father, also amazed by what looked to me as being a manifestation of the gift of clear vision… It is likely that testimonies of this kind are as necessary as any of the details of a public biography, in order to give contour to a personal profile, putting in relief less visible aspects of such a biography. And even if the Patriarch will remain in the collective memory of the faithful for various dimensions of his activity, I shall keep the memory of that meeting and of the words that were – fatherly – told to me. May his memory be eternal!
NSW ECUMENICAL COUNCIL INC.
The Revd. Dr. Doru Costache 64 Linthorn Avenue Enfield South, NSW 2133 Dear Fr. Doru I am writing on behalf of the New South Wales Ecumenical Council to ask if you can pass on to the Romanian Orthodox community in Sydney the share sorrow of our member Churches on hearing of the death of His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist. We give thanks for all that His Beatitude contributed to the development of the Church in the face of the chances and changes of political and contemporary life and we join our prayers with the Romanian Orthodox Church at this time. May God continue to bless you and the Romanian Orthodox faithful in your important ministries and strengthen you by the Holy Spirit in all that you are and do in Christ. Yours in the Love of Christ,
Rev. Dr. Jonathan Inkpin General Secretary NSW Ecumenical Council
anul XXXII May - July 2007
ACKNOWLEDGING GOD’S GIFT
By Ann Caradine
An old friend called recently saying he was coming to town to visit. As children, we lived just a few blocks from each other and were in school together until the 7th grade when his father moved the family to Dallas, Texas. The last time I saw him, 43 years ago, was when his family had come here for a visit. Our mothers remained in touch but we did not. He called my mother’s house and my brother gave him my phone number. For the last 8 months or so, he has been calling me, sharing parts of his life. As it got nearer to the day he would arrive, I began to have nervous and fearful conversations with myself about what I wanted and didn’t want. I began asking God what this was all about, that I liked my life just as it is, that as a widow I have a lot of freedom and I don’t want to give that up, that I don’t want a romantic relationship with anybody and I don’t want to get married again. Also, for the past 3 years, I had been coming deeper and deeper into the Orthodox faith. Because I was employed by another religious denomination, of which I also was a member, I knew that if I embraced Orthodoxy, I would have to leave the job. I finally made the decision to take early retirement and be Chrismated. Now, I thought to myself, my life is just like I want it. Then, my friend called to say he would be travelling
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here specifically to visit me and I began projecting like crazy about what might happen. For a little while, I floundered, just plain paralysed by fear. Then it came to me that I had been quite arrogant, that it was audacious indeed for me to be having discussions with God about what I want. From childhood I had been taught to believe that we must seek to do the will of God. Those that attempted to form me always spoke of God’s will as something
God make us, then make it so hard for us, so next to impossible for us, to figure out how to please him. It was in the second grade that we read in our book of Bible Stories about Jesus preaching to people telling them that he was giving them a new commandment, “To love each other the way I loved you.” I knew then that this new commandment was exactly what God’s will is! Now, at the ripe old age of 58, I hear the little second grade girl that was me reminding me of what God’s will for me is, and that what I should want, if I want anything at all, is that I be able to remember Jesus' new commandment and have the power to carry it out in my daily life. My wanting was set in motion by my projecting. I was actually living in the future, fretting about what to do if my friend wanted a romance or marriage. I had been telling God how I wanted things rather than attempting to live well in the grace of the moment God was giving me. How would I ever be able to focus on loving God or my neighbour when I was still so self-absorbed?
mysterious and that we creatures are so dense we could only play at guessing and hope we were lucky enough to accidentally stumble upon God’s will. I always thought that what I was taught about God’s will was rather absurd. Even if I could miraculously intuit this mysterious God’s will, I figured it must be something that would be too difficult for me to carry out, that I would almost have to twist myself into a pretzel to try and conform to it. I often wondered why would
I had to admit that I frequently avoided living in the moment by ru minating about the past and future. I needed to begin taking a thorough look at what each moment was presenting to me. This doesn’t mean that I no longer will have the freedom of choice, that I would give up that freedom to conform to God’s will. What it does mean is that whatever choice I make, it has to be made in a way that glorifies God and respects other people. And, the choice cannot be cheap; it must be generous.
pg. 3 Some definitions… This Divine Liturgy is the main service of Orthodox Christians. What do the words mean? Divine – something to do with God, something very holy. Liturgy (Leitourgia) – public work, public duty. Eucharist – the giving of thanks, to the Most Holy God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Synaxis – meeting, the big meeting of the Christians. This word was used from the beginning to show a slight difference from the word Synagogue – the public prayer service of the Jews and the place for that. Sacred or divine mysteries – another way of expressing the amazing fact of the Last Supper. Holy Gifts – the consecrated bread and wine, the holy communion. Some background… the Psalms, in the Old Testament have been used by the Church in its role as New Israel. St Paul emphasizes this; e.g., Galatians 3: 29, ‘Merely by belonging to Christ you are the posterity of Abraham, the heirs he promised.’ This can be a confusing idea, because there is since 1948 a political body, the State of Israel, occupying much of the Holy Land. Christians do not mean ‘New Israel’ in that sense! Old Israel means the Jews who have remained Jewish and have not accepted Jesus as the fulfilment of ancient Israel’s hopes. The New Israel is the Church led by Jesus out of the slavery of sin: the Church which has been shown that death is conquered by the Cross and the Resurrection: Galatians 2:1920. What the Liturgy is… The Divine Liturgy – or the holy public duty – is a service in which Orthodox Christians come together to pray with the blessing of bread and wine, which the priest asks the Holy Spirit to make into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Liturgy is not the same as praying at home. There you are an individual. In the Church, individuals build up the Body of Christ and reflect his band of apostles. They were united by him; we are united by him – at the table of the Last Supper, at the foot of the Cross, in the light of the Resurrection.
In ancient Greece, and throughout the Roman Empire (which covered all the Mediterranean world including the Holy Land), religion was a social responsibility and worship took place in the name of society as a duty. Christians gave this world a new idea of public The Church is a kind of worship: the great thanksgiving alternative society, but (the Eucharist) or Divine drawn out of that bigger Liturgy. Giving of thanks for group and concentrating on the things which God has done the redemption of its life is one strong element in our and the redemption of the understanding. From the Rev Dr Michael Brett-Crowther larger society also. This earliest days of the Church, this point appears in the Liturgy; giving of thanks has been for the liberation of Christians, by Christ’s Crucifixion, from sin there are many prayers for the community, the city and all cities, the world in a general sense. and death.
THE DIVINE LITURGY: ITS CONTENT AND FORM
The other strong element in our understanding of the Liturgy is the Jewish services for Passover and Kiddush. Passover is the feast which recalls the freedom of the Hebrews from slavery under Egypt. Kiddush is a service when the head of the family asks for blessing of the Sabbath (Saturday) or some other holy day (festival). Passover is important for our understanding of the Divine Liturgy. Passover is based on the events of the book of Exodus (5:1 – 12:36), when the Hebrews left slavery in Egypt and their slave masters were destroyed while pursuing them. The Synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) make Passover the occasion when the Last Supper is held. Thus, the Last Supper contains the idea of the death of slavery – of which sin is the chain and prison – and the entry into the Promised Land, of which the Resurrection is the gateway. Passover witnesses to the agreement – the covenant (or testament) – between Old Israel and God; and the New Passover is the agreement, signed in the blood of Jesus – between God and the New Israel: the New Testament. This idea of the Last Supper being a kind of Passover made by Jesus for the world – to save all the world, not just the Jews – from slavery, is an idea which affects all Christian thinking. The sacred books which were used by the Jews – the Old Testament – are most of the writings in the Christian Bible. Some of these, especially the prophetic writings and
The Liturgy is the main Orthodox service: the Sunday morning service. Sunday is the day of Resurrection. Constantine the Great made Sunday a day of rest in the Roman Empire. The Liturgy is like what some Christians call the Holy Communion, the Eucharist or the Mass. But the Orthodox Sunday service is longer and richer than that for other Christians. Originally simple, its form has grown richer; but its meaning – its content – has always been rich, many-layered. The Liturgy is about the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus. It is a special way for Orthodox Christians to make contact with Jesus through the taking of Communion – the Holy Gifts of Bread and Wine.
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The Last Supper… The Divine Liturgy exists because of what Jesus did at the Last Supper. The icon of the Last Supper often hangs over the Royal Doors in an Orthodox church. The New Testament has accounts in 3 of the 4 gospels: Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; and Luke 22:17-20. John 6:32-58 portrays Jesus talking in a way which looks forward to the Last Supper. St Paul – whose epistles are earlier than the 4 gospels – gives us the tradition in I Corinthians 11:23-26. Paul makes the point that by doing this ‘you are proclaiming his death’; and he adds that ‘anyone who eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be behaving unworthily towards the body and blood of the Lord.’ This means that we should spend time getting our minds ready to receive the truth of the service, which is that Jesus dies for us, and rises to new life in which we are able to take part – because we have been baptized. There are two other references in the New Testament: Acts 2:42, 46; and Acts 20:7. These show that it was a custom or habit of the Church from the earliest times to celebrate the Liturgy. One other feature of the Last Supper, the washing of the disciples’ feet, appears only in John (13:1-20). This event teaches the disciples the value of humility; and this equality of the members of the Body of Christ – this loving unity of the Church – is another element in the Divine Liturgy. We should be reconciled one with another, at peace and clean of heart. John 14-16 carries other addresses of Jesus to the disciples, and John 17 has the priestly prayer of Jesus. This prayer is a model for the entire Liturgy. It is about giving thanks, proclaiming the power of God, praying for the disciples, the essential unity between them and the Lord; about the protection from evil and consecration of the disciples, and for those whom they will bring to belief in Jesus. ‘Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me. I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I loved them as much as you loved me’ (John 17:21-23). That essential, loving, sacrificial unity is one of the main expressions of the Divine Liturgy. The Crucifixion… Many people find the idea of Jesus’ words extremely difficult: ‘This is my Body… This is my Blood…’ How can Jesus, even if he is Son of God, say something so contradictory? When do ordinary human beings eat bodies and drink blood? Surely this is cannibalism? It may sound like this. But it is even more amazing, because Jesus says these words about bread and wine. They will not sound so difficult if we think in a more historical and more spiritual way. Yet the idea is absolutely amazing; because Jesus himself is absolutely amazing. We cannot imagine anyone else saying to us ‘This life of mine is for you. Use it up, it is my gift, my own life being made into your life.’ But it is precisely that meaning which can be seen in the words of Jesus; and once we think of this, the terrible fact of the Crucifixion becomes more understandable.
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Crucifixion was ordinary capital punishment in the Roman Empire. Jesus was crucified as if he were a criminal. It was the spectacular injustice of that killing which St Paul could explain only by the death of Jesus being for the sake of giving life to the believer: Romans 5:7-8; Galatians 6:14. Again and again he makes this point; and it is this point which almost exceeds in importance Paul’s concern with the Resurrection. Death to sin and being alive to the righteousness and the mercy of God in Jesus Christ: that is the great thing for Paul, and thus the great fact which he gives in all his missionary work to the new Christians of the ancient world. In the Baptism service, we read Romans 6:3-11 for the epistle. These are the strongest statements on the relation between Crucifixion and new life in Christ through entry into his death by baptism. Paul makes clear (6:5-7) that a dead slave is freed from the control of his master; and when baptism takes place, the conquest of sin occurs, so that we may return to life with Jesus. So from the fact of blessing bread and wine and eating the food in a group governed by prayer in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:42), the Church became a eucharistic community – a thanksgiving society, a band of hopeful people who were no longer enslaved to sin, even if some of them might be enslaved politically or socially, or suffering in all sorts of ways in the ancient conditions of life where the gospel was first preached. They had a freedom of spirit because the Holy Spirit of God had been poured out on the Church which faithfully repeated this service of prayer and which lived and died in the faith that Jesus by being crucified had given his life for the world. The Church believed then – and believes now – that, by being raised from the dead, Jesus has opened the new life beyond and above sin to those who believed in him. The Resurrection… As Paul says in Romans 6:5, ‘if in union with Christ we have imitated his death we shall also imitate him in his resurrection.’ Again in Ephesians 4:23-24, ‘your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution, so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth.’ From the earliest times, the Church has seen the Liturgy as making a change in the bread and wine, so that, as Jesus said, they become his body and his blood. St Cyril (ca 315-386), Bishop of Jerusalem from ca 348, produced ca 350 his 24 Catechetical Lectures (sometimes also called the Mystagogic Catecheses). These are lectures for catechumens, who would be baptized on Holy Saturday. Cyril speaks of the changes in the bread and wine in powerful language. He tries to make the believers understand the mystery of faith. Cyril quotes Paul, Ephesians 3:6, to show that by admission to the ‘divine mysteries’ (the eucharist) we are made ‘of the same body and blood with Christ.’ And it is Cyril who gives us the standard answer of the Orthodox Church on this matter. ‘Therefore think of the bread and wine not as merely that, for they are in fact, according to the Lord’s express statement, the body and blood of Christ. For though sense suggests the mere elements, let faith assure you otherwise. Do not judge the matter from taste but from faith be assured, without hesitation, that you have been granted the body and blood of Christ’ (cat. 22 [cat. myst. 4] 1-6).
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pg. 5 The Liturgy – like the gospels – does not explain the Resurrection. The gospels only express the fact of the Resurrection at a remove: people do things because of it, their lives are changed by it. For example, in Matthew 28:8, ‘filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.’ In Mark 16:4-15: ‘lastly he showed himself to the eleven themselves while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy, because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.”’ In Luke 24:35, two of the associates of Jesus, having encountered him on the road to Emmaus, find themselves witnesses to the fact of the Resurrection. ‘Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.’ That recognition of Jesus, at the beginning of the life of the Church, was of the Jesus with whom those people had once held services of Sabbath blessing. But when we recognize Jesus in the Divine Liturgy, it is in the whole power of the service to bring us to God, to make us active for God, to fulfil the priestly prayer of Jesus (John 17). And it is John’s gospel which gives us the commissioning of the disciples (20:21-23) and the great affirmation of the doubter, Thomas: ‘My Lord and my God!’ (John 20:28). To this, Jesus speaks the words which apply to the Divine Liturgy: ‘you believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ The whole of the Liturgy is – strictly speaking – a big repetition of the facts of the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The main emphasis is on the Crucifixion and the Resurrection; because these follow the Last Supper. But the gospels include in their account of the Passion of the Lord and his Resurrection many other elements; for example, the anointing of Jesus ‘at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper’ (Matthew 26:6-13). Everything in the gospel account is reflected in the Divine Liturgy. If the writers of the gospels had been playwrights or if there had been video and cinema in those days, we may be sure that even closer resemblance would be possible between those events and the main service of the Church. But there is no lack of reflexion of the interior meaning of the gospel. The Divine Liturgy does affirm what Thomas affirms; it does make us tell others what we have seen; it does prepare us for our own burial, even if our lives are like those of the discarded people – such as lepers – among whom Jesus moved, transformingly, before his Crucifixion and his Resurrection. consecrated (sanctified) previously: i.e., at the Sunday service beforehand. The liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified is really a kind of evening service (Vespers) with the administration of the Holy Gifts added. Those other two – of St John Chrysostom and St Basil – differ mainly in the central eucharistic prayer. 1. Office of Oblation, Offertory… The Sunday Liturgy will have begun with a service of preparation of the eucharistic bread – the prosphora – and wine. This preliminary service, the Prothesis or Proskomidia, identifies Jesus with the Passover Lamb. A cube of the loaf is cut out – the amnos, or lamb – which will be the main element of the Holy Gifts; and to which other bread particles are added on a special dish – the paten – which represent various angels and saints, and then others representing living and departed human beings. The wine and some water (representing the water which flowed from Jesus when his side as pierced on the Cross) are poured into a chalice. This service follows the one in which the priest puts on his vestments. The total effect of the prayers is to show that the priest unites his efforts with those of Jesus Christ in making this bloodless sacrifice for the sins of the world. The prayers in this small service make it clear that Jesus our Saviour is the Lamb of God who is the sacrifice of the Passover of the New Israel. The priest prays for many saints and many people still in the world as he performs this preliminary service. The Liturgy will be the prayer of the whole Church, not an individual act, but a big meeting of people, with God, the saints, the departed, and with all whom we can remember to pray for being included in its prayers. 2. Orthros… This is the morning prayer service (matins), and it culminates in the Doxology. ‘Glory to you, who has shown forth the light…’ This long and exultant hymn is sung almost as the first element of the Divine Liturgy; so that though it ends Orthros it begins the main service, and it is ended with a dismissal hymn. 3. The Divine Liturgy: The Liturgy of the Catechumens, or of the Word
The Liturgy can be divided into two sections. The first is called the Liturgy of the Catechumens, or the liturgy of the Word. In the early Church, only this part of the public prayers was permitted to be attended by the Catechumens. That means – the ones who are preparing to become This is why, after the Holy Gifts have been distributed, the Christians, the ones who are learning about Jesus Christ’s choir sings: ‘We have seen the true light, we have received meaning. The Liturgy of the Word is another name because it the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true faith by is in the first part of the service that the Epistle (the Apostle, worshipping the undivided Trinity; for this has saved us.’ meaning the writings of the Apostle; most often St Paul) and the Gospel are read. The parts of the Liturgy… The priest or the deacon, if the church has both ministers, The Liturgy has a general form, but this may be varied in sings the first litany in which we pray such things as: ‘For many ways depending on the day. For example, the main the peace from above, and for the salvation of our souls, let liturgy used is that of St John Chrysostom, but this is very us pray to the Lord…. For this city and for this community, like the liturgy of St Basil; and another one, used only during for every city and country, and for the faithful who dwell weekdays of Lent – when the liturgy is not celebrated, as a therein, let us pray to the Lord….’ The response to these mark of sorrow – is the liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts. petitions is ‘Lord, have mercy.’ That means, the liturgy in which the Holy Gifts have been
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Although the litanies are sung aloud, it is unfortunately very rare for many of the prayers to be read aloud. This means that the worshippers mostly have no idea how deeply theological is the service they are attending. They know where they are; but they do not know what they are missing. For example, the first prayer begins: ‘O Lord our God, Whose might is invincible, Whose glory is incomprehensible, Whose mercy is immeasurable and Whose love towards mankind if unspeakable…’ This is a statement not only of the Almightiness of God, but of the All-Lovingness of God, and the justification for the death upon the Cross of God the Son. While this prayer is being read (regrettably inaudibly), the priest or the deacon sing words which indicate the repetitive character of the liturgy: ‘Again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord.’ But this repetition is like the urging of St Paul to Christians to ‘pray constantly’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17). There are two processions in the Liturgy. The first takes place after several chants including ‘O Only-begotten Son and Word of God, Who… were crucified, O Christ the God, by death overcoming death, being One of the Holy Trinity, glorified together with the Father, and with the Holy Spirit, save us.’ The first procession is also called the Lesser Entrance. The Lesser Entrance is the procession in which the Book of the Gospels is brought from the sanctuary into the church and back into the sanctuary. Just outside of the Royal Doors, the priest (or the deacon) cries ‘Wisdom; stand up’. This is the wisdom of the gospels, and the Divine Wisdom of God, God the Son, who is reflected in the book of the gospels: the account in words of the Word of God. The next big event is the singing of the Trisagion: ‘Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us’, which is sung three or more times. It acknowledges the greatness of God, and expresses the anguish of the Church at contemplating the death of the Saviour. During this hymn, or before it, the priest prays another inaudible prayer of great meaning, in which the conclusion is: ‘Forgive us every transgression, whether voluntary or involuntary, sanctify our souls and bodies, and grant us to worship you in holiness all the days of our life, through the intercession of the holy Theotokos [Birthgiver of God, Mary] and all the Saints, who have pleased you all the ages.’ Our Lady is invoked at many points in the Liturgy. The Liturgy unites the Church, the world seen and the world unseen, by sacrificial and intense prayer. That is why the priest (or deacon) cries to the choir during the Trisagion the order ‘Dynamis’ (power, strength). In other words, ‘Work hard, make your prayer energetic.’
epistle and the gospel are read in a good, modern translation, there is a considerable risk that the worshippers will not know at all what they are missing from these essential elements of the service. The ideal solution, therefore, is not only that these readings are read in English but that they are also explained in the sermon. The sermon may follow at this point; though there are also good reasons for it to be just before the giving of communion, or at the end. 4. The Divine Liturgy: The Eucharist The Cherubic Hymn now follows: ‘Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim and chant the thrice-holy hymn to the Life-giving Trinity, put away all worldly care so that we may receive the King of all.’ This hymn is sung with slowness and beautiful sorrow, as if we lament all our sins and recognize how far from suitable we are to meet or even to approach God. The priest now incenses the altar and the main icons in the icon screen and the congregation. The Greater Entrance is the procession in which the Holy Gifts are brought from the sanctuary into the church and back into the sanctuary. Both the Lesser and the Greater Entrances are moments when the worshippers will show signs of increasing concentration. Some people may prostrate themselves during the Greater Entrance, which is both sorrowful and imposing, and suggests the approach of a terrible event: which, indeed, is the case; for we are now close to the centre of the service – the re-enactment of the Last Supper and Crucifixion. Several litanies now take place, with the final petition being ‘Christian ends to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful, and of good defence before the fearful Judgement Seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord.’ Then, as at many other places, the Theotokos is invoked: ‘Commemorating our most holy, pure, most blessed, glorified Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.’ This commemoration is an example of the uniting of heaven and earth by the prayer of the Church: a Synaxis indeed! We now come to the Symbol of Faith – the Creed. The priest says ‘Let us love one another, that with one mind we may confess:’ And the choir replies ‘The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Trinity one in essence and undivided.’ So this requirement for love among the Christians reminds us of the loving intention of Jesus in washing the disciples’ feet. We cannot come to the table without being clean. Our unity must be evident. The principles and the practice ought to mesh. Now the cry ‘The doors, the doors. With wisdom let us attend.’ This means that we must try to exclude all distractions; but we are also recalling the ancient practice of excluding those not allowed to receive the holy communion at this point, so that only those admitted by the spiritual father would be able to receive the holy gifts.
The Creed is the definition of God as the Church agreed it in its early centuries. It makes clear that Jesus is of the same The readings from the New Testament of the epistle and stuff, the same essence – homoousion – as God the Father. It gospel follow, with more singing in between from the choir. states what we believe of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; The gospel reading may be done by the priest from the steps the Church; our baptism; the resurrection; the future life. of the sanctuary, or by the deacon from the pulpit. Unless the Continued on next page
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pg. 7 The Creed is the definition of God as the Church agreed it in its early centuries. It makes clear that Jesus is of the same stuff, the same essence – homoousion – as God the Father. It states what we believe of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the Church; our baptism; the resurrection; the future life. By now, the Liturgy is moving rapidly to its conclusion. There is a sense of urgency in the singing. Again, it is regrettable that the prayer to consecrate the bread and wine is inaudible, for much in it is – like the Creed – a definition of God. ‘For you are God ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever existing and eternally the same, you and your Only-begotten Son and your Holy Spirit. You brought us into being out of nothing, and when we had fallen away raised us up again, and has not ceased to do all things until you brought us back to heaven, and endowed us with your kingdom which is to come. For all these things we give thanks to you…’ The choir sings ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Sabaoth (armies – a reflexion of the powerfulness of God), heaven and earth are full of your glory’, and the words spoken when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday ‘Hosanna in the highest, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.’ The priest now goes over the events of the Last Supper. ‘… He took bread in His holy and immaculate and blameless hands and when He had given thanks and blessed it, and hallowed it and broken it, He gave it to His holy disciples and apostles, saying…’ All of the prayers and actions, observed and inaudible, clear and spoken, sung or whispered have come to this, the words of Jesus at the Last Supper. There now follows a magnificent hymn to the Theotokos, ‘It is meet indeed to bless you…’ We are reminded that as Mary housed Jesus in her life, giving birth to him and bringing him up with her care, so she has reflected the glory of God which is now concentrated in the holy gifts. The priest’s prayer continues with commemoration of the other saints and more prayer for the world. ‘Be mindful, O Lord, of the city in which we dwell and of every city and land and of the faithful who dwell in them…. and upon all of us send forth your mercies.’ More litanies follow. These repeat petitions heard just before the Creed. Then it is the time for the ‘Our Father’. This prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4) is a kind of development of the teaching in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew (5:1-12) and in Luke it follows the great parable of the Good Samaritan (10:25-37). Whether we associate the Lord’s Prayer with the sermon or with the parable, Jesus is demanding from us a life based on faith. The shorter form (Luke) concentrates the prayer. First, God is glorified; second, the Church prays for our physical and spiritual needs. Tertullian (ca 160 - ca 220) calls the Our Father the ‘epitome of the whole gospel.’ If we look back in our mind’s eye to Jesus before his Crucifixion, teaching the disciples, we can see that this direct statement of human duty and human need is completely in line with the events of the Last Supper. Thus, it is a necessary step to taking the Bread which is the Body of Christ and the Wine which is the Blood of Christ. For without putting ourselves in the position of the disciples, we cannot know that the life and liberty of the Resurrection is given to us here, now, personally, as our gift. Young people and older persons are generally shown forward to the sanctuary steps, where communion will be given. Great politeness appears during this procedure; people elaborately wave others forward, young children are taken to the front of the queue with loving concern. The Orthodox Church gives the Holy Gifts in a spoon, from a chalice holding the Holy Gifts in both forms. Orthodox Christians are literally spoon-fed. This dependence reduces us all to the fact of our being children in faith, powerless, and in need of Life Itself. The final prayers of the Liturgy seem to be an anti-climax. The great facts have been stated, the tension of anticipation has passed. Yet the rounding off of this majestic drama – this complete experience of the Passion and Death and Resurrection in our life time – recognizes, in the words of one prayer, that ‘every benefit and every perfect gift is from above and come down from you, the Father of Lights; and to you do we ascribe glory and thanks and worship, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and from all ages to all ages.’ Those who take the Holy Gifts take also antidoron (that which is instead of the gifts), which is bread taken from the rest of the prosphora, the loaf used for the Eucharist. Taking antidoron is meant to reduce the pangs of hunger – for communion should be taken fasting – and also to reinforce the sense of being admitted to the table of Christ, as members of the family of the Church. Those who are not communicating or who are not even Orthodox but who have come to see what this service is, are also supposed to come forward after the Liturgy to take antidoron as their gift. For the non-Orthodox visitor, it is a sign of friendship; for the Catechumen a suggestion of the future freedom to receive the Holy Gifts; for the non-communicating Orthodox a reminder that this is less than they should receive. Conclusion… The phrase ‘the liturgy after the liturgy’ came out of the Romanian Orthodox Church during communism, and refers to our efforts to be the Church in the world through social service and attempting to be Christian to other Christians and to non-Christians also. Nothing said about the Liturgy is adequate to the experience of witnessing within it as an Orthodox Christian to the truths which it displays. Nothing experienced by it is sufficient to remove our obligation to be icons of Christ: to witness to the truths of the Liturgy after the Liturgy. We will fail; and we will – we hope – persevere. And the Liturgy will carry us forward and up to the Upper Room where the Last Supper is; to the foot of the Cross; and to the beginning of the Resurrection.
Parochial Life | may - july 2007 |
sense of purpose in the face of drought and, in particular, the farmers, growers, producers and other workers of the Murray Darling basin. We recognise how difficult it is for many to survive and the pressures this imposes on family and community life. Solidarity with those most closely involved and with our rural churches in drought affected areas is vital to challenge the isolation and lack of hope such crisis breeds. We therefore express our admiration for the impressive ministries of presence and hope exercised by hard-pressed rural churches in many parts of New South Wales and the ACT and we affirm the crucial importance of loving mutual relationship with one another in the Body of Christ. Such Christian witn ess is often overlooked in the wider world, but is central to our common life. We commend the many initiatives taken by churches and church agencies to bring pastoral support and relief, including through drought appeals,
NSW Ecumenical Council
May 1, 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, PRAYING FOR RAIN IS NOT ENOUGH
assistance is maintained, and where necessary, adequately developed. We pray for all those planning and taking difficult decisions for the future, and call on all governments, farming and industry groups, and all sectional interests to look beyond their own interests to the wider needs of all. For too long we have treated water merely as a property right, rather than as a gift to be managed responsibly. Poor long term planning by state and federal governments has contributed to the problem. This crisis thus underlines the urgent need for a new sustainable approach to the relationship between human beings and God’s wider Creation. Without a renewed sense of our interdependence with all of Creation and its essential nature as divine gift and human responsibility, we will not progress. Each of us – individuals, communities and governments needs to reflect on the current changes occurring in our environment and to reconsider our own contribution to a more sustainable society. As an ecumenical council of churches, we therefore commit ourselves to deepening our own awareness and commitment to such a biblical vision of the environment, and to sharing with others in the theological and practical challenges which lie before us.
We write to you, on behalf of the New South Wales Ecumenical Council, to express our churches’ shared concern for those most affected by the current drought and water shortages and to affirm the pressing need for renewed relationships between one another and with God’s Creation itself. At the core of our shared Faith is the central conviction that land, agriculture, rural life and all of Creation is a gift of God. The groaning of Creation challenges us to renew our commitment to God’s presence and intentions for us and our environment. We therefore continue to pray as Christians for speedy and significant rain to ease the immediate crisis, but we pray also for a deeper understanding and expression of the interdependence we share. Above all, we seek to affirm our churches’ solidarity with those struggling for their livelihoods and
Parochial Life | may - july 2007 |
twinning and companion-links between rural and urban churches, stress counselling and holiday provision, and the continuing demanding work undertaken by our many church welfare agencies. In the present situation, we urge urban churches to strengthen further their ties with rural churches through such prayerful and financial support. We welcome the financial and counselling support provided in recent times by government, corporate and other agencies but urge that churches continue to help in lobbying to ensure that such
May God renew us and the life of the earth.
Jonathan Inkpin General Secretary
11 May 2007 From the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Council
DOES ANYBODY REALLY CARE ABOUT AUSTRALIA’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLE?
in effect all Australian citizens, don’t really care. Even when good solutions are put forward they are either under funded or not funded at all. Images are put forward by Governments that advances are being made. Yet the statistics still tell us the truth that not enough is being done,” said Mr Mundine. Even the recent Australian Federal budget seems to have failed to address the chronic lack of interest in Aboriginal affairs. For many years politicians have been heard to say, “There are no votes in ‘Blacks’,” when asked to address the plight of Indigenous Australians. As we begin to gather for the anniversaries, in a couple of weeks, of the handing down of the report of the Stolen Generations and the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, Indigenous Australians cannot help but feel quite alone in their quest for justice. We are very quick to race off to save the poor children of Africa who are beamed into our TV’s every night (which I don’t object to) but we fail to notice those little speed humps along the road, our so called ‘fellow Australians’. These little speed humps are annoying but are there to remind us that we should also address the problems in our own backyards. I call on all Australians during this time of reflecting to think again about our own country and about the continual lack of interest in Australian Indigenous issues. Graeme Mundine, Executive Secretary The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission
Parochial Life | may - july 2007 |
40 years ago some 90.77% of the population stood up for Indigenous Australians and allowed Federal laws to be made on their behalf and to be counted in the census. Even with the hard work of many supporters of Indigenous Australians this was a huge surprise. We moved from the racist colonial system of the past into what was hoped to be a brighter future. “As I reflect on the last 40 years it is evident people do not care, like in the past, about their fellow Australians who are left on the dung heap of society,” said Mr Graeme Mundine, Executive Secretary of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission. “This is the picture which I see has emerged. Yes, some have become better educated and are doing quite well within the wider community, but for the vast majority life still stinks. All the statistics vouch for this and yet those who have the power to change things, Governments and
Sunday, the 5th August, was organised a memorial service for the late Patriarch Teoctist of Romania. The service was attended by the Consul General of Romania, Mr Marius Dragolea, and his wife.
JOURNEY INTO ORTHODOXY
By Ann Caradine
Ever since I was a little girl, I knew there was something missing in my life. There was a need to worship God in a more profound way, to learn more about how to live my life for God, to experience God. At the religious school where I was enrolled, we were taught that human beings were vile, that rarely did any of us ever go to heaven. We were given the concept of a harsh and punishing God, but I could never see God in that way. I remember reading for the first time about Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac. God loved them both so much that he sent one of his angels to stop the sacrifice. I saw many other instances in the Old Testament where God was showing how much he loved us. In the New Testament, the fulfillment of God’s promise to Adam and Eve through the birth of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, is the expression of the most perfect love. Jesus was always feeding people, taking care of them, telling them stories that would help them lead a life more pleasing to God. Jesus taught us how to love God by loving each other. I wanted to belong to a church that continued that kind of formation, a church that feeds the people. From an early age I began to study about other religions. I kept coming back to books about Orthodoxy but was never brave enough to venture into an Orthodox church or speak with a priest. I tried to blame this reluctance on the early formation and teaching of the sisters in the Roman Catholic school where I went. But in all honesty, the problem was that I was not ready to make a commitment because it would require that I be willing to shed habits and excuses. Until I was ready to accept the fact that without God and his mercy and grace, I was nothing, there was not much else to do but suffer the pains of longing. Three years ago, a friend invited me to attend Divine Liturgy. That service was powerful. The way in which Communion was received, that people were literally being spoon fed, was a powerful symbol. All my senses, were assaulted and I was broken open to God’s love. I attended Vespers and Divine Liturgy regularly and began to see a change in myself becoming less critical, more patient and kind. Life became vibrant and valuable, sacred. Many times during these last three years I got cold feet and ran back to my original denomination, only to find that I quickly became despairing, sour and negative. I saw how very necessary Orthodoxy was to my salvation and I began to study and pray in earnest for deliverance. Having made many a resolution to become Orthodox, but never a firm decision, God heard my prayer and I was able to formally ask for Chrismation. Finally, I was ready to learn a whole new way of being, a way that I could no longer deny was truly transformational. Once the decision was made, a peace came over me. I still have the same life problems but I do not feel weighed down by them. For the first time in
my life, I experienced God’s love and felt the security of knowing this love was a permanent condition. Now that I have been Chrismated, I do have a chance to be in the company of God and the Saints when I die. But, living Orthodoxy within the community, in my daily life, experiencing the Liturgy on a regular basis, and most importantly when I am privileged to receive the Eucharist, I am able to get a little bit of Heaven in the here and now. I am deeply grateful for the gift of Orthodoxy. Nearly sixty years old now, I came to work in the vineyard a little later than most but Orthodoxy shows me that Christ has already done for me what I cannot do for myself so I need not fear because there is plenty of time. Already the fruits of the Faith are abundant. “Glory to God for all things!”
Editor in chief: pr. dr. Doru Costache Design & layout: George Roca (Sydney)
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