Christian Martyrdom in Modern Age: Be Pious, Chaste, Moral, Faithful to God

Christian Martyrdom in Modern Age: Be Pious, Chaste, Moral, Faithful to God by Chris Banescu –
“If you never chase God out of your house, your soul, and your heart, it is the last and greatest martyrdom.” ~ Fr. Calistrat Chifan

We often think of Christian martyrs as men and women who lived long ago and courageously gave up their lives in defense of their faith. We think of saints and disciples who were fed to the lions, tortured, maimed, burned alive, dismembered, or slaughtered for proclaiming Christ as Lord and Savior or refusing to renounce Christianity. We also witness similar modern day martyrdom of Christians living in the Middle East. Like their ancient brethren these innocents are shot, decapitated, raped, tortured, blown up, burned alive, and murdered for simply being Christian or daring to publicly proclaim the Gospel.

Few of us would think of modern Christians living in North or South America, Europe, Russia, Asia, or other parts of the world, where there’s no official government persecution or widespread Islamic oppression of the faithful, as doing anything worthy of the title “martyr.” We have freedom and religious liberty to worship God as citizens or residents of secular democracies or constitutional republics, where Christianity is either protected (in Russia, Romania, and a few other Eastern European countries) or tolerated, at least for now (in other Western countries). [Read more…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Orthodox Church: Fighting Heresies and Resisting Worldly Errors

Sunday of Orthodoxy, Orthodox Church Fighting Heresies and Resisting Worldly ErrorsG. K. Chesterton points out the glorious sanity and vigorous life that has existed in the Christian Church since Her founding. While Chesterton doesn’t specifically mention the Orthodox Church I found his comments most appropriate for the Sunday of Orthodoxy we just celebrated. “This is the Faith of the Apostles, this is the Faith of the Fathers, this is the Faith of the Orthodox, this is the Faith which has established the Universe.” ~ Confession of faith from the Day of Orthodoxy

“This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic. [Read more…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Orthodox Church: Fierce Defender of Theological Truths and Sound Christian Doctrines

The Orthodox Church: Fierce Defender of Theological Truths and Sound Christian DoctrinesThe masterful and wisdom-filled writings of G. K. Chesterton remind us why the Christian Church cannot afford to swerve even “a hair’s breadth” on important theological truths. While not written with regards to the Orthodox Church specifically, his insights also describe how the Orthodox Church has continually fought to defend the Truth and the Christian faith as taught by Jesus Christ, embodied in the Scriptures, preached by the Apostles, attested by the Martyrs, reflected in the writings of the Saints, and expounded by the Fathers.

“Last and most important, it is exactly this which explains what is so inexplicable to all the modern critics of the history of Christianity. I mean the monstrous wars about small points of theology, the earthquakes of emotion about a gesture or a word. It was only a matter of an inch; but an inch is everything when you are balancing. The Church could not afford to swerve a hair’s breadth on some things if she was to continue her great and daring experiment of the irregular equilibrium. Once let one idea become less powerful and some other idea would become too powerful. [Read more…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Orthodox Church Categorically Opposed to Abortion: Life Begins at Conception

Orthodox Church Categorically Opposed to 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…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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 believed that that the Orthodox Faith embodied the fullness of the Christian life and faith, Scriptural teachings, and liturgical worship as established by Christ and His Apostles. 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…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail