Christians Need Each Other to Hear the Word of God

Christians Need Each Other to Hear the Word of Godby Chris Banescu –
This Nativity season it’s good to remember the sacramental role that a Christian community plays in our lives. Man was not created to be alone but live in communion with God and other human beings. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Christian martyr and theologian, reminds us that our brothers are the means through which Christ, the Word of God, reaches us most powerfully and effectively.

We need each other because the Christ in our “own heart is weaker that the Christ in the word” of our brother. Our own heart can sometimes be uncertain, but our brother’s is sure. That’s why we need other Christians as bearers and proclaimers “of the divine word of salvation” to remind us of the Word of God. [Read more…]

When Orthodox Bishops Spoke Boldly: Clear Teaching on Marriage and Family

Orthodox Bishop Defend Marriage Family Wedding Ceremonyby Chris Banescu –
The current societal moral collapse and the intensifying attacks on traditional marriage and the family were foreseen by previous generations of bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Approximately 40 years ago, the Holy Synod of the OCA issued an Encyclical Letter on Marriage warning their flocks of the dangers posed by an increasingly secularized world and re-affirming the traditional, biblical, and orthodox teaching on marriage. The clarity of their teaching, boldness of their condemnation, and prophetic dimensions of their preaching are undeniable.

These shepherds saw the “signs of the times.” They discerned the growing darkness and corruption all around them and the seriousness of the cultural battles to come. They forewarned the faithful that the “moral foundations of society are collapsing.” They understood the ultimate consequences of a society that abandons its moral principles, abuses its freedoms, embraces the evil of abortion, is indifferent to the murder of millions of unborn children, and glorifies corrupt sexual behaviors.

We find it imperative to address you on an issue of crucial importance for the Christian life. An increasingly secularized world tends more and more to neglect the traditional biblical understanding of marriage and family. Misunderstanding freedom and proclaiming the progress of a humanity supposedly too mature, sophisticated and scientific to follow Christ’s Gospel, many have abandoned its moral demands. The consequences are plain for all to see: the family is disintegrating, legalized abortion is killing millions of unborn children, corrupt sexual behavior is rampant. The moral foundations of society are collapsing.

[Read more…]

Orthodox Church View on Abortion: Life Begins at Conception

Orthodox Christian View on Abortion: Life Begins at Conceptionby Chris Banescu –
The Orthodox Church, founded by Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles, bears witness to the truth that all human life begins at conception. The teachings of the Orthodox Christian faith are very clear and unambiguous: all unborn human life is sacred and innocent human life must be fully protected. The Orthodox Church regards abortion as murder and opposes all forms of abortion. All Orthodox Churches throughout the whole world and across the 2,000 years since Christ have taught and proclaimed this same truth without alteration to all nations.

The Court’s assertions in the Roe v. Wade decision, regarding Christian theology prior to the 19th century, that “there was otherwise little agreement about the precise time of formation or animation” of an unborn child is completely false. This declaration has no basis in fact in the theology, teachings, or practices of historic Orthodox Christianity. It is a complete fabrication!

The truth of the actual teachings and theology of the early Christian Church and proclaimed by the Orthodox Church to this day, categorically affirm that life begins at conception and specifically reject other theories based upon quickening or formation. These timeless truths were expressed very clearly in the Amicus Curiae (“friend of the court”) brief that the Holy Orthodox Church submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States back in 1989. [Read more…]

Miraculous Dove Blesses the Gospel and the Shepherd

Miraculous Dove Blesses the Gospel and the Shepherdby Chris Banescu –
A miraculous event happened recently in an Orthodox Christian monastery in Crete. As reported by John Sanidopoulos on the Mystagogy blog and documented via multiple photographs (see below), a white dove miraculously appeared during the religious procession on the monastery grounds. The beautiful bird first landed on the Holy Gospel and then perched itself on the head of the Orthodox priest holding it. The dove continued to rest on top of the priest’s hat all the way inside the church.

During a visit by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the sacred Monastery of Saint John the Baptist on the Island of Crete, a white dove appeared during the procession towards the church. The dove first perched itself on top of the Gospel book carried by the priest. It stayed there while the Ecumenical Patriarch venerated the Holy Gospel.

As the priest walked towards the monastery’s main church, the dove moved from the Holy Gospel onto the priest’s shoulder. Then it flew and rested on the pastor’s kalimavki (a black hat worn by monastics and archimandrites). While the procession continued moving towards the church, the dove remained perched on top of the priest’s hat. [Read more…]

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…]

Men Have Forgotten God – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

by Chris Banescu

As a survivor of the Communist Holocaust I am horrified to witness how my beloved America, my adopted country, is gradually being transformed into a secularist and atheistic utopia, where communist ideals are glorified and promoted, while Judeo-Christian values and morality are ridiculed and increasingly eradicated from the public and social consciousness of our nation. Under the decades-long assault and militant radicalism of many so-called “liberal” and “progressive” elites, God has been progressively erased from our public and educational institutions, to be replaced with all manner of delusion, perversion, corruption, violence, decadence, and insanity.

It is no coincidence that as Marxist ideologies and secularist principles engulf the culture and pervert mainstream thinking, individual freedoms and liberties are rapidly disappearing. As a consequence, Americans feel increasingly more powerless and subjugated by some of the most radical and hypocritical, least democratic, and characterless individuals our society has ever produced.

Those of us who have experienced and witnesses first-hand the atrocities and terror of communism understand fully why such evil takes root, how it grows and deceives, and the kind of hell it will ultimately unleash on the innocent and the faithful. Godlessness is always the first step towards tyranny and oppression! [Read more…]

The Medium is Not the Message

Medium Not Message Internet Blogosphereby Chris Banescu
As a fellow Orthodox Christian and an attorney I find Fr. George’s reflection quite eloquent but unfortunately lacking in the depth and moral clarity that our faith and profession both require. Fr. George’s central thesis is that “the nature of the medium, in this case the internet and blogosphere, is itself the message we get here even more than the content that people purport to communicate and consider.” I don’t believe that’s true, especially with regards to OCANews.org. The medium is only a neutral tool to be used or misused as we see fit. The truth of the message and the reliability of the information this medium conveys and the good it has done, in addition to the wisdom, character, and integrity of the messengers, are much more important and relevant.

Fr. George begins his criticism of the web by saying that it is “democratic in the extreme, and fools who know little or nothing about what they are discussing or how to discuss things effectively with others get basically equal time and treatment with wise men and experts.” That is true, the web is indeed “democratic in the extreme” and exposes both the wisdom of some and the foolishness of others. Thanks be to God for that, for otherwise how could we have distinguished between those who stood for truth and righteousness and those who lied, obfuscated, and muddled the issues. Seeing all the arguments and reading all those comments provided a more accurate and complete picture of the truth and the various problems the Church faced and still faces. The reality presented on the OCANews site was indeed clearer and more comprehensive than a few sanitized magazine or newspaper stories from the “official” church channels or any brief television segments. It is only the Internet medium that could have facilitated such an important feat. [Read more…]

Forgiveness Without Repentance?

by Chris Banescu

In the midst of the ongoing OCA moral crisis we hear calls, especially from some clergy and many of our hierarchs, to forgive all those in the OCA leadership and administration who have for years, either through malfeasance or incompetence enabled the abuses, fraud, misconduct, and pillaging of God’s house. We are constantly reminded that our duty as Christians is to quickly and unconditionally forgive those who have mistreated others, lied, appropriated Church funds for personal luxury, stole money intended for widows, orphans, and the poor, covered up their misdeeds, and conducted themselves in an ethically reprehensible manner without a hint of remorse, repentance, and accountability. Before the people have had a chance to understand and find out what exactly has happened, who was really responsible, how much was wasted and stolen, how long this went on, who was hurt, who benefited, who lied, and who covered up their crimes, we are being told to forgive unconditionally and move on, “for the good of the Church.”

Is this call for forgiveness without truth, without repentance, without personal accountability, and without real contrition truly the Christian approach as reflected in the Scriptures and the Orthodox Moral Tradition? Are we being fooled into accepting a watered down version of forgiveness that distorts the fullness of the teaching of Christ regarding those who trespass and neither admit their culpability nor repent of their crimes? [Read more…]

The Parable of the Missing Samaritan

by Chris Banescu

A certain Orthodox parish was on her journey towards the Kingdom of Heaven, but on her way she fell among thieves, who chased away the good shepherd guarding her flock, stripped her of the fullness of life that she is called to represent and support, wounded her, scattered her sheep, and departed, leaving her half dead.

The sheep inside cried out pleading for help and mercy, yet their cries were ignored by the hirelings. Even when the sheep began to scatter the hireling shepherds did little to protect them, choosing instead to admonish the remaining sheep for continuing to cry out.

Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw her, he passed by on the other side. Again, another priest, a Dean, arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. Still hearing the sheep crying he quickened his step and went back to his own country denying ever having seen the wounds or heard the sheep’s cries of anguish.

Likewise a Bishop, hearing about her plight refused to even come down the road and neither helped nor comforted the sheep. He remained shuttered in his ivory tower denying she was wounded; choosing instead to admonish and demonize the sheep for crying too loud and disturbing his peace. [Read more…]