Fr. Peter Gillquist – Memory Eternal Faithful Servant of Christ

Fr. Peter Gillquist - Memory Eternal

Fr. Peter Gillquist

by Chris Banescu -
Fr. Peter Gillquist was a loving and faithful shepherd of our Lord. Not only did he bring many in America into the Orthodox Church, but his powerful and public witness to the truth served as a guide and inspiration to many Orthodox. His work helped re-kindle the faith and inspire many cradle Orthodox Christians, like myself and others, to better understand the depth and richness of our Christian Tradition and embrace our heritage with renewed fervor and commitment.

Having been born and raised in the Orthodox Church, I have always known that the Orthodox Faith is the one and only true faith. However, it was not until I read about Father Peter and his flock’s journey of discovery that I truly recognized how much of a priceless treasure it really is. The spark that triggered that awareness and forever changed the priorities of my life sprung from the pages of his book “Becoming Orthodox.”

Fr. Peter’s account of the incredible journey undertaken by the group of American Protestant ministers in search for the New Testament Church shook me to the very foundations of my soul. Here was a group of devout Christians who loved Jesus Christ so much that they dedicated their entire lives in searching for His True Church and in finding a deeper and closer communion with Christ. They did not have the privilege to grow up in the Orthodox Church and partake of its vast spiritual and religious wealth, yet they worked hard, searched steadfastly, and struggled for many years trying to find what was given to me freely. In reading their story I realized just how blessed and fortunate I was to have been entrusted with such a Pearl of Great Price and ashamed of how little I had done with it. [Read more...]

Metropolitan Jonah: Our Battle is Against Secularism

Metropolitan Jonah addressing the ACNA Assembly - June 2012

Metropolitan Jonah addressing the ACNA Assembly - June 2012

by Chris Banescu –
It is reassuring to the flock when a faithful shepherd preaches Christ and teaches the Truth at every opportunity. It is also uplifting for the laity to see an Orthodox Bishop who publicly and clearly proclaims and defends the unchanging moral teaching of the Christian faith and the Holy Orthodox Church. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, recently addressed the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and his comments showed the Church and those listening why he is a worthy leader of the Orthodox Church in America.

In his remarks, Metropolitan Jonah warns us about the radical departure from traditional Christianity we’re experiencing in the West and the dangerous consequences of such actions. He identifies key challenges that Christians face in the increasingly hostile and secularized culture we find ourselves living in and the increasing persecution we will encounter. He also emphasizes the importance of traditional Christian denominations to stand united in opposing such falsehoods.

I have highlighted below several important points and observations from his speech. His words must be shared with the rest of the Orthodox Church and other Christians. The full text of his address is also reproduced further down.

(1) We are all in a serious battle with secularism. Christians must stand together and proclaim the True Christian faith, without alteration, without change, without revisions.

Our battle is against secularism. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has called for us to stand together against this enemy. This is the realignment: to stand together for the faith once delivered by Christ to the Apostles, and thence to the Bishops, without alteration, without change, without revisions; against those who would submit their faith to the current of the age, the wisdom of this world. We must stand together, and we cannot stand alone. Even the immense Roman Church is buffeted by the militant secularists, who defy authority and criticize that which they know not, and we can see in this country how increasingly fragile their unity is. [Read more...]

Chuck Colson: A Life Redeemed by Christ

Chuck Colson Redeemed by Christ by Chris Banescu -
This past weekend we lost an influential and great champion for Christ and truth. Charles W. “Chuck” Colson’s bright light is no longer in the world, but still shines on in eternity as a beacon of hope and faith for current and future generations. His legacy and example will live on in the hearts and souls of many Christians – Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant – who were inspired by his strong faith, admired his clarity of thought and vision, and were reassured by his courage and conviction.

It is fitting that he went to meet the Lord at the end of what is Bright Week for all Orthodox Christians. For during this time the Resurrection Hymn is sung at all memorial services to remind us that Christ’s Resurrection destroyed death granting us eternal life: “Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!”

Unfortunately, I’ve never had the opportunity to meet Colson in person. However, I have followed his active Christian ministry and prolific commentaries with a lot of interest and admiration, often sharing his wisdom with many of our Orthodox Christian readers [Read more...]

The Gospel, The Cure for Mankind’s Suffering

Fr. Basil (my grandfather) Preaching

Fr. Basil (my grandfather) Preaching

by Chris Banescu -
Perpetual crises and suffering, societal unrest, financial emergencies, institutional dysfunction, governmental tyranny, murder and mayhem, wars, riots, terrorism, and the persecution of the righteous and innocent continues to be the “normal” state of affairs for people and countries around the world. Despite the constant assurances from most secular governments and politicians who promise us “utopia on earth” in exchange for surrendering more of our freedoms and embracing their atheistic and progressive “solutions”, things are getting worse, not better. This seems to be a persistent problem of all human civilizations throughout history, not just a defect particular to our own age. “Terrific energy is expended — civilizations are built up — excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top, and then it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down,” observed C.S. Lewis. What is the real source of this suffering and is there any hope for a cure?

It is foolishness to believe that the turmoil, economic devastation, social corruption, and societal instability happening in Greece, Egypt, England, France, Romania, other European countries, and even here in America is simply about economics, politics, education, financial mismanagement, or religious, ethnic, or cultural differences. What it is about is the catastrophic moral failure of individuals with power and influence across many organizations and institutions, especially politicians and government leaders. The immorality, vanity, arrogance, hypocrisy, selfishness, corruption, cowardice, envy, greed, and reckless disregard for the long-term safety, liberty, and well-being of the people – whom they have sworn to serve and protect – that we see in the conduct of our leaders are symptoms of what always happens when man rejects God’s truth and wisdom and tries to setup for himself an earthly “utopia” separate from Christ’s teaching. [Read more...]

The True Light of Mankind

Christ the True Light of the World and all Mankind by Chris Banescu -
As the Christmas season fades into the distance and the New Year is upon us, we tend to feel the passage of time most acutely. With the conclusion of the bright and joyous celebrations that commemorate and bear witness to the birth of the Messiah, we often experience a sense of loss, of sadness. We never seem to have enough time to fully immerse ourselves in the feast and absorb the joy and peace that our souls yearn to rediscover and embrace. It all goes by much too quickly. We find ourselves heading back towards the daily routines of our lives, feeling weary, tired, and spent. The light inside us that burned so brightly a few days ago is flickering.

In response, writes Fr. Alexander Schmemann, “come words from an infinite loftiness and an infinite profundity” from the Gospel of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist. Jesus Christ “was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name… And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:9-12, 16). [Read more...]

Man’s Hunger and Thirst for God

Man's Hunger and Thirst for God and Christ by Chris Banescu -
There is a reality of the human condition that holds true throughout the history of mankind. Human beings are born with an inner desire for something timeless that nothing in this material world and life experiences can ever truly satisfy. We are all created with a hunger and thirst for God.

All creatures hunger for that for which they were created. A hummingbird hungers for nectar, a lion for meat, a sheep for grass, a dolphin for fish. Man also hungers for food, but he has an even stronger craving for something much greater and more meaningful. “Greater than the hunger for food in man is the hunger for God which manifests itself basically in the hunger for security, for love, peace, joy, meaning, and life,” explains Fr. Anthony Coniaris. This is why Christ reaffirms that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4-4). God is indeed the living water that Jesus spoke of to the Samaritan woman near Jacob’s well, the living water that whoever drinks “will never thirst again”, the water that will become in man “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4-14).

Real Want for Heaven
Man’s inner longing for meaning and happiness is often expressed in a “real want for Heaven” that is present in our souls but which we may not recognize or understand. [Read more...]

To Be, or Not To Be… Created

DNA To Be, or Not To Be Created by Chris Banescu

Christians believe that human beings were created by God in the image and likeness of their Creator. They proclaim that the entire universe, all matter, and all life were designed and brought into existence by an infinitely higher intelligence who exists outside of time and space. Materialists and atheists, on the other hand, assert that man is the result of a long mindless and chaotic process that randomly stumbled into producing matter, biological organisms, and eventually humans. Who is right?

Mathematics and reason offer us a way to test the materialist assumptions and shed some light into the insurmountable problem faced by atheists. A simple algebraic formula, that even high-school students can master, can help us quantify the probability of random actions giving rise to even the most basic order. To get a better idea of the odds involved, we will calculate the mathematical probability that the simple phrase “To be, or not to be: that is the question:“, from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, can occur by chance. [Read more...]

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

The Voice Blog - Bearing Witness to the Truth by Chris Banescu

Each of us has a calling, a vocation, in life. Some discover their passion in their childhood or teen years and know from early on what they were meant to do. Some find their calling after reaching adulthood and encountering the real world. Some stumble unto their life’s work when faced with life-changing events, personal struggles, or tragedies. Some uncover their life’s passion in their old age, usually after retirement, when a growing awareness of their own mortality imbues them with a renewed sense of urgency and purpose. Tragically, many never find their life’s calling, either due to hardships, fear, or plain laziness; despite knowing what they should do, neither bothering to dedicate the time or energy required to follow their dreams, nor making the sacrifices necessary to fulfill their vocations.

By God’s immeasurable grace I am one of those blessed souls that has discovered his calling in life. I believe my vocation is to be a Voice Crying in the Wilderness, a messenger who strives to open men’s hearts and minds to timeless truths and principles, to help them discover what’s truly important in this life and in eternity. A messenger of the One who created everything in this universe, the laws that govern all matter and morality, the individual atoms and cells that make up my body and the soul that gives it life, and the very reason that allows me to think and write these words. [Read more...]

St. John Chrysostom vs. Communism

St. John Chrysostom vs. Communism by Chris Banescu –
This amazing quote was written by St. John Chrysostom. Those strong warnings regarding core principles that form the foundation of socialist/communist ideologies should have been heeded by the Church and taught to the people.

St. John Chrysostom:

“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.” – St. John Chrysostom on the poor from On Living Simply XLIII

[Read more...]