Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all JTO readers. In 1620 a few shiploads of  Protestant Christian Pilgrims sailed in to Plymouth Harbor off the coast of Massachusetts. Having endured an arduous sea venture, and having found the home they so longed for, they took time to offer thanksgiving to God. Having established a settlement, and with the gracious welcome of the indigenous peoples in the area, the root of European civilization and protestantism was deeply planted. It would take another 174 years for an Orthodox Christian colony to be established on the North American Continent, but then, only on the opposite side of the continent, by Russian immigrants to Alaska. Protestantism of all shapes and forms grew as the nation grew, while Orthodoxy, in its origins, was geographically isolated. Today, some 389 years later, there are still less than 500,000 Orthodox believers on the North American Continent, although worldwide, Orthodoxy is the second largest recognized Christian group on the planet. May the year 2010 be the year that ethnicities, cultures, and geography take second place to establishing the original Faith Of Our Fathers, on this continent- The Orthodox Church.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Are You Awake Yet?

World Orthodoxy continues its plummet into the abyss of heresy:

All jurisdictions in communion with SCOBA and the Patriarch of Constantinople are in heresy. Guard your soul and that of your family. Come out of her!

Are You Awake Yet?

11/21/09 Addendum to this post.

A JTO reader took exception to the fact that JTO posted  a *link which erroneously concludes that Met. Hilarion had "a meeting" with Freemason leaders. The criticism is valid and JTO regrets having posted a link that was erroneous in its interpretation of the photo at issue, or at the least, incomplete in its information. JTO, however, would question the failure of the Met Hilarion to "refrain from every appearance or evil", in allowing himself to be photographed with Masonic leaders who were clearly identified by the pins they wore on their clothing. The Masonic leaders, in turn, used the photograph to promote their own propaganda via their publication, photo included, and further their own agenda within Orthodoxy. Here is Met. Hilarion's statement on the matter:

De : Archbishop Hilarion Kapral []
Envoyé : vendredi 20 novembre 2009 4:20
À : xxxxxxxx
Cc : xxxxxxx
Objet : Re: Meeting with masons

Dear Vladimir,

I was very amazed to learn that I had attended a Masonic meeting. Such a thing has never happened.

What in actual fact occurred is being totally distorted. During the visit of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church to South America with the choir of the Sretensky Monastery some two years ago, the delegation was invited by the ambassador of the Russian Federation to a reception at the embassy. Many different dignitaries were also invited to attend.

While Metropolitan Platon and I were standing at the reception, two distinguished-looking gentlemen came up to us and asked if they could be photographed with us. We said, why not? We did not ask who they were. It turned out that they are high-ranking Masons of Brazil. That is the extent of our involvement with Masons.

The enemies of the Russian Orthodox Church are very quick to pick up on such an unexpected and innocent encounter to defame and slander the Church and its hierarch.

For the record: I am not a Mason and have nothing to do with Masonry. It is impossible for a Christian to be a Mason at the same time as Masonry is a religion of its own.

In Christ our Saviour,
+ Metropolitan Hilarion

Met. Hilarion misses the point if thinks that those expressing concern over the matter just want to "defame and slander the Church and its hierarch." The fact that this is an issue and a discussion, is evidence of Met Hilarion's poor judgment in allowing himself to be duped by these satanists appearing as angels of light. I believe Met. Hilarion now has the answer to his question, "Why not"?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Our Proverbial Week Of Creation

For months now, since leaving the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese and all of World Orthodoxy, to seek communion with the True and Genuine Orthodox Church,  I have fielded attack-comments from anonymous bloggers, and other friends and acquaintances, many assuming that, because we left our local Antiochian Orthodox Church, and all of World Orthodoxy, we must be without a church, without a priest, and drifting aimlessly in the sea of spirit-barren apostasy. The erroneous presumptuousness of such comments is glaring, considering we have not posted specifics of our day-to-day, Sunday-to-Sunday activities, until now...

The fact is that, since day one, we have met as a family in our home for regular daily prayers as we began a specific search for a Genuine and True Church with which to be in communion. 

By the proverbial day two, we had made contact with several priests in several Communions. 

By day three, we had followed the leading of Holy Spirit to enter specific dialogue with a specific priest in a specific communion. Under the priest's guidance and blessing, and with the knowledge of the Bishop, we began using the Typica Reader's Service for regular Sunday worship, and quickly added a full Matins service; our time in prayer and worship being about 1 1/2 hours. We had an advantage over some in our position due to the fact that my wife was well-versed in the Byzantine chant having been a chanter-in-training on the chanter's team, and my daughters had either sung in the choir or had attended chanter's classes. We treated the layman's Matins and Typica, the "Service Without a Priest," with commitment and reverence, rising early, dressing in our most presentable clothes, and shutting out all outside distractions. 

By day four, we began a thorough catechism, talking with the priest by phone and video conference, once, and sometimes twice a week. 

As the sun rose on day five, we had set a date, time, and place for our baptisms.

On day six, occurring on Sunday, November 29th, 2009, my wife and our two daughters and I will have entered the Church through holy baptism and chrismation.  

On day seven, we will rest in knowing that the continuing theosis of our souls will be sheltered in the arms of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Our proverbial 7-day-week will have taken only 7 months. 

Thanks be to God for His faithfulness and long-suffering toward us. Thanks be to God for giving us the peace and fortitude to endure the transition which included malicious, and always uninformed attacks from our former "brothers" and "sisters", many of whom, evidently are the anonymous bloggers. I am thankful for all who have persecuted us in having allowed us the opportunity to practice the principle of praying for those who falsely accuse and who spitefully use us. My prayer list has increased with each proverbial day.

With our entrance into the Church, we will continue to worship Holy Trinity, working out our salvation with fear and trembling. and adhering to the Faith of Our Fathers:

Julian (old) Calendar 
+ Holy Tradition 
+ The Seven Ecumenical Councils 
+ the Holy Scriptures 
+ the Holy Fathers 
= Holy Orthodoxy.

Whether it be the Lewis' family alone or should we unite in worship and work with other like-minded people in this prosperous Middle Tennessee community, we are assured that,

"Where two or more are gathered in my name there will I be also."

The Gift Of Tears

I am a man given to tears. It must be in my DNA. At my wedding, all the men cried and the women didn't. My first memorable encounter with the God With No Name came at age six. I was moved to tears when I recognized His presence and heard his voice in my soul. To this day, tears flow at His presence. Tears also flow at the presence of my own sins, especially during times of repentance.

One of the things I have had to work through, since becoming Orthodox, is the idea of  "passionless worship". It took me at least three years to understand that passionless is not the same as being emotionless. Passionless, in this context, refers to not being motivated or led by self-promotion. Was Christ emotionless when he wept at hearing the news of the death of His friend?

"Jesus Wept."

Was Christ emotionless when he sweated drops of blood as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane?

A few months ago, I was moved to quiet tears at the sight of a Bishop being ordained. It was a holy, reverent moment, and the awesomeness of our Holy God, conferring on a mere man such an anointing, was overwhelming. A nearby priest, seemingly uncomfortable at my quiet display, ordered me, "Don't Cry. Just be aware that there is work to do."

Would one say, "Don't cry, Jesus. Suck it up. Yes, your friend is dead, and his loved ones are grieving,  but there is work to do", or "Hey Christ! Why so emotional? You don't have to work up a bloody sweat over things. Don't be such a winer. There is a lot of work to do."

Passionless worship is not emotionless worship- Christ forbid! We cry both for joy and for sorrow and both are holy.

St. Symeon the New Theologian said, "God has removed all tears from the face of this earth by means of baptism, having poured out richly His Holy Spirit. But, as I have heard from the Holy Scriptures, certain adults, upon being immersed in this baptism, have shed tears, because they were pricked by the descent of the Spirit. They were not painful and laborious tears, but sweeter than honey by virtue of the working and the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Indeed, tears are a gift from God to his human creation.

St. Simeon the New Theologian
"What an unutterable wonder! That when tears are shed from the bodily eyes they invisibly flow over the soul and wash away the impurity of sin. They shake and burn out the demons as they fall to the ground and make the soul free of the invisible bonds of sin.

O, Tears, that flow because of that divine radiance and that open heaven and bring divine comfort. Again and I say this repeatedly, stirred by delight and pleasure: Where there is an abundance of tears, my brothers, with true knowledge, there also is illumination in the divine light. Where there is the shining of that light, there too is the bestowal of good blessings and the seal of the Holy Spirit embedded in the heart.

Tears work within us a divine fire of contrition. Without tears and constant compunction no man has ever been cleansed or has become holy or has received the Holy Spirit or has seen God or knows that He dwells with him. Without repentance there are no tears; without weeping there are no tears. Let no one say it is impossible to weep everyday...then it is impossible to repent each day. If repenting and weeping and shedding tears is impossible, then to be humble and to pray unceasingly would also be impossible.

Man should not pass through even one single day without repentance and tears. If he has no tears, he should ask God for them with all his strength and with all his soul. There is no other way by which  he can remain sinless and pure in heart."

Where Ecumenism Leads

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The "Fear" of Gay Marriage

AP/PORTLAND, Maine – Cecelia Burnett and Ann Swanson had already set their wedding date. When they joined about 1,000 other gay marriage supporters for an election night party in a Holiday Inn ballroom, they hoped to celebrate the vote that would make it possible.

Instead, they went home at midnight, dejected and near tears after a failed bid to make Maine the first state to approve same-sex marriage at the ballot box.

"I'm ready to start crying," said Burnett, a 58-year-old massage therapist, walking out of the ballroom with Swanson at her side. "I don't understand what the fear is, why people are so afraid of this change.

"It hurts. It hurts personally," she said. "It's a personal rejection of us and our relationship, and I don't understand what the fear is."

The reason you don't understand is because your standard of morality is based on personal relativity and not on the fact that there is a God who created you and knows better than you what you need in order to live a fulfilling life here and in the life to come. Homosexuality is an aberration, perversion, and anomaly of God's design of creation. Does not your very anatomy tell you that? Marriage is a sacramental covenant established and ordained by God, between a man and a woman. The reason you don't understand is because those who "fear" gay marriage do so based in the fear of God, not fear of gays. The word "fear" here, does not mean "to be afraid", but, rather, "respect." The majority of Americans, and in fact, the majority of cultures across the world, do not fear (respect) any rights that are elevated above that which God says is right. It's that simple. Now do you understand what the fear is? Perhaps, acquiring a little fear of God may help you.