Lost and Found

Presbytera Eisodia Menis Melbourne
On a recent trip, I was robbed of something which, at the time, was valuable and important to me. My human frailties surfaced immediately. As well as being upset at the loss of the stolen goods, I felt violated, vulnerable and exposed. There was nothing to be done about my loss, but I could change my logismo, my mindset. What did I lose? Worldly goods. I looked towards our Lord. Did the worldly goods matter so much when looked at in the light of the eternal? No, not really. A friend emailed and reminded me that nothing matters under the sky but our inner peace, and what remains inscribed in our hearts. So, clutching my prayer-rope, I tried to concentrate on the Invisible in the face of the lost visible. Contemplating the subject of loss, I turned over some pages in the Bible. Job came to mind immediately. He suffered great losses but also received many blessings. Lingering a little in the gospels, I came across a section in the Gospel of St Luke which seemed to be dedicated to the theme of “lost and found.” In the Lukan Gospel we read

about voluntary loss of attachment to worldly possessions and relationships, even of one’s own life in order to follow Jesus. (Luke 14:25-33) And remember the salt that loses its taste? (Luke 14:34) A disciple can lose enthusiasm. Of course there is the lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7) – ninety nine are safe so the one which is lost is the most valued and when it is found there is much rejoicing. Further, in an example given by Jesus, a woman lost a coin and swept her house top to bottom to find it. (Luke 15:8-10) It was one coin, but for her it was more than “just a coin”. It was part of her status as a married woman – akin to a wedding ring. Her joy at finding it is also shared with her friends and neighbours. Whose heart is not wrenched at the loss of the son in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son? (Luke 15:11-32). There is at least a partial happy ending to the story. The lost son is found. Jesus tells us that there is much rejoicing in heaven when a person repents; a lost soul is found. We all suffer losses. Sometimes we experience the joy of things found. Sometimes it is we ourselves, who are lost. Let us strive to be found. Finally, there is only one thing needful and we can’t lose that! (Luke 10:42).

Taking the Heat out of Australia
Andreea Hrincu
Being born in Romania and living the first years of your childhood there, does not set you up for moving to Australia and living out the remaining years of your childhood. The differences are astounding. Freedom, climate, the way people treat you, the language, etc., they are completely different to what you’ve been used to. At the beginning everything is unusual and extremely scary. You don’t fit in, you barely know the language, and on top of that you’re about to melt. What do you do when everything has been turned on its head? The fact that every new immigrant, the exception being those who already speak English, feels pretty much the same, doesn’t console you. All you can do is be tough and stick it out. Hopefully being a
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about God until they experience a crisis. God in his infinite wisdom is Marika Kalafatis, Sydney aware of this. God’s plan for all of us starts to work for us when we There are angels all around us that start to pray for help as well as relief touch our hearts and visit us as peo- from struggle. God is merciful… ple who come into our lives for a Going to church regularly is food for divine purpose. If we stray away the soul. We go to church to worship from God he may choose to put him, to thank him for his protection those angels in our path to lead us and love but most of all to be part of closer to him… a Christian community. The church A lot of the time God puts struggle is the house that God through Christ in our path to bring us closer to him. built for us. Start coming to the Many people complain and say church. Bring your spouses, bring “Why do I constantly have struggle your children, your brothers, your and pain in my life, Lord?” sisters, your friends. Bring everyone. It is a blessing in disguise. This wonderful planet that God deSome people completely forget signed and built is for us to enjoy.

Angels everywhere

God wants us to enjoy his gifts and to praise him together as part of a Christian community. God bless you all.

Taking... page 1 Romanian youth in Australia will soon cease to be so different. I remember how it felt to move to a new country. You were leaving everything you knew behind. Goodbye to friends, family, a home which you knew like the back of your hand. How could you possibly be expected to cope when everything was in this chaotic state? The first thing you have to do is learn the language. Although there are books, cassettes, CD’s, I found watching TV to be the best thing. You pick up the language without even knowing it. Following television would have to be speaking to people your own age, or anyone speaking English. People are very friendly in Australia and the environment in which you have surrounded yourself is beneficial to you. There aren’t any beggars and the political stagnation which caused them, does not exist. People aren’t treated differently because of their skin colour, and this distinction between the coun-

tries really impacts on you as a person. You learn to treat everyone the same, which can only result in a win-win situation. Because you are young, and you may not understand the cultural difference, yet you still treat everyone all the same, which shows the strength of Australian values. The harsh juxtaposition of the climate can also create problems. While you were used to lower temperatures all year round, in Australia, things are totally the opposite. Blazing summers, cool winters, what happened to the freezing cold which was a part of your nature? On top of that going to school for the first time in Australia completely contrasts to what going to school in Romania felt like. The teaching style is completely different to what you were used to. Communicating to everyone was hard, and sometimes you even had to go to a special class, which shattered your self-esteem. Over time though, you begin to slowly pick up the language and things start to

go your way. Your selfesteem picks up as you’re taken out of English class (a.k.a. ESL class) and you begin to make progress. Out of school life you have to get used to: looking in the opposite direction when crossing the road, not watching planes when they fly overhead, the soon-to-be hobby of shopping, the fact that Australian culture does not exist when compared to European culture, swimming properly, and most importantly the unerring fact that traditional Romanian holidays aren’t going to be the same. Thankfully, because you’re young you overcome these things easily. Yet there is still one more thing which can’t be changed, no matter how much you want it to be. The endless roaming and fun which was a part of every day life is gone. You have to get used to being cooped up in the house, with technology to entertain you. The extra time you have from finishing that tiny pile of homework is usually filled in by staying at home.

You might have also been attached to some of the animals which your family owned. Because it is extremely hard to buy or rent a house when coming to Australia the chance of ever replacing those animals which were left behind is pretty slim. Even owning a pet would become a hassle, as the living space has decreased. Another issue which you did not face before is homesickness. Missing family members, friends, things which you know can contribute greatly to the psychological effects of moving to another country. And though you do not see this happening, parents are also affected by this, although they try to hide it. The best thing to do is to try and not think about it and be glad you have some of your family with you. Although moving to Australia seems like such a huge thing, soon it will become your home. You will grow up in a multicultural country which has some excellent values the whole world can learn. Very soon, you will begin to call yourself Australian.
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Sunday, 22 January 2006 Meditation on the texts read during the liturgy
By Revd Dr Doru Costache
The readings The Apostle: 1 Timothy 1:15-17 The Gospel: Luke 18:35-43

Spirited love!!
Simona Strungaru (14) (Sydney)
On a mid summer’s day the country is bare, And the warm summer’s wind plays through my blonde hair. I lie on the grass and admire the view, When a sudden creature makes its way through. His shoulders are broad and his body is firm, His long hair is muffled yet his features are stern. He approaches with caution and calls out my name, While I stare in his eyes and wonder from where he came. He stands there beside me, watching my moves, While his gentle aroma, makes me want to snooze. His unspoken words show me his home, And his loving caress feels like sugar filled foam. We ride in the sunset, his black coat shines And in that split second I knew he was mine. We stop and rest and admire the sky, As my heart thumps fast beats… a million at a time. I tell him I love him while I fondle his back, Let’s never part… and that was our pact. We headed back home, while he took out the lead, As I thought the rest of the night, of my fairytale steed. The spirited stallion, the king of the land, The ride of my life, the memory that will never end!!!

The texts speak of the spiritual awakening. St Paul was spiritually blind till he was called by Christ to the light of the true knowledge. He first rejected Christ, but now he realizes that Christ is the only way of salvation: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. Covered by Christ’s light, everyone should awake, realising his/ her sinful, alienated condition. St Paul considers himself one among the sinners, and more: “of whom I am the worst”. Realising the sinful condition, hope must flourish, for our God is truly merciful, giving light to those believing in him, the way he did with St Paul: “I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life”. For those experiencing the awakening, there is no other appropriate way of expressing the greatness of God but by doxology/ glorification: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Doxology reveals a renewed conscience, built upon the criteria of Christ’s good news of the kingdom/eternal life. Metaphorically, this is what happened with the blind man of Jericho, and as usually the Apostle’s reading plays the key for deciphering the ecclesial meaning of the Gospel. The blind man of Jericho had the

opportunity not only to experience the bodily healing of his sight, but the inner healing of his soul/ conscience. His doxology tells everything about this inner process: “immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God”. The meeting of Christ and the blind man becomes here, in the liturgy, and scrutinised from the point of view of the Apostle, a parable. The allusion to the primeval event of Adam and Eve experiencing the opening of their eyes (cf. Genesis 3:7) is transparent. In fact, the paradisaical ancestors represent, in the ecclesial mind, the antithesis of the awakening. The Scripture speaks ironically of their loss of spiritual sight. Now the blind man of Jericho paradoxically represents both the result and the antithesis of Adam and Eve. He represents the result, because his myopia is the ultimate consequence of the fall; he represents the antithesis, because bodily blind he looked for the Light of the world, Jesus (cf. John 8:12). What should have happen to the ancestors becomes now reality: the sight/contemplation of the Tree of Life, Jesus. We all need to experience awakening in order to meet Christ (that is we must start practise virtue, a process of renewing our mind and life), but the true awakening is to meet Christ. No one could experience this process if one wants to keep attached by his/her old habits. Awakening takes the courage of living everyday the new opportunities of understanding and living, in Christ’s light. “When all the people saw it, they also praised God.”

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the Fathers of the Church

St Basil the Great (329-379)
Vicki Petrakis, Sydney
“He was an orator among orators, even before the chair of the rhetoricians, a philosopher among philosophers, even before the doctrines of philosophers: and what constitutes the highest tribute in the eyes of Christians he was a priest even before the priesthood.”1 Our holy father among the saints, St Basil was one of ten children of St Basil the Elder and St Emmelia. Four of his nine brothers and sisters were also saints as well as his grandmother St Macrina the Elder3. In his lifetime, he was a successful orator and lawyer, a monk, he became a priest and eventually a Bishop and then Archbishop of Caesarea. His contributions to the Church were many. He ranks with St Athanasius as a great defender of the Church against the heresies of the fourth century. Along with his friend Gregory the Theologian and his brother Gregory of Nyssa, he is identified as one of the three ‘Cappadocians’. Basil studied in most of the famous schools of his day, in Caesarea, Athens and Constantinople. After completing his studies, he opened a school of oratory (public speaking) and became a lawyer. He became well known for his teaching and speaking abilities. He was so successful, and so popular as a speaker that his brother St Gregory records how Basil was becoming overconfident on account of his rhetorical abilities and university achievements. Having been taught by his family that pride was dangerous because it takes one’s thoughts away from God’s mercy, he turned to Holy Scripture and abandoned his previous life and turned his gaze to the heavens. He became a monk and undertook the systematising of religious life by writing a set of ‘rules’ for monastic life that are still used today. His question, “What is more blessed than to imitate on earth the choir of angels?” was answered by him in this life, practically when he chose to distribute his property to the poor and retire to ascetic life so that he could teach his heart how to unlearn the prejudices and still the passions. He lived poorly, possessed one garment, ate bread and water only and occasionally included salt and roots from plants. St Basil founded a monastery in Pontus and directed it and his fellow monks for five years. After founding several other monasteries, St Basil was finally ordained priest in 364; a position which he accepted reluctantly and in 370 he became Bishop of Caesarea. His friendship for the poor was enduring in an age distinguished by saints. Accordingly he founded a hospital treating the sick and distributing food to the poor which became known after him as the Basiliad. He gave many battles for the orthodox faith and with firmness and courage he refuted the heretics. He taught the ascetic way of life, he made plain the theory of beings and he guided his flock to Christ. In his post as bishop, he spoke and taught against the heresy of Arianism; which fought against the term homoousios in reference to Christ’s identical nature to the Father2. The denunciation of the Macedonian heresy (denying the divinity of the Holy Spirit) at the Council of Constantinople in 381-82 was in large measure due to his efforts. Basil fought simony, aided the victims of drought and famine, strove for a better clergy, insisted on a rigid clerical discipline, fearlessly denounced evil wherever he detected it, and excommunicated those involved in the widespread prostitution traffic in Cappadocia. He was a statesman and a person of great personal holiness, and one of the great orators of Christianity. He was a man of great learning, ceaseless activity, eloquence and charity. Admired and respected in his life time, as a representative of God’s Truth, he was called ‘Great’ and named a Father of the Church after his death at the early age of 50. He is remembered by the Church on 1st and 30th January. One of the liturgies performed in the Orthodox Church is attributed to him.
1 St Gregory the Theologian wrote these words for St Basil’s repose, cited in The Lives of the Three Great Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom (Colorado: Holy Apostles Convent, 1998), 5. 2 These included, St Makrina; St Peter, Archbishop of Sebastia; St Gregory, Metropolitan of Nyssa; and St Naukratios, an ascetic and wonder-working saint. 3 St Basil accepted the term homoousios in reference to the Son but qualified it by the words, “like in essence”. In time St Basil further fine tuned his reply to the Arians, citing Scripture (John 14:28) he replied that the Son was indeed unlike the Father and that by the words, “My Father is greater than I” He reveals to us that God the Father is beyond knowing but that His Son as Logos defined Jesus truly as God and equal to the Father.

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the Fathers of the Church

The Life of St Gregory the Theologian
Kelly Anna Tsoi, Melbourne
St Gregory the Theologian emphatically proclaimed the truth of the divinity and the homoousia (oneness in essence), of the Holy Spirit within the Holy Trinity: God is ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Trinity of one essence and inseparable’ as we sing at every Divine Liturgy. His theology would have the desired lasting effect that he had hoped for however, as he returned to Cappadocia in 381 AD, following the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, bitter from his experience, he knew little of the great impact that his theological orations would have on the life and understanding of the Orthodox Church. It is for this reason that the Orthodox Church has given him the title ‘The Theologian’, a title which he shares with only two other Saints, the Apostle John and St Symeon the New Theologian. St Gregory was a prolific writer and it is through his own autobiographical works, poems and letters that so much is known about his life. St Gregory was born into an aristocratic family in 329/330 AD in the city of Karbala, which was one of the family estates at Arianzen near Nazianzus in South West Cappadocia. His mother, St Nonna, was a Christian and his father, St Gregory, was the Bishop of Nazianzus, having been converted to Christianity by his wife. It was through St Nonna’s steadfast faith that St Gregory was initially influenced in his own Christian faith. Due to his family’s affluence, the expectation was that St Gregory would be well educated and he had the opportunity to study in some of the great schools of the time. He studied rhetoric at the university in Caesarea which was established by Origen. It was here that he first met St Basil the Great, of Caesarea. His friendship with St Basil would be long and arduous, describing their friendship as being of ‘one soul,
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only separated in body’. He continued his studies at the great city of Alexandria, but it was in Athens that he really flourished, arriving in 348 AD. His stay in Athens lasted 10 years during which time he developed and honed his rhetorical skills and he was exposed to everything that a Greek philosophical education could give, while remaining steadfastly Christian. On his reluctant return to Cappadocia, he was eventually coerced into the priesthood by his father. St Gregory had wanted to live a monastic life of peaceful meditation. However he resisted St Basil’s attempts at persuading him into the monastic life, since he was opposed to St Basil’s idea of monasticism, which centred on physical labour. He had also rejected any career in rhetoric that would remove him from his Christian roots, and his father saw this as an opportunity for the church to gain a rhetorician of great quality. After his ordination he fled to Pontus to be consoled by his friend, St Basil, who eventually convinced him to face up to his responsibility as a presbyter of the church and return to Nazianzus. It was in 372 AD, that St Basil, now the Bishop of Caesarea, with the aid of St Gregory’s father, persuaded him to be ordained the Bishop of Sasima, an insignificant village in Cappadocia. At this time the majority of the Eastern Christian Empire, and the capital, Constantinople, was Arian. The Arians believed in the heresy that the Son was a creation of the Father and that there was a time when the Son did not exist. In 379 AD Theodosius, a staunch follower of the true Nicene faith of the Orthodox Church was crowned emperor. Theodosius was preparing to enter Constantinople for the first time as Emperor, and would follow this with religious reforms, reinstating and reinforcing the Nicene faith as the

state religion. St Gregory was asked to be a missionary Bishop to Constantinople, in order to prepare the way for Theodosius’ arrival. Thus at the age of fifty, St Gregory travelled to Constantinople in order to resurrect the Nicene faith. From 379 to 381 AD St Gregory wrote and presented his most profound works. During his short stay in Constantinople he prepared and delivered twenty two of his forty two orations, and composed many epistles and poems. Among his orations were the five theological orations, as they are now known (orations 27-31). These five theological orations are the primary reason that St Gregory is known as ‘the Theologian,’ par excellence, within the Orthodox Church. It is the theology within these orations which the doctrine of the Church is based on. On his arrival in Constantinople he established a house church from where he preached. He called the church the Anastasia, having the two fold meaning of the resurrection of the Lord and the resurrection of the Nicene faith in Constantinople and the Eastern Empire. To many of the people in Constantinople he was considered a provincial with an odd Cappadocian accent, who was attempting to make a name for himself in the capital. The Arian Bishop of Constantinople, Demophilus, and the clergy of the capital ignored his existence, however it wasn’t long before they sensed a real threat. The local population of Constantinople were mainly Arian and the crowds were initially hostile towards St Gregory, although his orations were well attended by the few Nicene faithful left in the city. During a baptismal service held during Pascha of 380, the church of Anastasia was attacked by an angry neoArian mob. There was also an assassination attempt on St Gregory’s life.
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St Silouan – A Man of the Heart
Vicki Petrakis, Sydney
The silence on the Holy Mountain invites the ascetic to contemplate, to be temperate, silent and in constant prayer; to love God in other words. Here in the world all this seems so far away…the noises of city life, the demands of work and family, or other obligations and yet, it is precisely from this point, to quote St Silouan (1866-1938) of the Holy Mountain that we should understand that, “no man of himself can know what is God’s love, unless he be taught of the Holy Spirit; love is known in our Church through the Holy Spirit, and so we speak of this love.” (Cf. Archimandrite Sophrony,
Wisdom from Mount Athos – The Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995), 26.)

As Christians we should not despair if matters pertaining to the spiritual life are difficult to pursue or indeed if sometimes it is difficult to pray. Who indeed has time with our busy lives to sit in contemplation, to read, to pray as much as we should, even though St Paul advises us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). However, St Silouan has left us some rules about the practice of our faith, showing us how in simple everyday life we may invite the Holy Spirit and in turn Jesus Christ into our lives. Let us look at some of these basic principles. St Silouan tells us, “the Lord is love; and He commanded us to love one another and to love our enemies; and the Holy Spirit teaches us this love” (Ibidem, 20). How simple one may say! If we love everyone we are on the right track…and yet how difficult is it to love everyone even though love amongst those professing to be Christians and what’s more amongst those professing to be Orthodox Christians is the basis of who we are. The first words St Silouan introduces above is that “the Lord is love”. Who amongst us is capable of sacrificing our child for the sake of

another and yet God does. God so loved the world that He gave up His only begotten Son (John 3:16). Our mind cannot comprehend God’s love because it is given to us freely and out of His goodness. All those great men and women throughout the ages, the prophets, disciples, apostles, martyrs, hermits etc. who have worked and lived in the name of the Lord have operated within love and their lives have been filled with love as guided by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if as St Silouan tells us that “the Lord is love”, then to be in the Lord and to be working and cooperating with Him on a daily basis we too must be functioning within the Lord; that is thinking and acting around this love. Only then can we say as St Paul says, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). That God is love then is granted but to invite God into our lives we must “love one another”, as St Silouan tells us above and further “love our enemies”! He places emphasis on loving our enemies because to love one another may be easy, but to love one’s enemies is to find favour with God. In the saints’ words: “Here are tokens: If you battle firmly against sin the Lord loves you. If you love your enemies you are even more beloved of God. And if you lay down your life for others you are greatly beloved of the lord, who Himself laid down His life for us” (Ibidem, 20). Of course we are not in this day and age asked to sacrifice or lay down our lives for anyone. We acknowledge the Cross of Christ as our gift from the Father, through the Son, however we are asked to live our lives in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. The life giving Cross is indeed our passage to a resurrected life here and after death, but it is only a life lived in the Holy Spirit that may ultimately secure this passage. Let us look at this further.

Loving one another and loving our enemies is a task that can only be lived out by those having a humble spirit. As St Silouan says, “Humble yourself beneath the strong hand of God, and grace will be your teacher” (Ibidem, 20). Nurturing a humble spirit allows us to love our fellow humans because we are no longer puffed with our own self importance but we see the other person as important as ourselves, and in the case of our enemy as the person who is in greater need of finding the Lord; after all, who truly is our enemy but another face of Christ… Loving our neighbour and our enemy is agreeable with God and presents itself as an opportunity for man to cooperate with the Holy Spirit because, as St Silouan says, “the Holy Spirit teaches us this love.” Do we seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit and to know God through the Holy Spirit? It seems that God is willing to work with us; are our hearts cultivated in order to receive Him? St Silouan teaches that if we wish to arrive at this love with the help of the Holy Spirit we must “hate sin and wrong thoughts” (Ibidem, 21). Let us then bury thoughts and vicious movements of the mind that lead to sin and death, and ultimately to the loss of grace; let’s bury the hate for our fellow friends; after all, what is it that the Lord asks us to divide and share in order that we should live… power and wealth, or the Bread of Life?
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The Scripture Is a Mother: Reading the Bible in a Eucharistic Way
Revd Doru Costache
Scripture is a mother. Neither a teacher nor a preacher trying to instruct you in some intellectually consistent way, but a mother feeding you with her sweet warm life-giving breast. Scripture does not teach you doctrine but it speaks of life and how to live it. Scripture is a mother; you cannot approach it using the lens of the scholar because in doing that you will kill its spirit and you will kill your spirit. Our brother in Christ, the Brazilian Jew Rubem Alves encourages us to approach the Scripture by our mouth, not through our sight. The eyes are connected to the brain, while the mouth is the door of our being, thus encompassing the brain itself. If you approach the Scripture by your eyes and your brain, you will vainly wait to be able to live it. Of course, you could become a Bible scholar or maybe someone very proud of her/his biblical knowledge, always quoting the Bible against those who are spiritually feeding themselves from the life-giving breast. One has to move beyond any scholar prejudices and approach Scripture like a baby looking for the breast. One has to learn how to extract the milk and not to look for ideas. Approaching Scripture represents a eucharistic act. Of course, for those acquainted with the Scripture and the fathers of the Church, maybe the term milk is not satisfactory. Well, they could use instead of milk St Maximus’ three terms: the body, the blood, and the bones (Questions to Thalassius 53). The idea nevertheless remains the same – feeding, not reading; living, not arguing. In the end, and eucharistically speaking, reading the Scripture is to spiritually eat the body that previously gave you milk (like in Revelation 10:9).

The Life... page 5 However St Gregory showed restraint, patience, kindness and love towards all those who fought against him. He believed that it was ‘better to be patient and to give an example of patience to many by [his] sufferings’ (Epistle 77). After struggling with these difficulties, the violence towards him and his congregation eventually settled down into a verbal and intellectual battle, which suited St Gregory well. In 381 AD he was ordained Archbishop of Constantinople, and found himself presiding over the Second Ecumenical Council. After attempting to guide and control the proceedings, and those attending the council, he resigned from his position in exasperation. St Gregory was a sensitive soul who was not cut out for ecclesiastical politics. He had been greatly disappointed; not only by the infighting among the Bishops but also at the lack of conviction which many of the attendees, mostly Bishops, had with regard to a categorical proclamation of the Spirit as God. However the emphasis which he had placed on the importance of articulating the theology and deity of the Holy Spirit is reflected in the revised Creed which was ratified at this council. The text on the Holy
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Spirit in the Creed was expanded, and has not been altered to this day within the Orthodox Church. In 381 AD St Gregory was pressured into resigning from his position as Archbishop of Constantinople, after which he retired to Nazianzus, where he administered his father’s church until a suitable replacement could be found. In 384 AD and with increasingly ill health, he retired to his estate in Arianzum. It was during this time, whilst living a secluded monastic life, that he wrote vast amounts of poetry. It is within his poems that his sensitivity and humanity comes through. They show his struggle with life and his love for God. He was steadfast and passionate about his beliefs, sometimes angry, and he was unwavering to the point of stubbornness, as a Christian ought to be about the Truth. It was sometime between 389 and 391 AD that St Gregory fell asleep in the Lord, leaving behind a lasting theological legacy. In 451 AD St Gregory was designated ‘The Theologian’ by the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. His relics were at rest in Constantinople until the siege of the city in 1204 AD when they were taken to Rome. They were at rest in the Vatican until

22 November 2004, when they were returned to the Patriarchate of Constantinople in a gesture of love by the Roman Catholic Church. The feast day of St Gregory the Theologian is January 25th and he is also remembered on the feast day of the Three Holy Hierarchs, January 30th, along with St Basil the Great and St John Chrysostom. [For further reading on St Gregory’s life, see John McGuckin, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus. An intellectual biography. Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 2001.]

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A Short History of the Orthodox Church
1 The beginnings
By Carol Cruceanu
In our legitimate aspiration to build our Christian conscience on appropriate basis, we have to learn about faith and the history of the Church. This is why I thought it was good to share with you some information I gathered from here and there, hoping that remembering our ancestors in faith will help us to understand more our spiritual identity. THE APOSTOLIC ORIGINS The long historical path of Orthodoxy begins with the day of Pentecost (the 50th day after Christ’s resurrection) in Jerusalem, when the Holy Spirit descended on the small group of Christ’s disciples. It is then that the Orthodox Church was born – today the second largest organized body of Christians in the world, after the Roman Catholic Christians. The Apostles had been historic witnesses to Christ’s ministry and resurrection before the Spirit of God descended on them. Only with this event of the Pentecost they felt authorized to preach the Gospel to the world. Only then were they able to fully understand the meaning of this mystery of Jesus’ resurrection, and begin their mission. The spread of the early Christian Church, however, was not without obstacles. Persecution and martyrdom awaited most of the faithful; we celebrate then almost everyday, contemplating their names in the calendar. Nevertheless, the new missionary community was destined to survive, with God’s providence, and grow in numbers. By the third century it had become a “mass phenomenon.” Though unevenly scattered, it constituted possibly as much as ten percent of the total population of the Roman Empire. The Church could no longer be ignored – numerically or from the point of view of their religious specific. Hence the legal recognition of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine at the beginning of the fourth century (312), and its subsequent recognition as the official religion of the empire by the end of it, under Emperor Theodosius (392). PERSECUTION AND SUCCESS The causes of this success are complex. The disciplined life of the Church, its social solidarity and internal cohesion, its care for the poor and the deprived did not go unnoticed. Both the militant critic and the passive pagan observer were aware of these advantages. Furthermore, the persecution and the courage of martyrdom of Christians could not but raise questions for many individuals. Finally, Christianity’s intimate sense of belonging, as well as its generous all-embracing message attracted new adherents. Ultimately and at a deeper level, however, it was this hope-giving message of the Gospel that was the principal cause of Christian expansion. This message promised not only reconciliation and forgiveness of sin, but liberation from the bondage of death and corruption. Above all, through

Christ’s own resurrection, man’s own incorruptibility, his own future physical resurrection was assured. To be in Christ, as St Paul says, is to be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In a few words, it is the simple proclamation of the Gospel that constitutes the more probable cause of Christian success in the ancient world. (to be continued)

Anomalogue (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
http://www.livejournal.com/ users/anomalogue/ On my best mornings, I realize that what I love and try to approach, as delicate and fragile as it is, is eternally inevitable. When I am able to know this, I also know that I am free to die, and that I am free to live. The eternally inevitable has been known to endure for a lifetime, but more often it can be destroyed as easily as a thread of smoke from an extinguished candle, with a wave of a hand.
Parochial Life | january - february 2006 |

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playing the didgeridoo; we watched him for 2 minutes – he was very talented. Then from there we walked to the Opera Adrian Cruceanu House and we saw a beautiful site (12) (Sydney) of the Harbour Bridge. th On Thursday the 5 of January Then we went to Darling Har2006, our Parish Sunday school bour, where we got some of St Mary’s had went to the City food and ate lunch. for an excursion. Then we walked to the Well first we had to walk to Par- shops and there was an ramatta River to catch the river arcade room. Then from cat ferry to get to the City. Then the shops we caught train the ferry took us to Circular Quay from Town Hall and we and there we saw the Harbour got off at Parramatta staBridge and the Opera House. tion and looked around in As soon as we got to Circular the shops. Quay we saw an Aboriginal man

The Sunday school’s excursion to the City

This is how our trip to the City was and ended. I’d like to thank Father Doru and our two new teachers at Sunday school, Ms Marika and Ms Vicki. I had fun on this excursion and it was a great experience.

Australia Day…
Lily Strungaru, Sydney
Australia Day, January 26, is the biggest day of celebration in the country and is observed as a public holiday in all states and territories. On Australia Day we come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. It’s the day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation. It’s also the day for all of us to recommit to making Australia an even better place for the future. The first celebrations were held on January 26, 1788, when Captain Arthur Phillip took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales and became its first Governor. The fledging colony soon began to celebrate the anniversary of this date. Historian Manning Clarke notes that in 1808, the “anniversary of the foundation of the colony” was observed in the traditional manner with “drinking and merriment”. The first official celebrations however, were held in 1818, to mark the 30th anniversary of white settlement. Governor Macquarie officiated at a thirty-gun salute during the day and a dinner ball at Government House. While the historical aspects of the day are always acknowledged, there
Parochial Life | january - february 2006 |

is now a greater awareness of the need to celebrate contemporary Australia with our diversity, remarkable achievements and bright future. There are many great things about this country: firstly the people - the life savers on the beach and the farmers in the bush; the larrikins, our sporting heroes, artists and visionaries; the volunteers who dedicate their lives to others; the spirit of pulling together in hard times and achieving beyond expectation; the Australians from all walks of life, the battlers and the ordinary Australians who are anything but ordinary. Our land – fragile yet enduring; harsh and extreme, lush and bountiful, a continent like no other. Our diversity – a nation of difference and unity. People from the city, the country, different nations and backgrounds; we are one people, living together. Through our diverse beliefs and experiences we learn from each other and grow together. Our indigenous cultures – the rich spirituality; the knowledge, art and history. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are all part of Australia’s identity and cul-

ture. Australia is a society built on fundamental rights and responsibilities, freedom of thought and expression. Participation in government, respect for and equality under the law who offers a fair go for all. Above all Australians have an enduring spirit of mateship and fairness, who live in a land of opportunity where anything is possible. Australia day today is a community day. With formal ceremonies around the country, flag raising, citizenship ceremonies and the presentation of community awards, combined with local events and fun activities, the day belongs to the people. It should also serve as a reminder to us all, that we are blessed to live in this lucky country, and like the Aussie song goes: “I still call Australia home”.

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Lily Strungaru, Sydney
The Australian Flag came into being after the federation of the Australian States into the Commonwealth of Australia on 1st January, 1901. In April 1901, the then Prime Minister Edmund Barton announced a competition for the design of a federal flag. Over 32,000 entries were received containing a wonderful diversity of images and symbolism, with one entry depicting native animals playing cricket with a winged cricket ball. Seven judges representing Army, Navy, Mercantile Marine, Pilot Services and Parliament, unanimously chose five identical winning designs, and thus was prothe Australian nation. The Union Jack acknowledges our historical links with Great Britain. The Southern Cross, a constellation seen only in the night skies of the Southern Hemisphere, is a striking and evocative symbol for our location in the world. The Australian National Flag should be displayed only in a duced the ‘the flag of stars’. manner befitting the national emThe design that was chosen was blem: it should not be subjected rich in symbolism that still speaks to indignity, nor displayed in a to Australians today. The Composition inferior to any other flag monwealth Star with six points or ensign. It should always be representing the States and the flown aloft and free. Flying the seventh point which was added in Australian Flag is a way of exhib1908 to represent Australia’s ter- iting pride in our nation and reritories – symbolises the unity of spect for our heritage.
"Have faith in God. For most certainly I tell you, whoever may tell this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and doesn't doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is happening; he shall have whatever he says. Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them, and you shall have them. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions."
(Mark 11, 22-26)

International Year of Deserts and Desertification 2006
The United Nations has declared 2006 the International Year of Deserts and Desertification
Nationally, the Department of the Environment and Heritage is the Australian focal point for the United Nations Convention on Deserts and Desertification (CCD), and in this capacity, is inviting organisations and communities to register activities for inclusion in Australia’s calendar of events for the International Year of Deserts and Desertification. The year will highlight the growing threat that desertification represents for humans, and celebrate the unique ecosystem and cultural diversity of deserts worldwide. A website has been created to announce the event. Your help in promoting the event through your networks would be appreciated. For more information see: http://www.deh.gov.au/events/iy dd/index.html

editor: Rev. Doru Costache, PhD layout design: Ion Nedelcu (Bucharest) address: 64 Linthorn Ave, Croydon Park, NSW 2133. phone: (02) 9642 02 60 www.geocities.com/sfmaria_sydney
Parochial Life | january - february 2006 |